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Shoshana Wasser

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Nicole Testa, Annie Boulanger and Kelley Armstrong honoured with 2020 Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards

July 8, 2020

The 2020 winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced today by the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF).

The winners were selected by two juries of young readers from Canada’s National Ballet School. A jury of grade 6 students selected the recipients 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 juror read the books individually and then worked with their group to reach consensus and choose a winner – this year, via videoconference. This teamwork-based process reinforces leadership and decision-making skills for the students.

Winner of the Children's Picture Book Award Category

Picture of Lili Macaroni
Lili Macaroni
by Nicole Testa (Rimouski, Que.)
illustrations by Annie Boulanger (Rouyn-Noranda, Que.)
Pajama Press 

About the Book

Lili Macaroni loves being exactly who she is – that is, until she starts kindergarten, where her classmates tease her about her appearance. With her parents’ help, Lili creates a polka-dotted butterfly to wear as a symbol of her own resilience. And when she explains the meaning of the butterfly to her classmates, Lili discovers she has begun a powerful conversation. Lili Macaroni provides an accessible exploration of self-esteem and the power of talking about emotions.


“Everyone can relate to this story at some point in their lives,” said the student jury. “If you have ever been bullied this story will give you comfort.” They also appreciated that Lili’s solution to her challenge was “simple and beautiful.”

“I’m very touched by this award." said author, Nicole Testa. "From my neck of the woods (Ste-Blandine de Rimouski), I’m delighted to see how much Canadian kids like Lili Macaroni and her spotted butterfly. My thanks to the jury from the National Ballet School in Toronto!”
Nicole Testa
Author, Nicole Testa

“This award is truly special, because it’s chosen by the audience we wish to reach in the first place – children themselves,” said illustrator Annie Boulanger. “I'm also very proud, knowing the high quality and sensitivity of all the books that have previously received this unique award.”

Annie Boulanger
Illustrator, Annie Boulanger


Winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
by Kelley Armstrong (Aylmer, Ont.)
Puffin Canada 

About the Book

Twelve-year-old Rowan is destined to be Queen; her twin brother, Rhydd, to be Royal Monster Hunter. Rowan would give anything to switch places, but the oldest child is always next in line, even if she is only older by two minutes. Then tragedy shatters the longstanding rule, and Rowan finds herself hunting the most dangerous monster of all: a gryphon. It will take all of Rowan's skills, both physical and diplomatic, to keep this adventure on track. The future of her kingdom depends on it.


“Who wouldn't want to read a story about a princess with a sword, in a land full of monsters?” said the student jury. “On her quest, Rowan shows us that her true strength in not in her sword, but in her kindness and respect for all creatures great and small.”

“For a children’s author, there is no contest as satisfying as those judged by kids themselves,” said Kelley Armstrong. “I’m absolutely thrilled and delighted that this year’s panel enjoyed A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying.”

Kelley Armstrong
Author, Kelley Armstrong

About the Awards

  • 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.
  • Two awards of $6,000 each are presented annually to recognize artistic excellence in writing and illustration in English-language Canadian children’s literature.
  • The Ontario Arts Foundation administers the awards with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, which manages the nomination and jury process.
  • See the full details on the award and the list of previous laureates.

Ontario Arts Foundation Inquiries

Alan Walker
Executive Director, OAF