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The Towner Award

2022 Award Winner

The winner of the 2022 Towner Award is...The Pig War: How a Porcine Tragedy Taught England and America to Share, written by Emma Bland Smith and illustrated by Allison Jay!

Cover of book "The Pig War"

Here is a true story of how the great nations of America and England almost went to war in 1859 over a pig – but learned to share instead. In 1859, the British and Americans coexist on the small island of San Juan, located off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. They are on fairly good terms – until one fateful morning when an innocent hog owned by a British man has the misfortune to eat some potatoes on an American farmer’s land. In a moment of rash anger, Lyman Cutlar shoots Charles Griffin’s pig, inadvertently almost bringing the two nations to war. Tensions flare, armies gather, cannons are rolled out...all because of a pig!

Emma Bland Smith is the award-winning author of Journey: Based on the True Story of OR7, the Most Famous Wolf in the West, as well as other fiction and nonfiction books for children. Many of Emma’s books include animals—wolves, dogs, pigs, even alligators! Emma is a librarian and author and lives in San Francisco with her husband, two kids, dog, and cat—but no wolf, pig, or alligator. Visit her online at emmabsmith.com and on Twitter at @emmablandsmith.

Alison Jay studied graphic design in London where she now lives. She has worked in all areas of illustration including advertising, packaging, editorial, and design. She has illustrated many children's books, including Welcome to the Zoo which was selected for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.


2023 Towner Award Nominees

2023 Towner Award Nominees Press Release

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Bookmark link

Click the title to go to a Choice Board!!!


2022 Towner Award Nominees

2022 Towner Award Nominees Press Release

Bookmark link

Click the title to go to a Choice Board!!!

2021 Towner Award Nominees

2021 Towner Award Press Release



Previous Winners

2021: Big Cats by Nic Bishop

2020: Avalanche Dog Heroes: Piper and Friends Learn to Search the Snow by Elizabeth Rusch

2019: This Book Isn't Safe by Colin Furze

2018: Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

2017: Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli

2016: Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy

2015: Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss

2014: Snakes by Nic Bishop 

Voting is for students in grade 2 through 6 in Washington State. Student votes can be submitted by school and public librarians only. In addition, we will recognize an Educators' Choice. This is your chance to share with other educators which book you found most useful in the classroom.

Join the Towner!

Our enthusiastic committee is looking for a few new members. Click here to apply!

The Washington State Student Award for Informational Text

The Towner Award is named after Bill Towner, longtime Seattle librarian and mentor to dozens of librarians. Bill was an outstanding teacher-librarian who worked with thousands of students from all backgrounds and taught all of them his love of literature. Bill showed us how caring teachers and librarians can make a difference.

This award is intended to complement other awards determined by student vote in the state of Washington; the Sasquatch, Washington’s Children Choice Picture Book and OTTER Book Awards. It is sponsored by the Washington Library Association School Library Division and intended for books enjoyed by students in grades Two through Six.

For the purposes of this award, Informational Text is defined as that which serves chiefly to convey factual information to the reader and may contain biography, narrative and other forms.

Each year a slate of ten books will be selected by a group of librarians from Washington state. This group will include public and school librarians, and members will be selected so as to provide representation for different parts of the state.