West Coast author Kit Pearson has won a 2012 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award for her novel The Whole Truth.

Victoria-based Pearson was recognized in the young adult/middle reader category for her 2011 novel, which tells the Depression-era tale of two sisters who, after a family crisis, must leave their Winnipeg home to live with their grandmother in British Columbia. However, a dark secret hangs over both girls.

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Loon, by Susan Vande Griek and Karen Reczuch, won in the picture book category of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Awards. (House of Anansi/Groundwood Books)

"The characters were so believable — it felt like you were stepping back in time. [I] fell in love with it within the first few pages," an eighth-grade student juror said about the novel, which will be followed by a sequel entitled And Nothing But The Truth later this year.

Pearson previously won a Schwartz award for her 1997 novel Awake and Dreaming.

Author Susan Vande Griek of Halifax and illustrator Karen Reczuch of Acton, Ont. are first-time Schwartz winners for their picture book Loon.

Student jurors from grades 2 and 3 said Loon "taught us about the life cycle of the loon and [its] environment," adding that "the detailed artwork looked like real life and the colours and textures were beautiful."

The winners of the 2012 Schwartz awards — worth $6,000 each — were chosen by students from Parkdale Junior and Senior Public School in Toronto. Candidates were nominated by a selection committee that included a book reviewer and teacher, a bookseller and a public librarian.

The annual literary honour celebrates writing and illustration excellence in English-language Canadian children's literature. Past winners include Ken Oppel, Mélanie Watt, Deborah Ellis, Mordecai Richler, Barbara Reid and Robert Munsch.