Marie-Louise Gay wins 2020 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award for The Three Brothers

IBBY Canada (International Board on Books for Young People, Canadian section) is pleased to announce that Marie-Louise Gay has won the 2020 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award for The Three Brothers, published by Groundwood Books. Selected from 122 submitted books, the winner receives $1,000. The jury also selected two honour books from the list of ten finalists: The Paper Boat by Thao Lam and At the Pond, by Geraldo Valério.

Marie-Louise Gay is an accomplished illustrator of over sixty books for children — board books, picture books and novels — inspired by her childhood, her own children, her travels and her imagination. She studied graphic design at the Institut des arts graphiques in Montreal; animation at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts School; and illustration at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. She has worked as a professional illustrator for magazines, textbooks and posters; as a freelance art director and production manager in book publishing; and taught illustration at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Her books have been translated into many languages around the world. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.
In selecting The Three Brothers as the winner, the jury commented:

In The Three Brothers, Finn and his brothers Leo and Ooley are inspired by the adventure stories they read every night. They embark one morning on a winter adventure that will spark their imagination. Marie-Louise Gay shows how, through the eyes of a child, a walk in the nearby woods can become a marvellous adventure with secret hiding places, shadows of animals lurking behind trees, and a feeling of discovery and wonder. The jury was delighted to see how Marie-Louise Gay used exquisite detailed and colourful watercolour and pen illustrations to create a masterful ode to creativity, to brotherly connection and to the joy of winter. Young readers will be enchanted by this gentle story that will spark their curiosity for adventure and the power of imagination.

About the two honour books, the jury said:

The Paper Boat by Thao Lam (Owlkids Books)

Lam’s wordless picture book has comic strip-style textured paper collage illustrations that brilliantly and touchingly depict a family’s harrowing journey from Vietnam to Canada. Ants represent the refugees in the middle part of the book when they sail a tiny origami boat across the ocean and survive despite dramatic hardships.

At The Pond by Geraldo Valério (Groundwood Books)

Quietly and gently, master illustrator Geraldo Valério offers a powerful contemplation about respect for the natural world in this beautiful wordless picture book. A boy and his leashed dog walk to a pond, where they discover a flock of geese. The artist contrasts quiet blues and greys with bursts of colour throughout the book, creating a sense of rhythm and flow. The use of colour, the lack of it, and its’ glorious return when harmony is restored, leaves the reader deeply moved.

The jury for the 2020 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award jury was comprised of: Josiane Polidori, Chair, former Head of Children’s Literature at Library and Archives Canada; Heather Doepner, Collection Development Librarian at Halifax Public Libraries; and Pamela Mountain, children’s librarian and branch manager with Toronto Public Library.

About the Cleaver Award:

The Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award was established in 1985 following the death of Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver, one of Canada’s pre-eminent book illustrators. In her will, Cleaver left a fund of $10,000 for an award to be given annually in recognition of outstanding artistic talent in a Canadian picture book. The recipient receives a cheque for $1,000 and a certificate. The Cleaver Award is administered by a committee of three members of the Canadian section of the International Board on Books for Young People. Find out more.

About IBBY Canada:

IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People (, was founded in 1953. It is a network of organizations in 79 countries committed to bringing books and children together. IBBY Canada, established in 1980 (, is a volunteer organization promoting quality French and English Canadian children’s literature nationally and internationally. For more information, please visit

For more information about the awards, please contact:
Allison MacLachlan
Promotions Officer, IBBY Canada