Jonathan Auxier, praised for his "engrossing novel about secrets, lies, magic and the power of imagination," was the big winner at the Canadian Children's Book Centre awards on Wednesday, as his novel The Night Gardener received two of the evening's major prizes.
The Vancouver-born, Pittsburgh-based writer, whose novel tells the story of two orphans working in a strange English manor, took home both the $30,000 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and the $5,000 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy.
"Masterfully written, plotted as tight as a snare drum and brimming with suspense, Auxier's The Night Gardener is equal parts Gothic thriller and love letter to the power of storytelling," read the citation written by the jury for the Monica Hughes Award. "The Night Gardener is a spell-binding and chilling tale with themes of family, courage, loyalty and the power of stories.… It's a book so powerful and rich that it demands to be read and pondered slowly, sentence by sentence, word by word, root and branch."
Auxier's first novel, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, was published in 2011.
In total, $145,000 in prize money was awarded during Wednesday's ceremony, which was held at the Carlu in downtown Toronto and hosted by the CBC's Shelagh Rogers.
Cybèle Young received the $20,000 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award for Nancy Knows.
The $10,000 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction went to Kira Vermond and illustrator Julie McLaughlin for Why We Live Where We Live.
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch won the $5,000 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People for her novel Dance of the Banished.
The John Spray Mystery Award, worth $5,000, went to Julian by William Bell.
Marthe Jocelyn won the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award, a new $5,000 prize, for her novel What We Hide.
Finally, the $5,000 CBC Fan Choice Award, selected by readers via an online poll, went to Marie-Louise Gay for the picture book Any Questions?