$135,000 in prize monies to be awarded

Toronto (September 7, 2017) – The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is delighted to announce the finalists for the following eight major awards for Canadian children’s books:

  • TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($30,000)
  • Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse ($30,000)
  • 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)
  • Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)
  • Prix Harry Black de l’album jeunesse ($5,000)


The nominated books exemplify some of the very best work by Canadian authors and illustrators from across the country. The winners of the English-language awards will be announced at an invitation-only gala event at The Carlu in Toronto on November 21, 2017. The winners of the French-language awards, including the inaugural Prix Harry Black de l’album jeunesse, will be announced at an invitation-only gala event at Le Windsor in Montreal on November 8, 2017. Overall, $135,000 in prize monies will be awarded.

This year, TD Bank Group and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre are once again partnering with CBC/Radio-Canada to present the Fan Choice Award/Choix du public littérature jeunesse. Young readers are invited to choose their favourite book from the titles shortlisted for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse. The awards will be presented to the winning authors at the Toronto and Montreal galas.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is proud to share these nominated titles and the juries’ notes with you. The finalists for each award are listed below.

For more information, please contact:

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


TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($30,000)
Sponsored by TD Bank Group

A Day of Signs and Wonders
Written by Kit Pearson (Victoria, BC)
HarperTrophy Canada
for ages 8-12

“In this fictional story about two historical figures — the young Emily Carr and Victoria’s socialite, Kitty O’Reilly — Pearson delves with astute perception into the qualities and psyches of two very different personalities… Both characters are surprising and convincing, and Pearson’s respect for children’s emotions and intelligence — both her characters’ and her readers’ — is admirably apparent throughout.”


The Skeleton Tree
Written by Iain Lawrence (Gabriola Island, BC)
Tundra Books
for ages 10-14

“Lawrence is well known for his tales of high seas adventure: here he offers a compelling yarn of sea and shipwreck close to his home in the Pacific Northwest… Lawrence weaves a touching tale of struggle and conflict, hope and determination, of family and identity, in a page-turning, breathtaking style… His firsthand knowledge of his setting brings lush, exhilarating vibrancy to this excellent survival story.”


Tokyo Digs a Garden
Written by Jon-Erik Lappano (Guelph, ON)
Illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka (Toronto, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 5-9

“Spare, humorous text accompanied by bright, bold illustrations create a timely modern fable about suburban sprawl and a child’s desire for things to be the way they were when his grandad was a little boy… The charm of Tokyo Digs a Garden lies in its understated text which contrasts perfectly with its colourful and wildly imaginative illustrations.”


The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk
Written and illustrated by Jan Thornhill (Havelock, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 9-12

The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk is a riveting story about an unlikely hero, a bird, whose fate the reader knows in advance: extinction. Nonetheless, readers will feel compelled to root for its success in the face of adversity…  Distinctive and evocative images mesh with strong writing about the lifestyle and obstacles that are a part of daily life for this resourceful bird… This is a book that draws the reader into its world — our world — in a way that’s both haunted and haunting.”


When We Were Alone
Written by David Alexander Robertson (Winnipeg, MB)
Illustrated by Julie Flett (Vancouver, BC)
HighWater Press
for ages 6-9

When We Were Alone is an affirmation of human spirit, of truth and reconciliation in equal measures, beautifully captured by Robertson’s simple yet powerful text and Flett’s vibrant illustrations…Powerful words and illustrations combine to tell a beautiful story of a grandmother, after the horrors of residential school, taking back and celebrating her culture and language and ensuring her family feels the same pride.”


JURY MEMBERS: Deirdre Baker, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto Star children’s books reviewer, and author; Merle Harris, IBBY Canada Executive Committee member, storyteller and retired elementary school library technician; Dr. Vivian Howard, Associate Professor/Associate Dean (Academic), School of Information Management, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University; Dr. Dave Jenkinson, Editor, CM: Canadian Review of Materials and Professor Emeritus, Children’s & YA Literature, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba; Michael Pellegrin, teacher and English Language Arts Specialist, English Montreal School Board.


Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse ($30,000)
Sponsored by TD Bank Group

Written by Elaine Turgeon (Montreal, QC)
Illustrated by Martin Laliberté (Montreal, QC)
Éditions Druide
for ages 4 and up

“A very original alphabet book which, instead of words or phrases, uses exclamations arranged in alphabetical order… Turgeon and Laliberté present us with a monstrously funny, playful and interactive alphabet book for the great enjoyment of children… A book of great creativity and imagination, with pleasure and laughter guaranteed.”


En voiture! L’Amérique en chemin de fer
Written and illustrated by Pascal Blanchet (Montreal, QC)
Éditions de la Pastèque
for ages 8 and up

“Is your luggage ready? Because this first non-fiction book invites you to discover legendary trains and mythical stations that have left a mark on history, through a trip from Montreal to Los Angeles… On each of the fifteen cities on this journey, the author provides anecdotal commentary about the time period as well as other historical facts… Through very elegant illustrations, Blanchet has created an atmosphere inspired by Art Deco.”


Même pas vrai
Written by Larry Tremblay (Montreal, QC)
Illustrated by Guillaume Perreault (Gatineau, QC)
Éditions de la Bagnole
for ages 8 and up

“Tremblay presents his first children’s book with Même pas vrai… Well-accompanied by the illustrations of Perreault, we follow the life of Marco, to whom nothing spectacular happens, but which is full of those little things that make up existence… Marco’s reflections on all these events are both funny and deep, light and serious, childish and adult, and the whole forms a unique and savory mixture.”


Written by Étienne Poirier (Trois-Rivières, QC)
Éditions du soleil de minuit
for ages 11 and up

“In language accessible to children, Poirier explains the tragedy of residential schools… The tenderness of the writing contrasts with the violence against the culture and identity of the Indigenous characters… The author expresses the main’s characters path from innocence to disenchantment with great subtlety.”


Y’a pas de place chez nous
Written by Andrée Poulin (Gatineau, QC)
Illustrated by Enzo Lord Mariano (Montreal, QC)
Éditions Québec Amérique
for ages 5 and up

“In this picture book, Poulin offers us a touching narrative about a reality lived by too many children… Y’a pas de place chez nous stages two young refugees from an unknown country seeking a land of asylum. The two brothers, Marwan and Tarek, complete their quest in benevolent territory where they are welcomed and, we hope, treated with dignity… The illustrator, Mariano, plays contrasts oscillating between disturbing dark colours and luminous touches of hope.”


JURY MEMBERS: Noë Crospal, facilitator of children’s literature; Joël-Vincent Cyr, librarian; Rachel DeRoy-Ringuette, children’s literature consultant; Marie France Genest, librarian; Sophie Kurler, librarian.


Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie

The Artist and Me
Written by Shane Peacock (Cobourg, ON)
Illustrated by Sophie Casson (Montreal, QC)
Owlkids Books
for ages 5-9

“Gripping text and incandescent art combine to spellbind in this story told from the point of view of a man looking back at his childhood memories of bullying an outsider artist…The revelations resonate, and though the artist turns out to be Van Gogh, the emotions and ideas that emerge in this stunning book are completely universal… Glorious rich illustrations capture the essence of southern France in this moving tale.”


The Darkest Dark
Written by Chris Hadfield (Toronto, ON) and Kate Fillion (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Eric Fan (Toronto, ON) and Terry Fan (Toronto, ON)
Tundra Books
for ages 4-7

“This affecting, multilayered autobiography of a Canadian hero, including his deep early fear of the dark, resonates with outstanding visual flair and textual richness… It brings joyful understanding of the potential for greatness in us all, and celebrates the wonders of breaking boundaries both personal and terrestrial… It will engage adults and children alike.”


I Am Not a Number
Written by Jenny Kay Dupuis (Toronto, ON) and Kathy Kacer (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Gillian Newland (Toronto, ON)
Second Story Press
for ages 7 and up

“This powerful memoir relates an important but sad part of Canada’s history… Newland’s sepia-like illustrations help place the recollections of Irene in the past, yet remain loaded with emotion… Readers will find this true story of the residential school experience powerful, thought-provoking and unforgettable…. It witnesses, in unflinching manner, an immense injustice through clear-eyed, eloquent text and brooding art.”


The Snow Knows
Written by Jennifer McGrath (Moncton, NB)
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon (St-Hubert, QC)
Nimbus Publishing
for ages 3-8

“This celebration of winter will enchant and inform readers… The use of language is captivating… The exquisite illustrations work beautifully with the rich text… Bisaillon’s detailed and soft illustrations come to life… McGrath has created a vivid portrait of nature in winter that will enthrall.”


We Found a Hat
Written and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Los Angeles, CA)
Candlewick Press
for ages 4-8

“Naturalistic dialogue seamlessly blends with elegantly simple and thoroughly expressive art to recreate a complex emotional moment all children experience… Friendship, honesty and creative problem solving make this book a soon-to-be classic as it provides food for thought and plenty to talk about for all ages.”


JURY MEMBERS: Nancy Davidson, former President and National Coordinator of Kids’ Lit Quiz Canada; Maria Martella, owner of Tinlids Inc., a wholesaler of children’s and teen books for schools and libraries; Sheba Meland, children’s publishing and editorial consultant.



Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000)
Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation

Canada Year by Year
Written by Elizabeth MacLeod (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Sydney Smith (Toronto, ON)
Kids Can Press
for ages 8-12

“MacLeod has divided the established and unheard-of facts into ten eras covering Canada’s history and influential cultural moments that had global success… Canada Year by Year captivates readers with facts, trivia and quotes, as it covers culture, politics, art and sports… This fascinating book is ideal to pick up and read excerpts or to read from front to back covers.”


Fight to Learn: The Struggle to Go to School
Written by Laura Scandiffio (Toronto, ON)
Annick Press
for ages 10-14

“This inspirational book teaches us that the right of education for all is worth fighting for… Tenacity is demonstrated, innovation is celebrated, and kids who have everyday access to education are challenged to become involved in social justice projects supporting education for all… Quotes and photos included enhance the personal stories.”


Level the Playing Field: The Past, Present, and Future of Women’s Pro Sports
Written by Kristina Rutherford (Toronto, ON)
Owlkids Books
for ages 11-14

Level the Playing Field places women athletes at centre stage, highlighting their achievements and providing recognition to the talent they bring to sports… Through historical accounts and interviews with top athletes, Rutherford describes the progress that has been made with women in sports… It is a book which provides optimism to all aspiring young women in sports.”


The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk
Written and illustrated by Jan Thornhill (Havelock, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 9-12

The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk stands up as both a recounting of a specific interaction between human, place and creature and a cautionary tale of exploitation with many contemporary parallels…The images in this picture book are beautiful and haunting, always pointing to what has been lost… Modern children will have very little difficulty connecting this story to others they know, which makes this book a necessary addition to any school library.”


Water Wow! An Infographic Exploration
Written by Antonia Banyard (Nelson, BC) and Paula Ayer (Vancouver, BC)
Illustrated by Belle Wuthrich (Vancouver, BC)
Annick Press
for ages 8-12

Water Wow! is a captivating book about water… It provides information about water in a fun and easy way for readers to learn about the importance of the one resource that sustains all life… Amid the information and facts, the message of sustainability and conservation is central to the book’s message, providing suggestions on how people can help.”


JURY MEMBERS: Heather Kuipers, owner, Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore; Emily Moretti, educator, Toronto Catholic District School Board; Sara Spencer, Junior School Librarian, The York School.



Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000)
Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund

Every Hidden Thing
Written by Kenneth Oppel (Toronto, ON)
HarperCollins Publishers
for ages 14 and up

“Oppel’s hauntingly eloquent prose and captivating characters combine to create an epic tale of destructive rivalries and forbidden romance set during the Bone Wars of the late nineteenth century… An alternate version of a Wild West story, the descriptions are cinematic by turns, punctuated with madcap action… Scientific curiosity and secretive romance are at the heart of this compelling and fast-paced tale of exploration, discovery, competition and revenge.”


Freedom’s Just Another Word
Written by Caroline Stellings (Waterdown, ON)
Second Story Press
for ages 13 and up

“Memorable, humorous and ever thoughtful… Stellings has crafted a moving story of identity, empathy and racism… Her novel’s narrator, Easy Merritt, is fiercely determined and delightfully sassy — just the kind of strong female character you want teenage girls to be able to find in young adult literature.”


Heart of a Champion
Written by Ellen Schwartz (Burnaby, BC)
Tundra Books
for ages 9-12

“Schwartz’s novel about the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II and the fate of the famous Asahi baseball team is simultaneously heart-breaking and uplifting — a testament to the power of hope in the face of injustice…  A perfectly paced story using relevant settings and real, flawed characters who reveal feelings of injustice, depression, resilience and ultimately, hope.”

The Mark of the Plague

(Blackthorn Key, Book 2)
Written by Kevin Sands (Toronto, ON)
for ages 10-14

“Emotionally-charged and action-packed, The Mark of the Plague reminds us of the dangers of putting profit before people…An exceptional story in every way… It will strike a chord with readers for its original plot, its use of puzzles, tricks and distortion of the truth, and it’s perfectly drawn and memorable characters… The blend of alchemy and intrigue enrich and enliven the historical genre.”


When Morning Comes
Written by Arushi Raina (Vancouver, BC)
Tradewind Books
for ages 14 and up

Explosively powerful and agonizingly raw, the novel highlights the harsh realities of life in apartheid South Africa and is a timely reminder of the sacrifices involved in deconstructing an unjust social order… The stakes are high, the four voices powerful and committed, and the power of youth to effect political change is exposed in this tense, and often violent novel… The representations of different cultural groups are nuanced and complex, without resorting to stereotypes… An important story.


JURY MEMBERS: Shannon Babcock, Project Coordinator, Quebec Reading Connection, and Regional Councillor Quebec, IBBY Canada; Sally Bender, retired teacher-librarian and blogger at Sal’s Fiction Addiction; Roseanne Gauthier, Youth Services Librarian, PEI Public Library Service; Gail de Vos (chair), author, storyteller and Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.



John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000)
Sponsored by John Spray

The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim
(The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim, Book 1)
Written by Shane Peacock (Cobourg, ON)
Tundra Books
for ages 12 and up

The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim is a fantastical murder mystery filled with fantastical creatures, mystery and intrigue.… Characters are skilfully developed and play their roles to perfection… Peacock delivers a daring thriller that draws the reader into a world that is both familiar and yet mystical… Be sure to read with the lights on.”


Howard Wallace, P.I.
Written by Casey Lyall (Strathroy, ON)
Sterling Children’s Books
for ages 8-12

“A great introduction to film noir, with a voice that carries you to another time period entirely… Laced with quirky characters and related moments, Howard Wallace P.I. is perfect for reading by flashlight or while tucked in the corner of a treehouse… A humorous, clever, warm-hearted middle grade story that makes a terrific introduction to the mystery genre for any young reader.


The Road to Ever After
Written by Moira Young (Bath, UK)
Doubleday Canada
for ages 10-14

“Full of fantasy and the supernatural, with plenty of twists along the way to keep readers turning pages, The Road to Ever After is a meaningful story about what it means to be alive… Young’s writing is lyrical and poetic and her characterization of the wind is enchanting… Readers are given just enough hints to solve the mystery mere moments before the protagonist.”


Written by Caroline Pignat (Kanata, ON)
Razorbill Canada
for ages 13 and up

“Pignat’s Shooter is a dramatic and gripping novel told through a series of interconnected voices that lend an authenticity to the narrative… As the mystery unfolds, the reader is lead through many cliffhanging moments with a “can’t put it down” climax leaving the reader holding their breath through the last pages.”


Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard
(The Continuing Adventures of Peter Nimble, Book 2)
Written by Jonathan Auxier (Pittsburgh, PA)
Puffin Canada
for ages 10-13

“A thrilling adventure read with lots of delightful twists… Auxier creates a very believable fantasy world filled with evil villains and fantastical creatures that will intrigue and excite young readers… Playing with the theme of courage in the face of censorship, this novel uses the power of books and reading to weave a beautiful and memorable story.”


JURY MEMBERS: Roxanne Deans, Director of Inventory and Outreach, The Children’s Book Bank, Co-Founder of StoryMobs, and former bookstore owner; 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.



Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)
Sponsored by Sylvan Learning

Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Written by E.K. Johnston (Stratford, ON)
Dutton Books
for ages 14 and up

Johnston has created an empowering story about the aftermath of a sexual assault… Hermione is strong and fearless, and she refuses to allow the events of one horrible night to consume her… Thought-provoking. Heart-breaking. Unforgettable. Inspiring. Necessary.”


Girl Mans Up
Written by M-E Girard (Oshawa, ON)
HarperCollins Publishers
for ages 14 and up

Girl Mans Up is a powerful story about one girl’s struggle to find her identity while facing challenges from her immigrant parents, and her peers… Beautifully written, this novel invokes breathtaking emotions through a main character who has a distinct and authentic voice.”


Julia Vanishes
Written by Catherine Egan (New Haven, CT)
Doubleday Canada
for ages 13 and up

Egan has built a world that is not only fully realised but surprises at every turn, leaving you with an immersive and thought-provoking read… Rich world-building and well-developed characters make this an unforgettable story that will have readers clamouring for a sequel.”


Written by Caroline Pignat (Kanata, ON)
Razorbill Canada
for ages 13 and up

“Pignat tells an incredible story through the eyes of five very different characters who have to face a situation no one could ever be prepared for… The entire story takes place over the course of one nail-biting hour, and a countdown timer at the beginning of each chapter ramps up the tension… The gripping storyline makes this impossible to put down.”


With Malice
Written by Eileen Cook (North Vancouver, BC)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
for ages 13 and up

With Malice is brilliantly written and takes the reader on a ride that is as unexpected as it is captivating… The unique format keeps the reader glued to the page, certain their opinion is the right one, only to learn that things may not be as they seem.”


JURY MEMBERS: Penny Chaiko, teacher-librarian, Nantyr Shores Secondary School; Tina Everitt, Category Manager for Teen & Romance, Indigo Books & Music; Rachel Seigel, freelance author and Adult Fiction Specialist, Library Services Centre.



Prix Harry Black de l’album jeunesse ($5,000)
Sponsored by Mary Macchiusi

Au-delà de la forêt
Written by Nadine Robert (Varennes, QC)
Illustrated by Gérard DuBois (St-Lambert, QC)
Comme des géants
for ages 5 and up

“Robert’s somber writing combined with the old-fashioned charm of DuBois’ grand illustrations makes this story of determination and solidarity a remarkable work… Text and illustrations emphasize the tender complicity between son and father… Inspires readers to reflect on the fundamental and timeless values of life in society.”


Written and illustrated by Jacques Goldstyn (Mont-Royal, QC)
Éditions de la Pastèque
for ages 6 and up

“Azadah is a little girl who lives in Afghanistan and befriends a Western photographer on mission in her country… Revolted by the conditions imposed on her, she dreams of literature, films and adventures in the outside world… Goldstyn tells an engaging story about hopes and dreams with a few words, a lively pencil and his trademark luminous colours.”


Je ne suis pas ta maman
Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc (Montreal, QC)
Comme des géants
for ages 4 and up

“A story about adoption and acceptance of differences that unravels delicately over the pages… A well-constructed narrative, tender and harsh at the same time… It immerses us magnificently into the universe of the characters, while highlighting their environment… The story is carried strongly by Dubuc’s finely-constructed illustrations.”


N’importe quoi!
Written and illustrated by Élise Gravel (Montreal, QC)
Éditions Les 400 coups
for ages 5 and up

“At once funny, sometimes intimate, and refreshingly unique… Gravel invites her readers to discover what she is doing with her time when she is not working on a children’s book project… An encouragement of creativity, perseverance and acceptance that not everything has to be perfect.”


Y’a pas de place chez nous
Written by Andrée Poulin (Gatineau, QC)
Illustrated by Enzo Lord Mariano (Montreal, QC)
Éditions Québec Amérique
for ages 5 and up

“With Y’a pas de place chez nous, the refugee issue is tackled head on, but with great sensitivity… Andrée Poulin delivers a striking, engaging text with a splendid rhythm that deals with a sadly topical subject… The illustrations subtly evoke the harshness of the journey for the passengers of this boat of refugees in search of a land of welcome…”


JURY MEMBERS: Danièle Courchesne, teacher; Marie Dupin de Saint-André, Editor-in-Chief, Le Pollen; Pascale Grenier, librarian, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.