Toronto, October 21, 2008 – The Canada Council for the Arts today announced the finalists for the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Awards. The finalists include authors from ages 28 to 77, several previous finalists and three first-time finalists who are journalists. The awards are in the categories of fiction, non‑fiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature (text and illustration) and translation.
A total of 1,469 books were nominated for this year’s awards. Thirty-two of the 73 finalists are nominated for the first time. At least nine of the finalists are under the age of 35.
The finalists of the Governor General’s Literary Awards are chosen by independent juries (seven English and seven French categories) appointed by the Canada Council. The juries, which meet separately, consider all eligible books published between September 1, 2007 and September 30, 2008 for English-language books and between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008 for French-language books. This year, a total of 906 titles in the English-language categories and 563 titles in the French-language categories, were submitted.
Canada Council for the Arts funds, administers and promotes the Governor General’s Literary Awards. Each winner will receive $25,000 and a specially-bound copy of the winning book. The publisher of each winning book will receive $3,000 to support promotional activities. Non-winning finalists will each receive $1,000 in recognition of their selection as finalists
The winners will be announced on Tuesday, November 18 at 10am EST at the McCord Museum of Canadian History in Montreal.
BMO Financial Group has been the sponsor of the Governor General’s Literary Awards since 1988. BMO’s generous contribution has allowed the production of material aimed at promoting the finalists and winners.
The finalists for children’s literature and their respective jurors are listed below.
Children’s Literature English-Language Finalists — Text
Alma Fullerton, Midland (Ontario), Libertad.
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside; distributed by the publisher, ISBN 978-1-55455-106-4)
From the dumps in Guatemala, from the tragic death of a mother rise two boys: Libertad and his little brother, Julio. With only an address on a piece of paper, the boys embark on an incredible journey to find their father in America. Alma Fullerton weaves a story of warmth and caring, dogged determination and the generosity of strangers.
John Ibbitson, Washington (D.C.), formerly of Ottawa and Toronto, The Landing.
(Kids Can Press; distributed by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, ISBN 978-1-55453-234-6 (bound) / 978-1-55453-238-4 (pbk))
Ben Mercer first experiences live classical music as a young boy sitting on his father’s shoulders. From then on, he is hooked, bringing us along on his struggle to play violin. At times the instrument does not co-operate. There are too many notes on the music sheet. The Landing is a superbly-crafted story by a writer who understands the many stages of an artistic dream.
Dianne Linden, Edmonton, Shimmerdogs.
(Thistledown Press; distributed by University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-1-897235-37-9)
Mike Hopkins is a boy with his own way of dealing with the world around him – one not always understood or appreciated, even by those who love him dearly. Author Dianne Linden inhabits Mike’s world in a story that is life-affirming without ever being sentimental, that is in equal measures tragic, funny and poignant.
Shenaaz Nanji, Calgary, Child of Dandelions.
(Second Story Press; distributed by University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-1-897187-50-0)
This is a gripping drama about a fascinating fragment of time in history – the expulsion of Indians from Uganda in 1972. Fifteen-year-old Sabine poignantly straddles two worlds – those of the landed Indian gentry and of the native Ugandans amid wrenching turmoil. Quietly and crisply written, all of Nanji’s characters are beautifully realized, morally nuanced and compellingly crafted.
Mariko Tamaki, Toronto, Skim.
(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada, ISBN 978-0-88899-753-1)
Skim is an audacious and original graphic novel set in a girls’ private school. Skim, a slightly lumpy Kimberly Cameron, stumbles around the edges of cliques, depression, sexuality, suicide, crushes and an achingly ambiguous love. The story is heart-breakingly fresh and, in the end, a small celebration of life.
JURY: Michael Kusugak (Rankin Inlet, NU), Kevin Major (St. John’s, NL), Teresa Toten (Toronto)
Children’s Literature English-Language Finalists — Illustration
Isabelle Arsenault, Montreal, My Letter to the World and Other Poems, text by Emily Dickinson.
(Kids Can Press; distributed by University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-1-55453-103-5 (bound) / 978-1-55453-339-8 (pbk))
Isabelle Arsenault’s delicate illustrations and imaginative and confident use of tone, line and colour make it a joy to experience this retelling of Dickinson’s poetry.
Josée Bisaillon, Saint-Hubert (Quebec),
The Emperor’s Second Hand Clothes, text by Anne Millyard.
(Smith, Bonappétit & Son; distributed by University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-1-897118-07-8)
Josée Bisaillon mixes techniques playfully to create very imaginative illustrations. Readers will find new joy in a story they may already know.
Matt James, Toronto, Yellow Moon, Apple Moon, text by Pamela Porter.
(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada, ISBN 978-0-88899-809-5)
Matt James’s swirling, joyful and childlike illustrations add playful and limitless imagination to this delightful bedtime rhyme for young children. Strong yet gentle, they blend perfectly with the text.
Stéphane Jorisch, Montreal, The Owl and the Pussycat, text by Edward Lear.
(Kids Can Press; distributed by University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-1-55337-828-0 (bound) / 978-1-55453-232-2 (pbk))
Stéphane Jorisch’s fantastic and thought-provoking images interpret this classic poem in a new way. From the first to the last page, with or without text, his illustrations flow superbly, to the readers’ delight.
Kim LaFave, Roberts Creek (British Columbia), Shin-chi’s Canoe, text by Nicola I. Campbell.
(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada, ISBN 978-0-88899-857-6)
The use of deceptively simple scenes to evoke powerful emotions is one of the many techniques Kim LaFave uses to tell this poignant story. His strong illustrations, using line and subdued colours to best effect, help the reader to relate deeply with what takes place in the story
JURY: Victor Bosson (Victoria), Jirina Marton (Colborne, ON), Janie Jaehyun Park (Toronto)
Children’s Literature French-Language Finalists — Text
Camille Bouchard, Saint-Marcel-de-l’Islet (Quebec), Trente-neuf.
(Les Éditions du Boréal; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia, ISBN 978-2-7646-0590-5)
This novel vividly recreates the early days of Spain’s colonization of the Americas. A poignant tale told by two voices, the confrontation of two worlds: a Spanish ship’s boy and a young Amerindian. A powerful book of great historical authenticity that sheds fascinating light on this period.
Sylvie Desrosiers, Longueuil (Quebec), Les trois lieues.
(Les éditions de la courte échelle; distributed by Diffusion du livre Mirabel, ISBN 978-2-89651-067-2)
Les trois lieues is a rich and moving book. Seeking his father in the North, Tom discovers the full extent of his feelings for the man he had judged as a coward. A luminous and human novel that celebrates life.
Charlotte Gingras, Morin-Heights (Quebec), Ophélie.
(Les éditions de la courte échelle; distributed by Diffusion du livre Mirabel, ISBN 978-2-89021-957-1)
Charlotte Gingras, with sensitivity and pitch-perfect tone, gives voice to two young people who are different from the rest – misfits for whom school is all too often an unbearable environment. A novel full of hope where it is possible for the heroes, in their squatted studio, to be saved by dreams, art, writing and, in the end, by tenderness and love.
François Gravel, Montreal, Sales crapauds.
(Québec Amérique; distributed by Prologue, ISBN 978-2-7644-0598-7)
François Gravel’s novel starts from a wonderful premise: four teenaged fans of the macabre challenge themselves to see who can write the most awful horror story. Sales Crapauds is a reflection on the act and the pleasure of writing. Four highly effective, disturbingly humorous stories pay tribute to the power of the imagination.
Carole Tremblay, Montreal, Fred Poulet enquête sur une chaussette.
(Dominique et compagnie, a division of Éditions Héritage; distributed by Les Messageries ADP, groupe Sogides, ISBN 978-2-89512-625-6)
This whodunit about the search for a lost sock is hilarious. A mini-graphic novel of remarkable precision and intelligence. “Theft, flight or kidnapping?” – Fred Poulet’s outlandish theories capture, surprise and amuse us from the first to the final deduction. The rhythm and mastery of the storytelling are exceptional.
JURY: Ginette Anfousse (Rivière-Rouge, QC), Édith Bourget (Saint-Jacques, NB), Michel Noël (Saint-Damien, QC)
Children’s Literature French-Language Finalists — Illustration
Philippe Béha, Montreal, Les pays inventés, text by Henriette Major.
(Les Éditions Hurtubise HMH; distributed by the publisher, ISBN 978-2-89647-009-9)
There are interior and exterior ‘other lands’, to be sure. But there are also ‘other lands’ that are made up of words and pictures brought to life through a child’s laughter. Philippe Béha likes to have fun. He juggles with colours, forms and lines, exploring a host of different styles that are always recognizable as his own.
Stéphane Jorisch, Montreal, Un cadeau pour Sophie, text by Gilles Vigneault
(La Montagne secrète; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia, ISBN 978-2-923163-38-3)
The drawings in Un cadeau pour Sophie give us appealing characters full of tenderness. With Stéphane Jorisch we get the sense that he has drawn them from life, like figures in an artist’s sketchbook. The fine touches of watercolour and rich textures breathe life into the story, and are imbued with atmosphere, sensitivity and spontaneity.
Marie Lafrance, Montreal, Le sorcier amoureux, text by Mireille Levert.
(Dominique et compagnie, a division of Éditions Héritage; distributed by Les Messageries ADP, groupe Sogides, ISBN 978-2-89512-570-6 (bound) / 978-2-89512-570-9 (pbk))
He’s fat, ugly and full of barbs. He can’t stand the sound of a piano. Yet the lady in pink with the singing crimson smile has him transfixed with love. Le sorcier amoureux moves from darkness into the light thanks to Marie Lafrance’s fluid, luminous illustrations.
Caroline Merola, Montreal, Quand le chat est parti, text by Caroline Merola.
(Les éditions de la courte échelle; distributed by Diffusion du livre Mirabel, ISBN 978-2-89021-942-7 (bound) / 978-2-89021-943-4 (pbk))
Quand le chat est parti draws us into a swirl of dazzling colours where the mice have as much fun as the readers. With her keen sense of movement and her luxurious texturing, Caroline Merola gives us a book that is full of life and laughter.
Janice Nadeau, Montreal, Ma meilleure amie, text by Gilles Tibo.
(Québec Amérique; distributed by Prologue, ISBN 978-2-7644-0519-2)
Dressed all in black, Death accompanies, listens and comforts like a best friend. Janice Nadeau illustrates it with serenity. She uses a minimum of colours, sometimes blurred, sometimes lightly brushed. Each stroke is full of emotion, tenderness and poetry.
JURY: Jean-Paul Eid (Montreal), Joanne Ouellet (Lac Beauport, QC), Christine Sioui (Montreal)
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