Thursday, April 02, 2009

Young Winners Announced in 2008 Imperial Oil Foundation Writing Contest

TORONTO: April 1, 2009 — The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is excited to announce the winners of the 2008 Imperial Oil Foundation Writing Contest for young writers. The contest is a much-anticipated part of TD Canadian Children's Book Week—the largest celebration of Canadian books for young people in Canada.

In honour of the 100th anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Book Week 2008 celebrated Classic Canadian Reading. In keeping with this theme, young writers from across Canada were invited to captivate our judges with recently-written stories or poems that they think could become a classic and be read for the next 100 years like Anne of Green Gables has.

Five Canadian children’s authors donated their time and expertise to judge 713 submissions from young writers in grades two to six. For the 2008 contest, the jurors were: Sylvia Gunnery, Richard Scrimger, Sheryl McFarlane, David Poulsen and Sylvia McNicoll.

The winner from each grade will receive a $200 gift certificate for the bookstore of his or her choice. The winning stories and honourable mentions can be enjoyed at

The WINNERS of the 2008 Imperial Oil Foundation Writing Contest are:

Grade 2: Laith Asem Sbeitan of Oakville, Ontario (Age 7) for his story Coming to Canada

Sylvia Gunnery’s comments: The worries of Chinese children, as they journey to Canada and as they begin to settle into a new life, are worries that many readers can easily understand. As I read Coming to Canada, I realized that the parents were hoping to begin a wonderful new life for the family; but the children missed China and all the things they were used to there. By the end of the story, both Sunjay and Romana had met new friends and they were “happy and safe.” I love stories with happy endings.

Grade 3: Kayla Borecky of Oakville, Ontario (Age 8) for her story Hug

Richard Scrimger’s comments: The story of Snookie the Hedgehog is completely charming and very well plotted. The issues are timely and the illustrations are perfect. I smiled all the way through the story, and my own children loved it too.

Grade 4: Audrey Pao of Toronto, Ontario (Age 9) for her story Can Santa Go On His Sleigh Tonight?

Sheryl McFarlane’s comments: I loved Audrey's creative new take on the magic of Christmas and I especially appreciated her ability to balance a well-paced plot against the story's message of the importance of a healthy life style. Audrey's use of rich language made the story come to life. All of these elements made this story a pleasure to read.

Grade 5: Elizabeth Roberts of Winnipeg, Manitoba (Age 10) for her story The Magic Song of Christmas

David Poulsen’s comments: I very much enjoyed The Magic Song of Christmas by Elizabeth Roberts of Winnipeg Manitoba. I was reminded of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" as I read it—high praise indeed for this ten year old, grade five student. The symbolism that enriches her story and the delightful way she tied the ending to the magic of what had transpired through the night made it the kind of enduring and endearing story that I'm sure will be read over and over for many years, especially at Christmas. I look forward to seeing more writing in the future from this talented young Winnipeg writer.

Grade 6: Jared Levinson of Hamilton, Ontario (Age 11) for his story Flint

Sylvia McNicoll’s comments: Jared Levinson’s ghostly thriller Flint shows great sophistication in writing skill. Jared varies the pace of the story effectively by interspersing dialogue, description, action and flashbacks. His choice of language, especially in the flashbacks, creates a spine tingling mood and when he switches to the backstory, he tightens the tension till the reader wants to scream.

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The judges for the 2008 Imperial Oil Foundation Writing Contest talented authors of children’s and young adult books from across Canada:

Grade 2 judge:
Sylvia Gunnery (LaHave, Nova Scotia), author of Out of Bounds and Personal Best.

Grade 3 judge:
Richard Scrimger (Cobourg, Ontario), author of the Norbert series and Into the Ravine.

Grade 4 judge:
Sheryl McFarlane (Victoria, British Columbia), author of Waiting for the Whales and The Smell of Paint.

Grade 5 judge:
David Poulsen (Claresholm, Alberta), author of The Salt & Pepper Chronicles series and Numbers.

Grade 6 judge:
Sylvia McNicoll (Burlington, Ontario), author of Beauty Returns and Last Chance for Paris.
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About the Canadian Children's Book Centre:
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is a national, not-for-profit organization founded in 1976 to encourage the reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian books for young readers. The CCBC is dedicated to promoting quality Canadian children’s literature through its services, publications and programs. For more information, please visit our website at

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