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2024 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards presented to Melissa Mollen Dupuis, Elise Gravel and Kevin Sands

June 12, 2024

The 2024 winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced today during a school assembly at John English Junior Middle School in Toronto, Ont. The winners were selected by two juries of young readers from the school – a jury of grade 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.

The student jurors were chosen for their love of reading, their willingness to work in a consensus-building environment, and to reflect the school community. Each student read the shortlisted books individually, then worked with their group to collectively decide on a winner. This process makes it a unique literary award in Canada.

Winner of the Children’s Picture Book Award Category


Nutshimit: In the Woods
by Melissa Mollen Dupuis (Granby, Que.)
illustrations by Elise Gravel (Montréal, Que.)
Scholastic Canada Ltd.

About the book

The Innu word Nutshimit signifies the physical and social space to practice traditional activities and language. Taking us on a journey through this space, deep in the forest, is the book’s author herself, Melissa Mollen Dupuis. She guides young readers through the woods, teaching them about the rich culture of the Innu people. Melissa’s colloquial narrative and anecdotes describe her lived experiences and offer a deeply personal look at Innu life. Thoughtfully and playfully illustrated by Elise Gravel, this book helps young readers discover the importance of the natural world and learn a few Innu words along the way.


Nutshimit: In the Woods taught us things we didn’t know before,” said the student jurors who selected the book. “This story included Innu words and traditions, and how native plants can be used in our lives. This story is very protective and respectful of nature, and it shows how cool the woods are in Canada. The illustrations are great – even the plants have eyes. The speech bubbles are so funny. The whole book makes you feel happy.”

In response to the book’s win, author Melissa Mollen Dupuis said, “I am honoured and grateful, and happy that a jury of kids chose Nutshimit: In the Woods! This book is truly for the children. The fact that it was chosen among so many other excellent candidates really brings home the fact that it resonates with them, just as intended. Thank you to all the people behind the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards.”

“Thank you so much for this incredible award!” said illustrator Elise Gravel. “It’s inspiring to know that kids themselves have found something they love in Nutshimit: In the Woods and that the book we created has reached our intended readers.”

About the author

Melissa.pngMelissa Mollen Dupuis is a member of the Innu community of Ekuanitshit on Quebec's Côte-Nord. She specializes in sharing the culture of her people with non-Indigenous audiences through her writing and directing and is the co-founder of the Quebec branch of the Idle No More movement.

About the illustrator

 Elise.pngElise Gravel has written and illustrated more than 30 children’s picture books, including titles such as Alerte : culottes meurtrières – Fausses nouvelles, désinformation et théories du complot; C'est mon corps!; Tout le monde!; Le pire livre du monde; and the Arlo & Pips and Olga series. She aims to awaken the critical senses of her young readers using a biting sense of humour to express her views. In 2022, Elise was awarded the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. She also received the Governor General's Literary Award (Young People's Literature – Illustration) in 2012 for her book La clé à molette as well as the Rights and Freedoms Award from the Quebec Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse in 2019.

Winner Of The Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category

The Raven’s Revenge 
by Kevin Sands (Toronto, Ont.)
Simon & Schuster / Aladdin Imprint

About the book

In this sixth and final novel in the award-winning Blackthorn Key series, main character Christopher finally uncovers the Raven’s identity. The story begins with Christopher being set up for a horrible crime and finding himself locked away in London’s most notorious prison. The setup is the first in a series of games the Raven plans to play with Christopher… games that are as dangerous as they are challenging. Once free from prison, Christopher, Tom, and Sally must decipher a series of riddles and uncover mysteries in order to outwit the treacherous Raven. This fast-paced adventure provides a thrilling and satisfying conclusion to the Blackthorn Key series.


The student jurors selected The Raven’s Revenge for its engaging story and tone: “The fast-paced adventure starts from the very first page of The Raven’s Revenge. We really wanted to meet Christopher, Tom and Sally. It was amazing to learn Raven’s back-story and how it became evil. The ciphers and scavenger hunt vibe were excellent. There were lots of detailed imaginative descriptions. Kevin Sands’ writing really pulled us in, and the surprise ending was very satisfying.”

“I'm so incredibly honoured that The Raven's Revenge was chosen for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award,” said author Kevin Sands. “It's been a long and wonderful journey sharing the Blackthorn Key adventures with you, and I'm deeply grateful to all readers for joining me along the way.”

About the author Kevin-1.png

Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant, and a teacher. He lives in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of the award-winning and bestselling Blackthorn Key series.

About The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book 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, traditionally or self-published, in English-language Canadian children’s literature.
  • OAF administers the awards with the support of OAC, which manages the nomination and jury process.
  • See the full details on the award and the complete list of past laureates
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