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Shoshana Wasser

Associate Director of Public Affairs and Communications
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Melanie Florence, Gabrielle Grimard and Heather T. Smith honoured with 2018 Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards

June 20, 2018

The 2018 winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced today at Toronto’s Sprucecourt Public School. The winners were selected by two juries of young readers from the school – a jury of grade 3 and 4 students selected the recipient of the Children’s Picture Book Award, and a jury of grade 8 students selected the recipient of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award.

Each student read the books individually and then worked together with their group to reach consensus and decide on a winner. This process makes it a unique literary award in Canada.

Winner of the Children's Picture Book Award Category

Stolen Words  

Stolen Words

by Melanie Florence (Toronto, Ont.)
illustrations by Gabrielle Grimard (Montréal, Que.)
Second Story Press



“This book tells a difficult story, but in a way that young people can understand,” said student jurors in grades 3 and 4. “It has a good balance of sad and happy parts, with beautiful illustrations that show the characters’ feelings. It reminds us that children can help adults and bring hope for the future.”

“It’s an incredible honour to win the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, a prize with so many notable past winners,” said author Melanie Florence. “It’s particularly humbling to have been selected by a jury of students from Sprucecourt Public School, from such a distinguished list of nominees. I’m grateful beyond words.”

“I want to thank Melanie Florence for writing such a beautiful story – it brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it,” said illustrator Gabrielle Grimard. “And thank you to the students of Sprucecourt Public School – this award has a special place in my heart because you are the ones for whom I create these illustrations.”

About the author

Melanie FlorenceMelanie Florence is a writer of Cree and Scottish heritage. She has also written several young adult novels, including He Who Dreams and The Missing.

She is a first-time nominee and laureate of the Schwartz Children’s Book Awards.


About the illustrator

Gabrielle GrimardGabrielle Grimard has been illustrating books for young readers since 2001, and has contributed to more than 50 books to date.

She is a first-time nominee and laureate of the Schwartz Children’s Book Awards.


Winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category

The Agony of Bun O'Keefe
The Agony of Bun O’Keefe

by Heather T. Smith (Waterloo, Ont.)
Penguin Teen  




Student jurors in grade 8 loved the book’s personalities –  as one juror declared, “Bun and Busker Boy are my favourite characters of all time!” Praising the protagonist as “one-of-a-kind,” the jurors also appreciated how close they felt to Bun, and how well they could feel all of her emotions. And as one student admitted, “I stayed up way too late because I couldn’t put this book down!”

Simply put, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards are special,” said author Heather T. Smith. “Not only do they honour two remarkable women, they are juried by young people, which makes it all the more meaningful. Having my book chosen by the readers themselves is an incredible honour – one that I won’t soon forget.”

About the author

Heather SmithHeather T. Smith’s East Coast roots inspire much of her writing – including The Agony of Bun O’Keefe, her second novel for young adults.

She is a first-time nominee and laureate of the Schwartz Children’s Book Awards.


About the awards

  • Two awards of $6,000 each are presented annually to recognize artistic excellence in writing and illustration in English-language Canadian children’s literature.
  • This year’s nomination committee comprised Heather Kuiper (owner, Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore, Toronto), Ben Robinson (Children and Teen Librarian, Guelph Public Library) and Kristan Fowkes (teacher-librarian, Frontenac Public School, Burlington).

Learn More

  • The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her sister, Ruth, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the family renamed the awards to honour both sisters.
  • The Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) administers the awards with the support of the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), which manages the nomination and jury process. The awards are funded through the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.
  • See the full details on the award and the list of previous laureates

Ontario Arts Foundation Inquiries

Alan Walker
Executive Director
Ontario Arts Foundation

Media Inquiries

Shoshana Wasser
Communications Coordinator
Ontario Arts Council
1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434