The Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable has awarded the First Annual Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award, in conjunction with the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and both THE PHONE BOOTH IN MR HIROTA’S GARDEN by Heather Smith and illustrated by Rachel Wada and ME, TOMA AND THE CONCRETE GARDEN by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Anne Villeneuve have been named as Honour Books!

About the books:

Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Anne Villeneuve (Kids Can Press): Vincent and his friend Toma are given a mysterious box of dirt balls which they toss into a dirt lot, the start of a budding friendship. Then they notice new shoots sprouting. Maybe those balls weren’t just made of dirt after all!

Andrew Larsen is the award-winning and best-selling author of such books as  A Squiggly Story, The Bagel King, In the Tree House and The Imaginary Garden. He is the past winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award children’s choice, and Bank Street, Kirkus and CBC best book of the year. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Andrew is represented by Fiona Kenshole.

The Phone Booth in Mr Hirota’s Garden by Heather Smith and illustrated by Rachel Wada (Orca Book Publishers) is inspired by the true story of the wind phone in Otsuchi, Japan, which was created by artist Itaru Sasaki. When the tsunami destroyed Makio’s village, Makio lost his father . . . and his voice. The entire village is silenced by grief, and the young child’s anger at the ocean grows. Then one day his neighbor, Mr. Hirota, begins a mysterious project―building a phone booth in his garden. At first Makio is puzzled; the phone isn’t connected to anything. It just sits there, unable to ring. But as more and more villagers are drawn to the phone booth, its purpose becomes clear to Makio: the disconnected phone is connecting people to their lost loved ones.

Heather Smith is originally from Newfoundland. She now lives in Waterloo, Ontario, with her family. Her Newfoundland roots inspire much of her writing. Her middle-grade novel Ebb and Flow won the Winterset Award and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, and her YA novel The Agony of Bun O’Keefe won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award and the White Pine Award. For more information, visit

Rachel Wada is a freelance illustrator whose work is defined by heavy texture, bold color and intricate details that capture the nuances of people, places and ideas, real and surreal. Rachel’s identity as Japanese-Cantonese, an immigrant and a woman informs her artistic practice. She loves to put her own spin on traditional techniques, motifs and symbolism inspired by her cultural background. This duality of old and new is also apparent in her use of both traditional and digital mediums, and she draws inspiration from a variety of sources, from Japanese woodblock prints, Chinese pottery and ceramics, food packaging design to traditional folk art. She has a special love for the ocean, tea and noodles of all kinds. Rachel lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more information, visit

Rachel and Heather are represented by Amy Tompkins.