2022 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards presented to Brittany Luby, Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley and Philippa Dowding
Toronto, June 22, 2022 – The 2022 winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced today at North York's Faywood Arts-Based Curriculum School.
The winners were selected by two juries of young readers from the school - a jury of four students in grade 4 and one student from the grade 6 Deaf and Hard of Hearing program selected the recipients of the Children’s Picture Book Award, and a jury of grade 8 students selected the recipient of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award.
The student jurors are chosen for their love of reading and willingness to work in a consensus-building environment, as well as to reflect the school community. Each student reads the shortlisted books individually, then works with their group to collectively decide on a winner. This process makes it a unique literary award in Canada.
Winner of the Children's Picture Book Award Category
About the Book
In this lyrical story-poem, written in Anishinaabemowin and English, a child and grandmother explore their surroundings, taking pleasure in the familiar sights that each new season brings. We accompany them through warm summer days full of wildflowers, bees and blueberries, then fall, when bears feast before hibernation and forest mushrooms are ripe for harvest. Winter mornings begin in darkness as deer, mice and other animals search for food, while spring brings green shoots poking through melting snow and the chirping of peepers.
The student jurors who selected this book were equally impressed by its text and illustrations, stating, “We love the gentle story and the vibrant colours.” They also said that telling the story in both Anishinaabemowin and English was “very cool,” and thought it would be a great way for children who speak either language to learn about the changing of the seasons.
“As a creative, you practice hope – hope that your message will reach and resonate with others,” said author Brittany Luby. “I am beyond grateful for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award – it is a sign that my work has found good company: young readers. Thank you, miigwetch, to the student jurors for allowing me this dream.”
“Winning this award is very important to me as this book highlights Indigenous languages and Anishinaabe culture,” said illustrator Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley. “It's particularly exciting to see the next generation recognizing the importance of language revitalization and celebrating Indigenous artistry.”
Brittany Luby, of Anishinaabe descent, was raised on Treaty #3 Lands in what is now known as northwestern Ontario, and currently lives on Dish with One Spoon Territory. She is an assistant professor of history at the University of Guelph who seeks to stimulate public discussion of Indigenous issues through her work. This is her second picture book, and her first to be nominated for a Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award.
About the Illustrator
Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley is an Ojibwe artist and a member of Wasauksing First Nation; he splits his time between there and Vancouver. In his work, he aims to reclaim and promote traditional Ojibwe stories and teachings in a contemporary woodland style. He works mainly in acrylics, digital illustration and screen printing, and has had several solo art exhibitions across Turtle Island. This is his first picture book.
Winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category
About the Book
Firefly lived in the park across from her mother’s home, because it was safer there. But after the bad night happens, social services sends Firefly to live with her Aunt Gayle, who owns a costume shop. Firefly can get used to taking baths, sleeping on a bed again, and wearing as many costumes as she can to school. But where is “home”? What is “family”? Who is Firefly, for that matter … and which costume is the real one?
The students jurors who selected Firefly were very enthusiastic about the book. “We wish we could meet these characters in real life!” they said. “We love how the staff at the magical costume shop became a family for Firefly, and how every character evolved and grew – even the cat! Firefly is so relatable, with very human flaws, and we want to see her again in another story.”
“Thank you for this incredible honour,” said author Philippa Dowding. “To be selected by a dedicated group of grade eight readers makes the experience even more meaningful – and it could not have been an easy choice for them, as all of this year’s nominated books are so great! Receiving this award will encourage the next generation of readers to discover the book, and hopefully build awareness and empathy around the issues explored in it, including mental health, substance use, homelessness, poverty, friendship, and family.”
Firefly is Philippa Dowding’s most recent book, and it also won the 2021 Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature. Her previous book, Oculum, was a finalist for the Diamond Willow Award and the Forest of Reading Silver Birch Award. This is her first time being nominated for a Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award.
About the Awards
- The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her sister, Ruth, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the family renamed the awards to honour both sisters. The awards are funded through the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.
- Two awards of $6,000 each are presented annually to recognize artistic excellence in writing and illustration in English-language Canadian children’s literature.
- The Ontario Arts Foundation administers the awards with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, which manages the nomination and jury process.
- See the full details on the award and the list of previous laureates.
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The Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2021-2022, the OAF paid $4.4 million in endowment income and $600,000 in awards and scholarships.
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