Honours: Andrea Deakin accepts a prestigious award for her work reviewing children’s books.

Rave review for former resident

A name familiar to many longtime Salmon Arm residents is now on a list of prestigious award-winners.

A name familiar to many longtime Salmon Arm residents is now on a list of prestigious award-winners.

Former resident Andrea Deakin is the recipient of the IBBY Canada Claude Aubry Award for distinguished service in the field of children’s literature.

Deakin, who received her award Thursday, Oct. 27 in Edmonton where she now resides, has promoted Canadian children’s literature extensively throughout her career as teacher, book reviewer and correspondent for the UK review journal ACHUKA.

“I really didn’t expect it,” she said of the award from the Canadian national section of the International Board on Books For Young People. “I was so surprised, especially when I saw the other names on the list.”

Deakin and her husband Barry lived in Salmon Arm twice. The first time in 1963, when as a young doctor Barry joined a medical practice and the second time in 1987, when he became the radiologist at Shuswap Lake Hospital.

During their first stay, Deakin taught high school English and in 1971, while living in Vancouver, was approached by a publisher with a request to review children’s books for the Richmond Review.

“He knew my background (I, it seemed, was almost always school librarian – fate),” says Deakin.

At home and enjoying her children, but missing the stimulus of teaching, Deakin accepted an offer to review books for the Vancouver Sun and subsequently the London Free Press.

That was followed by a move to northern B.C. and a 10-minute time slot with CBC in Prince Rupert, as well as a radio program with an English teacher and a column in the local newspaper.

Another invitation Deakin accepted was to sit on the “Our Choice” panel of the national Children’s Book Centre two years in a row.

On the couple’s return to Salmon Arm in 1987, Deakin did a brief stint with the local radio station and continued her book reviews for a variety of newspapers.

“When Barry died in 2000 I gave up everything, except being the Canadian contact for the British website ACHUKA, she says. “I was in a kind of shock, I think.”

Already a contributor, Deakin established a library of children’s books at Okanagan College in her husband’s memory, a move inspired by what he had told her.

Barry was born into a life of poverty in England, she explains and the gift of a library card to him when he was a child, opened his world in a way that might otherwise never have happened. Linked to libraries in Australia and ACHUKA, The Deakin Newsletter was created, containing her reviews. It ran until Deakin retired in June.

“The University of Alberta decided, with the full co-operation of Okanagan College, to take over the newsletter and publish the Deakin Journal quarterly online,” she says. “They have also set up a special collection of children’s books of their own with my name on it.”

This is not Deakin’s only award. The BC Library Association presented her with the Keith Sacre Award and OUC made her an honorary doctor of letters.

 

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