Books

The finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text

The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year. The winners will be announced on Nov. 17, 2021.

The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year

The 2021 finalists for the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

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: fictionnonfictionpoetry, young people's literature — text, young people's literature — illustrationdrama 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 Nov. 17, 2021.

The young people's literature — text category was assessed by Aviaq Johnston, Karen Rivers and Ken Setterington.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

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

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Liselle Sambury is an Ontario writer and YA author. (Margaret K. McElderry Books, Stuart W.)

The YA novel Blood Like Magic, is a dark fantasy story about Voya Thomas, a Black Canadian teen witch from Toronto who is tasked with sacrificing her first love to save her family's magic. But when Voya does eventually fall in love with her soulmate, she is forced to make the choice between her morality and her duty to her bloodline.

Blood Like Magic is for ages 14 and up.

Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian Canadian YA author and vlogger from Toronto currently residing in northern Ontario. Blood Like Magic is her debut YA novel.

Firefly by Philippa Dowding

Firefly is a novel for middle-grade readers. (Cormorant Books)

The middle-grade novel Firefly is about the titular character who is looking for a place to call home. Firefly lives in the park — but one day she is forced by social services to move in with her Aunt Gayle, who just happens to own a costume shop. While Firefly gets used to having a roof over her head, she suffers from PTSD and embarks on a journey to find her true identity.

Firefly is for ages 9 to 12.

Philippa Dowding is a Canadian children's author, a poet, musician and copywriter based in Toronto. Her book Myles and the Monster Outside was a nominee for the 2017 Silver Birch Express Award and her chapter book Oculum was a finalist for the 2020 Silver Birch Fiction Award.

Peter Lee's Notes from the Field by Angela Ahn, illustrated by Julie Kwon

Peter Lee's Notes from the Field is a middle-grade book by Angela Ahn, pictured, which was illustrated by Julie Kwon. (Tundra Books, angelaahnbooks.com)

Peter Lee's Notes from the Field is a middle-grade book about an 11-year-old who dreams of a paleontologist. But when he embarks on a real-life dinosaur expedition that ends up in failure, he discovers that making his dream a reality just might be harder than he first thought. On top of it all, his grandmother falls ill and no one in his family will talk to him about it. Peter Lee's Notes from the Field is a tale of family, perseverance and how the power of observation and experimentation can save the day. 

Peter Lee's Notes from the Field is for ages 9-12.

Angela Ahn is a writer and former teacher and librarian who lives in Vancouver. She is also the author of the children's book Krista Kim-Bap

Julie Kwon is an artist, animator and illustrator based in Philadelphia.

The Fabulous Zed Watson! by Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester

The Fabulous Zed Watson! is a middle-grade novel by Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester. (HarperCollins, Laura Carlin)

The Fabulous Zed Watson! features a non-binary lead character who embarks on "the literary scavenger hunt and road trip of a lifetime."

When lead character Zed discovers a mystery surrounding an unpublished novel called The Monster's Castle, they become a member of a small but dedicated legion devoted to finding the long-buried text. When a breakthrough discovery leads Zed to the route that they are sure will take them to the treasure, they embark on a road trip with their shy, flora-loving neighbour, Gabe, and his sister, Sam, a geologist who is driving back to college in Arizona.

The Fabulous Zed Watson! is for ages 9 to 12.

Basil Sylvester is a non-binary writer based in Toronto. Their father, Kevin Sylvester, is a broadcaster and the award-winning illustrator and writer of middle-grade books such as the Neil Flambé Capers series and the MiNRS space adventure series.

Unravel by Sharon Jennings

Unravel is a YA novel by Sharon Jennings. (Red Deer Press)

Unravel is a YA novel about a 12-year-old home-schooled young girl named Rebecca. She has no friends, no photos, no possessions and lives alone with her father Joe. When she meets an eccentric woman named Phoebe in her new apartment building, Rebecca gains a new perspective on her life as Phoebe helps Rebecca realize that her father might be hiding his own secrets.

Unravel is for ages 12 and up.

Sharon Jennings is a Canadian author who has written over 60 books for young people. Jennings is also a freelance editor and manuscript reviewer and currently lives in Toronto.

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