Children’s and young adults authors and illustrators Teresa Toten, Matt James, Genevieve Mativat and Isabelle Arsenault are the winners of the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Awards in the Children’s Literature Text and Children’s Literature Illustration categories in English and French.
Toten was honoured with the Children’s Literature – Text award for English books for her moving and quirky novel The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B (Doubleday Canada, $15). The book broaches the heavy subject of youth mental health issues through the lens of Adam Spencer Ross, a 15-year-old who’s trying to cope with his OCD. Part of a support group for teens with OCD, Adam becomes obsessed with helping himself and Robyn, another member of the group, in hopes that she’ll come to like him as much as he likes her. But there’s a dark secret at home that could threaten his progress.
James’s images for Northwest Passage (Groundwood Books, $25) won in the Children’s Literature – Illustration category among English titles. James’s India ink and acrylic-painted illustrations are a striking compliment to Canadian musician Stan Rogers’ lyrics chronicling early explorers’ efforts to find a passage through the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific.
In the Children’s Literature – Text category for French books, Genevieve Mativat won for À l’ombre de la grande maison (Les éditions Pierre Tisseyre, $14). This moving novel follows Dany, a young slave working on a Missouri cotton plantation, who is freed in 1860. She immediately joins the fight to abolish slavery, but she must hide her identity to do it.
Isabelle Arsenault won the Children’s Literature – Illustration award for French books—her third GG—for her graphic novel, Jane, le renard & moi (Les Éditions de la Pastèque, $27). Arsenault’s simple but powerful pictures tell the story of Hélène, a young girl who is bullied mercilessly, but finds solace in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, experiences an emotional connection with a beautiful fox, and ultimately learns to worry less about what other girls say about her. (Also available in English with the title Jane, the Fox & Me from Groundwood Books.)
Among Canada’s most prestigious literary awards, the Governor General’s Literary Awards were announced on Nov. 13 in Toronto, and the awards were presented at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Nov. 28.