Jean Little | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Jean Little

Jean Little, CM, writer, lecturer (born 2 January 1932 in Taiwan; died 6 April 2020). Jean Little was best known for her children’s books. She wrote more than 50 books. Little won the Canada Council Children’s Literature Award as well as foreign acclaim. Little’s books are widely translated. Her novels and poetry treat such themes as loneliness, alienation, intolerance, family stress and the difficulties in interpersonal and intercultural relationships. (See also Children’s Literature in English.)

Jean Little was born in Taiwan, where her parents, both doctors, were serving as missionaries. The family returned to Canada in 1939. After graduating from the University of Toronto, Little taught children with disabilities.Little was almost blind since birth.

Little’s best-known book isFrom Anna (1972), which has sold more than 130,000 copies. Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird (1985) won the Canadian Library Association’s book-of-the-year-award for children’s literature and the Canadian Booksellers’ Association Ruth Schwartz Award. In 1996, her novel about the children of missionary parents who are away in Taiwan, His Banner Over Me, won the National Chapter of Canada IODE Violet Downey Book Award. Little was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada in 1993.