Children's Books

TD Canadian Children's Literature Award winner Jan Thornhill visits Cougar Canyon Elementary School

The author and illustrator of The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk, which won the 2017 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, talks extinction with students in B.C.
Winner of the CBC Fan Choice Contest, Monica Yu, left, holds up The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk as she meets its author and illustrator, Jan Thornhill. (CBC)

Jan Thornhill won the 2017 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award for her nonfiction picture book, The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk

Thornhill wasn't the only winner this year. Monica Yu, a Grade 2 student at Cougar Canyon Elementary School in Delta, B.C., won the CBC Fan Choice Contest after casting her vote for The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk as her favourite of the five finalists for the $30,000 prize. 

More than 4,000 votes were cast in the 2017 CBC Fan Choice Contest. Iain Lawrence's YA novel The Skeleton Tree came out on top, winning the $5,000 prize. 

As the CBC Fan Choice Contest winner, Monica won $500, her school library received $2,000 and the school got a visit from the author Monica voted for: Thornhill.

In January 2018, students from the entire school gathered for a special presentation from Thornhill to hear about the research that went into the picture book and the hidden facts she included for readers to find.

Author and illustrator Jan Thornhill delivers her presentation on the great auk, the subject of her award-winning picture book. (CBC)

After the school-wide presentation, Monica and her classmates got a special classroom visit from Thornhill, where they marvelled at the author's 'Museum in a Bag' — a collection Thornhill has assembled which includes creatures and curiosities she has come across in her travels. 

The author of The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk and Monica Yu, centre, pose with the $2,000 prize awarded to Cougar Canyon Elementary School's library. (CBC)

In preparation for Thornhill's visit, students adorned the school gym with handpainted recreations of her book covers.

Students at Cougar Canyon Elementary School replicated the covers of Jan Thornhill's picture books. (CBC)

Monica told CBC producer Matthew Parsons she will not forget the environmental lessons that Thornhill shared with students:

The winner of the 2017 CBC Fan Choice Contest talks to local producer Matthew Parsons about the school visit. 1:12

To express their gratitude, students sent Thornhill cards featuring the original artwork inspired by The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk

Thank-you cards from Cougar Canyon Elementary School students cover Jan Thornhill's floor after returning from her visit to the B.C. school. (Courtesy of Jan Thornhill)

A shortened version of the morning's assembly can also be heard below.

Children's author and illustrator, Jan Thornhill, presents her work at a student assembly in Delta, B.C. 5:59

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