In 2012, five of thirty possible nominations for English language Governor General's Awards went to B.C. authors but Susin Fernlund-Nielsen was the lone winner, receiving the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature in English for The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen (Tundra Books), an engaging and frequently humourous story that addresses the effects of bullying in a realistic, compelling and compassionate way, exemplifying the adage, "There are two sides to every story.";

Susin Nielsen was later shortlisted for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award with the same book.

As part of a catering crew, Susin Nielsen-Fernlund of Vancouver got her big television break in the off-camera cafeteria for the program Degrassi Junior High. "They hated the food-but they loved my writing."; After scripting 16 episodes of Degrassi and tons of TV writing credits later, plus a Gemini Award, she realized her ambition to publish a children's book after her son Oskar was born in 1996. "All the television work has been wonderful,"; she says, "but a book dedicated to my son Oskar is a lot closer to my heart. It's so tangible. And his name is in every copy. He thinks that's pretty neat!";

Oskar's adventures with his imaginary dog Spoofus sparked her imagination to write Hank and Fergus (Orca 2003 $19.95), illustrated by Louise-Andree Laliberte.

Her follow-up, Mormor Moves In (Orca 2004 $19.95). is about a Swedish grandmother who comes to live in the home of a child named Astrid. At first, the child isn't fond of her grieving and grumpy relative, but the grandmother becomes essential when Astrid loses her beloved stuffed animal Bjorn.

Illustrated by Geneviève Côté, The Magic Beads is about a seven-year-old who is nervous about her first day at school. Lillian and her mom have just moved away from Lillian's abusive father. Because they're living in a family shelter, having left most of their possessions, she is worried about bringing something for show-'n'-tell at the end of the week. She has to 'invent' something, making use of her imagination, starting with a seemingly ordinary string of beads.

Susin Fernlund-Nielsen subsequently reduced her pen name to Susin Nielsen. She has since adapted the novels of Susan Juby for the CTV television series, Alice, I Think, and contributed scripts to numerous made-in-Canada series such as Arctic Air.

Her superb novel Word Nerd was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Book Award and won the Red Maple, Rocky Mountain, Willow, and Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Awards.

Her willingness to write for sophisticated younger readers in Word Nerd led her to write The Journal of Henry K. Larsen, also pitched to intelligent, advanced readers. It was a finalist for the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize awarded to the best non-illustrated book written for children by a B.C. author.

We Are All Made of Molecules (Tundra $19.99) tells the story of two unlikely teenagers being thrust together when their parents combine households. Thirteen-year-old Stewart Inkster is the proverbial nerd: head of his class but socially awkward. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Anderson is the "it" girl of her grade nine class. Ashley is mortified and hasn't even informed people her parents are divorced because they might learn her birth father is gay; Stewart tries to make the best of the situation. The story of their overlapping journeys tackles issues such as bullying, bigotry and tolerance, as well as the true nature of friendship and what it means to be a family. The book was shortlisted for a Sheila A. Egoff children's literature prize and won the 2016 Schwartz Children's Book Award for Young Adult / Middle Readers as selected by Ontario school children. The Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her sister, Ruth, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the family renamed the awards to honour both sisters. "I wish I'd known the Schwartz sisters," said Nielsen, "who did much for Canadian children's literature. And the fact that the winners are chosen by student juries makes it truly special. Knowing that the book is connecting with my intended audience is the ultimate prize."; [review below]

BOOKS:

Hank and Fergus (Orca 2003)
Mormor Moves In (Orca 2004)
The Magic Beads (Simply Read 2007) $17.95 978-1-894965-47-7
Word Nerd
Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom (Tundra Books 2010)
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen (Tundra 2012)
We Are All Made of Molecules (Tundra 2015)
Optimists Die First (Tundra/Penguin Random House 2017) $21.99 978-1-77049-782-5
No Fixed Address (Tundra/Penguin Random House 2018) $21.99 978-1-5247-6837-9

[BCBW 2018] "Kidlit"