2021 Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award Winner

The Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award is named for the late publisher of Groundwood Books, and honors books that follow in the footsteps of its namesake, celebrated for her talent for matching authors and illustrators in the creation of beautiful and resonant picture books. We would like to congratulate Kyo Maclear and Rashin Kheiriyeh whose gorgeous Story Boat won this year’s award.

Story Boat
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263598 | Tundra Books
“Where is home for a refugee child? In Story Boat, home is ‘here’ and ‘now’, shaped by imagination from objects of comfort.  This elegant picture book is both a story in lyrical prose about the refugee crisis from a child’s perspective and a visual narrative describing the harsh ‘lived’ experience of the adults. Comfort to a child is found in things that are ‘here’: a cup, a blanket, a flower, a lamp.  These represent home, family, dreams, and hope. Along the journey, objects are reimagined into the uncertain future, becoming a sail boat, a ladder, a lighthouse, and a story. In contrast, the adult perspective, revealed in vivid illustrations, is a story of hardship.  A continuous line of people burdened with their belongings trudges along, resting in tents, boarding a boat, sailing a rough sea. Their faces are sad, fearful and anxious, yet hopeful and joyful in story and song. Kheiriyeh uses a limited colour palette to create a multi-layered landscape of lines: a line of refugees, of birds, of trees, of waves on the sea, beams from the lighthouse, a constellation of stars. The colours are symbolic, stories in colour. Blue merges land and sea, orange is warmth, light and hope. In beautifully crafted language and multi layered visual narrative about the refugee crisis, Story Boat is a powerful example of the picture book as an art form.”  – Sheila Barry Award jury

We’d also like to congratulate the Fan Brothers and Lauren Soloy whose titles, The Barnabus Project and When Emily Was Small were named honor books.

The Barnabus Project
By Terry Fan, Eric Fan, and Devin Fan
72 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263260 | Tundra Books
“Welcome to the dystopian (if rather cozy) world of genetically-engineered pets.  Such pets as the Turtle Puff and Moop are deemed a success and are marketed through the outlet “Perfect Pets.” But what of the failed experiments? Such is Barnabus, half elephant half mouse, a doughty hero who leads a group of other “failures” to a rebellion, escaping imprisonment in the bell jars of a lab to a life of autonomy, freedom and the joys of the natural world.  For the youngest reader/listener this is an adventure of suspense and the triumph of the little guy.  Older readers will pick up on the subversive social satire, a world where “cuteness” is valued above all.  Young adults will resonate to the critique of genetic engineering. Everyone will enjoy the goofy inventive language (who could resist creatures called Lite-Up Lois and Wally the Ripple?) and the generous large-format detailed illustrations that invite visiting and revisiting, finding the embedded jokes, solving the mysteries, perusing the endpapers, dustjacket and cover for more information.”  – Sheila Barry Award jury

When Emily Was SmallWhen Emily Was Small
By Lauren Soloy
44 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266063 | Tundra Books
“When Emily Was Small is a poetic burst of joy, a celebration of creative inspiration found in nature. The book imagines a day in the life of a young Emily Carr, when she wanders beyond the currant bushes. Emily feels small when her mother reprimands her. But when she dances through the garden into the wild place, she becomes Small, a creature wild and curious.  A wolf appears, Wild, perhaps an imagined part of herself. Look closely, it urges, at the ‘thousand shades of green, the sunlight in every shadow, the sun dazzled wings and clouds of flowers’.  Emily flies above it all and is inspired. When Emily hears her mother’s voice, Wild vanishes and she is lying at her mother’s feet, small again, reprimanded for getting dirty. But Emily is changed, ‘the butterfly wings dancing to the rhythm of her own small heart. Soloy’s poetic text sparkles and pops: lippety, lippety, thumpety, bumpety, glitter and glimmer, fizz. It begs to be read aloud. The illustrations, primarily watercolours with bold outlines, capture the look of Emily and are reminiscent of Emily Carr’s art. When Emily Was Small invites the reader to hurry into the wild places. Then it urges them to pause at paintings overfilling the pages, lush landscapes in many shades of green.” – Sheila Barry Award jury

2021 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Books Awards Finalists

Every year, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre celebrates the best work by Canadian creators with the CCBC Book Awards.  Congratulations to all our nominated authors and illustrators!

Amy Mathers Teen Book Award

Followers
By Raziel Reid
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263802 | Penguin Teen Canada
After a disastrous date results in her arrest, sixteen-year-old Lily Rhode is horrified to discover her mugshot is leaked on a gossip website. Lily is the niece of Whitney Paley, a Hollywood housewife and star of reality show Platinum Triangle, a soap-opera-style docu-series in the vein of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Hills, revolving around several glamorous families living in the Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills neighborhoods of Los Angeles. When Lily’s mom kicks her out of their trailer home in the Valley, Whitney (Lily’s mom’s estranged sister) invites her to live with her, her movie-star husband, Patrick, and their daughter, Hailey. Lily is set up in the pool house and thrust into the company of reality-star offspring – kids who are born with silver spoon emojis on their feed. Lily’s cousin Hailey and the other teens have lived their entire lives on camera and are masters of deception, with Hailey leading the pack. As Lily learns from the Paleys how to navigate her newfound fame, she finds herself ensnared in the unfolding storylines. What Lily doesn’t know is that she’s just a pawn being used on the show to make the Paleys look sympathetic to viewers while distracting from on-set sexual misconduct rumors surrounding super hero dad Patrick Paley . . . Is Lily safe under Patrick’s roof? Or will Lily be Patrick’s downfall? If she isn’t destroyed by Hailey first. When Lily catches the eye of Hailey’s designated leading man Joel Strom – it’s war!

He Must Like You
By Danielle Younge-Ullman
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265691 | Penguin Teen Canada
Libby’s having a rough senior year. Her older brother absconded with his college money and is bartending on a Greek island. Her dad just told her she’s got to pay for college herself, and he’s evicting her when she graduates so he can AirBnB her room. A drunken hook-up with her coworker Kyle has left her upset and confused. So when Perry Ackerman, serial harasser and the most handsy customer at The Goat where she waitresses, pushes her over the edge, she can hardly be blamed for dumping a pitcher of sangria on his head. Unfortunately, Perry is a local industry hero, the restaurant’s most important customer and Libby’s mom’s boss. Now Libby has to navigate the fallout of her outburst, find an apartment and deal with her increasing rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life–and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. As timely as it is timeless, He Must Like You is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people.

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

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.

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

The Barnabus ProjectThe Barnabus Project
By The Fan Brothers
72 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263260 | Tundra Books
Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets, where children can buy genetically engineered “perfect” creatures, there is a secret lab. Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them is perfect. They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars. But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn’t want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it’s time for he and the others to escape. With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom – and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are. This suspenseful, poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

The Barnabus ProjectThe Barnabus Project
By The Fan Brothers
72 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263260 | Tundra Books
Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets, where children can buy genetically engineered “perfect” creatures, there is a secret lab. Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them is perfect. They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars. But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn’t want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it’s time for he and the others to escape. With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom – and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are. This suspenseful, poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.

The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga #1
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything – including them.

When Emily Was SmallWhen Emily Was Small
By Lauren Soloy
44 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266063 | Tundra Books
Emily feels small. Small when her mother tells her not to get her dress dirty, small when she’s told to sit up straight, small when she has to sit still in school. But when she’s in the garden, she becomes Small: a wild, fearless, curious, and passionate soul, communing with nature and feeling one with herself. She knows there are secrets to be unlocked in nature, and she yearns to discover the mysteries before she has to go back to being small . . . for now. When Emily Was Small is at once a celebration of freedom, a playful romp through the garden and a contemplation of the mysteries of nature.

TD Summer Reading Club 2021

TD Summer Reading Club is a free bilingual summer reading program for kids. Developed by the Toronto Public Library in association with Library and Archives Canada, the Club inspires kids to explore the joy of reading and build a lifelong love of literature.

All summer long, kids can read books online, get reading recommendations, track their progress, and connect with other kids all over Canada. There’s something for everyone including kids with print disabilities.

Some of our titles have been included on the Club’s 2021 Top Recommended Reads, and we’re so excited to share them with children all across the country this summer.

Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates
By Kara Kootstra and Bobby Orr
Illustrated by Jennifer Phelan
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265325 | Tundra Books
Bobby eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. So when his birthday is coming up, he only wants one thing: new skates. He’s seen the exact pair he wants in the shop window: sparkling blades, shiny leather, clean new laces tied in perfect bows. But when Bobby opens his gift, he’s dismayed to find hand-me-down skates: scuffed leather, nicked blades, floppy laces. Once Bobby breaks them in, though, he and the hand-me-down skates become inseparable, and he can’t imagine life without them . . . until the brand-new skates come into his life. How can he leave his hand-me-down skates behind?

Megabat Is a Fraidybat
By Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
192 Pages | Ages 7-10  | Paperback
ISBN 9780735268050 | Tundra Books
Daniel is not so sure about going to camp. There will be bugs. And uncomfortable beds. And leeches! Megabat can’t wait to go to camp! There will be so much smooshfruit, and he loves a good sing-along. Soon Daniel starts to think camp isn’t so bad. He’s made friends, and his bed isn’t that uncomfortable. Megabat has made a new friend too. But his new friend wants him to go flying to spooky caves. And her mom is very toothy. As Daniel is getting into the swing of things and starting to enjoy camp, Megabat is getting himself into one tangle after another to avoid going into the scary woods. But can Megabat overcome his fears to help save his new friend?

Jack at Bat
By Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
80 Pages | Ages 4-8  | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593113820 | Viking BFYR
The Lady and Rex have a baseball game against the Big City Brats. Jack is not allowed to swing the bat, so he is told to be the Bat Boy. That is, until the Lady Town Ladies and the Big City Brats are tied. It’s up to Jack to hit a home run, but on the way to home plate he spots some snacks. . . . Welcome to the laugh-out-loud and irreverent world of Jack, a new early reader series by the New York Times bestselling and award-winning team of Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli.

Soaked!
By Abi Cushman
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984836625 | Viking BFYR
A Hula-Hooping moose, a badger with a bumblebee umbrella, a rabbit in a cashmere sweater, and a very wet bear star in this unpredictable and laugh-out-loud picture book in which having fun gets the best of a grumpy bear. It looks like a wet and dreary day for Bear and his trio of friends. How could he possibly have fun when he is soaked? But Badger, Rabbit, and Moose don’t seem to mind. In fact, Moose can still hula hoop! And it looks like so much fun. Might Bear like to try? Here is a story that shows that fun is not dependent on sunshine and blue skies. In fact, it might be more fun to be soaked!

Terry Fox and MeTerry Fox and Me
By Mary Beth Leatherdale
Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267688 | Tundra Books
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope, this picture book biography tells the story of a friendship defined by strength and love. Before Terry Fox become a national hero and icon, he was just a regular kid. But even then, his characteristic strength, determination and loyalty were apparent and were the foundation for his friendship with Doug. The two first met at basketball tryouts in grammar school. Terry was the smallest – and worst – basketball player on the court. But that didn’t stop him. With Doug’s help, Terry practiced and practiced until he earned a spot on the team. As they grew up, the best friends supported each other, challenged each other, helped each other become better athletes and better people. Doug was by Terry’s side every step of the way: when Terry received a diagnosis of cancer in his leg, when he was learning to walk – then run – with a prosthetic leg and while he was training for the race of his life, his Marathon of Hope. Written from Doug’s perspective, this story shows that Terry Fox’s legacy goes beyond the physical and individual accomplishments of a disabled athlete and honors the true value of friendship.

The Button Book
By Sally Nicholls
Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267152 | Tundra Books
Follow a group of animal friends as they discover a collection of mysterious buttons, all of which do different things! From a blue singing button to a purple tickle button, from a rude sound button to a mysterious white button, there’s only one way to find out what they do: press them all! And thankfully, there’s even a sleeping button to lull the animals to sleep after a busy day. A lively introduction to colors and shapes, The Button Book is the perfect interactive book for story time (and bedtime!).

2021 Red Cedar Book Award

The Red Cedar is British Columbia’s Young Reader’s Choice book award. Every year, thousands of children between grades 4 and 7 from across the province are invited to read books from the nominated lists of non-fiction and fiction titles and vote for their favourite. We would like to congratulate Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad whose It Began with a Page won the non-fiction award.

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918593 | Tundra Books
Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. But while Gyo’s career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family’s internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting — for herself, her vision, her family and her readers — and later wrote and illustrated the first children’s book to feature children of different races interacting together. This luminous new book beautifully and openly touches on Gyo’s difficult experiences and growth. Through Julie Morstad’s exquisite illustrations, alternating between striking black-and-white linework and lush colour, and Kyo Maclear’s artful and accessible writing, the story of this cherished figure is told at last.

Our 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award Winner

Each year, the Canada Council for the Arts honors the best books in Canadian literature with the Governor General’s Literary Awards. We would like to congratulate The Fan Brothers whose gorgeous picture book, The Barnabus Project, won the award in the Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books category!

The Barnabus Project
By Terry Fan, Eric Fan, and Devin Fan
72 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263260 | Tundra Books
Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets, where children can buy genetically engineered “perfect” creatures, there is a secret lab. Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them is perfect. They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars. But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn’t want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it’s time for he and the others to escape. With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom – and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are.

Congratulations as well to our other nominees in the Young People’s Literature – Text category, Polly Horvath and David A. Robertson!

Pine Island HomePine Island Home
By Polly Horvath
240 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268623 | Puffin Canada
From Newbery Honor and National Book Award-winning author Polly Horvath comes a story of four sisters searching for home. Fiona, Marlin, Natasha, and Charlie McCready are left on their own when their missionary parents are washed away in a tsunami. Fortunately, their great aunt Martha volunteers to have them live with her on her farm in British Columbia. But while they are traveling there, Martha dies unexpectedly, forcing Fiona, the eldest, to come up with a scheme to keep social services from separating the girls — a scheme that will only work if no one knows they are living on their own. Fiona approaches their grouchy and indifferent neighbor Al and asks if he will pretend to be their live-in legal guardian should papers need to be signed or if anyone comes snooping around. He reluctantly agrees, under the condition that they bring him dinner every night. As weeks pass, Fiona takes on more and more adult responsibilities, while each of the younger girls finds their own special role in their atypical family. But even if things seem to be falling into place, Fiona can’t help but worry that it is only a matter of time before they are caught. What she needs to do is find them a real guardian.

The Barren GroundsThe Barren Grounds
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.