Each year, the Canada Council for the Arts honours the best books in Canadian literature with the Governor General’s Literary Awards. This year, we have two finalists in the Young People’s Literature categories, one in text and one in illustrated books. Congratulations to our authors and illustrators!
Young People’s Literature – Text
Fire on Headless Mountain
By Iain Lawrence
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823454631 | Margaret Ferguson Books
Virgil is making his older siblings trek to a mountain lake on a trip unlike any they’ve have taken before. They carry precious cargo: the ashes of their beloved mother, who asked that her remains be scattered at her favorite spot. But when a forest fire is sparked by a bolt of lightning at the exact moment when their van breaks down, the journey quickly turns to disaster. While the oldest, Josh, is gone to find help, Virgil and his sister, Kaitlyn, spot fleeing animals and soon see flames flickering above the tree line. Once the sky begins to darken with the haze of burning timber, Virgil finds himself separated from his sister and left alone in the wilderness. He isn’t sure he can make it, but with the memory of his late mother, a science teacher, and all her lessons to guide him, he quickly learns that not everything has a perfect explanation and survival starts with letting go. Fire on Headless Mountain showcases not only the overwhelming beauty and terrifying power of nature, but also the gift of memory when facing great emotional and physical trials. Lessons on ecosystems and fire safety are also seamlessly interwoven into this thrilling adventure tale.
Special thanks to the peer assessment committee: Cheryl Foggo, June Hur and Tom Ryan.
Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books
By Jon Klassen
112 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536223361 | Candlewick
Jon Klassen’s signature wry humor takes a turn for the ghostly in this thrilling retelling of a traditional Tyrolean folktale. In a big abandoned house, on a barren hill, lives a skull. A brave girl named Otilla has escaped from terrible danger and run away, and when she finds herself lost in the dark forest, the lonely house beckons. Her host, the skull, is afraid of something too, something that comes every night. Can brave Otilla save them both? Steeped in shadows and threaded with subtle wit – with rich, monochromatic artwork and an illuminating author’s note – The Skull is as empowering as it is mysterious and foreboding.
Special thanks to the peer assessment committee: Marianne Ferrer, Lee Edward Födi and Mahak Jain.
Follow the conversation on Twitter/X through @CanadaCouncil and by using the hashtag #GGbooks2023 on all social platforms. The winners of the 2023 Governor General Literary Awards will be announced on Wednesday, November 8, 2023.