The 2022 Forest of Reading® Winners and Honour Books

The Forest of Reading® is Canada’s largest recreational reading program which helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors, and illustrators. The winners and honour books were announced this week and we’d like to congratulate our authors and illustrators!

2022 Silver Birch Express Award® Fiction Winner

Mellybean and the Giant Monster
By Mike White
208 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593202548 | Razorbill
Melly loves to play games. All her feline friends want to do, though, is take a nap. So when she doesn’t leave them alone, the cats trick her into burying a shoe in the backyard. But the small prank turns into a big problem when Melly falls down the hole . . . and is magically transports her to another world! Melly lands smack-dab in the middle of a scuffle between a group of knights and a huge monster. But Melly soon befriends the grumpy giant, learning he isn’t as scary as he seems. He’s being hunted by a greedy king. One who has also been stealing from his people and locking them up in the dungeons. So although Melly is desperate to find a way back home to Mama and Papa (her human owners), she makes it her mission to help her new friend and the kingdom. But how could someone so tiny defeat such a powerful king? It may just take a game that only Melly can win.

2022 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Winner

Deadman’s Castle
By Iain Lawrence
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446551 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime – and ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They’ve lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can’t even remember his real name. But now he’s twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He’s even starting to wonder–what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father’s frightened mind? Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he’s lived by all his life – making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he’s allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them – is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all?

2022 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Honour Book

Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster
By Rachelle Delaney
256 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269279 | Puffin Canada
Alice Fleck’s father is a culinary historian, and for as long as she can remember, she’s been helping him recreate meals from the past – a hobby she prefers to keep secret from kids her age. But when her father’s new girlfriend enters them into a cooking competition at a Victorian festival, Alice finds herself and her hobby thrust into the spotlight. And that’s just the first of many surprises awaiting her. On arriving at the festival, Alice learns that she and her father are actually contestants on Culinary Combat, a new reality TV show hosted by Tom Truffleman, the most famous and fierce judge on TV! And to make matters worse, she begins to suspect that someone is at work behind the scenes, sabotaging the competition. It’s up to Alice, with the help of a few new friends, to find the saboteur before the entire competition is ruined, all the while tackling some of the hardest cooking challenges of her life . . . for the whole world to see.

2022 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Honour Book

Tremendous Things
By Susin Nielsen
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271203 | Penguin Teen Canada
We all have moments that define us. For the comically clueless Wilbur, his moment happened on the first day of middle school, when someone shared his private letter with the entire student body. It revealed some of Wilbur’s innermost embarrassing thoughts that no one else should ever know. Now it’s the start of ninth grade and Wilbur hasn’t been able to escape that major humiliation. His good friend Alex stuck by him, but Alex doesn’t have as much time since he started dating Fabrizio. Luckily, Wil can confide in his best friend: his elderly neighbor Sal. Also, Wil’s in the school band, where he plays the triangle. They’re doing an exchange program with students from Paris, and Wilbur’s billet, Charlie, a tall, chic young woman who plays the ukulele and burps with abandon, captures his heart. Charlie likes him, but only as a friend. So Alex, Fabrizio, and Sal host a Queer Eye-style intervention to get Wil in shape and to build his confidence so he can impress Charlie when their band visits Paris, and just maybe replace humiliation with true romance in the City of Love.

2022 White Pine Award™ Honour Books

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
By Nathan Page
Illustrated by Drew Shannon
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525646761 | Knopf BFYR
Pete and Alastair Montague are just a couple of mystery-solving twins, living an ordinary life. Or so they thought. After a strange storm erupts on a visit to the beach, they discover there is more to their detective skills than they had thought. Their guardian, David Faber, a once prominent professor, has been keeping secrets about their parents and what the boys are truly capable of. At the same time, three girls go missing after casting a mysterious spell, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes their small town down an unexpected path. With the help of David’s daughter, Charlie, they discover there are forces at work that they never could have imagined, which will impact their lives forever. An exciting new graphic novel from innovative creators Nathan Page and Drew Shannon that is at once timely and thrilling.


Thanks to CBC Books for hosting and presenting the virtual awards! If you missed the ceremonies, you can catch up with them online here.

2022 Barnes & Noble Children’s & YA Book Award Winner

For the second year in a row, Barnes & Noble has curated a shortlist of their best books for kids and teens. We are thrilled to congratulate Xiran Jay Zhao whose novel, Iron Widow, has won in this year’s YA category!

“Our booksellers have spoken and enthusiastically voted for this captivating sci-fi tale that we expect to become a mainstay in our YA assortment for years to come.” – B&N Category Manager

As part of the virtual celebration, Xiran Jay Zhao will be in conversation with Elizabeth Lim (Six Crimson CranesThe Dragon’s Promise) on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 7:00 pm ET – register at this link to attend!

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Bringing Stories to Life with Storytime Trail

OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation (OWSH), a literacy and reading charity, is including On the Trapline as one of two Indigenous picture books featured in their “Good With Words” campaign, engaging Canadian youth in reconciliation. For the first 100 orders of On the Trapline book walk signs, a donation of $250 will be made by the Schad Foundation in the name of participating schools to the Land Needs Guardians program, up to a maximum donation of $25,000.

Participating schools will also be invited to an On the Trapline virtual event with David A. Robertson to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples’ Month this June. For more details on the event and to register, sign up here.

This initiative is part of the  Storytime Trails program, in which select Canadian books are printed as a series of signs and posted in participating school yards, encouraging classes to take “book walks” and for schools to incorporate Canadian books in their curriculum. OWSH has created custom lesson plans and, in some cases, author video content, for each featured title.

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681  | Tundra Books
A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago – a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination, and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.

Other Tundra titles included in the general Storytime Trails program:

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
By Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
40 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262928 | Tundra Books
Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both the more well known and the not- so-widely recognized. Individually, their stories, though briefly touched on, are inspiring; collectively, they empower the reader with this message: “We are people who matter, yes, it’s true; now let’s show the world what people who matter can do.”

If I Had a Gryphon
By Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Cale Atkinson
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770498099 | Tundra Books
Sam just got a hamster for a pet. But the hamster is kind of boring . . . he just eats and sleeps and gets his shavings wet. Inspired by her book of mythological creatures, Sam longs for a more exciting pet. But she soon realizes that taking care of these magical beasts might not be as wonderful as she thought. Sasquatches are messy, unicorns are shy, hippogriffs scare the dogs at the dogpark, and having a fire extinguisher handy at all times makes dragons seem like an awful lot of work. In the end, Sam realizes that her hamster is a pretty sweet and safe pet . . . or is he? If I Had a Gryphon is a raucous rhyming read-aloud about fantastical beasts in everyday situations – and the increasingly beleaguered heroine who has to deal with them.

9781770493018-450My Name Is Blessing
By Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
32 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770493018 | Tundra Books
Based on the life of a real boy, this warm-hearted, beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Baraka, a young Kenyan boy with a physical disability. Baraka and eight cousins live with their grandmother. She gives them boundless love, but there is never enough money or food, and life is hard – love doesn’t feed hungry stomachs or clothe growing bodies, or school keen minds. Baraka is too young, and, with his disability, needs too much, and she is too old. A difficult choice must be made, and grandmother and grandchild set off on a journey to see if there is a place at the orphanage for Baraka. The story begins by looking at Baraka’s physical disability as a misfortune, but ends by looking beyond the disability, to his great heart and spirit, and the blessings he brings.

Out into the Big Wide Lake
By Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265592 | Tundra Books
It’s Kate’s first time visiting her grandparents on her own at their lakeside home. She’s nervous but excited at the adventure ahead. She helps her grandfather with his grocery deliveries by boat, where she meets all the neighbors, including a very grumpy old man named Walter. And she makes best friends with her grandparents’ dog, Parbuckle. Her grandmother even teaches her to pilot the boat all by herself! When her grandfather takes ill suddenly, it’s up to Kate – but can she really make all those deliveries, even to grumpy old Walter? She has to try! Based on the author’s sister, Kate is a lovable, brave, smart and feisty character who will capture your heart in this gorgeous and moving story about facing fears and gaining independence.

Ten Little Dumplings
By Larissa Fan
Illustrated by Cindy Wume
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266193 | Puffin Canada
In the city of Tainan, there lives a very special family – special because they have ten sons who do everything together. Their parents call them their ten little dumplings, as both sons and dumplings are auspicious. But if you look closely, you’ll see that someone else is there, listening, studying, learning and discovering her own talent – a sister. As this little girl grows up in the shadow of her brothers, her determination and persistence help her to create her own path in the world . . . and becomes the wisdom she passes on to her own daughter, her own little dumpling. Based on a short film made by the author, inspired by her father’s family in Taiwan, Ten Little Dumplings looks at some unhappy truths about the place of girls in our world in an accessible, inspiring and hopeful way.

The FogThe Fog
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Kenard Pak
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770494923 | Tundra Books
Warble is a small yellow warbler who lives on the beautiful island of Icyland, where he pursues his hobby of human watching. But on a warm day, a deep fog rolls in and obscures his view. The rest of the birds don’t seem to notice the fog or the other changes Warble observes on the island. The more the fog is ignored, the more it spreads. When a Red-hooded Spectacled Female (Juvenile) appears, Warble discovers that he’s not the only one who notices the fog. Will they be able to find others who can see it too? And is the fog here to stay? Kyo Maclear’s witty story, brought to life with the delicate, misty artwork of Kenard Pak, is a poignant yet humorous reminder of the importance of environmental awareness.

Where Oliver FitsWhere Oliver Fits
By Cale Atkinson
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919071 | Tundra Books
Oliver has always dreamed about where he will fit. Will he be in the mane of a unicorn? The tentacle of a pirate squid? The helmet of an astronaut? When he finally goes in search of his perfect place, he finds that trying to fit in is a lot harder than he thought. But like any puzzle, a little trial and error leads to a solution, and Oliver figures out exactly where he belongs. Where Oliver Fits is a sweet and funny story that explores all the highs and lows of learning to be yourself and shows that fitting in isn’t always the best fit . . . .

2022 Ezra Jack Keats Award

Each year since 1985, the Ezra Jack Keats Award has been given to early career authors and illustrators who create children’s books that reflect our diverse culture. We would like to congratulate Paul Harbridge who won this year’s award for his picture book, Out Into the Big Wide Lake!

On winning the Writer Award, Paul Harbridge said: “I learned about diversity teaching English as a Second Language to immigrants in Toronto, the most culturally diverse city in the world, and as a speech-language pathologist working first with persons from the Deaf community and later with adults with developmental disabilities. But the best lesson about diversity came from growing up with Linda, my little sister with Down Syndrome. Yes, she was different in some ways but at the same time she was not different at all. Like me and my other brothers and sisters, she needed a chance to explore the world around her, encouragement to go after her goals, a pat on the back when she succeeded, and a reassuring hug when she stumbled. And that is the beauty of Ezra Jack Keats’s books. In The Snowy Day, Peter could have been from any background, any gender, or ability. Winning the EJK Award for Writing is so special to me because it means, in my own small way, I am carrying on Mr. Keats’s work to show the world that, despite our differences, at heart we are all the same.”

Out into the Big Wide Lake
By Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265592 | Tundra Books
It’s Kate’s first time visiting her grandparents on her own at their lakeside home. She’s nervous but excited at the adventure ahead. She helps her grandfather with his grocery deliveries by boat, where she meets all the neighbors, including a very grumpy old man named Walter. And she makes best friends with her grandparents’ dog, Parbuckle. Her grandmother even teaches her to pilot the boat all by herself! When her grandfather takes ill suddenly, it’s up to Kate – but can she really make all those deliveries, even to grumpy old Walter? She has to try! Based on the author’s sister, Kate is a lovable, brave, smart and feisty character who will capture your heart in this gorgeous and moving story about facing fears and gaining independence.

2022 Dublin Literary Award Longlist

Each year, the Dublin Literary Award receives nominations for its longlist from libraries all over the world. We would like to congratulate Heather Smith whose wonderful novel, Barry Squires, Full Tilt was one of eight Canadian titles nominated for this year’s award. The jury will announce the shortlist on March 22 and a winner will be announced on May 19 as part of the opening day of International Literature Festival Dublin.

Barry Squires, Full Tilt
By Heather T. Smith
232 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267466 | Penguin Teen Canada
It’s 1995. When the Full Tilt Dancers give an inspiring performance at the opening of the new bingo hall, twelve-year-old Finbar (Barry) Squires wants desperately to join the troupe. Led by Father O’Flaherty, the Full Tilt Irish Step Dancers are the most sought-after act in St. John’s, Newfoundland (closely followed by popular bagpiper, Alfie Bragg and his Agony Bag). Having watched Riverdance twice, Barry figures he’ll nail the audition. And good thing too – it’d be nice to be known for something other than the port wine stain on his cheek. With questionable talent and an unpredictable temper, Barry’s journey to stardom is jeopardized by his parents’ refusal to take his dreams seriously. Thankfully, Barry has the support of a lively cast of characters: his ever-present grandmother, Nanny Squires; his adorable baby brother, Gord; an old British rocker named Uneven Steven; a group of geriatrics from the One Step Closer to God Nursing Home; and Saibal, a friend with whom Barry gets up to no good.

“Barry Squires has a port wine birthmark on his face. This both marks him as special but also foreshadows the cruelty of a random and indifferent universe. Barry Squires: Full Tilt by Heather Smith is a rare young adult book which deals with a riotously funny yet sensitive teenaged boy. This novel follows Barry as he copes (or doesn’t) with family strife, bullying, class and racial divisions, and even greater tragedy. A well-drawn community surrounds and supports Barry and his family as they get knocked down and struggle back up again in a story that refuses to give up its optimistic bent, even in the very darkest of times. Barry Squires is a kid you will never forget.

Barry Squires: Full Tilt by Heather Smith has been longlisted for the 2020 Winterset award and is a CBC Best Book (Young Adult) among many other accolades. Through this and previous works, Heather Smith has established herself as one of the leading young adult authors in Canada.”  – St. John’s Public Libraries (Provincial Resources Division), Canada