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19 Jun 2009

2009 Québec/Wallonia-Brussels youth literature prizes

Dominique Demers Photo : © Martine Doyon

The 2009 Québec/Wallonia-Brussels youth literature prizes have been awarded to Quebecer Dominique Demers for her novel L’Élu : la grande quête de Jacob Jobin, published by Québec Amérique, and Belgium’s Jean-Marie Defossez for Envol pour le paradis, published by Bayard Jeunesse. The Québec and Belgian authors will be officially presented with their prizes at the Salon du livre de Montréal (Montréal book fair) in November 2009 and the Foire du livre de Bruxelles (Brussels book fair) in March 2010. Awarded every two years, the prizes are aimed at encouraging production of youth literature in French and stimulating trade between Québec and Wallonia-Brussels.

This year’s awards were reserved for authors of novels for young readers aged 12 to 15. The recipients were chosen by an international jury of professionals in the fields of literature and publishing in Québec and Wallonia-Brussels.

For the Québec award, the members of the jury were won over by L’Élu : la grande quête de Jacob Jobin. They highlighted Dominique Demers’s skill in crafting a novel that combines fairy tale with fantasy. Demers has created a compelling young protagonist whose rite-of-passage adventure conjures up the tales we enjoyed as children, with a decidedly 21st-century, fantasy-novel twist and a focus on the concerns of contemporary teens.

For the Wallonia-Brussels prize, the jury members picked Jean-Marie Defossez’s Envol pour le paradis, which tells the story of 14-year-old Arthur, who has a passion for airplanes. The novel takes place during the Second World War. Swept up in the turmoil of the time, Arthur is forcibly enrolled in a Hitler Youth camp and has to say good-bye to his childhood dreams.

Under a cooperation agreement between the two governments, the prizes come with $3,500 in cash for the winning authors or illustrators and a $6,000 grant for their publishers, to help promote and market the chosen books.

Québec/Wallonia-Brussels youth literature prizes (in French)
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