Governor General's Literary Awards

They Say Blue

They Say Blue

By Jillian Tamaki

Groundwood Books; distributed by University of Toronto Press



They Say Blue follows a young girl as she contemplates colours in the known and the unknown, in the immediate world and the world beyond what she can see. The sea looks blue, yet water cupped in her hands is as clear as glass. Is a blue whale blue? She doesn’t know—she hasn’t seen one. Stunningly beautiful illustrations flow from one spread to the next, as time passes and the imagination takes hold. The world is full of colour, and mystery too, in this first picture book from Jillian Tamaki.

"They Say Blue is a wonderful blend of words and art, a sweeping, joyous book from cover to cover. Its lively and dynamic compositions are sure to captivate both children and those who love to read to children. Wonderfully uplifting and imaginative, it spans an entire range of emotions and colours and makes one’s heart sing."

Peer assessment committee: Adwoa Badoe, Renata Liwska, Hugh MacDonald

Jillian Tamaki
Photo: Reynard Li


Jillian Tamaki is a cartoonist and illustrator from Calgary, Alberta, who now lives in Toronto, Ontario. She co-created the highly acclaimed graphic novels Skim and This One Summer with Mariko Tamaki, and is the creator of the teen drama webcomic SuperMutant Magic Academy and Boundless, a collection of short comics for adults. She has won many awards for her work, including a previous Governor General’s Literary Award (in 2014), a Caldecott Honor, a Printz Honor, the Eisner Award, and an appearance on the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books list. A working illustrator since 2003, she has also taught students of all levels at Parsons and the School of Visual Arts in New York City. 

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