Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People

Winner: $20,000
Sponsored by


2016 Winner

Jan Thornhill, 2015 Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature

Alan Cumyn


Jury Citation

Alan Cumyn’s middle grade and young adult novels burst the molds of fiction for the young. A risk-taker in his play with style and imagery, Cumyn expresses with extraordinary vitality the confused morass of emotional and physical change that is part of growing. His Owen Skye books are literary masterpieces of their genre. In the context of three brothers’ grandiose adventures and susceptible imaginations, he evokes fundamental moments when insight shifts: a first realization of mortality, the fleeting time we have on earth, or romantic love that moves from the ideal to the warmly, wonderfully, egg-splatteringly real. Brilliantly exceeding the standards of fiction for the young, Cumyn’s novels for teenagers and children alike show a sure-handed mix of humour, poetry, and melancholy, and an abiding commitment to a young person’s viewpoint.

Select Publications

Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend (2016)
Tilt (2011)
Dear Sylvia (2008)
After Sylvia (2004)
The Secret Life of Owen Skye (2002)

Alan Cumyn

About the Author

Alan Cumyn is the author of wide-ranging and often wildly different literary novels for children, young adults, and adults. His Owen Skye books for kids, The Secret Life of Owen Skye, After Sylvia, and Dear Sylvia, hilariously trace the calamitous trials of childhood and the pangs of early love. His young adult novel Tilt is a funny exploration of a teenaged boy’s obsessions. His most recent book, Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend, brings a touch of Kafka to the life of a high school senior who has no idea what might fly out of the primordial past. A two-time winner of the Ottawa Book Award, Cumyn has also been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Giller Prize, the Trillium Book Award, and the TD Children’s Literature Award. Cumyn lives in Ottawa.

About the Jury

Deirdre Baker teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto and is the author of Becca at Sea, which was a finalist for the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children Award. She reviews children’s books regularly for the Toronto Star and The Horn Book Magazine.   

Jeff Horvath is a member of the Ojibways of Onigaming in north-western Ontario. He is the principal of the Tsuut’ina Nation High School and is a doctoral student at the University of Calgary. He is on the national board of directors of Outward Bound Canada and is a former instructor and wilderness guide. He lives in Canmore, Alberta.

Marthe Jocelyn is the author and illustrator of nearly 40 books for babies, kids, and teens. She was the inaugural winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award in 2005 and has been a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award for illustration. Jocelyn won the Vicky Metcalf Award in 2009. She lives in Stratford, Ontario.

About the Prize

Vicky MetcalfThe Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People is awarded to the author of a body of work in children's literature. The winner is selected by a three-member, independent judging panel. The winner was announced on November 2, at the Writers' Trust Awards.


About the Sponsor

The goal of the Metcalf Foundation is to enhance the effectiveness of people and organizations working together to help Canadians imagine and build a just, healthy and creative society. Vicky Metcalf created this award in 1963 to stimulate the writing of literature for Canadian children. She held a passion for storytelling and published several children’s books. The prize has been administered by the Writers’ Trust since 2002.




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