Oak Bay author Kit Pearson is happy to be atop a shortlist in a sea of books, from picture to non-fiction, designed for youth up to age 12.
She’s one of five nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards – one of the largest prizes in Canadian children’s literature – for her 2016 tale A Day of Signs and Wonders, published by Harper Collins.
Already a well-lauded writer and winner of numerous literature awards. Pearson is perhaps best known for her linked novels The Sky Is Falling (1989), Looking at the Moon (1991), and The Lights Go on Again (1993). They were published in 1999 as The Guests of War Trilogy. Her book Awake and Dreaming (1996) won the Governor General’s Award.
The TD award marks the first nomination for A Day of Signs and Wonders the fictional story about two historical figures — the young Emily Carr and Victoria socialite, Kitty O’Reilly. “They’re very different voices and the two girls don’t even get along at first,” Pearson said.
Set in 1881, the story follows nine-year-old Emily and neighbour Kitty, 13, at her home, Point Ellice House. It was also the writer’s first foray into that two- narrative. She uses two points of view, alternating chapters between the two girls.
“It was tricky. I think I’d rather just be in one persons head,” she said. “You have to turn into that person. That’s one of the fun things about writing, you walk in someone else’s shoes and if you’re successful the reader does too.”
She’s thrilled CBC plans to send her to Toronto to meet with a Grade 6 class.
“They’ve all read the book and they’re really keen about it so all I have to do is answer questions,” she said. “It’s so rare that you talk to kids who are so prepared. Also I don’t know if Ontario kids know very much about Emily Carr, and I love telling people about Emily Carr.”
Young readers across Canada can also vote for their favourite nominated book at cbc.ca/fanchoice to determine the CBC Fan Choice winner. One lucky voter also receives a $500 prize, a visit by one of the nominated authors, book donations and a financial donation to their school library. Both the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award winner and CBC Fan Choice Contest winner will be announced at a gala event in Toronto on Nov. 21.
Pearson looks forward to returning to Toronto for the gala.
“I’ll know a lot of the authors and people in the publishing business so it will be fun,” she said.
Pearson is in the running to win a top prize of $30,000 – one of the largest prizes in Canadian children’s literature.
“The other books on the shortlist … I just feel thrilled to be included because they’re all just such high calibre books.”
In the meantime, she works on a third in a trilogy based on imaginary Kingfisher Island (truly it’s Mayne Island she says). So Help Me God, takes place in 1951 and follows The whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth.
“I’m just finishing that up and we’ll have to see if they want to publish it,” she says.