2020 The Christophers Award

First presented in 1949, the Christopher Awards honors outstanding books that encourage people to pursue excellence in creative arenas. We would like to congratulate Mireille Messier and Kass Reich whose book, Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War, won a Christopher Award in the Books for Young People Category.

Sergeant BillySergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War
By Mireille Messier
Illustrated by Kass Reich
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 |  Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264427 | Tundra Books
During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort. This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration. This unforgettable goat and the platoon that loved him will capture your heart!

Based on a True Story Contest Winner

We are thrilled to share the winning story from our writing contest. But first, here’s what one of our judges had to say about it:

“It was humorous, cheeky, filled with true facts and very cleverly strung together! [He] also managed to create a believable voice for his young narrator, which was great.”

Without further ado, here is the winning story:

Congratulations to Joah! He will receive a signed copy of Sergeant Billy from author Mireille Messier as well as $50 worth of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers books.

There were two other stories that we felt came very close — so we want to give a shout out to these aspiring writers

  • Malala’s Dream by Ashley
  • The Childhood Of An Author by Sumal

Remembrance Day Reading

This week, students from across the country will be reflecting on war and the sacrifices made by men and women on the front lines and the home front. Here are some titles to help contextualize the First and Second World Wars.

PICTURE BOOKS

Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion
By Jane Barclay
Illustrated by Renné Benoit
ISBN 9781770491274 | Ebook
Ages 4-6 | Tundra Books
During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort. This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration. This unforgettable goat and the platoon that loved him will capture your heart!

Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War
By Mireille Messier
Illustrated by Kass Reich
ISBN 9780735264427 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort. This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration. This unforgettable goat and the platoon that loved him will capture your heart!

MIDDLE GRADE

Innocent Heroes: Stories of Animals in the First World War
By Sigmund Brouwer
ISBN 9781101918463 | Hardcover
Ages 9-12 | Tundra Books
Never before have the stories of animal war heroes been collected in such a special way. This book consists of eight connected fictional stories about a Canadian platoon in WW1. The Storming Normans have help from some very memorable animals: we meet a dog who warns soldiers in the trench of a gas attack, a donkey whose stubbornness saves the day, a cat who saves soldiers from rat bites, and many more. Each story is followed by nonfiction sections that tell the true story of these animals from around the world and of the Canadian soldiers who took Vimy Ridge

Broken Strings
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
ISBN 9780735266247 | Hardcover
Ages 10-14 | Puffin Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

NON-FICTION

A Soldier’s Sketchbook: The Illustrated First World War Diary of R.H. Rabjohn
By John Wilson
Illustrated by R.H. Rabjohn
ISBN 9781770498549 | Hardcover
Ages 10+ | Tundra Books
A unique First World War diary, illustrated with more than a hundred stunning pencil sketches, for children learning history and also for adults interested in a new perspective on the War and authentic wartime artefacts.

The War to End All Wars: The Story of World War I
By Jack Batten
ISBN 9780887768798 | Hardcover
Ages 10+ | Tundra Books
In this riveting account of a tragic episode in world history, author Jack Batten takes readers through a far bloodier conflict than mankind had ever before endured. Meet the soldiers who fought the deadly battles along the Western Front. Follow the trail of flying ace Billy Bishop as he tangles in the air with the Red Baron. Learn the strategy of Britain’s Grand Fleet of warships as it heads into the biggest sea battle in history. Discover how civilians decoded virtually all the messages the Germans sent to their ships around the world.

These Books Are Based on a True Story

Ho onaniHo’onani:
Hula Warrior

By Heather Gale
Illustrated by Mika Song
ISBN 9780735264496 | Tundra Books
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 |  Hardcover
Ho’onani feels in-between. She doesn’t see herself as wahine (girl) OR kane (boy). She’s happy to be in the middle. But not everyone sees it that way. When Ho’onani finds out that there will be a school performance of a traditional kane hula chant, she wants to be part of it. But can a girl really lead the all-male troupe? Ho’onani has to try . . . Based on a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a celebration of Hawaiian culture and an empowering story of a girl who learns to lead and learns to accept who she really is–and in doing so, gains the respect of all those around her. Ho’onani’s story first appeared in the documentary A Place in the Middle by filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson.

Sergeant BillySergeant Billy: 
The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War
By Mireille Messier
Illustrated by Kass Reich
ISBN 9780735264427 | Tundra Books
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 |  Hardcover
During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort. This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration. This unforgettable goat and the platoon that loved him will capture your heart!

It Began With a PageIt Began with a Page:
How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way

by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
ISBN 9781101918593 | Tundra Books
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. But while Gyo’s career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family’s internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting — for herself, her vision, her family and her readers — and later wrote and illustrated the first children’s book to feature children of different races interacting together. This luminous new book beautifully and openly touches on Gyo’s difficult experiences and growth. Through Julie Morstad’s exquisite illustrations, alternating between striking black-and-white linework and lush colour, and Kyo Maclear’s artful and accessible writing, the story of this cherished figure is told at last.

EncounterEncounter
By Brittany Luby
Illustrated by Michaela Goade
ISBN 9780735265813 | Tundra Books
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
Based on an actual journal entry by French explorer Jacques Cartier from his first expedition to North America in July 1534, this story imagines the first encounter between a European sailor and a Stadaconan fisher. As the two navigate their differences (language, dress, food) with curiosity, the natural world around them notes their similarities. The seagull observes their like shadows, the mosquito notes their equally appealing blood, the mouse enjoys the crumbs both people leave behind. This story explores how encounters can create community and celebrates varying perspectives and the natural world. It is at once specific and universal. It’s a story based on a primary document and historical research, but it is in equal measure beautifully imagined. It makes room for us to recognize our differences while celebrating our shared humanity. Debut author Brittany Luby’s background in social justice and history brings a breathtaking depth of insight and understanding to this story and Michaela Goade’s expressive art brings equal life to the creatures and landscapes. An author’s note outlines the historical context as well as situates the story in the present day.

Based on a True Story Contest for Kids

We’re holding a non-fiction writing contest for kids ages 8−12. Non-fiction stories must be in English and between 800−2,000 words in length and contain at least one historical/current public figure (athlete, scientist, artist, writer, politician, etc.). Kids are encouraged to write about a moment in the public figure’s childhood. They will be judged on originality and readability by an expert panel, including Encounter author Brittany Luby and Sergeant Billy author Mireille Messier, as well as an editor and a marketing professional from Tundra Books.

The winning story will be posted on the Talking with Tundra blog on November 12th, 2019. The winner will also receive a signed copy of Sergeant Billy, Encounter and $50 worth of PRH Canada Young Readers books.

The Contest begins at 12:01 AM (Eastern Time) on August 12, 2019, and ends at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on October 12, 2019.

To enter, please see full rules here.