The cover of the book, 'Encounter'
Encounter, by Prof. Brittany Luby

A children’s storybook written by University of Guelph history professor Brittany Luby has been shortlisted for the first annual Sheila Barry Best Picturebook of the Year Award, CBC Books reports.

Luby’s book Encounter, which re-imagines the first meeting between a European sailor and a Stadaconan fisher, is among 10 finalists for the $2,500 prize.

The book is illustrated with watercolour paintings by Alaskan-based illustrator Michaela Goade that capture the dream-like quality of the story.

Administered by the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable, the Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award is to be awarded annually to picture books published in Canada that “exhibit a seamless integration of the verbal and visual modes.” The prize was created in honour of Sheila Barry, the late publisher and editor at children’s publisher Groundwood Books.
The winning book and three honour books will be announced on Sept. 7, 2020.

Her first children’s book, Luby’s Encounter was inspired by journal entries from French explorer Jacques Cartier during his voyage to North America in 1534. Luby has said she wanted to show  friendlier interactions between settlers and First Nations peoples could have been possible.

With so few children’s books on the market featuring indigenous characters, Luby wanted indigenous children to feel represented in literature, as well as provide a story that all readers – indigenous and non-indigenous – could use as a prompt for further conversations with children.

Encounter was also selected as a Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Canadian Blue Ribbon Selection.