OAF News

Melanie Watt and Kenneth Oppel wins the 2011 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards

Toronto, June 1, 2011 – The 2011 winners for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards were revealed today. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Awards.  The inaugural Schwartz Award was presented in 1976 to Mordecai Richler for Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang.

<!--[if !vml]-->Cover art for Chester's Masterpiece<!--[endif]-->

picture book

award category

Chester's Masterpiece
By Mélanie Watt
(Laval, QC)
Kids Can Press

<!--[if !vml]-->Cover art for Half Brother<!--[endif]-->

Young adult /
middle reader

award category

Half Brother
By Kenneth Oppel
(Toronto, ON)
Harper Collins Publishers Ltd.


  • Both Mélanie Watt and Kenneth Oppel are previous winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards. Watt received the award in 2007 for Scaredy Squirrel and in 2009 for Chester's Back! This is Oppel`s fifth Schwartz Award, having first won in 2000 for Sunwing, in 2005 for Airborn, in 2006 for Skybreakerand in 2008 for Darkwing.
  • The awards, of $6,000 each, recognize artistic excellence in writing and illustration in Canadian children's literature. 


  • The candidates are nominated by a selection committee comprised of a bookseller, librarian and children's book reviewer. 
  • <!--[if !supportLists]-->The winners were selected by two juries of young readers at Agnes Macphail Public School. Students in grades 3 and 4 chose the winning author and illustrator of the children's picture book award. The recipient of the young adult / middle reader award was chosen by students in grades 7 and 8.
  • <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]-->The 2011 winners were announced at an event at the Agnes Macphail Public School, 112 Goldhawk Trail, in Toronto, at 10:30 a.m. on June 1, 2011.
  • <!--[if !supportLists]-->Both Mélanie Watt and Kenneth Oppel were on hand to accept the awards from students at Agnes Macphail Public School.   


Student jurors in grades 3 and 4 noted Mélanie Watt`s Chester`s Masterpiece is ìa very funny book. It's great how Mélanie Watt has Chester tell his own story. She is a great artist, but she lets Chester show off.î

Student jurors in grades 7 and 8 said the following about Kenneth Oppel`s Half Brother:  ìHalf Brother is a complicated story whose many parts make it that much more interesting.  The main characters are surprisingly sympathetic, and the central problem of the story holds the reader to the very end.î  


  • <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]-->The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her sister, Ruth Schwartz, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the family renamed the awards to honour both sisters.
  • <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]-->See the list of previous laureates.
  • <!--[if !supportLists]-->The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the fund and the Ontario Arts Council administers the nomination and jury process

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GeneviËve Vallerand, Communications Coordinator
Ontario Arts Council
ext. 7434



Alan Walker, Executive Director
Ontario Arts Foundation




The Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) offers donors effective and creative opportunities for charitable giving – helping to build a foundation for the arts in Ontario. OAF works with donors to build lasting endowments in support of the arts – a gift for this generation and the next.


The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is the province of Ontario's primary funding body for professional arts activity. Since 1963, the OAC has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts and artists for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians.

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