John Spray Mystery Award


The John Spray Mystery Award, established in 2011, honours excellence in the mystery book genre. The prize is awarded annually with a cash prize of $5,000. To be eligible, the book must be an original work in English, aimed at readers eight to 18 and written by a Canadian. A mystery book can be a thriller, a crime novel or a whodunit.

John Spray, President of the Mantis Investigation Agency, is delighted to give the prize, saying that reading mysteries made him a passionate reader at an early age and helped him find his chosen career. “For many years, through the publishing career of my wife, Gail Winskill, I became acquainted with both contemporary children’s literature as well as the unwavering support of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for children’s writers and illustrators. While attending the 2010 Canadian Children’s Literature Awards Celebration, I was struck by the absence of an award for mystery writing. My childhood was spent rapidly turning the pages of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, which morphed into the Spillanes and le Carres on my adult bookshelf. Offering a prize for children’s mystery books seemed to me to be a modest payback for a lifetime of joy spent reading great mysteries.”

Criteria and Submission Information

2020 details coming January 2020

Award Recipients

For the full list of finalists and winners, please click here.

Year Recipient
2019 Courtney Summers. Sadie. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2018.
2018 Eileen Cook. The Hanging Girl. Boston: Houghlin Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.
2017 Caroline Pignat. Shooter. Toronto: Razorbill Canada, 2016.
2016 Kevin Sands. The Blackthorn Key. New York: Aladdin, 2015.
2015 William Bell. Julian. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2014.
2014 Ted Staunton. Who I’m Not. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2013.
2013 Elizabeth Stewart. The Lynching of Louie Sam. Toronto: Annick Press, 2012.
2012 Rob Mills. Charlie’s Key. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2011.
2011 Y.S. Lee. A Spy in the House. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2010.