The Alice Kitts Memorial Award

Since 2016, the Alice Kitts Memorial Award for Excellence in Picture Books recognizes the year’s best picture book written by a New Brunswick author. Alice Kitts, a writer and artist born in Riverside, New Brunswick, was the author and illustrator of Emily of the Bend, a historical picture book about a young girl who lived along the Petitcodiac River at the turn of the 20th century.

The annual $500 prize is sponsored by Alice’s six children: Carolyn Wellwood, Burtts Corner, NB; Jim Kitts, Hillsborough, NB; Cynthia Cain, Riverview, NB; Wendy Kitts, San Diego, CA; Colleen Kitts-Goguen, Fredericton, NB; and Kim Kitts-Brawn, Summerside, PE.

Since this is a writing award, only the author must meet the New Brunswick residency requirement. However, we recognize an effective and engaging picture book is the result of the perfect collaboration of words and art. Therefore, the illustrator (if not the author), will share equally in the award regardless of residency.

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2023 Award Winner

Sara O’Leary, The Little Books of the Litte Brontës (Tundra), St. Martins; illustrated by Briony May Smith

Judge Deborah Kerbel's citation: 

A beautiful little book about the early life of the Brontes; Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell. Gentle writing and sweet illustrations invite the reader to peek through a parsonage window and join the famous siblings in their long-ago world of boundless imagination, lively play, wild moors, and teeny-tiny books. Young readers will feel transported by this brief but oh-so memorable journey to a pivotal time in literary history.

On the Shortlist:

Braelyn Cyr, Apli’kmuj’s Journey (Monster House Publishing) Also illustrated

Gail Francis, Moonbeam (Monster House Publishing), illustrated by Tara Audibert

2022 Award Winner

Kelly Cooper (illustrated by Daniel Miyares

Midnight & Moon - Tundra

Judge Alma Fullerton's citation: 

“Midnight and Moon: A beautifully written book about a friendship, and fitting in both in the animal world and the human one.”

Also on Shortlist:

Jennifer McGrath, Pugs Cause Traffic Jams. Kids Can Press
Illustrated by Kathryn Durst

Masen Grasse, Trucks - Monster House Publishing.

2021 Award Winner

Riel Nason (illustrated by Nathasha Pilotte)

Disaster at the Highland Games - Chocolate River Publishing

Judge Dr. Kari-Lynn Winters' citation: 

“Disaster at the Highland Games introduces us to a female protagonist named Kate. This young highland dancer is overly confident about her forthcoming win at the Highland games and decides that she doesn’t need to practice. However, Kate’s confidence diminishes when her lack of practice leads to a series of big disasters, reminding her that though practice may not make perfect, it can ensure better success. The colourful, poetic language and action-packed illustrations make this a book that young children will truly enjoy.”

Also on Shortlist

Jodie Callaghan, Ga’s The Train, published by Second Story Press, translated by Joe Wilmot, and illustrated by Georgia Lesley. 

Leo LaFleurThe Errand: The Queen. Published by Simply Read Books and illustrated by Adam Oehlers.

2019/20 Award Winner

Marla LeSage - We Wear Masks - Orca Book Publishers

Judge Frieda Wishinsky's citation: 

This fun, fast-paced story introduces the timely theme of wearing a mask during the COVID pandemic. The author/illustrator cleverly notes that wearing a mask is necessary for many people like divers, pilots and scientists. The light-hearted illustrations help make this book a good addition to a home, school or public library."

Also on Shortlist

Kim Renton, Watcha Doin'?, published by Chocolate River Publishing, illustrated by Tamara Thibaux-Heikalo.

Shyla AugustineMi’kmaq Alphabet Book. Published by Monster House Publishing.


2023: Deborah Kerbel

Deborah Kerbel is the author of over 30 books for young people including 23 picture books. Her work has garnered critical recognition from review journals and award nomination committees including the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award, and the CLA’s YA Book Award, among others. Her graphic novel, Fred and Marjorie; a Doctor, a Dog, and the Discovery of Insulin, is an ALA ‘Best Graphic Novel for Children’, a Bankstreet Books ‘Best of the Year’, a Forest of Reading Yellow Cedar Award winner and a Red Cedar Award winner. Born in London, England, Deborah lives in Thornhill, Ontario with her family.

2022: Alma Fullerton

2021 - Kari-Lynn Winters

2019/2020 - Frieda Wishinsky

2018 - Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang

2017 - Sheree Fitch

2016 - Helaine Becker

2018 Award Winner

Kelly Cooper (illustrated by Lucy Elridge)If a Horse Had Words
Tundra/Penguin Random House

Judge Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang's citation:

"In this charming and engaging story a young boy and his horse discover friendship together. After being separated the book explores how reunions can spell joy."

Also on Shortlist

Braelyn Cyr, Mahtoqehs Journey. Monster House Publishing.
Illustrated by Braelyn Cyr

Joann Hamilton-Barry, There Be Pirates! Nimbus.

2017 Award Winner

Odette Barr, Colleen Landry, and Beth Weatherbee
Take off to Tantramar
Chocolate River Publishing

Judge Sheree Fitch's citation:

"A picture book that combines wordplay, a rambunctious sense of humour, geography, and downright fun with joyful illustrations that underscore and enhance the text. Readers who find Camellia will love her and be waiting to see what's around the next bend."

Also on Shortlist

Paul McAllister, New Song for Herman. Monster House Publishing.
Illustrated by Emily Brown.

Alice Whitney, Henrietta's Nightlight. Chocolate River Publishing
Illustrated by Alice Whitney.

2016 Award Winner

Jennifer McGrath (illustrated by Josée Bisaillon)The Snow Knows
Nimbus Publishing

Judge Helaine Becker's citation:

"Simply stunning. Spare, elegant, evocative text paired with the most gorgeous illustrations offer both a sophisticated seek-and-find puzzle and a sweet resolution. A book to be savoured and reread time and time again."

Also on Shortlist

Diane Carmel Leger, My Two Grandmothers. Nimbus.
Illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudell.

Heidi Jardine Stoddart, Sea Glass Summer. Nimbus.
Illustrated by Heidi Jardine Stoddart.

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The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick acknowledges that the land on which we live, work and gather is the traditional unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) and Mi’kmaq Peoples, and we honour the spirit of our ancestors’ Treaties of Peace and Friendship. 

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