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For Immediate Release

Half Brother wins CLA’s Book of the Year for Children Award

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(Ottawa, April 15, 2011) – From a superb collection of children’s literature produced by Canadian authors and publishers in 2010, the Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliotheques (CLA/ACB) has selected its 2011 winning title for the Book of the Year for Children Award. This year’s winner is Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, published by HarperCollins.

Thirteen-year-old Ben Tomlin is at first annoyed that he is to become a big brother to Zan, a baby chimpanzee that his behavioral scientist parents intend to raise as a human and a member of their family, but he soon becomes attached to the mischievous fellow. Within months the chimp is "speaking" in signs, and Ben joins the team of students helping with the experiment, acting not only an older brother but also as a junior researcher. Then the project loses its funding Xan’s place in the family is threatened. But what exactly is the right placement for a chimp that thinks he’s human?

"Oppel’s provocative story introduces readers to a moral dilemma that has no easy answer," commented Kay Weisman, Chair of the Book of the Year for Children Award Committee. Set in Victoria, British Columbia in 1973, Oppel convincingly explores the ethics of removing animals from their natural habitats and manipulating them for our own needs, complex family dynamics, and ultimately, what it means to be human.

The CLA’s Book of the Year for Children Award has also selected two Honour Books this year: Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen (published by Tundra Books) and The Secret Fiend by Shane Peacock (also published by Tundra Books).

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Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom is Nielsen’s third children’s book, following Hank and Fergus (2003) and Word Nerd (2009). Twelve-year-old Violet is angry that her father has abandoned the family for a blond trophy wife and young twins in Los Angeles. Complicating matters, her mother has started dating Dudley Wiener, the nerdy owner of a local bath shop. In desperation, Violet schemes to get actor George Clooney to rescue Mom from her disastrous relationships. By turns poignant, outrageous, and funny, Nielsen has a keen ear for teen dialog and exposes the fallout from divorce.

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The Secret Fiend is Shane Peacock’s fourth book in The Boy Sherlock Holms series, following Eye of the Crow (2007), Death in the Air (2008), and Vanishing Girl (2009). Set in a period of political and social upheaval in England, this book introduces an unidentified nocturnal criminal known as the Spring-Heeled Jack. When someone fitting Jack’s description assaults an acquaintance of Sherlock’s, he finds himself on the trail of this fantastical marauder. Sherlock’s character continues to develop in this book and Peacock offers a cinematic view of Victorian London. Like the city, Sherlock can be dark, moody, and unpredictable, and Peacock offers readers a suspenseful tale full of action and surprising emotional depth.

The CLA award committee salutes the efforts and accomplishments of all Canadian writers of children’s literature and their publishers for providing our children with an exceptional collection of quality books that easily meets the interests and reading abilities of all children.

The CLA Children’s Book of the Year Award has been presented annually since its inception in 1947 to recognize excellence in children’s books written and published in Canada during the preceding year. This year’s award, generously sponsored by Library Services Centre of Kitchener, Ontario, will be presented to Kenneth Oppel for Half Brother on May 26, 2011, during the CLA National Conference and Tradeshow in Halifax. The Book Award Reception is generously sponsored by TD Bank Group.

The Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliotheques is Canada’s largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned with enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.

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Media Contact: Kay Weisman
Chair, Book of the Year for Children Award Committee
weismankay@gmail.com


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