The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen wins 2013 CLA Book of the Year for Children Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Ottawa (April 15, 2013) – Drawing from an outstanding collection of children’s literature produced by Canadian authors and publishers in 2012, the Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliotheques (CLA/ACB) has selected its winning title for the 2013 Book of the Year for Children Award. This year’s winner is The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen, published by Tundra Books. The CLA Book of the Year for Children Award is generously sponsored by Library Services Centre.

The story centres on 13-year-old Henry, who begins to keep a journal at the suggestion of his therapist. His entries are at times heart-breaking, often funny, and always thoughtful. Henry eventually reveals to the reader how his older brother, Jesse, the victim of relentless bullying, commits a desperate and horrible act. As it details the time leading up to his brother’s crime, Henry’s journal offers a compelling reflection on the way we all cope with tragedy.

Commenting on their winning choice, the CLA’s Book of the Year for Children Award Jury Chair Alexandra Yarrow elaborates: “Nielsen’s books typically are characterized by empathy for her characters. She has a particular gift for finding the unique voice on one child and embracing it, while also portraying with balance and sensitivity other, often unsympathetic, characters of all ages. In The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, Nielsen’s gifts are at their best yet, resulting in an unforgettable novel that explores a painful topic with compassion.”

The jury has also selected two Honour Books this year: A Tinfoil SkyGift by Cyndi Sand-Evelund (Tundra Books) and The Grave Robber’s Apprentice by Allan Stratton (HarperCollins Canada).

A Tinfoil Sky follows 12-year-old Mel and her troubled mother Cecily, who have moved 11 times in four years. When Cecily is arrested and Mel ends up living with her grandmother, Mel hopes for warm hugs and chocolate chip cookies. When things do not turn out quite as she expected, Mel finds refuge at the local library, where she make a few friends, but struggles for that sense of home she is longing for. Mel is a strong narrator who tells an ultimately hopeful story, as she makes tough decisions for herself and her future.

The Grave Robber’s Apprentice is the latest book by prolific author Allan Stratton. Countess Angela needs someone she can count on to save her from the evil Archduke Arnulf, who plans to kill her as soon as they are married. She finds an unlikely friend in Hans, the grave robber’s apprentice. This action-packed novel is full of evil villains, surprising heroes and supernatural beings. Stratton weaves references to Shakespeare and other great works of dramatic literature into this exciting and entertaining tale.

A complete list of the shortlisted titles can be found here.The CLA Book of the Year for Children Award Jury salutes all Canadian writers of children’s literature and their publishers for providing an exceptional collection of quality books for children with varied interests and reading abilities. Since its inception in 1947, the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award has been presenting annually in recognition of excellence in children’s books written and published in Canada during the predecing year. This year’s award, generously sponsored by Library Services Centre, will be presented to Susin Nielsen, author of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen on May 30, 2013, during the CLA National Conference and Tradeshow in Winnipeg. The CLA Book Award Reception is generously sponsored TD Bank Group.

The members of this year’s jury were: Myra Junyk, Literacy advocate and author, Toronto; Jaclyn McLean, Librarian, Prince Albert; Rachel Seigel, Selection Manager- Education, S&B Books, Mississauga; Kathryn Weisman, Librarian, West Vancouver; Alexandra Yarrow, Librarian, Ottawa.

The Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliothèques is Canada’s largest national and broad-based 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.

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Media Contact:

Alexandra Yarrow
Chair, Book of the Year for Children Award Jury
613-725-2449 ext. 23