Finalists Announced for 2012 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (June 19, 2012) ― The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is pleased to announce the finalists for its seven major children’s book awards – the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, John Spray Mystery Award and the inaugural Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy. 

The winners will be announced at The TD Canadian Children`s Literature Awards and Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse, two invitation-only gala events in Toronto and Montreal later this Fall. Overall, $120,000 in prize monies will be awarded.

This year’s finalists include fantastic stories introducing readers to a 16-year-old Sherlock Holmes; a clever continuation of one pussycat’s journey following his visit with the queen; an incredibly moving collection of photos of Afghanistan; a young soldier’s harrowing experiences during World War I; and a haven for faeries hidden deep underneath New York City.

The 2012 Canadian Children’s Book Awards will honour the first winner of the new Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, which is sponsored by HarperCollins Canada in memory of the late Monica Hughes.

The nominated books exemplify some of the best work by Canadian authors and illustrators. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is proud to share these titles and the juries’ notes with you. Please see below for the list of finalists for each award, including comments from the juries. 

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For more information, please contact: 

Holly Kent 

Sales and Marketing Manager

Tel: 416.975.0010 ext. 221

[email protected] 

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($25,000) Sponsored by TD Bank Group 

The Dragon Turn 

(The Boy Sherlock Holmes)

Written by Shane Peacock (Baltimore, ON)

Tundra Books

for ages 10 and up

“With a trail of clues, a cast of shady characters, and even a hint of romance, The Dragon Turn has more twists and turns than a carnival ride and will keep readers guessing until its satisfying conclusion… Peacock is a master storyteller, and his richly imagined details of murder, revenge, betrayal, theatre, magic and exotic dragons combine to create an absolute page-turner of a book.”

No Ordinary Day 

Written by Deborah Ellis (Simcoe, ON)

Groundwood Books

for ages 9-12

“In this exceptional novel, Ellis continues to create powerful narratives of impoverished children in cultures around the globe… Ellis proves to be a masterful storyteller as she sheds light on the harsh reality of life on the streets… In clear, simple writing Ellis portrays Valli as a character of spirit and courage, and brings the reader to empathy and appreciation of the complex life of India’s marginalized children.”

Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World 

Written by Susan Hughes (Toronto, ON)

Owlkids Books Inc.

for ages 9-13

Off to Class is a hopeful, creative book that introduces children to the challenges many kids face trying to go to school… Fascinating facts and captivating photographs… This beautifully designed book is the culmination of an impressive amount of wide-ranging research… A most inspiring read, this book proves that through the combined efforts of caring and committed individuals, organizations and educators, there is hope for students everywhere.”

Seal Song 

Written by Andrea Spalding (Pender Island, BC)

Illustrated by Pascal Milelli (Vancouver, BC)

Orca Book Publishers

for ages 5-8

“Celtic folklore and West Coast fishing traditions are seamlessly woven in this moving tale of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice and magic… Spalding’s beautiful lyrical language is perfectly complemented by Milelli’s unique and expressive oil paintings, dramatic blocks of colour rendered in shades of blue and green… Here, Spalding creates a folktale that feels as though it were born of Canada.”

Stones for My Father 

Written by Trilby Kent (London, UK)

Tundra Books

for ages 11-14

“In her powerful and compelling novel set during the Boer War, Kent explores friendship, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit… Corlie Roux is a fascinating, complex heroine, and Kent’s willingness to present her and her situation unblinkingly is a gift to us all… At times raw, but always gripping, this novel packs an emotional punch.”

JURY MEMBERS: Gail Hamilton, Manitoba Chair, Best Books for Kids & Teens and former CCBC Regional Officer, teacher-librarian and Library Learning Resources Consultant, Manitoba Department of Education; Carol-Ann Hoyte, children’s poet and Assistant Librarian, Selwyn House School; Kathleen Martin, writer, editor, and President, Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia; Judith Saltman, Associate Professor, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, and Chair of the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature Program, University of British Columbia; Larry Swartz, Instructor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and author of Good Books Matter.

Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse ($25,000) 

Sponsored by TD Bank Group 

L’amélanchier, conte de Jacques Ferron 

Adapted by Denis Côté

Illustrated by Anne Sol

Éditions Planète rebelled

for ages 10 and up “Ce conte iniatique met en perspective la relation très forte entre un père, et sa fille qui s’apprête à sortir du monde merveilleux de la petite enfance. Les lumineux photomontages où le vert de la nature domine, donnent beaucoup de profondeur à ce texte philosophique sur la mémoire enfantine que les enfants d’aujourd’hui sauront apprivoiser tout en douceur. ”

Lapin-Chagrin et les jours d’Elko 

Written by Sylvie Nicolas

Illustrated by Marion Arbona

Éditions du Phoenix (initialement éditions Trampoline)

for ages 6 and up

“À travers un texte impressionniste très riche et des illustrations d’une grande sensibilité baignées d’une force évocatrice marquée, ce sont les thèmes de la solidarité entre les êtres humains ainsi que le pouvoir de l’imaginaire qui frappent le plus. Un bel album d’espoir.”

Le monde de Théo 

Written by Louis Émond

Illustrated by Philippe Béha

Éditions Hurtubise

for ages 5 and up

“Ce conte à saveur écologique aborde le thème de la solitude mais aussi de l’espoir qui nourrit l’esprit et pousse à prendre des risques pour faire face à l’inconnu. L’écriture rythmée, ludique et très poétique conduit vers une chute d’histoire laissant une grande place à l’imaginaire du lecteur. Le texte est rehaussé par des illustrations teintées de bleu tendre, couleur qui accentue le côté touchant de ce drôle de bonhomme que l’on souhaiterait voir heureux. ”

Mots doux pour endormir la nuit 

Written by Jacques Pasquet

Illustrated by Marion Arbona

Éditions Planète rebelle

for ages 3 and up

“À travers les textes empreints de tendresse, se glisse une pointe d’humour permettant de mieux apprivoiser la nuit. La musicalité de la langue et la richesse du vocabulaire ne laissent aucune place aux rimes mièvres et prévisibles. La présence de plusieurs référents culturels démontre que l’intelligence des petits est loin d’être sous-estimée. Une mise en page soignée et des illustrations vibrantes qui jouent pleinement leur rôle, viennent appuyer la qualité des poèmes et donnent du rythme à ces mots doux prêts à endormir la nuit.

La saison des pluies 

Written by Mario Brassard

Illustrated by Suana Verelst

Soulières éditeur

for ages 7 and up

“Comment un enfant de 7 ans peut-il affronter la mort de son papa et surmonter l’insurmontable? C’est à travers le regard et la voix de ce petit garçon que nous sommes happés dès la première page par ce terrible drame. Les mots sont empreints d’une grande poésie et les illustrations sont très évocatrices. L’auteur aborde la mort sans détour et c’est avec sobriété qu’il installe une note d’espoir à travers les petits gestes du quotidien entre la mère et l’enfant. Nous refermons le livre avec la conviction que la grande force de la vie les portera malgré leur deuil. ”

JURY MEMBERS : Michel Clément, Educational Consultant; Danièle Courchesne, teacher; Rosette d’Aragon, retired librarian and Children’s Literature Facilitator; Susane Duchesne, bookseller and President of IBBY Canada; Claude Simard, retired professor, Laval University’s Faculty of Science and Education.

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

Cinnamon Baby 

Written by Nicola Winstanley (Toronto, ON)

Illustrated by Janice Nadeau (Montreal, QC) Kids Can Press

for ages 3-7

“This enchanting and gentle tale, simply and expressively told, appeals to all the senses… Lovely illustrations are rendered in a pleasing palette with varied textures and gently humorous touches… The result is an irresistible blend of words and pictures – a delicious read for young children.”

Picture a Tree 

Written and illustrated by Barbara Reid (Toronto, ON) North Wind Press / Scholastic Canada

for ages 3-8

“One never wearies of examining this artist’s work… Reid allows the known to seem almost startlingly new with her gift for observation, detail and humour… The inviting artwork makes you want to climb inside the page to discover the varied delights and nuances of trees.”

Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been? 

Written by Dan Bar-el (Vancouver, BC)

Illustrated by Rae Maté (Vancouver, BC)

Simply Read Books

for ages 3-6

“A fantastical continuation of the pussycat’s journey following his visit to the queen… Rhythmic and child-friendly poetic verses… The cat’s seemingly endless adventures pique curiosity and stir the imagination and invite the play to continue even after the book is done.” Small Saul Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires (Saskatoon, SK) Kids Can Press for ages 3-7 “This well-paced tale of the trials of a pint-sized would-be pirate engages readers on several levels… Wonderfully successful integration of text and art, each enhanced by the other, providing layers to explore with each re-reading… A celebration of individuality and the pursuit of one’s dreams, expressed in a humorous, yet loving and sympathetic manner.” Without You Written and illustrated by Geneviève Côté (Montreal, QC) Kids Can Press for ages 3-6 “A gentle and seemingly simple story with layers of meaning conveyed through minimal text and charming artwork… Rabbit and Pig have distinct personalities that young children can easily relate to… Minimal text speaks volumes about the give and take of friendships, and the rewards of togetherness.”

JURY MEMBERS: Lorraine Filyer, former Literature Officer, Ontario Arts Council; Janis Nostbakken, children’s media specialist; Senta Ross, children’s book reviewer and former elementary teacher and teacher-librarian.


Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation 

Beyond Bullets: A Photo Journal of Afghanistan

Written by Rafal Gerszak (Vancouver, BC) with Dawn Hunter (Toronto, ON)

Photos by Rafal Gerszak (Vancouver, BC)

Annick Press

for ages 12 and up

A powerful and deeply moving book… Gerszak’s photographs are at once beautiful, traumatic, tender and humane… The narrative seamlessly interacts with his photographs to create a portrait of a world that young readers need to see… An opportunity to really think about how photographs challenge and change our perceptions of war and conflict.” Biomimicry: Inventions Inspired by Nature Written by Dora Lee (Vancouver, BC) Illustrated by Margot Thompson (Toronto, ON) Kids Can Press for ages 8-12 “An eye-opening look at how nature’s solutions to difficult situations have inspired inventors over the centuries… Both illustrations and text encourage readers to become aware of these amazing connections… Thompson’s illustrations offer ways of looking at the inventions but also leave room for further exploration.”


Written by Susan Vande Griek (Halifax, NS)

Illustrated by Karen Reczuch (Acton, ON)

Groundwood Books

for ages 4-7

“A beautiful combination of words and images… The poetic text perfectly captures the rhythm of a loon’s life cycle… Readers will respond on so many different levels – to Vande Griek’s lovely use of language and Reczuch’s beautiful images… A magical combination of poetry and illustrations that is both lyrical and scientifically informative.”

Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World Written by Susan Hughes (Toronto, ON) Owlkids Books Inc. for ages 9-13 “Inspiring and intriguing… Off to Class introduces Canadian children to the wide variety of ways kids get their education all around the world… A lively and inventive book brimful with engaging photographs, nice anecdotal stories from the perspective of children around the world and just the right amount of information… This is a book that should be in every school library.” Scribbling Women: True Tales from Astonishing Lives Written by Marthe Jocelyn (Stratford, ON) Tundra Books for ages 12 and up “This beautifully written text evokes women’s private lives down through history as revealed in their own, often astonishing, words… Well researched, informative and engaging… Jocelyn engages the reader’s imagination through her accessible language, attention to historical detail, creative description and narrative skill.”

JURY MEMBERS: Jeffrey Canton, Lecturer, Children’s Studies Program, York University, Toronto; Barbara Greenwood, author; Wendy Mason, 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.


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

The Hangman in the Mirror Written by Kate Cayley (Toronto, ON) Annick Press for ages 13 and up

“A truly captivating piece of historical fiction that brings to life the gritty realities of life in 18th century New France… The setting is so vivid and Cayley masterfully depicts the extreme disparity between the lives of the rich and the poor… This book is extremely informative and reveals so much about what conditions were like in New France while still being a thoroughly engaging story that keeps readers riveted.” I’ll Be Watching Written by Pamela Porter (Sidney, BC) Groundwood Books for ages 14 and up “Porter has crafted a novel that is elegantly understated in its prose and the story is all the more powerful and poignant as a result… The book features a wide range of characters, all of whom are well-drawn… A brilliant period piece that fully captures so many of the subtle nuances of life in the Prairies during the Second World War while also managing to provide a glimpse into the harsh realities of life overseas as well.” Shot at Dawn: World War I (I Am Canada) Written by John Wilson (Lantzville, BC) Scholastic Canada for ages 9-12 “This book is powerful and vivid, accessible to a wide range of readers and very compelling in its presentation of a story that is so hard to imagine and yet that we know to be so sadly and terrifying true… Wilson tells the story of life in the horrific trenches of World War I and the effects of battle on a shell-shocked soldier… Allan is a convincing narrator, the pacing of the story is just right and this is a strong fictional rendering of this major event in history.” This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Written by Kenneth Oppel (Toronto, ON) HarperCollins Publishers for ages 12 and up “The evocative writing of this novel transports readers into the dark passageways of Chateau Frankenstein with Victor and Konrad… An incredibly fast-paced tale, combining gothic elements and 19th century science in a rather unique and delightful manner… Oppel does such a magnificent job of presenting the young Victor Frankenstein in a new and sympathetic light.” The Whole Truth Written by Kit Pearson (Victoria, BC) HarperCollins Publishers for ages 8-12 “Pearson beautifully captures the feel of her remote setting in the 1930s with her description of the details of daily life, as well as in her portrayal of various societal attitudes… One of the most satisfying things about this book is its evocation of life in rural Canada in a bygone era… The strength of this book lies in its characters. Polly is a likeable, believable protagonist whom young readers will empathize with.”

JURY MEMBERS: Lisa Doucet, Co-Manager, Woozles Children’s Bookstore; 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.


Sponsored by John Spray 

The Case of the Missing Deed 

(Teaspoon Detectives)

Written by Ellen Schwartz (Burnaby, BC) Tundra Books

for ages 10 and up

“A delightful mystery for children ten and up… Schwartz mixes tricky codes, ciphers with facts and interesting characters… The theme of environmental protection is well explained and the clues to the mystery are ingeniously sprinkled throughout a packet of recipes… Good dialogue, well-differentiated characters and a wholesome setting complete this old-fashioned mystery.” Charlie’s Key 

Written by Rob Mills (Peterborough, ON)

Orca Book Publishers

for ages 11 and up

“This is an engrossing novel with a very real and likeable main character… Charlie Sykes is an unforgettable character in an unforgettable story… One can really get a sense of St. John’s through the atmospheric descriptions of the locale. The action is fast-moving and the personalities are well drawn.” The Dragon Turn 

(The Boy Sherlock Holmes)

Written by Shane Peacock (Baltimore, ON)

Tundra Books

for ages 10 and up

“Peacock flawlessly recreates the London of the Victorian era… Readers feel as if they are walking along with the young Sherlock Holmes as he begins to awaken to his prodigious skills and fights to figure out how a magician can make a dragon appear… and disappear… Beautifully written with whip-smart dialogue.” Held Written by Edeet Ravel (Guelph, ON) Annick Press for ages 13 and up “Held is a gripping psychological drama that presents the story of a kidnapper and his victim… Ravel has written a novel that both entertains and makes you think… A psychological tale that leaves the solving of the mystery up to the reader… Beautifully written with an ambiguous ending in the best literary traditions, this mystery is a page-turner.” True Blue Written by Deborah Ellis (Simcoe, ON) Pajama Press for ages 12 and up “When your best friend is accused of murder, where do your loyalties lie?… A flawed family, complex characters and a brutal reality lie at the heart of this tightly woven dark mystery… A very interesting mystery about ordinary people and how their emotions affect how they react… Jess struggles with real questions about loyalty, morality and what truth really means… The story is captivating.”

JURY MEMBERS: Sheila Koffman, owner of Another Story Bookshop; Sylvia McConnell, Acquisitions Editor, Dundurn Press and former publisher of Napoleon & Company; Kevin Sylvester, author, illustrator and CBC Radio broadcaster.


Sponsored by HarperCollins Canada 


Written by Nicole Luiken (Edmonton, AB)

Great Plains Teen Fiction

for ages 14 and up

“Luiken’s skillful manipulation of our common perceptions of time, space, and dream lore make this an intriguing and absorbing read… Sharp and spirited prose, intriguing and carefully developed setting, and strong and sympathetic characters… Lissa’s heroic willingness to sacrifice herself for others, along with her struggles to bear the burden of her supernatural abilities, lend this novel real power and substance.”


Written by Cheryl Rainfield (Toronto, ON)

WestSide Books

for ages 13 and up

“In Caitlyn, Rainfield has crafted a tough and compassionate heroine who uses her psychic and empathic abilities to save her brother and friends from a fascist government… From its first word to its last, Hunted grabs the reader with its forceful and dynamic prose, its disturbing and alarming world, and its sympathetic and complex characters.”

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes 

Written by Jonathan Auxier (Riverside, CA)

Puffin Canada

for ages 9-12

“It is Oliver Twist meets King Arthur and his knights in this delightfully absurd fantasy novel for young readers by Jonathan Auxier… Dry humour, a quick wit and a plot that avoids generic formulae make this fantasy stand out… Auxier’s prose is lively and enchanting, his characters are truly memorable, and his world is captivating and beautifully realized…This book charms and delights from beginning to end.”


Written by Lesley Livingston (Toronto, ON)

HarperCollins Canada

for ages 13 and up

“Spirited and action-packed… Livingston’s superb final book in the trilogy expertly blends the magical world of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the haunting narrative of The Tempest… A playfully daring no-holds-barred riff on high school romance and faerie literature that ends with a memorable, sparkling shower of special effects.”

What Happened to Serenity? 

Written by P.J. Sarah Collins (Vancouver, BC)

Red Deer Press

for ages 12 and up

“Collins cleverly combines the strong elements of a good mystery with the frightening possibilities of dystopian YA, and creates a hauntingly beautiful and contrasting worldview of post-apocalypse Canada… The lyrical prose, finely crafted setting of an ominous near-future Canada, and enthralling voice of Katherine, the narrator, combine to make a provocative work of science fiction.”

JURY MEMBERS: Deirdre Baker, writer, Toronto Star children’s book reviewer and Assistant Professor, Children’s Literature, University of Toronto; Melanie Fishbane, writer, MFA candidate at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children & Young Adults, and Online Merchandiser for Kids & Teens, Indigo Books and Music; Dr. Michael Johnstone, Lecturer, Department of English, University of Toronto.



The TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award was established in 2005 to honour the most distinguished book of the year for children aged one 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. The winning book receives $25,000 and an additional $10,000 is divided amongst the honour books. The publisher of the winning book receives $2,500 for promotional purposes.


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.


Established in 2011, with the first award being presented in 2012, this award 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.


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

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For more information, please contact: 

Holly Kent 

Sales and Marketing Manager

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre

Tel: 416.975.0010 ext. 221

[email protected]