Cree author, educator from Manitoba among finalists for Governor General’s Award for illustrated books

Here are the finalists for the 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award for young people’s literature — illustrated books.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards are one of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious literary prizes. 

The prizes, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are awarded in seven English-language categories: fictionnonfictionpoetryyoung people’s literature — textyoung people’s literature — illustrationdrama and French-to-English translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories. 

The Canada Council for the Arts is a partner of the CBC Literary Prizes. The 2023 CBC Short Story Prize is currently open for submissions.

Each winner will receive $25,000. The winners will be announced on Nov. 16, 2022.

The young people’s literature  — illustrated books category was assessed by Kate Beaton, Nhung N. Tran-Davies and Frank Viva.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

Get to know the young people’s literature  — illustrated books finalists below.

kā-āciwīkicik/The Move is picture book by Doris George, left, and Don K. Philpot, illustrated by Alyssa Koski (not pictured). (Heritage House)

kā-āciwīkicik / The Move is a picture book written in Cree and English. The story features colourful illustrations and uses magic and memory to explore how a formerly barren landscape transformed into a rich natural world — becoming a place where an elderly couple can spend their remaining days in an ancestral home.

kā-āciwīkicik / The Move is for ages 4 to 8.

Doris George is a Cree author and educator. She is the principal of Chemawawin Schools in Easterville, Man., where she also taught Cree language for four years. She holds a BA and B.Ed. from University College of the North and a Community Linguist Certificate (CLC) from the University of Alberta. 

Don K. Philpot is a writer and educator born and raised in Edmonton and Winnipeg, and spent the first part of his adult life in two Cree communities in northern Manitoba. Philpot specializes in Cree language structures and use, language and literacy education, and children’s literature. 

Alyssa Koski is an Alberta artist, illustrator and animator,

Mina is a picture book by Matthew Forsythe. (Paula Wiseman Books, Matthew Forsythe)

The picture book Mina is a colourful and heartful look at the bond between father and daughter. Mina lives with her dad in a tree stump on the edge of the forest. When her father brings home a surprise, an anxious Mina learns more about the power of trust and loyalty.

Mina is for ages 4 to 8.

Matthew Forsythe is the Toronto-born author-illustrator of Pokko and the Drum, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, a recipient of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor, and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book.

The Big Bath House is a picture book by Kyo Maclear, left, and illustrated by Gracey Zhang, right. (Tundra Books)

The Big Bath House is a picture book that celebrates family, culture and bodies of all shapes and sizes. A Japanese girl — along with her aunties and grandmother — relax and connect at a traditional bath house. Everyone is in the bath and The Big Bath House highlights the rituals leading up to the baths: hair washing, back scrubbing and the traditional wood barrel drumroll. 

The Big Bath House is for ages 4 to 8.

Kyo Maclear is an essayist, novelist and author of children’s books. Her books have been translated into 15 languages, won a Governor General’s Literary Award and been nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, among others. She is also the author of the memoir Birds Art Life.

Gracey Zhang is an author and illustrator from Vancouver, now based in New York. Lala’s Words, her debut picture book, was published in 2021.

The Sour Cherry Tree is a picture book by Naseem Hrab, illustrated by Nahid Kazemi. (Owlkids)

The Sour Cherry Tree is a look at the loss of a loved one through the eyes of a child. Based on author Naseem Hrab’s own memories, this picture book looks at grief, love and culture to explore death and dying.

The Sour Cherry Tree is for ages 4 to 8.

Hrab is a Toronto-based writer and storyteller. She is also the author of Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend and Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings. Her picture book Weekend Dad was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Prize for young people’s literature — illustrated books.

Nahid Kazemi is an artist, illustrator, graphic designer and author from Montreal. Her other books include I’m Glad That You’re Happy, The Orange House and Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon by JonArno Lawson.

Time is a Flower is a picture book by Julie Morstad. (Tundra Books)

Time is a Flower is a picture book that playfully explores the nature of time. Time as a concept can be tricky to understand, but this book visually looks at the ticking of a clock, numbers and words on a calendar to help children better understand. 

Time is a Flower is for ages between 3 and 7.

Julie Morstad is an artist based in Vancouver. Her other books include Today, How To and This is Sadie, written by Sara O’Leary. She won the 2018 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award for her work in Bloom, a picture book about the life of Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaprelli written by Kyo Maclear.

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