Tag Archives: awards

Illustrator: Karen Reczuch ~ Award Finalist

Finalist for the 2012 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($25,000)
Sponsored by TD Bank Group

Written by Susan Vande Griek (Halifax, NS)
Illustrated by Karen Reczuch (Acton, ON)
Groundwood Books
for ages 4-7

“A beautiful combination of words and images… The poetic text perfectly captures the rhythm of a loon’s life cycle… Readers will respond on so many different levels – to Vande Griek’s lovely use of language and Reczuch’s beautiful images… A magical combination of poetry and illustrations that is both lyrical and scientifically informative.” (link)

Detail from Loon

Karen Reczuch

A childhood spent with a pencil always in hand has blossomed into a full and varied life for Ontario artist Karen Reczuch. Apart from her here-featured work as a children’s book illustrator, Reczuch has enjoyed extensive travel as part of post-secondary studies in advertising, work in educational publishing and employment since 2008 as artifact illustrator for an archeological expedition in Turkey.


(Click on the above thumbnails for their Goodreads page with reviews, and here for the full gallery of children’s books illustrated by Reczuch.)

Reczuch’s website cover image. Click to go there.

“Whether spending an afternoon sketching in a nearby woods or absorbed at my desk drawing an ancient artifact, I enjoy examining and recording the intricate world around me. Time spent drawing and painting is an opportunity to truly “see” and often an exercise in personal discovery and connection, not unlike meditation. My hope is that my work allows others to make similar discoveries and to share the delight of visually exploring our shared environment.”   Karen Reczuch

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Canadian wins U.K. Costa Book Award for Children

‘Children’ must be a very broad category for this award, as judging from reviews and the book trailer, this book is definitely for the upper end of that category for which the Costa Book Awards, which “recognises some of the most enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland” has chosen Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

“It’s astonishing how, in her first novel, Moira Young has so successfully bound believable characters into a heart-stopping adventure. She kept us reading, and left us hungry for more. A really special book.” (link)


Originally from B.C. and now living in the U.K., Moira Young has trained as an actor, a dancer and, according to the Costa Book Awards, has now proven herself as a writer with this first novel in the Dust Lands trilogy. (source)

Blood Red Road, published by Simon & Schuster in June 2011 and already a movie in the making,  is a dystopian thriller set in post-apocalyptic Silverlake, “a dried up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms”. When the heroine, Saba, looses her brother to cloaked horsemen, she embarks on a quest to rescue him.

“At its best the novel mashes together McCarthy’s intensity with a laconic narrative style taken from the literature of the American west…At its worst it is a risible collection of clichés strung together by a barely coherent plot.” From The Guardian, which article concludes, “My nine-year-old daughter got hold of my review copy and was so entranced that I had to machete it into sections so we could both carry on reading it. Yes, this is the perfect apocalypse for pre-teens.”

Quill & Quire calls the dialogue, “quirky, folksy dialect that smacks of the Old West, with all its “yers” and “ain’ts”, and sums up with, “the magic of Blood Red Road is not that it is particularly original. Instead, Young has taken familiar pieces of everything from Gladiator to Lord of the Rings and put them in the hands of a spunky, moody heroine who breaths new life into old motifs.”

Audio book excerpt:

A selection of other reviews (there are many):

Reader reviews at Goodreads
The Book Smugglers
Alison’s Book Marks

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National Book Awards Young People’s Literature Winner

Click to go to HarperCollins book page


Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Recommended for Grades 4 through 8

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize given to writers by writers and administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

This book has two things going for it before the content is even considered. Despite our best efforts, kids do still judge a book by its cover and I  love this one by Zdeno Basic and Manuel Sumberac. Secondly, the narrative poetry format has gone over very well with many readers in my library in books like Song of the Sparrow and novels by Sonja Sones and  Ellen Hopkins. Although my students prefer realistic fiction set in contemporary North America, reviews like the one quoted below have convinced me to order this book, read it and promote it in my library.

Inside Out and Back Again is an outstanding read.  There were no longeurs, no places where Hà’s narration felt affected, no stilted dialogue.  The prose/poetry felt natural, as if it were the means of expression for a confused, scared immigrant girl trying to make sense of the new culture around her and her place within it. ~ Vaguely Borgesian

The reviews speak of an authenticity that is explained in the author’s biography. Thanhha Lai has drawn from her own experience to write this novel.

On April 30, 1975, North Vietnam (the Communist side) won the war, and my family and I (living in Saigon, South Vietnam) scrambled onto a navy ship and ended up in Montgomery, Alabama.  Why?  Believe me, we didn’t know about Alabama to choose it.  But to enter the United States, refugees had to have a sponsor. The man who had the nerve to take on all of us (10 in all) lived in Alabama.

As is so often the case as selection by reviews gets pushed to the back of the priority list behind the moment-to-moment tasks of running the library, I find myself embarrassingly behind the 8-ball on this one. There is an abundance of positive reviews for this book which you will find easily with a search. Here are a few more:

Outside of a Dog
School Library Journal
Reader reviews on Goodreads

I also found a couple of book trailers that I’ve found can be very effective with promoting books to our oh-so visual students. I’ve embedded one below and the other can be found here.

Look inside the book at Amazon

I’m curious: Do you already have this book and if so, what do your students think of it? If not, will you buy this book based on these reviews? Why or why not?

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Governor General’s Awards Announced

The Canada Council for the Arts today announced the 14 winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, worth $25,000 each.

From the Canada Council News Release:

“The 2011 GG-winning books reflect the diversity and depth of contemporary Canadian literature,” said Robert Sirman, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. “With the hundreds of other great books that have won Canada’s national literary award over the past 75 years, they represent pure gold for Canadian creative excellence.”

Click to go to Canada Council page for this book with author bio

Winner: Children’s Literature – Illustration

Jury’s Comment
Ten Birds is a whimsical, surreal visual riddle. A disarmingly simple story becomes a complex discussion of the adjectives used to “pigeon-hole” individuals in society. Cybèle Young’s beautifully crafted pen and ink images describe a journey to simply cross a river. Ironically none of the birds can fly, but ultimately the simplest answer may be the best.

Kiss the Book Review
Drawn Review
CM Magazine Review

Click to go to Canada Council page for this book with author bio

Winner: Children’s Literature – Text

Jury’s Comment
From Then to Now: A Short History of the World, by Christopher Moore, is a fascinating examination of the evolution of human civilization that is global in its span and inclusive in its outlook. The energetic narrative tells a story that rivals the very best fiction.

Goodreads Reader Reviews
CBC News Review
CM Magazine Review

I don’t have either of these books in my library and would love to hear from anyone that does. What do your students think of them?

All GG Winners – English
All GG Winers – French

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Canadian Toy Testing Council 2012 Great Books Awards

I have never understood the logic in post-dating cars, magazines and awards, etc. Nevertheless, I had to have a look at the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s 2012 Great Books Awards. Here they are in order by age: (Click on any image to launch Photo Carousel)

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