Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People

Winner: $20,000
Sponsored by


2015 Winner

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

Jan Thornhill

Jan Thornhill, 2015 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People winner


With clarity and grace, Jan Thornhill’s books use both art and text to draw children into a closer and more understanding relationship with the natural world. Over a period of almost 30 years she has shown a rare ability to present serious topics to children from a scientific perspective in which gaining knowledge is pleasurable, never didactic or dry. From concept books like the Wildlife ABC, to stories and folk tales dealing with subjects like migration or wild animals in urban environments, to non-fiction books for older children on complex and challenging subjects such as conservation or death, Thornhill enriches the young reader’s awareness of the physical world and our place in it. A passionate and deeply-informed interest in nature is always conveyed with her characteristic combination of humour, empathy, and common sense.  

Select Publications

Kyle Goes Alone (August, 2015)
Winter’s Coming (2014)
Is This Panama? (2013)
Who Wants Pizza? (2010)
This is My Planet (2007)
I Found a Dead Bird (2006)
Over in the Meadow (2004)
The Rumor (2002)
Before & After (1997)
Wild in the City (1995)
Folktails (1993)
A Tree in the Forest (1991)
The Wildlife 123 (1988)
The Wildlife ABC (1987)

About the Author

Jan Thornhill is the author and illustrator of numerous science and nature books for children. She conceived of an alphabet book using North American wildlife and later developed it into her first publication, The Wildlife ABC, which was a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award in 1987. A companion title, The Wildlife 123, was published the following year and won the UNICEF Ezra Jack Keats International Award for Excellence in Children’s Book Illustration. More than a dozen books followed, including a series of nonfiction guidebooks for kids on such topics as global warming and the culture of food. One book in particular, I Found a Dead Bird: A Kids’ Guide to the Cycle of Life and Death, received numerous awards including the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Nonfiction. Earlier this fall she published Kyle Goes Alone, the story of a young three-toed sloth who has important business to do on the rainforest floor. Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Thornhill now lives near Havelock, Ontario. She spends her spare time in the woods obsessively collecting and cataloguing wild mushrooms and slime moulds.

About the Jury

EvansGwyneth Evans has written widely on the subject of books for young people, and has reviewed them regularly in Quill & Quire for many years. She has a PhD in English literature, and has taught English, especially children’s literature, at various universities. Also a professional harpist, Evans lives in Victoria.


Marthe JocelynMarthe Jocelyn is the author and illustrator of more than 30 books for babies, kids, and teens. She has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, Norma Fleck Award, and the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children. In 2009, she received the Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work. Her latest book, A Big Dose of Lucky, was published in September. Jocelyn lives in Stratford, Ontario.

PerrenSusan Perren is a past children’s books columnist for The Globe and Mail and a past member of the Writers’ Trust board of directors. She is executive director of the Fort York Foundation. Perren lives in Toronto.

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 recipient of the 2015 prize was announced on November 3, 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.




Woodcock Fund



Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing


September 19 for books published between June 20 and September 18, 2018


Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize


July 18 for books published between May 16 and Sept 30, 2018


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