Plain Kate Wins the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award


Image to the right courtesy CNW Group and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

It was quite a night. Toronto Dominion and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre hosted the most people ever for its annual gala celebrating the best of children’s literature. It was hardly possible to hear one think at the Carlu. The food was good, and the atmosphere was simply fabulous. As writers who aren’t used to this sort of attention, this day has quickly become the biggest day on our social calendar.

I was especially excited to hear the announcement about the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, to be awarded for the first time next October. Fingers crossed, maybe I can find my way onto the list of nominees someday. Hey, you have to have ambition.

It was an excellent line-up of books up for the five awards in contention last night, and I was really pleased to meet the winners, including Valerie Sherrard, whose Glory Wind was really deserving, and Y.S. Lee, whose signed copy of The Spy in the House will be devoured by this reader soon.

And Erin won! She delivered a wonderful speech and shook hands with Frank McKenna (who, as a passionate advocate for literacy, has presented this award for the past few years), and we partied.

Here’s the official press release from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (October 5, 2011) ― The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is thrilled to announce the winners of the five major children’s book awards it administers:

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($25,000)

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)

Norma Fleck Award For Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000)

Geoffrey Bilson Award For Historical Fiction For Young People ($5,000)

John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000)

The winners were announced last night at a gala event at The Carlu in Toronto. The winners of the Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’ enfance et la jeunesse will be announced at an invitation-only gala event at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on October 25, 2011

Each of these award-winning books (listed below) was chosen because they exemplify the best work in the Canadian author and illustrator community. Adult and child readers alike are sure to be captivated by these engaging stories, and it is certain that they will soon become Canadian classics that will adorn bookshelves across the country.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is proud to share these titles with you. For a list of the shortlisted books for each award, please click here.

For more information, please contact:

Holly Kent

Sales and Marketing Manager

Tel: 416.975.0010 ext. 221

… … …


Plain Kate Written by Erin Bow (Kitchener, ON) Scholastic Canada for ages 11 and up

“Plain Kate is a triumph of imagination. With astonishing skill, Erin Bow creates the world of Kate, whose talents as a wood carver mark her as a witch. The fascinating, intricate plot bravely explores the wrenching complexities of cruelty and of love. Bow’s prose is at once lyrical and raw, and her characters are indelible. This is a book that will be read for generations.”

JURY MEMBERS: Carol-Ann Hoyte, children’s poet and Assistant Librarian, Selwyn House School; Dr. Dave Jenkinson, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba; Kathleen Martin, writer, editor, and President, Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia; Judith Saltman, Associate Professor, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, and Chair, Master of Arts in Children’s Literature Program, University of British Columbia; Larry Swartz, Instructor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and author of Good Books Matter.

MARILYN BAILLIE PICTURE BOOK AWARD ($20,000) Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie

I Know Here Written by Laurel Croza (Markham, ON) Illustrated by Matt James (Toronto, ON) Groundwood Books for ages 5-7

“An authentic, personal voice captivates from the first line, in this leave-taking from a beloved childhood home. The centre of this child’s universe is a trailer camp in the northern wilderness, rendered in all its details with brilliant harmony between Croza’s affecting, naturalistic words and James’s evocative, childlike paintings… Running throughout are bittersweet emotions, wonderfully narrated, that all will recognize.”

JURY MEMBERS: Mariella Bertelli, Storyteller and Head Librarian, Spadina Branch, Toronto Public Library; Sheba Meland, Children”s Publishing and Editorial Consultant; Janis Nostbakken, Children”s Media Specialist.

… … …

NORMA FLECK AWARD FOR CANADIAN CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION ($10,000) Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation

Case Closed! Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science Written by Susan Hughes (Toronto, ON)

Illustrated by Michael Wandelmaier (Toronto, ON) Kids Can Press for ages 8-12

“A perfect combination of science, story and history, compellingly presented by Susan Hughes who shows with absorbing detail how modern science can shed new light on some of mankind’s most beguiling mysteries… The book is replete with colourful graphic illustrations, maps, photographs and fascinating forensic notes to intrigue the curious child as well as adults… An exciting and entertaining read.”


Julia Beck, Education and Research Consultant, and former Director of Library Information Services, Toronto French School; Jeffrey Canton, Lecturer, Children’s Studies Program, York University, Toronto; Wendy Mason Geoghegan, Children’s & YA Specialist and Consultant, Indigo/Chapters, and former instructor, University of Toronto and University of Windsor; Arlene Perly Rae, writer and children’s advocate; Itah Sadu, author, storyteller and owner of A Different Booklist.

… … …

GEOFFREY BILSON AWARD FOR HISTORICAL FICTION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE ($5,000) Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund

The Glory Wind Written by Valerie Sherrard (Miramichi, NB) Fitzhenry & Whiteside for ages 11 and up

“A very moving portrayal of both small town life and friendship… Sherrard beautifully conveys the small-mindedness and prejudice of the town, and the subsequent consequences… The Glory Wind effectively depicts life during the 1940s, but still manages to be a modern story that resonates with contemporary readers… It did everything for me that a good novel should do - it made me smile, it made me angry, it brought me to tears.”

JURY MEMBERS: Betsy Fraser, Selector, Calgary Public Library; Rachel Seigel, Selection Manager, S&B Books; Gail de Vos (chair), Storyteller and Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.

JOHN SPRAY MYSTERY AWARD ($5,000) Sponsored by John Spray

A Spy in the House

(The Agency)

Written by Y.S. Lee (Kingston, ON)

Candlewick Press

for ages 13 and up.

“In A Spy in the House Lee has got Victorian London right; this is what Dickens’ world really smelled like, literally and morally… Interesting and unique, Mary Quinn is a strong character who can think on her feet… I loved this book from the first line to the very last… A great read for a young adult of any age… It worked from beginning to end.”

JURY MEMBERS: Marian Misters, Co-owner of the Sleuth of Baker Street Mystery Bookstore; Ken Setterington, Librarian, Author, Reviewer, and former Child and Youth Advocate for the Toronto Public Library; and Eric Wright, retired Professor of English at Ryerson University, Writer, and Winner of numerous awards including four Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Crime Novel, and the Derrick Murdoch Award for Lifetime Contribution to Canadian Crime Writing.

… … …


TD CANADIAN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE AWARD The TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award was established in 2005 to honour the most distinguished book of the year for children aged 1 to 12. Entries are judged on the quality of the text and illustrations and the book’s overall contribution to literature. All books for children, in any genre, written by a Canadian, are eligible for the award. Starting in 2009, the winning book receives $25, 000 (up from $20,000) and an additional $10,000 is divided amongst the honour books. The publisher of the winning book receives $2,500 for promotional purposes.

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 Financial 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. Starting in 2009, the winning book receives $20,000 (up from $10,000). 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 CCBC.


The John Spray Mystery Award was established in 2011 to honour excellence in the mystery book format. 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.

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. For more information, please visit

Further Reading

blog comments powered by Disqus