Half Brother wins CLA Young Adult Canadian Book of the Year Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Ottawa, Ontario (April 15, 2011) – The Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliothèques is pleased to announce the 2011 CLA Young Adult Book Award winner and Honour Books for books published in 2010. Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, published by HarperCollins, is the winner. The Honour Books are Dust City by Robert Paul Weston, published by Puffin, and Room by Emma Donoghue, published by HarperCollins.

In Half Brother, thirteen-year old Ben is less than thrilled when his parents decide to move halfway across the country from their home in Toronto to BC because of his father’s research. He is even less happy when he discovers that this research will involve welcoming a baby chimp into their home and raising him as a member of the family. But over the next two years Ben becomes deeply attached to their new family member and when his worst fears are realized and the funding for his father’s research is discontinued, Ben decides that he must find a way to protect the Òhalf brotherÓ that he has come to love. Oppel’s tale provides sympathetic, well-rounded characters of all ages, a gripping plot, and a thoughtful and sensitive treatment of familial relationships while tackling such very large issues as animal rights and the psychology of belonging and attachment.

RoomEmma Donoghue’s Room, is told entirely from the point of view of five year old Jack, a lively and inquisitive little boy with a vivid imagination and a genuine love of life. He and his ma spend their days watching TV and playing games in their tiny home. Or, as the reader quickly comes to realize, their prison. This tiny 11 x 11 foot room is the only home that Jack has ever known, and while his mother obviously longs for the outside world that he doesn’t even believe exists, Jack is perfectly content. But Ma knows that things can’t go on this way forever and ultimately she convinces Jack that he must be brave and trust her so that they can finally be free of their captor, Old Nick, once and for all. Jack’s narration provides a unique perspective on this horrific tale; through him Donoghue has created a haunting portrait of human resilience.

Dust CityDust City by Robert Paul Weston is a gritty fantasy/mystery tale that skilfully weaves elements of many best-loved fairytales into its twisting, twining plot. Henry Whelp, son of the infamous wolf who brutally slaughtered a girl and her grandmother, is himself locked up in the Remus Home for Wayward Youth. When the school psychiatrist is found dead, Henry makes an unplanned escape and finds himself trying to lay low in the heart of the city. He soon becomes convinced that his father may have been set up and that there is something sinister going on which may explain the disappearance of the fairies, the mysteries surrounding the city’s drug trade and the truth of what happened the night that his father committed his terrible crime. A highly original exploration of the dark side of fairy tales, Weston’s tale is smart and sophisticated.

A complete list of the 2011 finalists, as well as information on past winners, is available on the CLA website.

The CLA Young Adult Book Award was established by the Young Adult Caucus of the Saskatchewan Library Association in 1980. The award recognizes an author of an outstanding Canadian English-language work of fiction (novel or collection of short stories) that appeals to young adults between the ages of 13 and 18. Previous winners include Lesley Livingston, Allan Stratton, Martha Brooks, William Bell, Shyam Selvadurai, Miriam Toews, and Polly Horvath.

The award will be presented at this year’s Book Awards reception, on May 26, 2011, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, during the CLA 2011 National Conference & Trade Show. The CLA Young Adult Book Award is generously sponsored by Library Services Centre. The Book Awards Reception is generously sponsored by TD Bank Group.

The Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliothèques is Canada’s largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the 2011 CLA Young Adult Book Award Committee:

Lisa Doucet, Woozles Children’s Book Store, Halifax – Chair
Carol Rigby, Contract Cataloguer, Iqaluit, NU/Maberly, ON
Barb Janicek, Kitchener Public Library
Kim Hebig, Wheatland Regional Library
Jen Hoyer, Edmonton Social Planning Council

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For more information, please contact:
Lisa Doucet, 902-423-7626