QUICK REFERENCE ENTRY:

With her motto, "the right book, for the right child, at the
right time,"; scholar and critic Sheila Agnes Egoff raised the stature and critical awareness of children's literature in Canada more than any children's librarian in the country. Consequently the B.C. Book Prize for Children's Literature was named after her in 1987.
Born in Maine in 1918 and raised in Galt, Ontario, Egoff started working at the Galt Public Library at age 15, for 25 cents an hour. In 1964, Egoff was commissioned by the Children's Recreational Reading Council of Ontario to write The Republic of Childhood (1967), the first major critical survey of Canadian children's literature. It was updated and co-authored with Judith Saltman for a third edition as The New Republic of Childhood (1990). As Canada's pre-eminent promoter of children's literature, Egoff wrote two other major critical works, Thursday's Child (1981) and Worlds Within: Children's Fantasy from the Middle Ages to Today (1988).
Egoff taught for many years in the Faculty of Education at UBC, until 1983. In 1994, she became the first children's literature professor to receive the Order of Canada and she was honoured by a reception at the BC Book Prizes gala in 2000. "I am very happy to be here tonight,"; she told the gathering. "Mind you, at age 82, I am happy to be anywhere. . . . I know things aren't as good as they should be, but every time I pick up a Canadian children's book, I can see they're acknowledging help from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council or the B.C. Arts Council. It's like our social security network. We know it isn't perfect, but, my gosh, it's sure better than it used to be.";
Sheila A. Egoff (she insisted on including the middle initial) died in Vancouver in 2005. Her memoir Once Upon a Time: My Life with Children's Books (2005), appeared posthumously, compiled with the partnership of Wendy Sutton. Her students included award-winning writers of children's books, Kit Pearson and Sarah Ellis. Egoff once told her protégé, Judith Saltman, "Writing is the only thing that lasts."; Saltman has followed in her mentor's footsteps in 2010, co-authoring with Gail Edwards the first comprehensive guide to illustrated Canadian children's books.


FULL ENTRY:

The main B.C. Book Prize for Children's Literature was inaugurated and named after Sheila A. Egoff in 1987. (Another B.C. Book Prize for children's book illustration and text was added later.)

Born in Maine on January 20, 1918, and raised in Galt, Ontario, Egoff started working at the Galt Public Library at age fifteen, for 25 cents an hour, having discovered it was a marvelous place at age eight. In 1942, she began working in the children's department at the Toronto Public Library. She worked for four years as a reference librarian and editor for the Canadian Library Association. Moving west in 1962, she became a founding faculty member at UBC's Library School, and was the first faculty member to teach children's librarianship and children's literature fulltime. In 1964, Egoff was commissioned by the Children's Recreational Reading Council of Ontario to write The Republic of Childhood (1967), the first major critical survey of Canadian children's literature. It was updated and co-authored with Judith Saltman for a third edition as The New Republic of Childhood in 1990. She wrote two other major critical works on children's literature, Thursday's Child (1981) and Worlds Within (1988). In 1998 she co-compiled Books That Shaped Our Minds: A Bibliographical Catalogue of Selections Chiefly from the Arkley Collection of Early & Historical Children's Literature in the Special Collections and University Archives Division (UBC, 1998).

In 1983, Egoff received the Claude Aubry Award, named in honour of a Director of the Ottawa Public Library and given biennially to an individual for distinguished contributions in the field of children's literature. She received the Order of Canada in 1994. The BC Book Prizes gala in 2000 included a reception in her honour. "I am very happy to be here tonight,"; she told the gathering. "Mind you, at age 82, I am happy to be anywhere."; Egoff proceeded to the credit the rise of small presses, the influx of government money and the ongoing efforts of librarians for greatly improving the climate for Canadian books. "I know things aren't as good as they should be,"; Egoff said, "but every time I pick up a Canadian children's book, I can see they're acknowledging help from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council or the B.C. Arts Council. It's like our social security network. We know it isn't perfect, but my gosh it's sure better than it used to be.";

Sheila Egoff died in Vancouver in May of 2005. [see obituary] A memoir in support of literacy, My Life with Children's Books (Orca, 2005), appeared posthumously, completed and compiled with the partnership of Wendy Sutton who taught for many years in the Faculty of Education at UBC. In 2006, the B.C. Book Prizes paid a final tribute to Egoff, whose motto was, "the right book, for the right child, at the right time."; A mentor of gala host Bill Richardson and protégé Judith Saltman, Egoff once told Saltman, "Writing is the only thing that lasts.";

[BCBW 2010]