Award Winner: Counting on Hope Wins the Bolen Books Prize for Children's Literature


Author Sylvia Olsen was thrilled when her novel, Counting On Hope was announced as the winner of the 2010 Victoria Bolen Books Children's Book Prize. Her first work of historical fiction, Counting on Hope tells the story of two girls who meet in British Columbia in the 1860s. Founded in 2004, the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize is a partnership between the City of Victoria and Brian Butler of Butler Brothers Supplies. The Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize was founded in 2008.

Olsen assured the audience gathered at the Union Club in Victoria that she had no plans to defect to 'writing grown-up books.' The popular author both inspires and is inspired by her devoted audience of children and teenagers.

Sylvia Olsen not only took home a cheque for $5,000, she also claims as hers a feeling of vindication. Counting on Hope took many years, endless rewrites, and a change in editors mid-stream before, finally, the novel was published. Olsen credits the unwavering support of her publisher, Diane Morriss as well as the encouragement of her family for helping her persevere when it seemed the book might never be finished.

Here's a bit more information about the book...

Hope and her family travel from England to their new home on an island off the coast of British Columbia in the 1860s. Hope thinks that she has arrived in paradise. She is right … until whiskey traders arrive.

Letia and her family are Lamalcha people who winter on Kuper Island and move to Wallace Island in the summer. The problem is that Letia's summer camp is on the island that the Crown has deeded to Hope's family. When the two girls meet, against the wishes of their mothers, their stories intersect.

Set against the backdrop of the confusing events surrounding the English colonization of British Columbia, and an 1863 naval assault on Kuper Island, Counting on Hope tells the story of two girls whose lives are profoundly changed when their two cultures collide.

Alternating between free verse and prose, Sylvia Olsen follows the girl's individual storylines before, during and after their meeting. She captures the wonder and joy with which Hope and Letia develop their friendship. She also describes the tragic events, suspicion, fear and confusion that characterize so many early encounters between Europeans and the First Peoples. Ultimately a story of hope, this sensitively drawn depiction of innocence lost and wisdom hard won follows Hope and Letia out of childhood, off their island paradise and into the complex realities of an adult world.

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