Governor General’s Literary Awards

Small in the City by Sydney Smith

Small in the City

By Sydney Smith

Groundwood Books; distributed by UTP Distribution


On a snowy day in a big city, a little boy hops off a streetcar and walks through downtown, between office buildings, through parks and down busy streets. Along the way, he provides helpful tips about which alleys make good shortcuts, which trees to climb and where to find a friendly face. All the while, the boy searches for what he has lost. Award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith’s first book tells the story of what it means to get lost in the city, travel the wrong path and get caught in bad weather—and then ultimately find your way back home. His beautiful watercolour illustrations alternate between full spreads and small panels, evoking the sometimes overwhelming cacophony of urban sights and sounds, as well as the quiet moments that make all of us feel less small in the city.

Small in the City is visually stunning. The feeling of winter inthe city from a child’s perspective is rendered with remarkable feeling andsensitivity. But the genius of the book turns on the collaboration of thepictures and the text—the voice, the pacing and the gentle but strikingexposition live up to the brilliance of the illustrations. A tour de force.”

Peer assessment committee: Shauntay Grant, Jon Klassen, Kathryn Shoemaker

Sydney Smith
Sydney Smith
Photo: Steve Farmer

Biography: Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith is an author/illustrator of children’s books. He has illustrated numerous acclaimed children’s books, including Town Is by the Sea, written by Joanne Schwartz, and the wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, conceived by JonArno Lawson, which won the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award, and many other honours. Smith has received the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award three times. He studied drawing and printmaking at NSCAD University. He lives and works in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his wife and two children.

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