Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy was established in 2022 to recognize excellence in Canadian children’s speculative fiction. Inspired by her sister’s love of the fantasy and science fiction genre of books and film, Canadian children’s book advocate, Elly Barlin-Daniels is pleased to sponsor the annual $5,000 prize in memory of Arlene who passed from breast cancer in 2018.

Arlene held an honours degree in English literature (with many courses in children’s literature), among other professional and academic designations. Highly creative, Arlene had a fascination with worlds where anything was possible. She wrote stories and plays from a young age, always with a fanciful element, and devoured the creative work of the giants of the genre.

Always a free spirit, Arlene covered her face and body with green makeup as her grade school teacher read Pierre Berton’s The Secret World of Og to the class. A student of Tolkien as a child, Arlene reveled in Rowling, George Lucas and George R.R. Martin in later years. She gathered friends to dress in costume, and join her in celebration of each episode of Game of Thrones and Lost. One of her birthday parties invited guests to “Come As You Aren’t,” or as their alter egos. Most adults accept they won’t have the opportunity to use their imagination as often as they did when they were children, but Arlene found a way to live a life of creativity and adventure, and share it with those she loved.

Arlene was open-minded, generous and brave, and made an impact on all who knew her. Her legacy will continue with the naming of this award in her honour.

Criteria and Submission Information

The Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy honours excellence in the Speculative Fiction genre, which the Canadian Children’s Book Centre describes in two categories: Science Fiction and Fantasy, as defined below. The celebration of diversity is an equally significant element to achieving excellence. A work of excellence in Canadian children’s literature should also be successful in making people feel a sense of belonging.


  • Science Fiction literature includes stories of time travel, alternate or re-imagined histories, dystopias and utopias, alien contact and/or invasion, steampunk, and space operas.
  • Fantasy literature includes domestic, heroic, and urban fantasies, and can include stories of the paranormal, domestic magic, faeries, and talking animals or animate toys.
  • The book should be of high literary quality and the story should be believable according to the rules/conventions/criteria of the story’s world/setting; the plot should be comprehensive and consistent.
  • The story should have well-developed and complex characters whose actions are consistent with their personalities.
  • Elements of the story that draw upon or are inspired by real cultures, folklore and history should be done respectfully and authentically.
  • The story should cover new and interesting topics, or familiar topics covered in new ways, demonstrating the rich imagination of the author.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Books must be published between January 1 and December 31, 2022.
  • Both the author and illustrator (if applicable) must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.
  • Books may be published in Canada or abroad.
  • Books must be first foreign or first Canadian editions. New editions or re-issues of previously published titles are not eligible for submission.
  • Books must be in English.
  • Translations are eligible, provided the translator is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
  • The book should be aimed at young readers aged eight to 18 years old. Adult books are not eligible.
  • Graphic novels are eligible.
  • Picture books are not eligible.
  • Short story collections by more than one author are not eligible.
  • Stories must be original; while stories inspired by classic works such as fairy tales are permissible, retellings of original stories are not.
  • Books written as part of a series or published in serial form will be judged as separate entries and must function as a ‘stand-alone’ story.
  • The award is only for books in the printed format, as distinct from digital (i.e., eBooks) and audio-visual formats.
  • Books in manuscript form are not eligible.
  • All books must have an ISBN and be distributed in Canada.
  • Self-published books are eligible for submission provided they have a valid ISBN.

Publisher and creator expectations prior to submission:

  • Publishers agree to pay the $35 non-refundable submission fee per title per award.
  • If a book is shortlisted, the publisher, author and illustrator may be asked to participate in a series of events highlighting and promoting the shortlisted author and illustrator, in addition to the award celebration.
  • The CCBC is unable to assume the costs for travel and accommodation. It is our hope that publishers will assist the award winner(s) with providing the resources for attending the in-person awards ceremony (should we be able to hold an in-person event) or for creating an acceptance speech video of appropriate quality should the creator(s) be unable to attend an in-person event.
  • Publishers agree to prepare and encourage their authors and illustrators to participate in all reasonable publicity associated with the award: interviews, readings, appearances, etc.
  • Publishers agree to spend an appropriate sum on media advertising the winning book (i.e., whatever your advertising budget allows).

Submission Information:


There is a $35 non-refundable fee for each title submitted to each of the CCBC book awards. Therefore, if, for example, you have a title that is eligible for three of the awards and you would like it considered for all three awards, the submission fee for that particular title is $105 ($35 x 3). The fees will be used to offset administration costs, as well as costs associated with the presentation of the awards.

Submission fees are payable by cheque, credit card or online. If paying by cheque or credit card, please complete the submission fee form. To pay online, visit

You are required to complete an online title submission form for each title being submitted. Please follow up by emailing a final PDF of each title* by the January 20, 2023 deadline to

If you are paying the submission fee(s) by cheque or credit card, please mail the completed submission fee form to the address at the bottom of the form. Alternatively, you can email the completed form to Upon receipt of the submission(s), you will be sent instructions for where to send the physical books, as well as the quantity required. Please do not send any books to the CCBC’s office.

The title submission form includes a question about accessible formats. While these formats are not a requirement for submitting to the CCBC book awards, we would very much appreciate it if you could let us know if the title(s) is available in an accessible format and if so, which format(s).

* With the ongoing supply chain issues, we are requesting that PDFs of final titles be emailed to when title submission forms are submitted. The PDFs do not replace the physical books. They are to be used in the event that publishers are experiencing any disruptions/delays with their supply and distribution channels caused by the pandemic.

General Inquiries:

If you have any questions regarding eligibility or the award in general, please contact Meghan Howe at 416.975.0010 ext. 3 or

Award Recipients

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

Year Recipient
2022 Xiran Jay Zhao. Iron Widow. Toronto: Penguin Teen Canada, 2021.