Event Report: Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Annual Gala

Our host for the evening, Garvia Bailey of CBC radio

By Lena Coakley

There was much excitement in the Canadian children’s book community Wednesday night as attendees of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s annual gala gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Toronto to hear the announcement of six prestigious children’s book awards, including Canada’s most lucrative, The TD Children’s Literature Award, and the first-ever Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy.

In one of the evening’s two big surprises, Anna Porter, board member of the Canada Council for the Arts, took the podium to award one of Queen Elizabeth’s prestigious Diamond Jubilee Medals to children’s author Marilyn Baillie “for her commitment to children’s literacy, for her award winning picture books, for her sponsorship of the children’s book award in her name, and for her passionate support of the children’s book community.”

TD Canadian Children’s Book Award winner, Trilby Kent with TD Canada Trust President & CEO, Tim Hockey

In another surprise, Tim Hockey, President & CEO of TD Canada Trust revealed during the ceremony that the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award will be increasing its cash award from $25,000 to $30,000, making it the largest cash prize for a children’s literature award in Canada.

The winners were:

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($30,000) 

Stones for My Father by Trilby Kent (Tundra Books)

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000) 

Without You by Geneviève Côté (Kids Can Press)

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Nonfiction

Loon by Susan Vande Griek, illustrated by Karen Reczuch (Groundwood Books)

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

The Hangman in the Mirror by Kate Cayley (Annick Press)

John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000) 

Charlie’s Key by Rob Mills (Orca Book Publishers)

 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy ($5,000) 

What Happened to Serenity? by P.J. Sarah Collins (Red Deer Press)

Also honoured was the book chosen for the TD Grade One Book Giveaway, I’ve Lost My Cat by Philippe Béha. By the end of this month, this book will have been given free to over half a million Canadian children.

Cynsational Notes

Lena Coakley
was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high
school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed (nothing was
ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study
writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

She became interested in young adult literature when she moved to Toronto, Canada, and began working for CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers, where she eventually became the Administrative Director. She is now a full-time writer living in Toronto.

Witchlanders, her debut novel, was called “a stunning teen debut” by Kirkus Reviews. It is a Junior Library Guild selection and an ABC new voices selection.