Waterloo, Ont., writer Heather Smith won the top prize at the 2019 Canadian Children’s Literature Awards, taking home $50,000 for her free-verse middle-grade novel, Ebb & Flow.
The TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award is given annually to the best book written for children under the age of 12.
Smith’s book tells the story of an 11-year-old boy named Jett. After his father goes to jail, Jett makes some rebellious decisions and spends a healing summer with his grandmother in Newfoundland.
“A verse novel brings forth larger than life characters as a boy, overcome with self-recrimination, learns that unconditional love and forgiveness are gifts to be given as well as received,” said the jury, comprised of Betsy Fraser, Sandra O’Brien and Arwen Rudolph, in a press release.
“This feels absolutely amazing. I’ve come to these awards — for years and years and years — as an aspiring writer. I’ve watched others be nominated and win. I’ve watched the community grow. As an aspiring writer, you always go, ‘Maybe someday that will be me,” Smith told CBC Books after the win.