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Julie Flett, Tom Ryan, and Sydney Smith lead the CCBC Award nominees

An illustration by Julie Flett of a young girl and an old woman in a field beside a small building

Julie Flett’s Birdsong

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has announced the finalists for the $50,000 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award (in English and French) and seven other prizes celebrating the best in Canadian kidlit.

Books by Julie Flett, Tom Ryan, and Sydney Smith were nominated in two categories each, and other familiar names, including Kathy Kacer, Eric Walters, Kyo Maclear, and Julie Morstad made the list. CCBC executive director Rose Vespa wrote in a press release that the historical-fiction genre seemed particularly strong this year, resulting in the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction featuring a shortlist of six instead of the usual five. “We are especially proud of this year’s shortlists featuring books by more diverse creators than ever before,” Vespa writes. “In a year fraught with uncertainty, many of the nominated books focus on family and our relationships with others, which serves as a reminder of what is really important.”

Also, the CCBC announced a partnership with the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) to provide accessible formats of all books nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.

This year’s award ceremony will be small and socially distanced, and will be co-hosted by the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) as part of its TIFA Kids! programming (date TBD). The event will also be live streamed and available for free. The French-language awards ceremony will be held in mid-November as part of Montreal’s annual Salon du livre book festival.

Here are the English-language nominations:

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($50,000)
Sponsored by TD Bank Group
Birdsong, Julie Flett (Greystone Kids)
Broken Strings, Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer (Puffin Canada)
It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way, Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad, ill. (Tundra Books)
Small in the City, Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books)
Stand on the Sky, Erin Bow (Scholastic Canada)

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000)
Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie
Birdsong, Julie Flett (Greystone Kids)
King Mouse, Cary Fagan and Dena Seiferling, ill. (Tundra Books)
My Winter City, James Gladstone and Gary Clement, ill. (Groundwood Books)
The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden, Heather Smith and Rachel Wada, ill.  (Orca Book Publishers)
Small in the City, Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books)
When I Found Grandma, Saumiya Balasubramaniam and Qin Leng, ill. (Groundwood Books)

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non‐Fiction ($10,000)
Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation
Beastly Puzzles: A Brain-Boggling Animal Guessing Game, Rachel Poliquin and Byron Eggenschwiler, ill. (Kids Can Press)
Cells: An Owner’s Handbook, Carolyn Fisher (Beach Lane Books)
Fairy Science, Ashley Spires (Tundra Books)
Killer Style: How Fashion Has Injured, Maimed, & Murdered Through History, Serah-Marie McMahon and Alison Matthews David; Gillian Wilson, ill. (Owlkids Books)
Picking Up the Pieces: Residential School Memories and the Making of the Witness Blanket, Carey Newman and Kirstie Hudson (Orca Book Publishers)

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000)
Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund
Among the Fallen, Virginia Frances Schwartz (Holiday House)
Be My Love, Kit Pearson (HarperTrophy Canada)
The Big Dig, Lisa Harrington (Nimbus Publishing)
City on Strike, Harriet Zaidman (Red Deer Press)
Orange for the Sunsets, Tina Athaide (Katherine Tegen Book)
Room for One More, Monique Polak (Kar-Ben Publishing)

John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000)
Sponsored by John Spray
The Athena Protocol, Shamim Sarif (HarperTeen)
Keep This to Yourself, Tom Ryan (Albert Whitman & Company)
The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane, Julia Nobel (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)
Songs from the Deep, Kelly Powell (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
The Starlight Claim, Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick Press)

Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5,000)
Sponsored by Sylvan Learning
All Our Broken Pieces, L.D. Crichton (Hyperion)
The Candle and the Flame, Nafiza Azad (Scholastic Press)
In the Key of Nira Ghani, Natasha Deen (Running Press Teens)
Keep This to Yourself, Tom Ryan (Albert Whitman & Company)
Love from A to Z, S.K. Ali (Salaam Reads)