Canadian Nominee for the 2024 Hans Christian Andersen: Sydney Smith

Photo by Steve Farmer

IBBY Canada nominated Sydney Smith for the 2024 Hans Christian Andersen Award. With titles published in over 20 languages, Sydney makes an outstanding and continued contribution to the literary and artistic heritage of children’s literature, in Canada and around the world.

Sydney enjoys exploring and experimenting with narrative structures, character perspectives, and artistic challenges. He approaches his subject matter with an empathy for young people, in seemingly ordinary places and circumstances, that speaks to the global community.

When IBBY Canada welcomed Syrian refugee families to Canada, with an initiative that provided a wordless picture book to arriving families, Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith was selected as the perfect choice!

During his studies for an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Smith’s childhood “playing” with drawing became “serious,” and he recognized his calling as an illustrator of children’s books.

Sydney apprenticed as an illustrator of Sheree Fitch’s republished books of children’s poetry (2010–2012) and Jill Barber’s Music Is for Everyone (2014) with Nimbus Publishing. His move to Toronto and illustrating for Groundwood Books and Neal Porter Books/Holiday House (New York) brought Smith to national and international recognition for the urban energy of books like Sidewalk Flowers and Small in the City (2019), both recipients of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature—Illustrated Books.

Recently, The White Cat and the Monk (2016), Town Is by the Sea (2017), and I Talk Like a River (2020) have earned him accolades, including the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for Town Is by the Sea. He has received five New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books citations (2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020) and a New York Times Kids Notable (2018). A new book, My Baba’s Garden, will be published in March 2023.

Congratulations, Sydney, and best of luck!

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