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Shoshana Wasser

Associate Director of Public Affairs and Communications
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058

Shortlists for the 2020 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards announced

June 23, 2020

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) are pleased to announce the shortlists for the 2020 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards. The Schwartz Awards are the only Canadian literary award where student jurors work together to choose the winning books.

The 2020 winners are being chosen by two student juries from Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, who will debate and come to a consensus by videoconference. The winners will be announced in July 2020.

About this year's shortlist

  • This year’s shortlist features Canadian authors and illustrators from diverse backgrounds, working in a variety of literary and artistic styles.
  • The Children’s Picture Book category features several books combining scientific inquiry and artistic exploration. Other themes include the importance of family and staying true to oneself.
  • The Young Adult / Middle Reader shortlist features stories of young people transformed into leaders, transported through music – and sometimes, just having fun.

Children's Picture Book Award Category

by Ashley Spires (Delta, B.C.)
Tundra Books
In My Anaana's Amautik book cover
In My Anaana’s Amautik
by Nadia Sammurtok (Iqaluit, Nunavut)
illustrations by Lenny Lishchenko (Toronto, Ont.)
Inhabit Media Inc. 
Lili Macaroni book cover
Lili Macaroni
by Nicole Testa (Rimouski, Que.)
illustrations by Annie Boulanger (Rouyn-Noranda, Que.)
Pajama Press
My Forest is Green book cover
My Forest Is Green
by Darren Lebeuf (Edmonton, Alta.)
illustrations by Ashley Barron (Toronto, Ont.)
Kids Can Press
The Pencil book cover
The Pencil
by Susan Avingaq (Igloolik, Nunavut) and Maren Vsetula (Guelph, Ont.)
illustrations by Charlene Chua (Hamilton, Ont.)
Inhabit Media Inc. 

Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category

Broken Strings book cover
Broken Strings
by Eric Walters (Guelph, Ont.)
and Kathy Kacer (Toronto, Ont.)
Puffin Canada 
Camp Average book cover
Camp Average
by Craig Battle (Toronto, Ont.)
Owlkids Books
Operatic book cover
by Kyo Maclear (Toronto, Ont.)
illustrations by Byron Eggenschwiler (Calgary, Alta.)
Groundwood Books
A Royal Guide To Monster Slaying
A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
by Kelley Armstrong (Aylmer, Ont.)
Puffin Canada
Stand on the Sky book cover
Stand on the Sky
by Erin Bow (Kitchener, Ont.)
Scholastic Canada Ltd. 

About Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book 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.
  • The winners are selected by two juries of young readers, which this year are students at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto.
    • Five students in grade 6 will select the recipient(s) of the Children’s Picture Book Award.
    • Five students in grade 8 will select the recipient of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award.


“In these unfamiliar times, books offer a powerful way to transcend physical and social distance and reconnect with the world around us – particularly for young readers. My heartfelt congratulations go to all of the nominated authors and illustrators, as well as this year’s student jurors, the first ever to select the Schwartz Awards laureates virtually!” Carolyn Vesely, CEO, OAC

“Literature has always held a prominent place in enriching our lives. This is all the more apparent during moments of crisis, like the current COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations to this year’s nominated authors and illustrators and for the student jurors coming together this year under different circumstances to choose the winning books. It is heartening to see that even in the most troubled times, we can still appreciate the tremendous value of a good book.” Alan Walker, Executive Director, OAF


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.
  • OAF administers the awards with the support of OAC, which manages the nomination and jury process. The awards are funded through the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.
  • The nomination committee that chose this year’s shortlist consisted of Carmen Condotta, (teacher-librarian, Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board, Mississauga), Nora Elliott-Coutts (Head of Children’s Services, North Bay Public Library, North Bay) and Stephanie Minett (co-owner, The Bookshelf Bookstore, Guelph).
  • See the full details on the award and the complete list of past laureates.

Ontario Arts Foundation inquiries

Alan Walker
Executive Director, OAF