The finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books

The finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books.
The finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for Young people's literature — illustrated books. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustration.

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

The awards, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are given in seven English-language categories: fictionnonfictionpoetryyoung people's literature — text, young people's literature — illustration, drama and translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories.

Each winner will receive $25,000. The winners will be announced on June 1, 2021.

The young people's literature — illustrated books category was assessed by Catherine Austen, Cary Fagan and Shenaaz Nanji.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

Get to know the young people's literature — illustration finalists below.

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith

I Talk Like a River is a picture book by Jordan Scott (left) and illustrated by Sydney Smith. (Andrew Zawacki, Neal Porter Books, Steve Farmer)

I Talk Like a River is a picture book about a young boy who has trouble communicating and is feeling lost and alone. His father takes him for a walk by the river, where he helps him find his voice.

I Talk Like a River is for ages 4-8.

Jordan Scott is a poet from Comox Valley, B.C. His books include SlitBlertDecomp, which was co-authored by Stephen Collis, and Night & Ox. Scott was awarded the 2018 Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize, which is given annually to a mid-career poet. I Talk Like a River is his first children's book.

Sydney Smith is an illustrator from Nova Scotia. The books he has illustrated include Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Town is by the Seawritten by Joanne Schwartz. He wrote and illustrated the picture book Small in the Citywhich won the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustration.

Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki

Out Little Kitchen is a picture book by Jillian Tamaki. (Emma McIntyre, Groundwood Books)

Our Little Kitchen is a picture book that features a neighbourhood with colourful characters who come together in the kitchen to share a meal. Our Little Kitchen is a celebration of food, community and laughter. 

Our Little Kitchen is for ages 4-8.

Jillian Tamaki is an award-winning illustrator. In 2014, Tamaki received the Governor General's Literary Award for her work in This One Summerwritten by her cousin and graphic novelist Mariko Tamaki. They also collaborated on SkimHer other books include the comics SuperMutant Magic Academy and Boundless and the picture book They Say Blue

Jillian Tamaki tells the story of volunteers in a community kitchen in the picture book Our Little Kitchen.

Swift Fox All Along by Rebecca Thomas, illustrated by Maya McKibbin

Swift Fox All Along is a picture book by Rebecca Thomas (top right) and illustrated by Maya McKibbin. (Annick Press)

Swift Fox All Along is a picture book about a young girl connecting with her Mi'kmaq family, culture and identity. When Swift Fox is first introduced to her family, she feels like she doesn't belong. But she soon realizes she's not alone in feeling like an outsider and learns to embrace her identity.

Swift Fox All Along is for ages 4-7.

Rebecca Thomas is a Mi'kmaw writer living in Nova Scotia. She was the Halifax poet laureate from 2016 to 2018. She is also the author of the children's book I'm Finding My Talk, which is a poem responding to the iconic Rita Joe poem I Lost My Talk and the poetry collection I place you into the fire.

Maya McKibbin is a two-spirited Ojibwe, Yoeme and Irish illustrator and filmmaker. Swift Fox All Along is her first picture book.

Growing up, Rebecca Thomas always knew her father was Mi'kmaw. But as a child it wasn’t clear what that meant for her - she saw a disconnect between his identity and her own. Thomas describes her journey to understanding her own sense of being Mi'kmaw.

The Barnabus Project by The Fan Brothers

The Barnabus Project is a picture book by the Fan Brothers. (Tundra Books)

The Barnabus Project features a secret underground lab, genetically engineered creatures and a story about freedom. Barnabus and his friends live in this lab but they are deemed imperfect and might never see the outside world. But Barnabus yearns to be free and decides that it's time for he and his imperfect friends to make the perfect escape.

The Barnabus Project is for ages 5-9.

Eric Fan and Terry Fan are brothers and frequent collaborators on children's books. Their books include The Night Gardener and Ocean Meets SkyThey also illustrated The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield.

Devin Fan is an artist, poet and youth worker. The Barnabus Project is his first children's book and marks the first time all three brothers have written and illustrated a picture book together.

We talk to three different authors of kids books about divorce from three different eras, to see how the kids book has changed, and how it should.

Weekend Dad by Naseem Hrab, illustrated by Frank Viva

Weekend Dad is a picture book written by Naseem Hrab (left) and illustrated by Frank Viva. (Groundwood Books, Connie Tsang)

In Weekend Dad, Naseem Hrab writes and Frank Viva illustrates what happens when parents separate and how children adapt to having two homes.

Weekend Dad is for ages 3-7.

Hrab is a writer and storyteller from Toronto. She is the author of Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend and Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings.

Viva is an illustrator from Toronto. He is also the author of numerous children's books, including Sea ChangeOutstanding in the Rain and Young Frank, Architect

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