Award Winners, Canadian, picture book

2010 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

This one is probably the closest race, sort of like the Oscar race for Best Supporting Actress, which is always the most varied and interesting collection of performances in any given year.

The Delicious Bug is playful and fun and makes kids laugh out loud. Janet Perlman, she of the fabulous Penguin fairytale books (The Penguin and the Pea, Cinderella Penguin, The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes) brings her trademark oddball sense of humour to this tale of two frogs debating over who saw dinner first. This is an adaptation of the Oscar-nominated Perlman’s animated short, Dinner for Two. Prepare to giggle!

Me and You is probably the most charming  picture book I’ve read all year. It’s a simple, tender story of two friends, a rabbit and a pig, wanting to be more like the other. In anyone else’s hands this story could come off as excessively cutesy or sweet, but Genevieve Coté is a genius. Her touch is light and comedic and her style is instantly recognizable. I love her illustrations so much I even have some of her French language books, such as La Grande Aventure d’un Petit Mouton Noir , despite my previously mentioned abysmal French.

You’re Mean, Lily-Jean combines the talents of two major players in the Canadian picture book world, Frieda Wishinsky, who (along with Marie Louise Gay) took home this prize for Please, Louise! in 2008, and Kady MacDonald Denton, who also has the distinction of creating the whimsical graphics for the store. Wishinsky’s stories combine genuine childhood experiences with just the right amount of whimsy, whether the protagonist is dealing with annoying siblings or a bossy neighbour. She is sensitive to children’s anxieties, and MacDonald Denton’s expressive characters are a perfect match for Wishinsky’s well-rounded protagonists.

Our Corner Grocery Store, by debut author and TPL librarian Joanne Schwartz and illustrator Laura Beingessener is the most traditional of the books on this list,  and a favourite among  the many grandparents who purchased this book for their grandchildren at the store this Christmas. It was warmly embraced for it’s portrayal of a community within an urban setting. Certainly kids everywhere can relate to the idea of a family run business in their midst, and the muted colours and gentle language make this a cozy, comforting read with lots of illustrative detail for kids to pore over.

Timmerman Was Here, with its echoes of Miss Rumphius, is a quiet story about a girl dealing with the displacement of her beloved grandfather, and also a cautionary tale about judging others too harshly. The storytelling is subtle and requires a more experienced reader to fully grasp the many levels the book is working on. It would be an excellent book for a grade one or two class room read aloud, with lots of points for discussion. The rich, saturated colours of illustrator Nicholas Debon’s palette adds to both the young protagonist’s mood and the sense of mystery in the book.

Verdict?  Too close for this gal to call! One thing is for sure, the Canadian picture book is in great shape!

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