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Jan Thornhill is the author and illustrator of numerous science and nature books for children. She conceived of an alphabet book using North American wildlife and later developed it into her first publication, The Wildlife ABC, which was a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award in 1987. A companion title, The Wildlife 123, was published the following year and won the UNICEF Ezra Jack Keats International Award for Excellence in Children’s Book Illustration. More than a dozen books followed, including a series of nonfiction guidebooks for kids on such topics as global warming and the culture of food. One book in particular, I Found a Dead Bird: A Kids’ Guide to the Cycle of Life and Death, received numerous awards including the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Nonfiction. Earlier this fall she published Kyle Goes Alone, the story of a young three-toed sloth who has important business to do on the rainforest floor. Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Thornhill now lives near Havelock, Ontario. She spends her spare time in the woods obsessively collecting and cataloguing wild mushrooms and slime moulds.

Award History

Jury Citation

“With clarity and grace, Jan Thornhill’s books use both art and text to draw children into a closer and more understanding relationship with the natural world. Over a period of almost 30 years she has shown a rare ability to present serious topics to children from a scientific perspective in which gaining knowledge is pleasurable, never didactic or dry. From concept books like the Wildlife ABC, to stories and folk tales dealing with subjects like migration or wild animals in urban environments, to nonfiction books for older children on complex and challenging subjects such as conservation or death, Thornhill enriches the young reader’s awareness of the physical world and our place in it. A passionate and deeply-informed interest in nature is always conveyed with her characteristic combination of humour, empathy, and common sense.”
— 2015 Vicky Metcalf Award Jury (Gwyneth Evans, Marthe Jocelyn, and Susan Perren)

Works recognized by WT

I Found a Dead Bird

Kyle Goes Alone

The Rumor

This is My Planet

The Wildlife 123