Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life
Sponsored by Marla and David Lehberg
"Jean was a pioneer Canadian writer, standing almost alone as a major, internationally recognized Canadian children’s author. She was an outstanding leader when it came to fearless book promotion. Her school appearances were legendary... let’s just say they could send shivers of fear and joy through children’s spines."
Take Wing (1968)
Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird (1984)
Lost and Found (1986)
Different Dragons (1989)
Little by Little: A Writer's Education (1989)
From Anna (1990)
Look Through My Window (1995)
Mine for Keeps (1995)
Spring Begins in March (1996)
Willow and Twig (2003)
Brothers Far from Home (2003)
If I Die Before I Wake (2007)
About the Author
Jean Little is recognized throughout North America for her candid and unsentimental portrayals of adolescent life. Once a teacher of handicapped children, Little herself is only partially sighted, and she uses much of her real-life experience as the basis for her books. Her characters often deal with physical disabilities or confront psychological difficulties; however, none of her characters find magical cures for their problems. Instead, they learn to cope with and survive the challenges they face, and thus they are led to greater self-understanding.
Little’s parents read to her frequently, and as she gained limited vision, they taught her to read on her own. "Reading became my greatest joy," she wrote in her autobiography Little by Little: A Writer's Education. In 1955, Little graduated with her bachelor's degree in English from the Victoria College's English language and literature program and, for the next six years, she worked with handicapped children. These years helped inspire her to write for kids. "I decided to search for books about children with motor handicaps... I did not think they needed a book to help them adjust. I did believe, however, that crippled children had a right to find themselves represented in fiction."
About the Prize
Established by a group of anonymous donors, the Matt Cohen Award recognizes a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian writer, working in either poetry or prose in either French or English. A founding member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, Mr. Cohen was a celebrated and prolific writer who died in 1999 at the age of 56.
The recipient of the 2012 prize was announced on November 7, 2012, at the Writers' Trust Awards event.
“I look upon it as one of the greatest honours of my career, because it perpetuates the writing life of someone who was, I believe, nothing else than a writer.” Mavis Gallant Winner, 2001 Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life