The 2021 Forest of Reading awards were announced earlier today and we are so thrilled that three of our titles were honoured at the virtual Festival of Trees. Congratulations to our authors and illustrators!
2021 Blue Spruce Award™ Winner
By Mike Boldt
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984847973 | Doubleday BFYR
“Look what I got for my birthday! A pet dog!” says a little girl holding a . . . cat? Rocky doesn’t listen or obey like all the other dogs. (Because Rocky is a cat.) And Rocky hates her leash and doesn’t seem to like other dogs. (Probably because Rocky is a cat.) And rather than play fetch, Rocky prefers to . . . lick between her toes? Ew. Rocky is a bad “dog”! BUT Rocky doesn’t bark, and is so cute when she sleeps in sunny spots. Maybe Rocky IS a good dog? (Or, you know, maybe Rocky is a cat.) Cat lovers and dog lovers alike will howl with laughter at this little girl’s willful insistence that her cat is a dog. The hilarious ways in which cats and dogs are different are brilliantly illuminated with each turn of the page and will leave young readers and their grown-ups giggling.
2021 Silver Birch Express Award™ Fiction Honour Book
Terry 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.
2021 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Honour Book
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266247 | Puffin Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.
By Tanaz Bhathena
384 Pages | Ages 12+| Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267022 | Penguin Teen Canada
Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge. Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl — Gul — in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance — and discovers a magic he never expected to find. Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.
Thanks to Curio.ca for virtually hosting the awards this year! If you missed the ceremonies, you can catch up with them online here.
The Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program. This initiative of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) offers seven reading programs to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages. The Forest helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors and illustrators. More than 270,000 readers participate annually from their School and/or Public Library. All Canadians are invited to participate via their local public library, school library, or individually.
Since 2000, the Rocky Mountain Book Award is chosen by students and educators in Alberta from a shortlist designed to stimulate the reading interest of students in grades 4-7. We would like to congratulate Mireille Messier and Kass Reich whose adorable Sergeant Billy won this year’s Gold Medal.
Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War
By Mireille Messier
Illustrated by Kass Reich
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264427 | Tundra Books
During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort.
Billy . . .
• Trained with the soldiers
• Was smuggled across the ocean
• Got snuck into the frontlines in a box of oranges
• Ate some secret documents and was arrested for treason
• Got trench foot
• Head-butted soldiers into a trench and saved them from a shell
• Came back home a decorated war hero
This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration. This unforgettable goat and the platoon that loved him will capture your heart!
And congratulations to Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer whose Broken Strings was awarded third place!
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735266261 | Puffin Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers, Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner – strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.
Want to know what everyone else has been reading and loving lately? Every month we will share our list of top ten kids’ books that we publish into North America. Here are the Tundra and Puffin Canada titles for the month of February 2021 – how many have you read?
1. Narwhal and Jelly Series Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
By Ben Clanton
64 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918265 | Tundra Books
Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together. A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever – even though it doesn’t have any words . . . or pictures!
2. The 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.
3. The 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.
4.If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Colin Jack
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495685 | Tundra Books
If you happen to have a dinosaur, lying around your living room, and you don’t know what to do with it . . . why don’t you use it as a can opener? It will make a terrific nutcracker too! There are oodles of uses for a dinosaur – from a fine umbrella to an excellent kite and a dandy pillow, not to mention a reliable burglar alarm and the perfect excuse to forget your homework. This delightfully absurd exploration of the domestic uses of dinosaurs – and the things dinos just aren’t good for at all – is guaranteed to tickle funny bones and spark imaginations. If you read carefully, you’ll learn how to make your dinosaur last a very long time.
5. This Is Sadie By Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495326 | Tundra Books
Sadie is a little girl with a big imagination. She has been a girl who lived under the sea and a boy raised by wolves. She has had adventures in wonderland and visited the world of fairytales. She whispers to the dresses in her closet and talks to birds in the treetops. She has wings that take her anywhere she wants to go, but that always bring her home again. She likes to make things – boats out of boxes and castles out of cushions. But more than anything Sadie likes stories, because you can make them from nothing at all. For Sadie, the world is so full of wonderful possibilities . . . This is Sadie, and this is her story.
6.Carson Crosses Canada
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
36 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918838 | Tundra Books
Feisty Annie Magruder and her dog, Carson, live in British Columbia, Canada, and they’re setting out to visit her sister, Elsie, in Newfoundland. In their little rattlebang car, packed with Carson’s favorite toy, Squeaky Chicken, and plenty of baloney sandwiches, Annie and Carson hit the road! They travel province by province, taking in each unique landscape and experiencing something special to that particular part of this vast, grand country. For example, they marvel at the beauty of the big, open sky – and grasshoppers! – in Saskatchewan and discover the gorgeous red earth and delicious lobster rolls in PEI, before finally being greeted by Elsie – and a surprise for Carson!
7. The Darkest Dark
By Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion
Illustrated by The Fan Brothers
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918623 | Tundra Books
Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem – at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is – and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company. Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield and brought to life by Terry and Eric Fan’s lush, evocative illustrations, The Darkest Dark will encourage readers to dream the impossible.
8.Super Detectives: Simon and Chester #1
By Cale Atkinson
64 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267428 | Tundra Books
Welcome to the world of Simon and Chester, ghost and boy duo extraordinaire.
They like to kick butt and take names.
They don’t like chores.
They are best friends.
And they are about to solve the mystery of a lifetime.
(Oh, and eat some snacks probably.)
Join Simon and Chester in their first adventure, and fall in love with this hilarious odd couple by fan favorite author and illustrator Cale Atkinson.
By Eric Walters
216 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780143187790 | Razorbill Canada
Fifteen-year-old Ian must complete community volunteer service to pass social studies. Choosing to work at “The Club” sounds like fun, until he arrives at what turns out to be a soup kitchen for the homeless. It is here that he meets Sarge, the pipe-wielding homeless man who saved Ian from a near-mugging. His real name is Jacques, and he was a soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces. His last tour of duty was as a peacekeeper stationed in Rwanda, an African nation Ian knows little about. What he learns will change Ian’s view of the world – and may just help Jacques, too. With a Foreword by Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (Ret’d), force commander for the United Nations Mission to Rwanda, Shattered is an unforgettable story, one that asks what one person can do to make a difference.
10.Underground to Canada
By Barbara Smucker
216 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780143187899 | Puffin Canada
There’s a place the slaves been whisperin’ around called Canada. The law don’t allow no slavery there. They say you follow the North Star, and when you step onto this land you are free. . . . Taken away from her mother by a ruthless slave trader, all Julilly has left is the dream of freedom. Every day that she spends huddled in the slaver trader’s wagon travelling south or working on the brutal new plantation, she thinks about the land where it is possible to be free, a land she and her friend Liza may reach someday. So when workers from the Underground Railroad offer to help the two girls escape, they are ready. But the slave catchers and their dogs will soon be after them. . . .
Since 1988, the Vine Awards, administered by the Koffler Centre of the Arts, has honoured both the best Canadian Jewish writers and Canadian authors who deal with Jewish subjects. We would like to congratulate Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer whose excellent novel, Broken Strings, won in the YA/Children’s Literature category.
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735266261 | Puffin Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers, Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner -strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.
“Broken Strings seamlessly blends themes of young love, artistic identity, 9/11, grief, and the Auschwitz orchestra into a moving and insightful young adult novel.” – Vine Awards Jury
On November 11, we will celebrate Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in the USA). Here are some books that will help children and young adults reflect on war and the sacrifices made by men and women on the front lines and the home front.
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion By Jane Barclay Illustrated by Renné Benoit 24 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Ebook ISBN 9781770491274 | Tundra Books Much has been written about war and remembrance, but very little of it has been for young children. As questions come from a young grandchild, his grandpa talks about how, as a very young man, he was as proud as a peacock in uniform, busy as a beaver on his Atlantic crossing, and brave as a lion charging into battle. Soon, the old man’s room is filled with an imaginary menagerie as the child thinks about different aspects of wartime. But as he pins medals on his grandpa’s blazer and receives his own red poppy in return, the mood becomes more somber.
Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War By Mireille Messier Illustrated by Kass Reich 40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover ISBN 9780735264427 | Tundra Books During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort. Billy trained with the soldiers, got snuck into the frontlines in a box of oranges, ate some secret documents and was arrested for treason, head-butted soldiers into a trench and saved them from a shell, and came back home a decorated war hero. This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration.
Innocent Heroes: Stories of Animals in the First World War By Sigmund Brouwer 208 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Paperback ISBN 9780735267978 | Tundra Books Never before have the stories of animal war heroes been collected in such a special way. This book consists of eight connected fictional stories about a Canadian platoon in WW1. The Storming Normans have help from some very memorable animals: we meet a dog who warns soldiers in the trench of a gas attack, a donkey whose stubbornness saves the day, a cat who saves soldiers from rat bites, and many more. Each story is followed by nonfiction sections that tell the true story of these animals from around the world and of the Canadian soldiers who took Vimy Ridge. Through the friendship that grows between three of these soldiers in particular, we get a close-up look at life in the trenches, the taking of Vimy Ridge, the bonds between soldiers and their animals and what it meant to be Canadian in World War I.
War Is Over By David Almond Illustrated by David Litchfield 128 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover ISBN 9781536209860 | Candlewick It’s 1918, and war is everywhere. John’s father is fighting in the trenches far away in France, while his mother works in a menacing munitions factory just along the road. His teacher says that John is fighting, too, that he is at war with enemy children in Germany. One day, in the wild woods outside town, John has an impossible moment: a dreamlike meeting with a German boy named Jan. John catches a glimpse of a better world, in which children like Jan and himself can one day scatter the seeds of peace. David Almond brings his ineffable sensibility to a poignant tale of the effects of war on children, interwoven with David Litchfield’s gorgeous black-and-white illustrations.
A Soldier’s Sketchbook: The Illustrated First World War Diary of R. H. Rabjohn By John Wilson 112 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781770498549 | Tundra Books Award-winning author John Wilson brings his skills as a historian and researcher to bear, carefully curating the diary to provide context and tell the story of Private Rabjohn’s war. He has selected each of the diary entries and the accompanying images, and has provided the background that modern-day readers need to understand what a young soldier went through a century ago. The result is a wonderfully detailed and dramatic account of the war as seen through an artist’s eyes.
Broken Strings By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer 288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback ISBN 9780735266261 | Puffin Canada It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers, Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner -strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.
Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis By Paul B. Janeczko 304 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover ISBN 9780763681531 | Candlewick In his third book about deception during war, Paul B. Janeczko focuses his lens on World War II and the operations carried out by the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troops, aka the Ghost Army. This remarkable unit included actors, camouflage experts, sound engineers, painters, and set designers who used their skills to secretly and systematically replace fighting units — fooling the Nazi army into believing what their eyes and ears told them, even though the sights and sounds of tanks, war machines and troops were entirely fabricated. Follow the Twenty-Third into Europe as they play a dangerous game of enticing the German army into making battlefield mistakes by using sonic deceptions, inflatable tanks, pyrotechnics and camouflage in more than twenty operations. From the Normandy invasion to the crossing of the Rhine River, the men of the Ghost Army — several of whom went on to become famous artists and designers after the war — played an improbable role in the Allied victory.
The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War By Various Illustrated by Jim Kay 304 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback ISBN 9781536208863 | Candlewick A toy soldier. A butter dish. A compass. Mundane objects, perhaps, but to the remarkable authors in this collection, artifacts such as these have inspired stories that go to the heart of the human experience of World War I. Each author was invited to choose an object that had a connection to the war — a writing kit for David Almond, a helmet for Michael Morpurgo — and use it as the inspiration for an original short story. What results is an extraordinary collection, illustrated throughout by award-winning Jim Kay, and featuring photographs of the objects with accounts of their history and the authors’ reasons for selecting them. This unique anthology provides young readers with a personal window into the Great War and the people affected by it, and serves as an invaluable resource for families and teachers alike.
The War to End All Wars: The Story of World War I By Jack Batten 160 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780887768798 | Tundra Books In this riveting account of a tragic episode in world history, author Jack Batten takes readers through a far bloodier conflict than mankind had ever before endured. Meet the soldiers who fought the deadly battles along the Western Front. Follow the trail of flying ace Billy Bishop as he tangles in the air with the Red Baron. Learn the strategy of Britain’s Grand Fleet of warships as it heads into the biggest sea battle in history. Discover how civilians decoded virtually all the messages the Germans sent to their ships around the world.
Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today By Candlewick Press 320 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback ISBN 9781536208856 | Candlewick The Second World War was the most devastating war in history. Up to eighty million people died, and the map of the world was redrawn. More than seventy years after peace was declared, children interviewed family and community members to learn about the war from people who were there, to record their memories before they were lost forever. Now, in a unique collection, RAF pilots, evacuees, resistance fighters, Land Girls, U.S. Navy sailors, and survivors of the Holocaust and the Hiroshima bombing all tell their stories, passing on the lessons learned to a new generation. Featuring many vintage photographs, this moving volume also offers an index of contributors and a glossary.
Orphan Monster Spy By Matt Killeen 448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780451478757 | Viking BFYR After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah finds herself on the run from the Nazis in Third Reich-ruled Germany. While trying to escape, Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s part of the secret resistance against the Reich, and he needs her help. Sarah is to hide in plain sight at a boarding school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them. She must befriend the daughter of a key scientist to gain access to the blueprints for a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe, and steal them. Sarah may look like the rest of the girls, innocent, blonde-haired, and young, but she refuses to become one of the monsters she’s surrounded by. She’s a brilliant con artist, convincing them she’s one of them even as she lives in terror of being found out. And she’s determined to get her revenge on them all.
The Blossom and the Firefly By Sherri L. Smith 320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781524737900 | Putnam BFYR Japan 1945. Taro is a talented violinist and a kamikaze pilot in the days before his first and only mission. He believes he is ready to die for his country . . . until he meets Hana. Hana hasn’t been the same since the day she was buried alive in a collapsed trench during a bomb raid. She wonders if it would have been better to have died that day . . . until she meets Taro. Here, with achingly beautiful prose, Smith weaves a tale of love in the face of death, of hope in the face of tragedy, set against a backdrop of the waning days of the Pacific War.
The Emperor of Any Place By Tim Wynne-Jones 336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback ISBN 9780763694425 | Candlewick Evan, overwhelmed and bereaved by his father’s sudden death, doesn’t know what to make of the hand-bound yellow book his dad had been reading when he passed away. Why was his father reading the diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a small Pacific island during World War II? What is in this account that Evan’s estranged grandfather fears — and will he really do anything, even hurt his own grandson, to prevent it from being seen? In this riveting, time-shifting story within a story, the ghosts of war reverberate across hemispheres and generations.
The Enigma Game By Elizabeth Wein 448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780735265288 | Penguin Teen Canada A German soldier risks his life to drop off the sought-after Enigma Machine to British Intelligence, hiding it in a pub in a small town in northeast Scotland, and unwittingly bringing together four very different people who decide to keep it to themselves. Louisa Adair, a young teen girl hired to look after the pub owner’s elderly, German-born aunt, Jane Warner, finds it but doesn’t report it. Flight-Lieutenant Jamie Beaufort-Stuart intercepts a signal but can’t figure it out. Ellen McEwen, a volunteer at the local airfield, acts as the go-between and messenger after Louisa involves Jane in translating. The planes under Jamie’s command seem charmed, as Jamie knows where exactly to go, while other squadrons suffer, and the four are loathe to give up the machine, even after Elisabeth Lind from British Intelligence arrives, even after the Germans start bombing the tiny town.
The Red Ribbon By Lucy Adlington 288 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781536201048 | Candlewick Three weeks after being detained on her way home from school, fourteen-year-old Ella finds herself in the Upper Tailoring Studio, a sewing workshop inside a Nazi concentration camp. There, two dozen skeletal women toil over stolen sewing machines. They are the seamstresses of Birchwood, stitching couture dresses for a perilous client list: wives of the camp’s Nazi overseers and the female SS officers who make prisoners’ lives miserable. It is a workshop where stylish designs or careless stitches can mean life or death. And it is where Ella meets Rose. As thoughtful and resilient as the dressmakers themselves, Rose and Ella’s story is one of courage, desperation, and hope — hope as delicate and as strong as silk, as vibrant as a red ribbon in a sea of gray.