Winners Announced for the 2016 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards

$145,000 in prize money awarded to Canadian children’s authors and illustrators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (November 18, 2016) – The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is thrilled to announce the winners of its seven English-language children’s book awards. The TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award was given to author Melanie Florence and illustrator François Thisdale, who will share the $30,000 prize, for their picture book Missing Nimâmâ (Clockwise Press); an additional $12,500 was divided between the winning book’s publisher and the creators of the other four nominated titles. Seven awards in total were given out:

  • Missing Nimâmâ, written by Melanie Florence and illustrated by François Thisdale, won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($30,000)
  • Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
  • Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and You, written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth, won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000)
  • Uncertain Soldier by Karen Bass won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction For Young People ($5,000)
  • The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands won the John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000)
  • The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow won the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy ($5,000)
  • The Truth Commission by Susan Juby won the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)

The winners were announced last night at a gala event, hosted by the CBC’s Shelagh Rogers, at The Carlu in Toronto. At a gala event in Montreal on November 1, 2016, the CCBC and TD Bank Group also awarded the $30,000 Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse to Jacques Goldstyn for L’arbragan (Éditions de la Pastèque), with another $12,500 divided between Goldstyn’s publisher and four other nominated titles. (Click here for more information.)

Once again, TD Bank Group partnered with CBC Books to present the Fan Choice Award. Young readers were asked to pick their favourite book from the shortlisted TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards titles in an online poll from September 19 to October 30, 2016. This year’s winner was Kenneth Oppel, who received the $5,000 Fan Choice Award for his book The Nest (HarperCollins Publishers).

In total, $145,000 was awarded between the two ceremonies to Canadian authors, illustrators and publishers. Below is the full list of prizes presented, with comments from the jurors. Click here for the shortlists.

For more information, please contact:

Camilia Kahrizi
Marketing and Website Coordinator
Canadian Children’s Book Centre
416.975.0010 ext. 221 |

Sponsored by TD Bank Group


Missing Nimâmâ
Written by Melanie Florence (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by François Thisdale (Carignan, QC)
Clockwise Press
for ages 10 and up
“Haunting free verse and ethereally beautiful illustrations combine to show that memory and familial love can bring a sense of hope, peace and joy in life after a painful loss… There’s a soft sadness, together with a vibrant hopefulness in the illustrations and alternating perspectives of mother and daughter… The faces of missing and murdered Indigenous women find life in Missing Nimâmâ… Florence’s words and Thisdale’s illustrations fuse to create a powerful emotional impact.

The finalists, who received $2,500 each, were:

  • The Nest, written by Kenneth Oppel (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • That Squeak, written by Carolyn Beck and illustrated by François Thisdale (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
  • The Wolf-Birds, written and illustrated by Willow Dawson (Owlkids Books)
  • A Year of Borrowed Men, written by Michelle Barker and illustrated by Renné Benoit (Pajama Press)

JURY MEMBERS: Merle Harris, IBBY Canada Executive Committee member, storyteller and elementary school library technician; Dr. Dave Jenkinson, Editor, CM: Canadian Review of Materials and Professor Emeritus, Children’s & YA Literature, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba; Gigi Nadeau, Librarian Consultant, Riverside School Board; Barbara Kissick, former children’s librarian, Confederation Centre Public Library; Shelley Stagg Peterson, Professor, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and former member of the jury of the Notable Books for a Global Society of the International Literacy Association.

Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie


Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox
Written and illustrated by Danielle Daniel (Hanmer, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 5-8
“In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem of animals, young children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose… Simple text, lovely illustrations… A perfect marriage of verbal text and visuals, along with ideal formatting, make this a rich read and a valued treasure for Canadian bookshelves today and tomorrow.”

JURY MEMBERS: Maria Martella, owner of Tinlids Inc., a wholesaler of children’s and teen books for schools and libraries; Janis Nostbakken, Children’s Media Specialist; Larry Swartz, Instructor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and Brock University, and author of This Is a Great Book! (Pembroke Publishers).

Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation


Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and You
Written by Cory Silverberg (Houston, TX)
Illustrated by Fiona Smyth (Toronto, ON)
Seven Stories Press
for ages 7-11
“A hugely important book that both normalizes diverse sexuality and gives it the respect it deserves… Silverberg’s introduction to sex and sexuality is a pitch-perfect guide for kids seeking answers to some of life’s most embarrassing and confusing questions… The tell-it-like-it-is text is inclusive and sensitive, creating a resource full of acceptance for readers regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or social standing.”

JURY MEMBERS: Dory Cerny, Books for Young People Editor, Quill & Quire; Nadia L. Hohn, teacher, Toronto District School Board and author of Malaika’s Costume (Groundwood Books); Heather Kuipers, Owner, Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore.

Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund


Uncertain Soldier
Written by Karen Bass (Hythe, AB)
Pajama Press
for ages 12 and up
“Beautifully written… A compelling and satisfying story… This moving historical novel presents the world’s anger towards Nazi Germany through cruelty and bullying of both main characters. Rising above this is a friendship bond that is deeper than physical pain… Both Erich and Max are uncertain of their identities and their loyalties. Their lives become inextricably entwined in this complicated and beautiful narrative of otherness and understanding.”

JURY MEMBERS: Shannon Babcock, Project Manager, Quebec Reading Connection and Past President, IBBY Canada; Karyn Huenemann, reviewer for Resource Links Magazine, university instructor and blogger at There Will Be Books; Sandra Stockall, Subject Coordinator K-5, Anglophone East School District (Moncton); Gail de Vos (chair), author, storyteller and Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.

Sponsored by John Spray


The Blackthorn Key
(Blackthorn Key)
Written by Kevin Sands (Toronto, ON)
for ages 9-14
This captivating page-turner contains everything young people are looking for in a mystery — complex codes, magic potions, hidden chambers, thrilling chases, terrifying explosions and so much more… The characters are extremely well-developed and readers will be routing for Christopher, the young protagonist, from the minute they meet him… This debut novel will create quite a fan base for Kevin Sands.”

JURY MEMBERS: Gail Bowen, author; Sandra O’Brien, Editor, Canadian Children’s Book News, and former teacher; Ashley Pamenter, Coordinator of Programming, Girl Guides of Canada, and former elementary school teacher.

Sponsored by HarperCollins Canada in memory of the late Monica Hughes


The Scorpion Rules
(Prisoners of Peace)
Written by Erin Bow (Kitchener, ON)
Margaret K. McElderry Books
for ages 14 and up
“After reading The Scorpion Rules, those who are familiar with Bow’s previous work will be in awe of her consistent ability to create rich worlds populated by fully realized characters. Those reading her for the first time are in for a literary treat and are sure to make it a rule to never miss one of her novels again… Bow deftly propels the story toward a hopeful and poignant culmination… Searingly intelligent, note-perfect in tone and mood, and consistently provocative, The Scorpion Rules is powerful, deeply insightful science fiction… The quality of writing is nothing short of masterful.”

JURY MEMBERS: Tina Everitt, Category Manager for Teen and Romance, Indigo; Michael Johnstone, Lecturer, Department of English, University of Toronto; Joel Sutherland, author of Haunted Canada 6: More Terrifying True Stories and Children’s & Youth Services Librarian, Georgina Public Library (MLIS, Aberystwyth University)

Sponsored by Sylvan Learning


The Truth Commission
Written by Susan Juby (Nanaimo, BC)
Razorbill Canada
for ages 13 and up
Susan Juby is, quite simply, the best… I have never encountered another author who can write scenes of such zany absurdity with such brilliance and relatability… This book delivers a thoughtful reflection on the nature of truth in a package that is smart and funny and utterly original… The art school setting, the fresh and fully-realized characters and the quirky but thought-provoking plot combine to create a story that is part mystery, part family drama and wholly hilarious… Readers of The Truth Commission should buckle their seat belts to prepare for this emotional roller coaster ride!

JURY MEMBERS: Melissa Bourdon-King, YA consultant, Sales and Technical support, TBM BookManager; Lisa Doucet, Co-Manager, Woozles Children’s Bookstore; Pamela Jeffrey, teacher-librarian, Stayner Collegiate Institute, Simcoe County District School Board.


TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
Now in its 12th year, the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award celebrates excellence in children’s literature by rewarding the best literary work by Canadian authors. Sponsored by TD, and administered by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, it is one of the largest prizes in children’s book awards. All books, in any genre, written and illustrated by Canadians and published in Canada for children, are eligible. Each book is judged on the quality of the text and illustrations, in addition to its overall contribution to Canadian children’s literature. Since the program started in 2004, 120 books have been honoured through the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award in both official languages

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award honours excellence in the illustrated picture book format, for children aged 3 to 8. Charles Baillie, retired Chairman and CEO of TD Bank Group, is delighted to give the prize in his wife Marilyn’s name. As an award-winning children’s book author and an early learning specialist, Marilyn is involved in and passionate about children’s literature. The winning book receives $20,000.

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction
The Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction was established by the Fleck Family Foundation in 1999 to recognize Canada’s exceptional non-fiction books for young people. The award honours Norma Fleck (1906-1998), who inspired a deep love of reading in her children and grandchildren. Dr. James Fleck, who initiated the award, is the son of Norma Fleck. The winning book receives $10,000.

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
The Geoffrey Bilson Award was established in 1988 in memory of the respected historian and children’s author, Geoffrey Bilson. The $5,000 prize is awarded annually to the Canadian author of an outstanding work of historical fiction for young people. In 2005, the Bilson Endowment Fund was created to support this award. If you wish to contribute to this fund, please contact the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

John Spray Mystery Award
The John Spray Mystery Award was established in 2011 to honour excellence in the mystery book genre. John Spray, President of the Mantis Investigation Agency, is delighted to sponsor the prize, noting that mystery books made him a passionate reader at an early age and helped him find his chosen career. The $5,000 prize is awarded annually to a Canadian author of an outstanding work of mystery writing for young people.

Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy
Established in 2011, the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy honours excellence in the science fiction and fantasy genre. Sponsored by HarperCollins Canada, in memory of the late Monica Hughes, the $5,000 prize is awarded annually to a Canadian author of an outstanding work of speculative fiction for young people.

Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
The Amy Mathers Teen Book Award, established in 2014, honours excellence in teen/young adult fiction. The prize is awarded annually with a cash prize of $5,000 to an original work aimed at readers aged 13-18. The prize was established following the fundraising efforts of Amy Mathers through her Marathon of Books. Now in its second year, the award is sponsored by Sylvan Learning.

About the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is a national, not-for-profit organization and registered charity founded in 1976 to promote, support and encourage the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for children and teens. With book collections and extensive resources in five cities across Canada, the CCBC is a treasure-trove for anyone interested in Canadian books for young readers.