Skip to content


Kyo Maclear is the author of 19 children’s books for which she has been nominated for numerous awards, including a Governor General’s Literary Award, the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. Maclear is also the author of Birds Art Life, which was nominated for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and won the Trillium Book Award, and Unearthing, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award in English-language Nonfiction. Maclear holds a doctorate in environmental humanities from York University and teaches writing at the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFA and Humber School for Writers. She lives in Toronto/Tkaronto.


Kyo Maclear and her award-nominated memoir “Birds Art Life”

Award History

Jury Citation

The author of nineteenpicture books, Kyo Maclear dives into subjects as clearly defined as the life of an artist, to those as amorphous as a city, a fog, or a spell of depression. Her prose is clean, clear, and restrained; at the same time, it’s subtly poetic, mingling unpredictable imagery, dialogue, and situations with evocative — sometimes even startling — effect.  

It’s a testament to Maclear’s creativity, unexpected perspectives, and varied subject matter that her publishers have chosen to have her stories illustrated by a wide variety of artists. The artists’ dramatically different styles, mixed media and inventiveness open manifold nuances of meaning, joyously confirming the bounty ofinterpretive possibilities in her work.   

What makes her stories most extraordinary is that they are allusive, suggestive, a mode of approaching what is vital, but puzzling. Instead of giving directions or answers, she invites interpretation and pondering, awakening curiosity, imagination and understanding through unusual imagery. Using wordplay, she can surprise her readers with what seems a direct, simple narrative, but instead provides humour, rich insight, and deeper questioning.  

Jury Citation

Birds Art Life is a poetic and philosophical ode to life and art, with birds as the motivating force. Facing creative inertia and “existential chagrin,” Kyo Maclear develops a bad case of wanderlust. A year spent birding in and around Toronto becomes a transformative journey—finding movement in stillness, meaning in simplicity. Ruminating on her newfound love of birds, and a broader appreciation for ‘the audacity of aiming tiny in an age of big ambitions,’ Maclear gives us an expansive and generous gift, a melancholy and joyful salve for living. With elegant, evocative prose, roaming curiosity, and quietly wild erudition, Birds Art Life is a beautiful book—lucid, exalting, and true.” – 2017 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction Jury (Susan Harada, Arno Kopecky, and Siobhan Roberts)

Works recognized by WT

The Big Bathe House

The Liszts


Virginia Wolf