Children’s Literature Awards

Tuesday night , the Canadian Children’s Literature Awards Celebration was held at the Carlu in Toronto. That’s right–the same night as the Giller. I think it was on the mind of a few of the speakers, as they congratulated us for being at the most important literary event in Toronto that night.

Not to undermine the Giller, but for anyone who loves children’s books, the Carlu was the right place to be. There were editors there from many of my favourite publishers (or so their name tags told me), and I was feeling pretty starstruck as I walked around and saw so many of my favourite authors there. Yup. These are my movie stars.

Actually, the Carlu was the place to be for anyone who loves food, too. I’d had a peanut butter sandwich for dinner (perils of leaving for Toronto at 5:00), but when I saw all the gourmet goodies on offer, I was wishing I’d waited. I don’t know what that pasta-wrapped thing was, but it was good. And after the ceremony, there were was this strawberry and chocolate dessert that was too small to be more than one bite — but it may have been the best bite of anything that I’ve ever had in my life. I heard something about martinis, too, but that’s not really my thing.

But the important part: the awards ceremony. My friend Dawn Riddoch scored us some second-row seats, off to the left, which was wonderful — we could see everything. At that point, I may or may not have ditched the high heels and spent several long minutes wriggling my toes around while the auditorium filled up.

Shane Peacock, author of the Boy Sherlock Homes series, sat in our row because he didn’t want to be in the reserved front row. He may not have been the only writer to feel that way, because that front row held a lot of empty seats. I guess that’s what happens when you hold an event to honour introverts.

The stage looked promising. There was a giant, green TD chair in the middle and a cheerful video display in the background — yellow, with picture of kids and books flying around. Not too formal. And when Garvia Bailey (Radio One) welcomed us, the tone was set. Everyone was warm and charming and open.

The winners:

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People: Shane Peacock, for Vanishing Girl (The Boy Sherlock Holmes, Book 3), published by Tundra Books. Yes–he had to leave the second row for that one.

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction: Priscilla Galloway with Dawn Hunter, for Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road, published by Annick Press. When Priscilla told us about the health issues she had been through on the way to publication, we gave her a standing ovation.

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award: Timmerman Was Here, written by Colleen Sydor and illustrated by Nicolas Debon, published by Tundra Books.

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award: My new writer buddy and fellow Mac geek Arthur Slade, for The Hunchback Assignments, published by HarperCollins. I may have cheered extra hard for Art.

Needless to say, next year I will be encouraging all of my writing friends out here in Durham to join the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and come to this event. And not just so I can have company while I gawk at the movie stars, er, writers.

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