Brussels, February 26, 2010 – The Secretary General of the Ministère de la Communauté française, Frédéric Delcor, and the Delegate General of Québec, Christos Sirros, will award the Prix Québec/Wallonie-Bruxelles de littérature de jeunesse 2009 (2009 Québec/Wallonia-Brussels prize for youth literature) to Québec author Dominique Demers for L’Élu : la grande quête de Jacob Jobin (Québec Amérique) and Wallonia-Brussels author Jean-Marie Defossez for Envol pour le paradis (Bayard Jeunesse), at the Brussels Book Fair, on March 8, 2010 at 1 p.m. (Espace Mille Feuilles, 117). The prize is specifically in the category of novels for young people 12 to 15 years of age.
The two authors will first be interviewed by journalist Maggy Rayet. Then Jury Chair Michel Defourny will trace the 25-year history of the prize, followed by the official awards ceremony.
The recipients were chosen by an international jury of professionals in the fields of literature and publishing in Québec and Wallonia-Brussels.
For the Québec award, the members of the jury were won over by L’Élu : la grande quête de Jacob Jobin, a blend of classic and contemporary storytelling. They highlighted Dominique Demers’s skill in crafting a novel that combines fairy tale with fantasy. Using her pen like a magic wand, Demers has created a compelling young protagonist whose rite-of-passage adventure conjures up the tales we enjoyed as children, with a decidedly 21st-century, fantasy-novel twist and a focus on the concerns of contemporary teens. The first in a series, the 392-page novel is bound to thrill young readers and leave them eager for the next volume.
For the Wallonia-Brussels prize, the jury members picked Jean-Marie Defossez’s Envol pour le paradis, which tells the story of 14-year-old Arthur, who has a passion for airplanes. The novel takes place during the Second World War. Swept up in the turmoil of the time, Arthur is forcibly enrolled in a Hitler Youth camp and has to say good-bye to his childhood dreams. The European context of the novel adds interest for young Québec readers, who can draw parallels between Nazi indoctrination and the way that today’s youngsters can be recruited and used (contemporary materialism, disadvantaged social contexts, street gangs, etc.). Defossez’s novel is an opportunity for lively debate on issues such as the importance of education and the proper use of freedom.
The Québec/Wallonia-Brussels youth literature prizes are awarded every two years to authors and illustrators in Québec and the French Community of Belgium (Wallonia-Brussels). Under a cooperation agreement between the two governments, the prizes come with €2,600 (CAN$3,500) in cash for the winning authors or illustrators and a €3,900 (CAN$6,000) grant for their publishers, to help promote and market the chosen books. The prizes are aimed at encouraging the development, production and distribution youth literature in French and stimulating trade between Québec and Wallonia-Brussels.
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