I received very nice news this week. Town is by the Sea is shortlisted for the 2018 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award. It is an honour to be shortlisted for this award, alongside four other excellent picture books. A very interesting feature of this award is that the jury is made up of five kids in grades 3 and 4. They will discuss the books and decide on the winner. What a wonderful way to engage young students in developing a critical lens when approaching their reading material. Thank you to the Ontario Arts Foundation for this lovely nomination.
At the end of the 2017, author/illustrator Jan Thornhill was asked to name her favourite book of the year. She picked Town is by the Sea and here are the beautiful words she said of the book:
“When I finished reading this picture book about a day in the life of a Cape Breton coal miner’s son, I felt like crying for two reasons. First, because Joanne Schwartz’s gorgeous, minimalist text and Sydney Smith’s evocative watercolour-and-ink illustrations combine to make a hauntingly perfect whole. Second, because it was one of those rare book reading experiences that instantly made me feel like I should just give up trying to make something so perfect myself. Or at least try harder. Stunning.”
I want to express my gratitude for this tremendous compliment, in particular because I have been a huge fan of Jan Thornhill’s work since her very first picture books. Wildlife 1,2,3 : A Nature Counting Book and Wildlife A B C: A nature Alphabet were my introduction to this multi-talented writer, artist, and inspired naturalist. Another of her early picture books, currently out of print, Wild in the City, is the perfect blend of bold picture making and simple story to awaken the wonder of a preschooler to the natural world in their own urban back yard. (Please bring this book back in print!!)
Jan has written many other fascinating non-fiction books for kids to learn about the world around them. In the brilliant I Found a Dead Bird, Jan tackles death and how it unfolds as part of the cycle of life. In Who Wants Pizza?: the kid’s guide to the history, science and culture of food she takes on the food cycle and the whole question of why we eat what we eat. And in This is my Planet: the kids Guide to Global Warming, in her inimitable style, Jan guides her reader through the most important of global issues.
Last year Jan won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for her beautifully illustrated Tale of the Great Auk, a fabulous account of this legendary bird. This Spring, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this book, Jan goes to the opposite spectrum of the bird world and tells the story of the intractable house sparrow in The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow.
Thank you Jan for the wonderful words about Town is by the Sea.
And thank you Jan for your wonderful and important books for children about the natural world!
Town is by the Sea is shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2018. This most prestigious award recognizes the very best illustrators published in the UK. I’m so grateful to the talented Sydney Smith (@Sydneydraws) for his outstanding work on the book, bringing to life my story of a boy in a mining town in Cape Breton in the 1950s. Here is part of what the committee said about Sydney’s illustrations:
“The closeness of family life and the beauty and power of the Nova Scotia landscape are vividly rendered on each page, enhancing Schwartz’s narrative. Contrasting darkness and confined space with freedom and light above ground, these pictures linger in the mind.”
Town is by the Sea has landed on many best books of the year lists.
Here is a round-up –
The Bulletin for the Centre of Children’s Books 2017 Blue Ribbons List
Shelf Awareness 2017 Best Children’s and Teen Books of the Year
Huffington Post’s Best Picture Books of the Year
Denver Public Library Best And Brightest Picture Books of 2017
BookPage The Best Children’s and Young Adult Books of 2017
Horn Book Fanfare 2017
School Library Journal Best Books 2017
Kirkus Best Children’s Books of 2017 to Bring the Global Village Home
Washington Post Best Children’s Books of 2017
Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens 2017
Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017
Evanston’s Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids List 2017
Quill & Quire 2017 Books of the Year: editors’ kidlit and YA Picks
Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2018 Edition, Outstanding Merit
Cooperative Children’s Book Centre, CCBC Choices, 2018
“Eloquent, sensitive yet, entirely unsentimental and profound in impact:
picture books don’t get much better than this one.”
Books for Keeps: the children’s book magazine online
For more information about the Golden Oak Awards, click here.
Joanne Schwartz’s children’s book is nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books. Created in 1937, winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards include Thomas King, Madeleine Thien, Michael Ondaatje, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood.
For more information and a complete list of finalists in all 7 categories click here.