By Justine Kraemer, GAC Volunteer Writer
Local author Eric Walters is a titan in childrens’ and young adult literature. He is a fixture in the community, and a fierce advocate for children of all ages. A recent novel of his, The King of Jam Sandwiches has been honoured with the Governor General’s Award.
In a recent interview, Walters reflected on this award, and on his long and storied career as an author. Having begun his career as a teacher with the Peel District School Board, Walters knows first hand the importance of early literacy, and giving children and young adults literary works they can see themselves reflected in. His work includes over 100 novels and picture books. Walters’ career as a social worker also gave him an immense appreciation for the impact of poverty, racism and so many other systemic issues have on children and young adults in particular. His experiences in the education and healthcare systems have informed his work and continue to do so.
Having won many awards over the years, the Governor General’s Award is a prestigious Canadian award and Walters has been honoured multiple times through the Children’s Choice Awards. In addition, the Ontario Library Association (OLA) has featured his novels in various categories of the organization’s Evergreen Award. This award is segmented by age group, and Walters’ books have qualified for many age categories. Most recently, his book Hockey Night in Kenya co-authored with Danson Mutinda was nominated for the 2022 Silverbirch Express Award. The Governor General’s Award is a distinctly Canadian achievement, and it is a worthy addition to Walters’ many accolades which include the Order of Canada.
Walters has also written a book set during the pandemic, entitled Don’t Stand So Close to Me. In a recent interview, Walters spoke about the importance of explaining current world events to children at a level they can understand. Walters received letters from many fans asking him questions about the pandemic, and so he decided to address many of those questions in a book targeted to their age group. Walters published Don’t Stand So Close to Me in real-time during the COVID 19 pandemic, and was by Walters account a whirlwind experience having completed the publishing process in a mere 40 days. Although Walters says this was quite the experience, working with such tight deadlines may not happen in the near future.
Walters has several projects upcoming. Three are to be released in 2022, and these include the titles On the Line (to be co-written with Paul Coccia), Bear in the Family which will be the first in a chapter book series, and Made 4 U which is to be a YA novel. Walters intends to revisit his Governor General Award-winning book The King of Jam Sandwiches in an upcoming project. In 2023, Walters also has several projects slated for release including Boldly Go and Mars Mission the second and third installations in his space trilogy, and Flight Plan, a continuation of The Rule of Three world.
Walters also has an upcoming project entitled Voice which is to be co-authored with well-known up and coming artist Wali Shah. Shah was an RBC Top 25 Immigrant award winner, and is a spoken word poet and public speaker. Shah was also the Poet Laureate for the City of Mississauga. Shah’s work has been incredibly noted as well, and he closed out the keynote address delivered by former US President Barack Obama in Toronto with a captivating and heartfelt poem. There is no release date for Walters’ project with Shah, however it will hopefully be released very soon.
Eric Walters continues to be an incredibly influential Canadian author whose influence has extended around the world. He shows no signs of stopping, and will no doubt continue to be a leading figure in the Canadian literary world for many years to come.
The King of Jam Sandwiches and all of Eric Walters’ novels are available now at The Bookshelf.