The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) recently made waves in the literary world as it unveiled the winners of its prestigious English-language children’s book awards. This year’s celebration was a momentous occasion, marking the 25th anniversary of the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction. The winners have not only captured our hearts but have also made history.
Weird Rules to Follow, a captivating creation by first-time British Columbia author Kim Spencer, pulled off an impressive hat-trick by claiming victory in all three categories it was nominated for. The crowning achievement was the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, which comes with a substantial cash prize of $50,000, making it the most generous prize in Canadian children’s literature. Published by Victoria-based Orca Book Publishers, Spencer’s work also secured the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, in addition to the Jean Little First-Novel Award.
As a token of recognition for their role in publishing the TD Canadian Children’s Literature winner, Orca Book Publishers will receive $2,500 to promote this exceptional work. An additional $10,000 will be shared among the four other finalists in this category, a generous nod to the publishers who invest in bringing these stories to life.
Weird Rules to Follow is a poignant coming-of-age tale, set in Prince Rupert in the 1980s, offering readers a glimpse into the life of an Indigenous girl, masterfully crafted by debut novelist Kim Spencer, who calls Vancouver home.
The Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, was presented to The Witness Blanket: Truth, Art, and Reconciliation. This thought-provoking book was penned by Carey Newman and Kirstie Hudson, hailing from Victoria, British Columbia, and published by Orca Book Publishers. Aimed at readers aged 9 and up, it is a living work of art, a collection of hundreds of objects connected to every residential school in Canada. The book stands as a powerful reminder of the importance of bearing witness and never forgetting the history of residential schools, contributing to the ongoing journey of truth and reconciliation in Canada.
A Remarkable Evening for B.C. Authors and Publishers
In an unprecedented moment of celebration, books authored by British Columbia writers and published by B.C.-based publishing houses dominated the CCBC Awards ceremony. Four out of the seven awards went to these authors and publishers, collectively claiming a total prize money of $70,000.
The two remarkable books highlighted above were both published by Victoria-based Orca Book Publishers:
- Weird Rules to Follow by Kim Spencer: Not only did it claim the prestigious TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, but it also won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the Jean Little First-Novel Award.
- The Witness Blanket: Truth, Art, and Reconciliation by Carey Newman and Kirstie Hudson: This title took home the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction.
Additional winners include:
- Mina, written and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe: This book, published by Simon & Schuster Canada, won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.
- As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh: Secured the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
- Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye: Claimed the Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, published by HarperTeen.
The 2023 CCBC Awards were an extraordinary celebration of the talent and dedication of authors, illustrators, and publishers who craft the captivating worlds of children’s literature. These books, each unique in its storytelling, have offered readers new perspectives, historical insights, and imaginative adventures.
As we reflect on the achievements of these remarkable authors and their publishing houses, we can’t help but feel inspired and excited about the future of children’s literature in Canada. These books have not only captured our hearts but have also etched their place in the annals of Canadian literature. Congratulations to all the winners and the tireless champions of children’s literature!