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Brian Deines

Brian Deines is an acclaimed children’s book illustrator who has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Illustration, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award and the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award, among others. He has illustrated such varied titles as The Hockey Tree, On a Snowy Night, The Road to Afghanistan and The Vimy Oaks: A Journey to Peace.

Brian is a native of Red Deer, Alberta. He graduated from the Alberta College of Art. Before becoming an artist, he spent time as a "roughneck and a rigger" on the oilfields of Alberta and as a groundskeeper at a golf and country club.

Brian works in oils for both illustration and fine art and has sometimes been called a painter of light. His three children help inspire his art. "I think about the inner light, spirit and energy that children project, a kind of lit-up quality — it is this quality that I seek in my imagery," Brian explains. "I have been able to explore this and the relationships between siblings and parents through several books that I’ve illustrated. This and the fact that no two stories are the same keep the books interesting," he says.

For The Road to Afghanistan and On a Snowy Night, the research involved was worlds apart. "In The Road to Afghanistan, a lot of the images that I came across were intense and quite brutal. This contrasted sharply with the beautiful landscape and people. I had mixed feelings as I worked my way through the text," says Brian. One of his previous books, based on the famous song by Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game, gave him insight in how to approach the material. "I decided to treat the imagery as song also, with certain images repeating like a chorus (in a song) through the book — as wars repeat, the consequences repeat and are the same in any era," he points out. On a Snowy Night features warm and fuzzy creatures within a quiet snowy nightscape. "It was so much fun to work with the different animal characters and their varying soft textures. The perfect counterpoint!"

Brian also enjoys hockey, bicycling, photography and music. He lives in Toronto with his family.


Awards

The Road to Afghanistan, Commended, Rocky Mountain Book Award (Alberta Children's Choice), 2015

On a Snowy Night, Short-listed, Shining Willow Award (Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice), 2014

On a Snowy Night, Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, 2014

The Road to Afghanistan, Short-listed, Hackmatack Children's Choice Award (Atlantic Canada), 2014

The Road to Afghanistan, Short-listed, Libris Awards - Young Reader Book of the Year, 2014

The Road to Afghanistan, Short-listed, Shining Willow Award (Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice), 2014

The Road to Afghanistan, Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Starred Selection, 2014

On a Snowy Night, Commended, Resource Links, Best of the Year, 2013

One Hockey Night, Short-listed, OLA Blue Spruce Award, 2012

One Hockey Night, Short-listed, Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Illustration, 2011

One Hockey Night, Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, 2011

One Hockey Night, Commended, OLA Best Bets, 2011

The Hockey Tree, Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Book Award (BC Children's Choice), 2008

The Hockey Tree, Winner, Shining Willow Award (Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice), 2007

The Hockey Tree, Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Our Choice, 2007

The Hockey Tree, Commended, Canadian Toy Testing Council, Great Books of the Year, 2007

Books

The Hockey Tree
On a Snowy Night
One Hockey Night
The Road to Afghanistan
The Vimy Oaks: A Journey to Peace

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Image credits