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A highly regarded Canadian book award started in 1971 in honor of Amelia Frances Howard Gibbon (right)who was the creator of the first Canadian children's picture book. Given by the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians (CACL), this annual award is presented to the illustrator of an outstanding children's book published during the previous calendar year. The illustrator must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada and the book must be suitable for children up to age fourteen and be published in Canada.

2009 Winner

Dušan Petričić, Mattland by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert. Toronto: Annick Press, 2008.

Other Shortlisted

A Bear in War/Illustrated by Brian Deines (Key Porter)
A Pocket Can Have a Treasure in It/Illustrated by Deirdre Betteridge (Annick)
Chester’s Back!/Illustrated by Melanie Watt (Kids Can Press)
Jenneli’s Dance/Illustrated by Chris Auchter (Theytus)
Naomi’s Tree/Illustrated by Ruth Ohi (Fitzhenry and Whiteside)
Out of the Deeps/Illustrated by Nicolas Debon (Orca)
Shin Chi’s Canoe/Illustrated by Kim LaFave (Groundwood)
Sir Reginald’s Logbook/Illustrated by Matt Hammill (Kids Can Press)
Thing Thing/Illustrated by Nicolas Debon (Tundra)

2008 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award Winner
Mélanie Watt

chesterChester, written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt (RIGHT), published by Kids Can Press in 2007, is the winner. Mechanimals, written and illustrated by Chris Tougas (Orca Book Publishers) and My New Shirt, illustrated by Dušan Petričić and written by Cary Fagan (Tundra Books) are the honour books.

Chester, written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt, is a hilarious tale of a self-centred, sarcastic and artistic eponymous feline. In making its decision, committee members called the book inventive and fresh, laugh out loud funny, and thoroughly enjoyable. They also raved about Chester’s high “kid appeal”.

Watt’s superb use of line and composition delivers a unique interactive book wherean enormous calico cat trades escalating verbal and visual assaults with his illustrator and a resourceful mouse. Chester suffers a humiliating episode with a pink tutu but, of course, has the last laugh. Or does he?

mechanimalsHonourable mention goes to Chris Tougas, writer and illustrator of Mechanimals. Committee members were drawn to the invigorating action, and the imaginative and inventive storyline. Mechanimals depicts a farmer who sees his life’s work destroyed in a tornado, leaving a mound of seemingly unusable junk metal. With his “can do” recycling spirit, the farmer welds together worker chick-bots, a cow-bot (complete with a chocolate milk dispenser) and ultimately a charming flying pig-bot which triumphantly transports the farmer to the moon. This book celebrates the power of perseverance, survival and a positive attitude.

Honourable mention also goes to My New Shirt illustrated by Dušan Petričić and written by Cary Fagan. From the title page’s illustration, with a stiff white shirt strangling a boy with enormous ears, the reader knows that surprises and humour await. Committee members commented on the great layout and the impressive integration of illustration, text and story. Here is a family story, getting bigger and better with each telling, that hilariously illustrates the universal situation of receiving an unwanted gift.

Shortlisted titles for the 2008 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s

Ben's Bunny Trouble, illustrated by Daniel Wakeman & Dirk van Stralen (Orca Book Publishers)

Birds of Prey - An Introduction, illustrated by Robert Bateman with Nancy Kovacs (Scholastic/Madison Press)

Chester, illustrated and written by Mélanie Watt (Kids Can Press)- Winner

Grumpy Bird, illustrated and written by Jeremy Tankard (Scholastic Press)

I am Raven, illustrated by Andy Everson, written by David Bouchard (MTW Publishers)

Lickety-Split, illustrated by Dušan Petričić, written by Robert Heidbreder (Kids Can Press)

Marja's Skis, illustrated by Jirina Marton, written by Jean E. Pendziwol (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press)

Mechanimals, illustrated and written by Chris Tougas (Orca Book Publishers)- Honor Book

My New Shirt, illustrated by Dušan Petričić, written by Cary Fagan (Tundra Books)- Honor Book

Painted Circus, The: P.T. Vermin Presents a Mesmerizing Menagerie...
illustrated and written by Wallace Edwards (Kids Can Press)

Pink, illustrated by Luc Melanson, written by Nan Gregory (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press)

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Mélanie Watt's Squirrel Gets the Prize

Montreal based illustrator, Mélanie Watt (right), has won the Amelia Frances Howard Gibbon Illustrator's Medal for 2007 for her book Scaredy Squirrel the latest in a line of delightful books that have won the prize going back to 1971.

Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It's way too dangerous out there. He could encounter tarantulas, green Martians or killer bees. He's prepared for danger with his antibacterial soap, Band-Aids, and parachuchute. But what happens when he's suddenly forced out of his tree?! A rare funny book about fear. Ages 4-up.

Mélanie describes Scaredy Squirrel as "the nutty adventure of a neurotic squirrel who faces his fears of the unknown. Sounds like a wonderful analogy for the lives that many of us lead. Go the Squirrels!

Author/Illustrator

Born: August 20, 1975. Trois-Rivieres, QC
Family: Ernesto Cadenas

Biography

Mélanie Watt of Montréal, Quebec, began working on her first children's book "Leon the Chameleon" while enrolled in the graphic design program at the Université du Québec a Montréal. "Leon the Chameleon" is a story about being different that also explores the concept of complementary colors. It has been published in other languages such as French, German, Czech and Hebrew. For her second picture book, Mélanie illustrated "Where does a Tiger-Heron spend the night? (Kids Can Press, 2002) written by Margaret Carney, a book of poems about birds. This inspired her to observe and learn more about these interesting creatures. Mélanie has currently finished her box set of 5 concept books "Learning with animals" (Kids Can Press, fall 2003). In this collection, kids will learn the Alphabet, Numbers, Colors, Shapes and Opposites with the help of 70 different animals. Apart from her passion for creating children's books, Mélanie shares other interests like interior design, arts, crafts and music.

Published Works

Augustine Kids Can Press, 2006
Scaredy Squirrel Kids Can Press, 2006
BEARCUB and MAMA, Author: Sharron Jennings, Kids Can Press, 2004
LEARNING WITH ANIMALS, Kids Can Press, 2003; (5 concept books) Alphabet, Colors, Shapes, Numbers and Opposites.
Where Does A Tiger-Heron Spend The Night? (Kids Can Press, Spring 2002), 32 p. Hardcover (with flaps) Author: Margaret Carney
Leon The Chameleon (Kids Can Press, Spring 2001) 32 p. Hardcover / Paperback

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Winners 1971-2009

 

2009 Dušan Petričić, Mattland by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert. Toronto: Annick Press, 2008.
2008 .Mélanie Watt Chester. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2007.
2007 Mélanie Watt Scaredy Squirrel. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2006
2006 Leslie Elizabeth Watts The Baabaasheep Quartet. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2005.
2005 Wallace Edwards Monkey Business. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2004.
2004 Bill Slavin Stanley’s Party by Linda Bailey. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2003.
2003 Pascal Milelli The Art Room by Susan Vande Griek. Toronto: Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 2002.
2002 Frances Wolfe Where I Live. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2001.
2001 Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson The Magnificent Piano Recital by Marilynn Reynolds. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2000.
2000 Zhong-Yang Huang The Dragon New Year by David Bouchard. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 1999.
1999 Kady MacDonald Denton A Child's Treasury of Nursery Rhymes . Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1998.
1998 Barbara Reid The Party. Richmond Hill, ON: North Winds Press, 1997.
1997 Harvey Chan Ghost Train by Paul Yee. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1996
1996 Karen Reczuch Just Like New by Ainslie Manson. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1995.
1995 Barbara Reid Gifts by Jo Ellen Bogart. Richmond Hill, ON: North Winds Press, 1994.
1994 Leo Yerxa Last Leaf First Snowflake To Fall. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1993.
1993 Paul Morin The Dragon's Pearl by Julie Lawson. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1992.
1992 Ron Lightburn Waiting for the Whales by Sheryl McFarlane. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 1991.
1991 Paul Morin The Orphan Boy by Tololwa Mollel. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1990.
1990 Kady MacDonald Denton Til All The Stars Have Fallen, ed. by David Booth. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1989.
1989 Kim LaFave Amos's Sweater by Janet Lunn. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1988.
1988 Marie-Louise Gay Rainy Day Magic. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1987.
1987 Marie-Louise Gay Moonbeam on a Cat's Ear. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1986.
1986 Ken Nutt Zoom Away by Tim Wynne-Jones. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1985.
1985 Ian Wallace Chin Chiang and the Dragon's Dance. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1984.
1984 Ken Nutt Zoom at Sea by Tim Wynne-Jones. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1983.
1983 Lindee Climo Chester's Barn. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1982.
1982 Heather Woodall Ytek and the Arctic Orchid by Garnet Hewitt. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1981.
1981 Douglas Tait The Trouble With Princesses by Christie Harris. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1980.
1980 Laszlo Gal The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Janet Lunn. Toronto: Methuen, 1979.
1979 Ann Blades Salmon for Simon by Betty Waterton. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1978.
1978 Elizabeth Cleaver The Loon's Necklace by William Toye. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1977.
1977 Pam Hall Down By Jim Long's Stage by Al Pittman. St. John's: Breakwater Books, 1976.
1976 William Kurelek A Prairie Boy's Summer. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1975.
1975 Carlo Italiano The Sleighs of My Childhood/Les Traineaux de Mon Enfance. Translated by René Chicoine. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1974.
1974 William Kurelek A Prairie Boy's Winter. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1973.
1973 Jacques de Roussan Au-delà du Soleil /Beyond the Sun. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1972.
1972 Shizuye Takashima A Child in a Prison Camp. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1971.
1971 Elizabeth Cleaver The Wind Has Wings. Compiled by Mary Alice Downie and Barbara Robertson. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1968.

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