Award news: GG shortlist!

I have not been particularly productive at blogging for the past few months! I blame the fact that this summer, we bought a house. A gorgeous, creaky old ninety eight year old house. And lo, there was much paperwork and appointments and packing and moving and unpacking. One of these days I will make that post about kids’ books and interesting houses, the sort that had you inspecting the dishearteningly modern corners of your own house for secret passageways and attics.

But not today–because the nominees for the Governor General’s awards have been announced! For those of you not in the know, the GG’s are one of THE major Canadian literary awards. (For the record, the GG herself has a pretty spiffy looking website.) And the children’s lit nominees (as annotated by the Canada Council) are…

Children’s Literature — Text (English language)

Hrdlitschka_SisterWifeLGShelley Hrdlitschka, North Vancouver, Sister Wife.
(Orca Book Publishers; distributed by the publisher)
(ISBN 978-1-55143-927-3)

Shelley Hrdlitschka’s Sister Wife paints a realistic picture of life inside a polygamist community where women are exploited and power is absolute. The strong cast of characters and close attention to detail make this novel absorbing and riveting right down to its explosive conclusion.

Jennings_HomeFreeLGSharon Jennings, Toronto, Home Free.
(Second Story Press; distributed by University of Toronto Press)
(ISBN 978-1-897187-55-5)

Eleven-year-old Lee Mets goes about the complicated business of living with such verve and die-hard enthusiasm that one has no choice but to yell, “Bravo!” A cleverly-crafted story told from the heart,
Sharon Jennings’s Home Free entertains and lifts the human spirit.

Pignat_GreenerGrassLGCaroline Pignat, Ottawa, Greener Grass: The Famine Years.
(Red Deer Press, a division of Fitzhenry & Whiteside; distributed by the publisher)
(ISBN 978-0-88995-402-1)

In Caroline Pignat’s heart-rending story of the Irish potato famine of 1847, a young girl must compromise the values of her Catholic upbringing in order for her family to survive. Told with devastating realism, Greener Grass will touch the hearts and minds of all ages.

Stevenson_ATHousandShadeOfBlueLGRobin Stevenson, Victoria, A Thousand Shades of Blue.
(Orca Book Publishers; distributed by the publisher)
(ISBN 978-1-55143-921-1)

When Rachel is forced to go on a year-long trip to the Bahamas with her dysfunctional family, she finds out the true meaning of Sartre’s “Hell is other people.” Robin Stevenson’s A Thousand Shades of Blue is a humorous and heartfelt story of a family headed toward disaster.

Wynne_Jones_TheUninvitedLGTim Wynne-Jones, Perth (Ontario), The Uninvited.
(Candlewick Press; distributed by Random House of Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-7636-3984-6)

Three strangers find themselves at the same abandoned house in the Ontario countryside and soon discover each is the inheritor of a decades-old secret. Together, they must come to terms with the tragic consequences in Tim Wynne-Jones’s complex and beautifully crafted novel, at once mystery and family drama.

Children’s Literature — Illustration (English language)

Berman_BradleyMcGroggLGRachel Berman, Victoria, Bradley McGogg, the Very Fine Frog,
text by Tim Beiser.
(Tundra Books; distributed by Random House of Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-88776-864-4)

Beautifully drawn and painted, this is a tale in which a frog’s quest for a meal leads him to discover that not everyone finds bugs and slugs the ideal feast. Rachel Berman brings to life Bradley McGogg, an expressive character children will fall in love with.

Luxbacher_ImaginaryGardenLGIrene Luxbacher, Toronto, The Imaginary Garden,
text by Andrew Larsen.
(Kids Can Press; distributed by University of Toronto Press)
(ISBN 978-1-55453-279-7)

In The Imaginary Garden, Irene Luxbacher combines pen and ink line, paint and collage to tell the story of a young girl and her grandfather who, together, discover the power of art and imagination. Bright, bold and whimsical, these illustrations powerfully convey an important message.

Marton_BellaTreeLGJirina Marton, Colborne (Ontario), Bella’s Tree, text by Janet Russell.
(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-88899-870-5)

As with text, illustrations should compel the reader to turn the page to see what happens next. Jirina Marton’s illustrations flow; they bring the reader along and add a warm mood to a cold winter’s day. A spirit captured within the pages of this book is set free by the reading.

Melanson_MyGreatBigMammaLGLuc Melanson, Laval (Quebec), My Great Big Mamma,
text by Olivier Ka, translation by Helen Mixter.
(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-88899-942-9)

Luc Melanson’s larger-than-life illustrations fill each page with gusto, warmth and love, and convey the story’s heartwarming message of self-acceptance, as told from the view of a young boy. Whimsical, simple and clear, the illustrations create a mood of safety and depict a mother’s love for her son.

Teevee_CapeDorsetLGNingeokuluk Teevee, Cape Dorset (Nunavut), Alego,
text by Ningeokuluk Teevee, translation by Nina Manning-Toonoo.
(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-88899-943-6)

Ningeokuluk Teevee’s pencil drawings express beautifully a manner of dress, food, land, air, cold, warmth, surprise and age. The storytelling is a heart speaking to a heart, capturing the spiritual relationship that a child has with the world she lives in. This gentle book will warm hearts.

Children’s Literature – Text (French language)

Jocelyn Boisvert, Hâvre-aux-Maisons (Quebec), Mort et déterré.
(Soulières éditeur; distributed by Diffusion du livre Mirabel)
(ISBN 978-2-89607-084-8)

Jocelyn Boisvert takes us inside the head of a zombie whose many captivating escapades give a whole new meaning to the expression “love you to death.” The author skilfully intertwines comedy and tragedy, leading us on an adventure in the afterlife filled with amusing and surprising situations.

Hervé Bouchard, Saguenay (Quebec), Harvey.
(Les Éditions de la Pastèque; distributed by Socadis)
(ISBN 978-2-922585-67-4)

In this extremely moving story, Hervé Bouchard creates a universe of innocence, poetry and depth. The nuanced settings, the characters and the delicately woven tale conjure a disquieting and fascinating atmosphere. The author takes the risk of surprising us, buoyed by beautifully-written and highly-personal language.

Pierre Chartray and Sylvie Rancourt, Longueuil (Quebec),
Simon et le chasseur de dragons.
(Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine; distributed by Diffusion Prologue)
(ISBN 978-2-89619-135-2)

Pierre Chartray and Sylvie Rancourt have penned a moving allegory in this sensitive approach to a very difficult subject: the death of a loved one. This simple, tender story draws us into the terrible battle against a fatal disease via the metaphor of a brave knight who must ward off evil dragons.

Michèle Laframboise, Toronto,
La quête de Chaaas, tome 2 – Les vents de Tammerlan.
(Éditions Médiaspaul; distributed by Diffusion Prologue)
(ISBN 978-2-89420-772-7)

This captivating novel by Michèle Laframboise strays from the well-worn paths of science fiction. While conserving the essential elements of the genre, the author’s subtle, at times poetic, prose creates moving and colourful images and gives life to complex, lovable characters.

Matthieu Simard, Montreal,
Pavel, épisode 1 – Plus vivant que toutes les pornstars réunies.
(Les éditions de la courte échelle; distributed by Diffusion du livre Mirabel)
(ISBN 978-2-89651-004-7)

In his inimitable style, blending irony, dark humour, powerful images and a keen sensitivity, Matthieu Simard expresses all the loneliness, sorrow and vulnerability of his teenage hero. His work is highly contemporary, dynamic and right on target.

Children’s Literature – Illustration (French language)

Philippe Béha, Montreal, Ulysse et Pénélope, text by Louise Portal.
(Éditions Hurtubise HMH; distributed by the publisher)
(ISBN 978-2-89647-118-8)

A deliciously joyful book. The luminous pictures in orange and blue convey the sun and the sea in this story inspired by Greek mythology. The illustrator succeeds in creating stylized characters in evocative, symbolic compositions.

Gérard DuBois, Saint-Lambert (Quebec), Henri au jardin d’enfants, text by Gérard DuBois.
(Éditions du Seuil; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia)
(ISBN 978-2-02-098231-3)

This book seems to invite us into a children’s playground; in reality, it carries us much farther, through the book itself and straight into the world of the imagination. Through the images, the illustrator reveals all the astonishing things that can happen with a kiss. An exceptional book in its research and design qualities.

Janice Nadeau, Montreal, Harvey, text by Hervé Bouchard.
(Les Éditions de la Pastèque; distributed by Socadis)
(ISBN 978-2-922585-67-4)

The theme of death, narrated and illustrated in the mind of a child. The tone of the illustrations matches the text so faithfully that it is hard to believe they were not the creation of a single mind. Almost three stories in one, with three treatments that make for a harmonious whole. The characters are richly drawn, and the humour, sadness and friendship are magnificently expressed.

Pierre Pratt, Montreal, L’étoile de Sarajevo, text by Jacques Pasquet.
(Dominique et compagnie, a division of Éditions Héritage; distributed by Messageries ADP, groupe Sogides)
(ISBN 978-2-89512-572-3)

The textured treatment and contrasts of the illustrations accurately portray the mood of young Amina as she tells her story. The illustrator has done a wonderful job of rendering the atmospheres of Sarajevo. The enormous, heavy masses of the bombed city evoke sorrow, while the luminous green park at the end of the book is a sign of hope.

Rogé (Roger Girard), Montreal, La vraie histoire de Léo Pointu, text by Rogé.
(Dominique et compagnie, a division of Éditions Héritage; distributed by Messageries ADP, groupe Sogides)
(ISBN 978-2-89512-660-7 (bound) / 978-2-89512-661-4 (paper)

This visual gem, full of fantasy and rich in colour, is a delight for the eyes. In luminous tones, the illustrator tells an amusing story where tradition is confronted with modern “progress.” Droll, original characters punctuate this story filled with quirky detail and original compositions.

*

A more detailed article over at CBC has discussion with various authors, including Tim Wynne Jones.

I am embarassed to admit that I haven’t read any of the children’s lit illustration nominees! And only one of the children’s lit text nominees–Sister Wife, which I finished and promptly recommended to several other people. The Uninvited is in my to-read pile right now, and has just been bumped up to the top. (It’s due back at the library soon, and I can’t renew it because it’s on hold.) It’s shown up here earlier, on the latest updates to the big list o’ Canadian GLBT YA, as did one of Robin Stevenson’s other recent titles, Inferno.

Hmm, I think I have some more reading to do…

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3 responses to “Award news: GG shortlist!

  1. Wow, I’m shocked and delighted and shocked again that My Great Big Momma is on this list. Here’s a post I wrote about it, as a guest over at the fatpol blog The Rotund.

  2. The stories are very full of life and stylish.

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