Sydney Smith won the 2021 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for her book, Small in the city. The winner was announced on Wednesday in a virtual ceremony broadcast live from the British Library.
Smith defeated 19 other shortlisted candidates for the prize, which includes £ 5,000 (roughly $ 8,800), plus £ 500 of books to donate to a local library and a gold medal. Small in the city was the only Canadian book to be selected this year.
Smith’s book – the first he has both illustrated and written – describes a young child’s journey through a big city as he searches for something he has lost.
Jury president Ellen Krajewski said in a press release that Small in the city “Tells a fairly ordinary story in such an extraordinary way that it surprises you.
“It expresses how small you feel in an overwhelming city. It’s understated while still managing to create a stirring emotional ending with the themes of being lost, alone and neglected, taking on a much wider resonance. “
Winning the award was both “unreal” and “grounded,” Smith said.
“It’s unreal because it’s one of the biggest prestigious awards for what I do, and so to be recognized that way, I just feel, you know, that I didn’t have never imagined it could happen – although it has happened before thought it could happen again, ”he said.
Smith said it was ingrained because during the pandemic he worked alone and felt disconnected from the community of illustrators, writers and publishers.
“You feel a bit like on an island – you don’t know how many days have passed and you judge the time by the length of your beard, like you might have imagined everything before,” he said. declared.
“Now I feel like, oh, yeah that’s true… I’m still part of that community and they still recognize me as someone important. “
This is the second time that Smith has won the CILIP Kate Greenaway medal. He also won the award in 2018 for his illustrations in the work of Joanne Schwartz The city is by the sea, which depicts a day in the life of a boy in a 1950s mining town.
The competition is judged by children’s librarians across the UK, who select nominees based on the work’s ability to create an exceptional reading experience.
For this year’s award, librarians reviewed 152 nominated titles.