Books

Toronto author and illustrator Jillian Tamaki wins 2021 Eisner Award for young readers for Our Little Kitchen

The Eisner Awards celebrate comic creators published in the U.S.

The Eisner Awards celebrate comic creators published in the U.S.

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

Canadian author and illustrator Jillian Tamaki is among the winners for the 2021 Eisner Awards, which were presented on July 23 during a virtual ceremony.

The U.S. prizes recognize the best in comic books and graphic novels in 33 categories. The books must be published in the U.S., but nominated creators are from all over the world. The winners are chosen through voting by comics industry professionals.

The Toronto-based Tamaki won the Abrams Books for Young Readers for her picture book Our Little Kitchen.

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

"I wanted the book to be very fun. It's very colourful. It's the kind of book that I would want to read when I was a kid," said Tamaki during her interview with The Next Chapter.

The story is also inspired by Tamiki's volunteer experience at a community kitchen and a hunger program in Brooklyn, which exposed her to the power of food in bringing people together.

An interior image from Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki. (Groundwood Books)

"A place like a community kitchen is very complex. There's a lot of different social issues at play. There are a lot of big personalities at play," she said.

Our Little Kitchen was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books.

Tamaki received the Governor General's Literary Award for This One Summer, illustrated by her and written by her cousin Mariko Tamaki, who won an Eisner award last year for best writer.

The cousins also collaborated on Skim and will be collaborating on a new graphic novel. Tamaki's other books include SuperMutant Magic Academy, Boundless and They Say Blue

Tamaki was among the 12 Canadians nominated for this year's Eisner Awards. The other Canadian finalists include Jeff Lemire and Chip Zadarsky

Jillian Tamaki tells the story of volunteers in a community kitchen in the picture book Our Little Kitchen. 3:28

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are presented by the San Diego Comic Convention. 

The full list of winners can be found on ComicCon's website.

Last year's winners included Canadians Mariko Tamaki, who won best writer; Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo, who won best digital comic for Afterlift; and Darcy Van Poelgeest, who won best limited series for Little Bird, co-created with Ian Bertram.

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