Susin Nielsen, author of No Fixed Address, We Are All Made of Molecules, Optimists Die First and more, is the winner of the 2019 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People and the $25,000 prize. The award was announced yesterday at the Writers’ Trust Awards.
The Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People is given annually to the author of an exceptional body of work in children’s literature. The winner is selected by a three-member, independent judging panel.
In one of her book titles, Susin Nielsen reminds us we are all made of molecules. Deftly, in her writing, she has managed to mould these molecules into unforgettable characters that lead us in and out of the seismic shifts of adolescence in the earthquake zone of Vancouver, where her stories are set. Nielsen celebrates the amazing resilience of young people as well as the adults around them as they face such trials as mental health issues, bullying, homelessness, and the deaths of siblings and parents. Few writing today can match her ability to make even peripheral characters memorable through a wonderful distillation of dialogue and details. A testimony to her talent is that she manages to put everything together with a humour that can only draw us in and keep us laughing even as we reach for a box of tissues. Witty, tender, fearless in the face of tackling big issues, Nielsen has staked out her territory in children’s literature — and it’s a place worth visiting often. — Jury Citation (Glen Huser, Kyo Maclear, and Susan Perren)
The goal of the Metcalf Foundation is to enhance the effectiveness of people and organizations working together to help Canadians imagine and build a just, healthy and creative society. Vicky Metcalf created this award in 1963 to stimulate the writing of literature for Canadian children. She held a passion for storytelling and published several children’s books. The prize has been administered by the Writers’ Trust since 2002.