As we set off on another great Red Cedar award season, let’s fire up that time machine and take a trip back in time to where the awards began.
The very first Red Cedar Awards were handed out in May 1998. The winner of the inaugural award for fiction was Bernice Thurman Hunter’s historical novel Amy’s Promise.
Amy Phair’s world fell apart when her mother died. Her baby sister was taken away, and now Gramma Davis keeps her busy cooking and cleaning for three young brothers and a neglectful father. It isn’t fair . .. but Amy promised her mama she’d watch over them all. Still, Amy can dream: dreams of beautiful music, of having a sister, of a father who can love his children again. But what can a twelve-year-old do to make promises come true?
Bernice Thurman Hunter was born in Toronto in 1922, and although her childhood was difficult, and poverty meant she didn’t get a chance to pursue her dream of attending university, Bernice never lost her sense of humour or her cheerful personality. She always wanted to be a writer, and regularly wrote and told stories to entertain her children and grandchildren, but she didn’t publish her first book until she was 59 year old. Bernice eventually published more than 15 books for young people, most of them set in the past, and was made a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her contribution to Canadian children’s literature. She passed away in 2002.
Have you read Amy’s Promise? Which book do you think will take home the Red Cedar award for fiction in 2016? Let us know in the comments below!