Mississauga, Ontario — Jean Little, 78, of Guelph, Ontario, award-winning children’s author and member of the Order of Canada, will receive the twenty-second annual Leslie K. Tarr Award for outstanding career achievement.
The award will be presented on Wednesday, June 16th, during The Word Guild awards gala at the World Vision headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario.
Named in honour of its first recipient, the late Leslie K. Tarr, a Toronto journalist, editor, and teacher, the Tarr Award celebrates a major career contribution to Christian writing and publishing in Canada. Previous recipients include author Rudy Wiebe and poet Margaret Avison, both two-time Governor General’s Literary Award winners, and Janette Oke, whose inspirational novels have sold over 28 million copies.
The Leslie K. Tarr Award is sponsored by Tyndale University College and Seminary and administered by The Word Guild.
Jean Little, author of 45 books, is a favourite of readers around the world and her work has been translated into many languages. She is known for unsentimental portrayals of children and youth who are coping with challenges such as abuse, abandonment and disabilities, and learning more about themselves in the process. In Language Arts, Meguido Zola says, "…the real thrust of Jean Little’s novels — [is] recognizing and mastering the enemy within rather than tilting at the one without."
“We chose Jean because of her accomplishments,” said Wendy Elaine Nelles, a member of the selection committee. “The number and quality of her books, her ability to affirm young readers, and her use of Canadian settings, stories, and history are just a few of the reasons. As well, the values she portrays are based on her Christian worldview.”
Jean Little has written novels, picture books, poetry, short stories, and two autobiographical books. Among them are some of Canada’s best-loved works for children, such as From Anna and Pippin the Christmas Pig.
In 1962 her first children’s novel, Mine for Keeps, about a child with cerebral palsy, won the Little, Brown Canadian Children’s Book Award. In 1977 she won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature for Listen for the Singing; in 1985 she won the Canadian Children’s Book of the Year Award for Mama’s Going to Buy You a Mockingbird.
In 1996 her novel about her mother’s childhood, called His Banner Over Me, won the I.O.D.E. Violet Downey Book Award.
In 2002 Orphan at My Door from the Dear Canada series won the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year award and, in 2004, two of her books, I Gave My Mom a Castle and Brothers Far From Home were CLA Book of the Year honour books. In addition she has received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature and been nominated four times for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Award.
The writer was born in Taiwan in 1932 to Canadian doctors serving as medical missionaries under the United Church of Canada. They returned to Canada when Jean was seven. Jean graduated in 1955 from the University of Toronto with an honours degree in English, and after that taught children with disabilities until 1962.
Jean Little, who has been legally blind from birth, writes using a talking computer. She has taught Children’s Literature at the University of Guelph, and has a public elementary school in Guelph named after her. In 1993 she was made a member of the Order of Canada for her outstanding contribution to Canadian children’s literature.
During the gala The Word Guild will also present some 34 awards in a variety of categories, including fiction and non-fiction, poetry, articles and song lyrics. Herbie Kuhn, popular speaker and in-house announcer for the Toronto Raptors basketball team, will host it. The event, which is open to the public, starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at World Vision Canada’s headquarters, 1 World Drive, Mississauga, Ontario.
The Word Guild is an organization of more than 350 writers and editors across Canada who write and edit from a Christian perspective.
ABOUT THE WORD GUILD
We encourage the exploration of God-given gifts and talents; provide opportunities for people to work together; and foster excellence in the art, craft, practice and ministry of writing, editing and speaking.
Media: For photos or more information, email Judy Bingley, The Word Guild Administrative Assistant, at info [at] thewordguild [dot] com