FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (September 29, 2022)—The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is excited to announce the winners of its eight English‐language children’s book awards. Awarded tonight at Harbourfront Centre, in partnership with the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA), and hosted by Garvia Bailey, On the Trapline by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett, took home the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and $50,000—the largest cash prize in Canadian children’s literature. Tundra Books, the winning publisher, will receive $2,500 for promotional purposes, and an additional $10,000 will be shared among the four remaining finalists for their contributions to Canadian children’s literature.
Author Xiran Jay Zhao was a double winner—winning both the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and the inaugural Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy for their debut novel, Iron Widow, published by Penguin Teen Canada.
Also presented tonight was the inaugural David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry Award to seasoned children’s poet and author Sheree Fitch, and illustrator Carolyn Fisher, for their collaboration on Summer Feet, published by Nimbus Publishing. Other winners include Julie Morstad, Vogue contributor Christian Allaire, Harriet Zaidman and debut author Leslie Gentile.
The awards event was hosted through the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA), with a live streaming component being available for those unable to attend the in-person ceremony. Eight prizes in total were awarded earlier tonight:
- On the Trapline, written by David A. Robertson and illustrated by Julie Flett (Tundra Books), won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($50,000)
- Time is a Flower, written and illustrated by Julie Morstad (Tundra Books), won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
- The Power of Style: How Fashion and Beauty Are Being Used to Reclaim Cultures, written by Christian Allaire and illustrated by Jacqueline Li (Annick Press), won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non‐Fiction ($10,000)
- Second Chances, written by Harriet Zaidman (Red Deer Press), won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000)
- Iron Widow, written by Xiran Jay Zhao (Penguin Teen Canada), won the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)
- Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer, written by Leslie Gentile (DCB Young Readers), won the Jean Little First-Novel Award ($5,000)
- Iron Widow, written by Xiran Jay Zhao (Penguin Teen Canada), won the Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy ($5,000)
- Summer Feet, written by Sheree Fitch and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher (Nimbus Publishing), won the David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry Award ($3,500)
“We would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to the winners and finalists for the 2022 CCBC Book Awards,” says Sarah Sahagian, Executive Director of the CCBC. “From a gorgeous picture book set at a Cree family’s trapline to a novel that transports readers to a 1970s lemonade stand, the spectacular titles awarded tonight showcase a diversity of communities, experiences, and perspectives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, books have been a source of comfort for so many children. When schools and playgrounds were closed and holiday festivities were cancelled during lockdowns, books sparked our children’s imaginations, introducing them to new ideas and places. If there is one theme that connects all the books that were celebrated tonight, it is possibility. Whether it’s a non-fiction work on the power of fashion to reclaim marginalized cultures, a joyful celebration of barefoot summer days, or the moving story of a grandfather and grandchild who revisit their family’s trapline, these books provide readers with a window to a vast and diverse world. Perhaps most importantly, the life-affirming messages found in these books give readers hope for the future.”
“Congratulations to this year’s winners and finalists of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award,” says Uma Venkataramaiah, Senior Manager, Philanthropy (Canada), Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship, TD Bank Group. “We are so grateful for your contributions that help young readers fall in love with new stories, teach them about diverse perspectives and grow their literacy capabilities. That’s why supporting early learning and children’s literature is a key component of the TD Ready Commitment, the Bank’s corporate citizenship platform, and we’re proud to continue collaborating with the CCBC.”
In total, $116,000 in prize monies was awarded tonight, and an additional $62,500 will be awarded on November 16 when the Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse is announced. Facilitated by our sister organization, Communication-Jeunesse, the shortlist for the Prix TD will be announced on October 26.
“We are especially thankful to our sponsors TD Bank Group, A. Charles Baillie, the Fleck Family Foundation, Elly Barlin-Daniels and Shelley Stagg Peterson for helping us elevate Canadian books and their creators,” says Zain Velji, President of the CCBC’s Board of Directors. “We are also grateful for our partnership with the Toronto International Festival of Authors in presenting these awards.”
Below is the full list of prizes presented, with comments from the jurors. For a complete list of the shortlisted titles, click here. Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists!
Download the PDF version of this press release here.
For more information, please contact:
Program and Events Coordinator
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre
416 975-0010 ext. 4
TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($50,000)
Sponsored by TD Bank Group
On the Trapline
Written by David A. Robertson (Winnipeg, MB)
Illustrated by Julie Flett (Vancouver, BC)
for ages 4-8
“A quiet, yet powerful intergenerational story expressing love for the land, the water, all of the beings, and for each other. This title is a triumph; the language and visual imagery are in perfect synergy… Robertson’s rhythmic prose and Flett’s exquisite illustrations weave together to convey a beautiful story of intergenerational friendship, community and Indigenous history… On the Trapline is a remarkable achievement that brings together the work of two brilliant Canadian talents to create not simply an appealing tale, but a work of art.”
TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award honour books include:
- Borders, written by Thomas King, illustrated by Natasha Donovan (HarperCollins Publishers)
- The Fabulous Zed Watson!, written by Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester, illustrated by Kevin Sylvester (HarperCollins Publishers)
- Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words, edited by Dr. Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry (Orca Book Publishers)
- A Kid Is a Kid Is a Kid, written by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng (Groundwood Books)
JURY MEMBERS: Dr. Rob Bittner, children’s and YA specialist; Ray Fernandes, Youth Services Librarian/Consultant, Nova Scotia Provincial Library; Colette Poitras, Manager, Indigenous Public Library Outreach, Government of Alberta; Amy Mathers, reviewer and founder, Amy Mathers Teen Book Award; Michelle Valdecantos, teacher-librarian, Vancouver School Board.
Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie
Time is a Flower
Written and illustrated by Julie Morstad (Vancouver, BC)
for ages 3-7
“When picking up this book, it may evoke memories of a time gone by but once you open the book, you are brought quickly to the present… Morstad’s illustrations are fluid and vibrant; her words resonant and spare… An outstanding book beautifully crafted with care and attention to every design detail—knock-out artwork, choice of font, placement of text, the size and shape of the book itself—not to mention the clever use of child-friendly metaphors to help readers come to a better understanding of a challenging concept.”
JURY MEMBERS: Fatma Faraj, Junior School Teacher-Librarian, Branksome Hall; Bonnie Farmer, author and teacher, English Montreal School Board; Janis Nostbakken, children’s media specialist.
Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000)
Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation
The Power of Style: How Fashion and Beauty Are Being Used to Reclaim Cultures
Written by Christian Allaire (New York, NY)
Illustrated by Jacqueline Li (Vancouver, BC)
for ages 12 and up
“This book beautifully centres the voices of many diverse and intersectional individuals as they use fashion and beauty to honour, respect, celebrate and reclaim their cultures and traditions… All topics are highlighted by high-quality, fashion-forward photographs that vary from samples to full-page spreads, allowing readers to reflect and enjoy each… A much-needed book that presents a modern and more authentic and inclusive representation of beauty… This book shares the powerful message of being fearlessly unapologetically and authentically yourself! A must-have book for all Canadians to affirm and expand their ideas, identities and lived experiences… Sure to be a hit with all young adults.”
JURY MEMBERS: Betsy Fraser, Selector, Calgary Public Library and author of Young Adult Nonfiction: A Readers’ Advisory and Collection Development Guide (Libraries Unlimited); Rabia Khokhar, teacher, Toronto District School Board; Maria Martella, owner of Tinlids Inc., a wholesaler of children’s and teen books for schools and libraries.
Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000)
Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund
Written by Harriet Zaidman (Winnipeg, MB)
Red Deer Press
for ages 12 and up
“Zaidman’s superbly researched novel offers teens an essential and timely story of forgiveness, personal transformation, authentic inner growth and renewal that can come from facing hardship head-on… Dale’s story takes readers on a journey of perseverance and determination during the polio epidemic… The parallels between the plot in Zaidman’s book and present-day challenges related to COVID make this story even more interesting… A beautiful story of love, compassion and the art of medicine.”
JURY MEMBERS: Tina Athaide, author and educator; Christina Minaki, author, librarian, social justice educator and disability advocate; Brandon Mitchell, author, illustrator and founder of Birch Bark Comics; Gail de Vos (chair), author, storyteller and Adjunct (Associate) Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.
Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)
Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Xiran Jay Zhao (Burnaby, BC)
Penguin Teen Canada
for ages 14 and up
“Character comes to the fore in Iron Widow, which is set in a futuristic China setting… Many young adult novels have taken on the revenge story plot but few commit so fully to it… Filled to the brim with giant transforming robots and mecha aliens, this is a world of passionate, uncompromising characters written with an equal measure of brutality and beauty… Zhao does a wonderful job showcasing institutional oppression while blending Chinese history… After the last page, readers will be asking for more.”
JURY MEMBERS: Dr. Dave Jenkinson, Editor, CM: Canadian Review of Materials and Professor Emeritus, Children’s & YA Literature, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba; Ardo Omer, writer, podcast host and Kids Coordinator, Festival of Literary Diversity; Joel A. Sutherland, Silver Birch Award-winning author and Manager of Client Experience, Pickering Public Library.
Jean Little First-Novel Award ($5,000)
Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer
Written by Leslie Gentile (Brentwood Bay, BC)
DCB Young Readers
for ages 9-12
“With its leisurely pace, this novel feels exactly like a child’s summer… Gentile’s characters are richly realized, and the story takes on challenging material—abuse, identity, racism and more—in ways that respect its audience… The story is approachable and good-natured, wearing its subversive subtext lightly as it presents an unredeemed bad mother, a plot detail that involves questioning the Indian Act and an upending of the white saviour trope… The Coast Salish adults who are Truly’s neighbours buoy her with such tenderness that she and the reader are left with profound hope… A middle-grade summer story that plays with the genre in ways both satisfyingly familiar and refreshingly new.”
JURY MEMBERS: Maggie de Vries, author; Sarah Ellis, author; Kit Pearson, author.
Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy ($5,000)
Sponsored by Elly Barlin-Daniels
Xiran Jay Zhao (Burnaby, BC)
Penguin Teen Canada
for ages 14 and up
“Fierce, propulsive, and breathtaking from the very first page. Iron Widow gives us the mesmerising Zetian, who seeks revenge for the death of her older sister and then to confront and transform a world that treats girls and women as expendable. With true sense-of-wonder science fiction, Zhao sets Zetian’s struggles in a world of aliens, giant mecha, war, and forbidding menace. A standout YA debut… The sequel can’t come fast enough.”
JURY MEMBERS: Michael Johnstone, author, reviewer and lecturer, Department of English, University of Toronto; Rachel Seigel, author, reviewer and Team Lead, Selections, Library Services Centre; Tara Truscott, teacher-librarian, York Region District School Board.
David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry Award ($3,500)
Sponsored by Shelley Stagg Peterson
Written by Sheree Fitch (River John, NS)
Illustrated by Carolyn Fisher (Calgary, AB)
for ages 4-8
“Sheree Fitch is a wordsmith wizard. The words of Summer Feet tap-dance, waltz and cha-cha up and down and all around the colourful pages of this dune-dancing, beach-loving smoochable summertime adventure… Fitch’s poetry sings in the ear when read aloud… Fitch’s words and Fisher’s paintings provide a celebration of summer days, of bare feet and happy times… One cannot help but smile with delight while reading this book.”
JURY MEMBERS: Carol-Ann Hoyte, librarian and poet; Paula Jane Remlinger, children’s writer, editor and poet, author of This Hole Called January (Thistledown Press); Larry Swartz, Instructor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto and co-author of The Poetry Experience (Pembroke Publishers).
About the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is a national, not‐for‐profit organization founded in 1976. We are dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for young readers. Our programs, publications, and resources help teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents select the very best for young readers. For more information, please visit bookcentre.ca.
About TD Global Corporate Citizenship
TD has a long‐standing commitment to enriching the lives of its customers, colleagues and communities. As part of its corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment, TD is targeting CDN $1 billion (US $775 million) in total by 2030 towards community giving in four areas critical to opening doors for a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow—Financial Security, Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. Through The Ready Commitment, TD aspires to link its business, philanthropy and human capital to help people feel more confident—not just about their finances, but also in their ability to achieve their personal goals in a changing world. For further information, visit td.com/thereadycommitment.
About the Toronto International Festival of Authors
The Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) is Canada’s longest-running literary festival, a charitable, non-for-profit cultural organization. It presents the finest of Canadian and international writers, artists and thinkers across the range of literary genres from fiction to non-fiction, poetry to plays, graphic novelists and illustrators. It enables audiences access and empowerment to meet, hear and learn from the finest contemporary writers and thinkers of our time. For more information, visit festivalofauthors.ca.