First-time picture-book illustrator Rachel Wada has won the $1,000 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award for her work on The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden (Orca Book Publishers). The annual prize, presented by IBBY Canada, honours Canadian picture-book illustration.
The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden, written by Heather Smith, is inspired by the story of a disconnected phone booth that became a tool for the Japanese to express their grief following the 2011 tsunami. The jury praised Wada, who lives in Vancouver and is Japanese-Chinese, for her use of Japanese printmaking techniques.
The jury also selected two honour books from the 10 title shortlist: King Mouse (Tundra Books), illustrated by Dena Seiferling and written by Cary Fagan; and Small in the City (Groundwood Books), written and illustrated by Sydney Smith. The Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award is named after the late Canadian illustrator Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver, who passed away in 1985 at the age of 46.