Born in Vancouver in 1952, former librarian Sarah Ellis is one of the foremost writers for children in Canada. During her ten years as a librarian she developed her storytelling and puppetry; and she spent a year at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College in Boston. She now writes reviews and gives lectures internationally on Canadian children's books.

Among her many awards, she received the first Sheila A. Egoff B.C. Book Prize in 1987 for her first book, The Baby Project, a story about a family coping with the death of an infant. She won the 1991 Governor General's Award for Children's Literature for Pick-up Sticks, a juvenile novel about homelessness and single parenting. It was also nominated for the 1992 Egoff Prize. Out of the Blue (1994) won the Governor General's Award, the IODE Violet Downey Book Award and the Mr. Christie's Book Award. In 2013 she received the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence. [See press release below]

Her other books include Putting up with Mitchell, a light-hearted look at visiting Vancouver from a child's perspective, and picture books Big Ben (2001) and Ben Over Night (2005), illustrated by Kim LaFave. Days of Toil and Tears (Scholastic, 2008) is the fictional diary of a young girl in Almonte, Ontario, set in 1887. After moving out of an orphanage and in with her aunt, Flora begins to work at the mill, enduring long hours and dangerous machinery. The book provides young readers with history on the Canadian textile industry and child labour at the turn of the 19th century.

In 1995 she won the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work, and in 1999 she was the first Writer-in-Residence children's author at Massey College at the University of Toronto. She was also a finalist for the Norma Fleck Award for her non-fiction The Young Writer's Companion. In 2007 Sarah Ellis won the $20,000 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award established in 2005 to honour the most distinguished book of the year for children aged 1 to 13. Entries were judged on the quality of the text and illustrations and the book's overall contribution to literature. The publisher of Ellis' Odd Man Out (Groundwood) also received $2,500 for promotional purposes.


Ben and the Scaredy-Dog (Pajama Press 2018) $19.95 978-1-77278-044-4
That Fatal Night: The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilson (Scholastic 2011)
Days of Toil and Tears: The Child Labour Diary of Flora Rutherford (Scholastic, 2008) $14.99 978-0-439-95594-2
Odd Man Out (Groundwood, 2006).
The Queen's Feet (Red Deer Press, 2005). Illustrated by Dusan Petricic.
Ben Over Night (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2005). Illustrated by Kim LaFave.
Salmon Forest (Greystone, 2003) by David Suzuki and Sarah Ellis, Illustrated by Sheena
Big Ben (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2001). Illustrated by Kim LaFave.
Girls' Own: An Anthology of Canadian Fiction for Young Readers (editor). Toronto: Penguin Books, 2001.
A Prairie As Wide as the Sea: The Immigrant Diary of Ivy Weatherall. Toronto: Scholastic Canada, 2001.
Next Stop. Illustrated by Ruth Ohi. Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2000.
From Reader to Writer: Teaching Writing Through Classic Children's Books. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2000.
The Young Writers' Companion. Toronto: Groundwood, 1999.
Back of Beyond: Stories. Toronto: Groundwood, 1996.
Out of the Blue. Groundwood, 1994.
Pick-Up Sticks. Groundwood, 1991.
Putting up with Mitchell. Illustrated by Barbara Wood. Vancouver: Brighouse Press, 1989.
Next-Door Neighbours. Toronto: Groundwood, 1989.
The Baby Project. Toronto: Groundwood, 1986.

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2018] "Kidlit"