Finalists Announced for Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (September 25, 2008) ― The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is pleased to announce the finalists for three of the four major children’s book awards it administers. The finalists for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award were previously announced on August 6, 2008. The winners for all awards will be announced at a by invitation-only gala event at The Carlu in Toronto on November 6, 2008.

The CCBC is happy to report that the prize money for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People has increased to $5,000 (the original prize money amount was $1,000). The Bilson Endowment Fund, which was created in 2005, received an influx of funds thanks to generous contributions from our members, the Wilson Foundation, TD Bank Financial Group and the Ontario Arts Foundation.

This year’s nominated titles will captivate the hearts and imaginations of children and adults everywhere. Readers will be introduced to some of the most fascinating and fierce birds in the world; to a young Sherlock Holmes and the crime-ridden streets of 1867 inner-city London; to a graphic novel about climate change that is as raw and depressing as it is optimistic and humourous; to a gift-giving bubbie, a bunch of bagels and a bowl of borscht; and to young Louise, the little sister who pesters her older brother so much so that he wishes she would just disappear… and she does!
The books on these shortlists exemplify some of the best work by Canadian authors and illustrators. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is proud to share these titles with you.

. . . .

Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation

At Vimy Ridge: Canada’s Greatest World War I Victory
Written by Hugh Brewster
Scholastic Canada

“Through its superb text, At Vimy Ridge effectively conveys not only the bravery of the soldiers, the difficulty of the task, and the triumph of the victory, but also the controversy and questions that this war—and all wars—create… With a combination of maps, photographs, quotes and letters from soldiers, the battle of Vimy Ridge is brought to life for young readers.”

Birds of Prey: An Introduction
Written by Robert Bateman with Nancy Kovacs
Illustrated by Robert Bateman
Scholastic Canada/Madison Press

“Artist and naturalist Robert Bateman’s stunning full-colour paintings of majestic birds of prey compliment a combination of facts and personal anecdotes… The clear layout and straight-to-the point writing create an accessible and inviting book for readers of any age.”

The Eco-Diary of Kiran Singer
Written by Sue Ann Alderson
Illustrated by Millie Ballance
Tradewind Book

“This book’s unique and gentle style will captivate readers with its beautifully composed art, its poetic words and its personal approach… The fact-filled poems which describe a child’s awakening to environmental consciousness will appeal to poetry and nature lovers alike… Provides young readers with an outstanding new way to approach the important topic of preserving our natural resources.”

This Is My Planet: The Kids’ Guide to Global Warming
Written by Jan Thornhill
Maple Tree Press

“Straightforward, easy-to-understand language combined with stunning photographs and artwork will fascinate readers as they learn more about our planet and the perils we all face… The graphic design and easy flow of this book blow away all conventions of ‘boxed’ non-fiction snippets… Despite the sometimes depressing nature of the subject, the book leaves the reader with practical solutions and a sense of hope.”

Weird Weather: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About Climate Change but Probably Should Find Out
Written and illustrated by Kate Evans
Groundwood Books

“A hard-hitting, highly personal journey through one woman’s environmental epiphany, this engaging graphic novel pulls no punches as it chronicles the peril facing mankind and the deep despair it engenders, before coming up for air in a message of hard-won hope… Hits all the right buttons, offering a perfect mix of sarcasm, humour and utter seriousness to keep readers engaged.”

JURY MEMBERS: Mala Dayal, teacher-librarian, Peel District School Board; Polly Fleck, Governor General’s Award-nominated poet and member of the Fleck family; Todd Kyle, branch manager, Churchill Meadows Library, Mississauga Library System; Rachel Steen, selection manager at S&B Books; and Frieda Wishinsky, author.

. . . .

Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie

Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Kids Can Press

“Hold on to your hats! Heidbreder takes us lickety-split and ziggety-zag through a tour-de-force of wordplay perfect for reading aloud… Inventive illustrations not only capture the energy and bounce of the verbal acrobatics, but add their own humour and drive this wildly original picture book to its rip-roaring conclusion.”

My New Shirt
Written by Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Tundra Books

“David loves his bubbie, but not the birthday gift she gives him every year… Through Fagan’s rich language, the dreaded white shirt and the reader find themselves on a colourful romp through garden mud, a hair salon and a bowl of borscht… In the mock style of an old photo album, Petričić’s inimitable illustrations bring to life the slap-stick humour and the charming warmth of this family story.”

Written by Nan Gregory
Illustrated by Luc Melanson
Groundwood Books

“The intensity of wanting something out of reach has never been so vividly portrayed as in Gregory’s eloquent text and Melanson’s pink-infused illustrations which capture the pain of longing and the warmth of family love in a powerful portrayal of a young girl’s hard-won realization that though she can’t have what she wants, maybe what she has is what matters most.”

Please, Louise!
Written by Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books

“A superb book that combines the themes of sibling conflict and “be careful what you wish for!”… Text and illustrations work together magnificently in this tender story of Jake, who wishes his younger sister Louise would just “go away!”… Please, Louise! is whimsical, touching, and evocative of the freedom and liveliness of childhood.”

Super Handyman: The Master of Tools
Written and illustrated by Barroux
Translated by Jane Macaulay
Published by Smith, Bonappétit & Son

“Fabulously creative and uniquely illustrated, this story of a regular dad who becomes transformed into ‘Super Handyman’ when he enters his work shed has huge appeal for anyone who has ever looked up to a parent for their seeming super-human skill… Artist Barroux proves that his charming storytelling is a match for his unique palette and layered, textured artwork.”

JURY MEMBERS: Brenda Halliday, librarian, book reviewer and sessional lecturer, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto; Judi McCallum, training coordinator, Markham Public Library; and Joanne Schwartz, children’s librarian, Lillian H. Smith, Toronto Public Library.

. . . .

Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund

The Alchemist’s Dream
Written by John Wilson
Key Porter Books

“The Alchemists Dream is the early seventeenth century fictional story of Robert Bylot, a historical explorer who sailed as navigator with Henry Hudson in search of the Northwest Passage… The author’s description of life and death in the plague ridden city of London is impressive. This story of the ill-fated voyage is riveting… Kids will love it and I did too.”

Elijah of Buxton
Written by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic Canada

“Christopher Paul Curtis tells the unique and powerful coming-of-age story of Elijah, the first child to be born into freedom in Buxton, Ontario, a settlement of freed slaves… Through Elijah’s eyes, readers are made aware of the horrors and violence of slavery which inevitably allows them to truly understand the meaning of freedom.”

Eye of the Crow: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His First Case
Written by Shane Peacock
Tundra Books

“A skillfully told story that not only brings the seedy side of 1860s London to life, but also introduces a believable young Sherlock Holmes who sets out to solve a sensational murder case…This is a fast-paced page-turning mystery and young Sherlock will surely become a favourite with readers.”

Rise of the Golden Cobra
Written by Henry T. Aubin
Annick Press

“The Rise of the Golden Cobra is a great adventure that tells the coming of age story of a boy who, through tragedy and suffering, grows from being a simple, persecuted peasant to become a highly respected and moral officer in the pharaoh’s army… An awesome blend of fact and fiction filled with action, political intrigue, and military strategy.”

Tin Angel
Written by Shannon Cowan
Lobster Press

“Tin Angel is the coming of age story of Ronnie and her transition from innocence to womanhood in the turmoil of late 1960s and early 1970s… Carefully researched and well-written… Rich in imagery and filled with raw emotion… Young readers will easily identify with the themes of family dysfunction, teen relationships, loss, depression, poverty, and guilt verses innocence.”

JURY MEMBERS: Albert Fowler, author and storyteller; Merle Harris, author and storyteller; Arlene Lipkewich, teacher-librarian; and Gail de Vos (chair), storyteller and professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.

. . . .

The Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction was established by the Fleck Family Foundation in 1999 to recognize Canada’s exceptional non-fiction books for young people. The award honours Norma Fleck (1906 – 1998), who inspired a deep love of reading in her children and grandchildren. Dr. Jim Fleck, who initiated the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, is the son of Norma Fleck. The winning book receives $10,000.

The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award honours excellence in the illustrated picture book format, for children aged 3 to 6. Charles Baillie, retired Chairman and CEO of the TD Bank Financial Group, is delighted to give the prize in his wife Marilyn’s name. As an award-winning children’s book author and an early learning specialist, Marilyn is involved in and passionate about children’s literature. The winning book receives $10,000.

The Geoffrey Bilson Award was established in 1988 in memory of the respected historian and children’s author, Geoffrey Bilson. The $5,000 prize is awarded annually to the Canadian author of an outstanding work of historical fiction for young people. In 2005, the Bilson Endowment Fund was created to support this award. If you wish to contribute to this fund, please contact the CCBC.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is a national, not-for-profit organization and registered charity founded in 1976 to promote, support and encourage the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for children and teens. With book collections and extensive resources in five cities across Canada, the CCBC is a treasure-trove for anyone interested in Canadian books for young readers. For more information, please visit

– 30 –

For more information, please contact:

Charlotte Teeple
Executive Director
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre
40 Orchard View Blvd., Suite 101
Toronto, Ontario M4R 1B9
Tel: 416.975.0010
Fax: 416.975.8970