Plain Kate wins $25K children's book award

Russian-flavoured historical fantasy Plain Kate has won the $25,000 Canadian Children's Literature Award.
Plain Kate, by Erin Bow of Kitchener, Ont., won the $25,000 Canadian Children's Literature Award. (Scholastic Canada )

Russian-flavoured historical fantasy Plain Kate has won the $25,000 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

Kitchener, Ont.-based writer Erin Bow was named winner of the award from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Tuesday evening in Toronto. It was one of five awards given out for the best in Canadian children's literature.

Plain Kate, aimed at readers aged 11 and up, follows the adventures of an orphan who makes a deal with a stranger, trading her shadow for a chance to fulfil her deepest wish.

"With astonishing skill, Erin Bow creates the world of Kate, whose talents as a wood carver mark her as a witch. The fascinating, intricate plot bravely explores the wrenching complexities of cruelty and of love," the jury said in its citation.

The $20,000 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award was won by writer Laurel Croza of Markham, Ont., and illustrator Matt James of Toronto for I Know Here. The picture book for children aged five to seven follows a young girl from  northern Saskatchewan, who is faced with a move to an urban area and recalls in words and illustrations what makes her trailer park home so special and memorable.

"An authentic, personal voice captivates from the first line, in this leave-taking from a beloved childhood home," the jury said in its citation. 

Other winners named Tuesday:

  • Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-fiction ($10,000): Case Closed: Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science, written by Susan Hughes of Toronto and illustrated by Michael Wandelmaier of Toronto.
  • Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction ($5,000): The Glory Wind by Valerie Sherrard of Miramichi, N.B.
  • John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000): A Spy in the House, written by Y.S. Lee of Kingston, Ont.

A new prize, the $5,000 Monica Hughes Award, was announced Tuesday by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.  The award for the best science fiction and fantasy book for readers aged eight to 16 will be presented for the first time in October 2012.

It is named for the late Monica Hughes, a writer who penned more than 40 books for young readers, many of them science fiction.