Shelley Leedahl at a book signing (Submitted photo)

Vancouver Island children’s author wins American award for The Moon Watched it All

Ladysmith’s Shelley Leedahl’s book took gold in the All Ages Picture Book category

Vancouver Island author Shelley Leedahl has won a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for her new book, The Moon Watched it All.

Leedahl’s book took gold in the All Ages Picture Book category. The Moonbeam awards identify the best annual children’s books published in the North American market. Her publisher, Red Deer Press, submitted her book for consideration.

“It is always good news to receive some recognition,” the Ladysmith-based author said. “Often, unless a book does receive some type of an award, it doesn’t tend to get a lot of attention.”

The Moon Watched it All will now be published with a gold sticker on the cover to signify the award. The attention from the award could propel the book into more stores, and libraries.

RELATED: Ladysmith author explores community as The Moon Watched It All

Leedahl hopes that this recognition will help share the message of The Moon Watched it All.

“It’s a bit of a study in loneliness. There’s an element of bullying as well… We know that loneliness is reaching an all time high around the world, for example Britain’s Prime Minister has named a minister for loneliness. I had a nurse in Ladysmith tell me loneliness is the number one preventable cause of death in seniors,” Leedhahl said.

“This story illustrates the fact that even if we have one other person in our life we can call a friend, it can be life saving. If you’re a child it doesn’t have to be another child, it could be an old woman who talks to the moon, or anyone else,” she added.

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This isn’t Leedahl’s first time winning an award for her picture books. An earlier book, The Bone Talker won ForeWord Magazine’s Children’s Picture Book of the Year Award, the Albeta Book Illustration Award, and the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Illustrator of the Year Award. The Bone Talker has also been published in China, and has been translated in braille.

Leedahl said that both The Moon Watched it All, and The Bone Talker, came to her more easily than other works.

“Sometimes I labour years and years over my books, but both of these children’s books, the stories came to me in one sitting — which is really unusual — there were very few edits made. It was as if I were just the woman holding the pen, and the stories flowed through me. It really felt like a gift,” Leedahl said.

The Moon Watched it All was accepted for publication in 2010, and was not published until 2019. Throughout the process, Leedahl did not know what the final illustrations would look like. Leedhal said she loves the final product. She advised aspiring writers to be prepared to wait.

Along with her children’s books, Leedahl has published I Wasn’t Always Like This (essays, Signature Editons. Winnipeg); Listen, Honey (short stories, DC Books, Montreal); Wretched Beast (poetry, BuschekBooks, Ottawa); and The House of the Easily Amused (poetry, Oolichan Books, Lantzville, BC). Her work has also appeared in a number of anthologies.

Leedahl is currently working on an essay collection tiled Awe and Wonder: Essays for Human Animals. She said collection features Ladysmith quite a bit. She does not know when it will be published as she is still in the writing process.

She looks forward to potentially hosting writers workshops in the future, and doing readings with the schools in Ladysmith. Leedahl will be presenting at the Whistler Writer’s Festival on October 19.

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