The 2021 OLA Forest of Reading® Nominees

The Forest of Reading® is Canada’s largest recreational reading program. This initiative of the Ontario Library Association 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. Here at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, we’d like to congratulate our nominated authors and illustrators.

2021 Blue Spruce Award™ Nominees

Bad Dog
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 Nominees

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.

2021 Yellow Cedar Award® Fiction Nominees

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.

2021 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Nominees

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer
By Gillian Goerz
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525552857 | Dial BFYR
Jamila Waheed is staring down a lonely summer in a new neighborhood – until she meets Shirley Bones. Sure, Shirley’s a little strange, but both girls need a new plan for the summer, and they might as well become friends.  Then this kid Oliver shows up begging for Shirley’s help. His pet gecko has disappeared, and he’s sure it was stolen! That’s when Jamila discovers Shirley’s secret: She’s the neighborhood’s best kid detective, and she’s on the case. When Jamila discovers she’s got some detective skills of her own, a crime-solving partnership is born. The mystery of the missing gecko turns Shirley and Jamila’s summer upside down. And when their partnership hits a rough patch, they have to work together to solve the greatest mystery of all: What it means to be a friend.

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.

2021 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Nominees

Broken Strings
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266247 | Puffing 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.

2021 White Pine Award™ Nominees

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.

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.
The Starlight Claim
By Tim Wynne-Jones
240 Pages | Ages 14+| Hardcover
ISBN 9781536202649 | Candlewick
Four months after his best friend, Dodge, disappeared near their families’ camp in a boat accident, Nate is still haunted by nightmares. He’d been planning to make the treacherous trek to the remote campsite with a friend — his first time in winter without his survival-savvy father. But when his friend gets grounded, Nate secretly decides to brave the trip solo in a journey that’s half pilgrimage, half desperate hope he will find his missing friend when no one else could. What he doesn’t expect to find is the door to the cabin flung open and the camp occupied by strangers: three men he’s horrified to realize have escaped from a maximum-security prison. Snowed in by a blizzard and with no cell signal, Nate is confronted with troubling memories of Dodge and a stunning family secret, and realizes that his survival now depends on his wits as much as his wilderness skills. As things spiral out of control, Nate finds himself dealing with questions even bigger than who gets to leave the camp alive.

Cover Reveal: Rising Like a Storm

Happy Friday! We have a very special treat for you today – we’re revealing the stunning cover for Rising Like a Storm, the epic sequel to Tanaz Bhathena’s Hunted by the Sky! It comes out on June 22, 2021 and we’re already dying for it. Scroll down to see Gul in all her glory, plus a Q&A with Tanaz and BookRiot contributor (and librarian!) Lucas Maxwell!

Q&A with Tanaz Bhathena and Lucas Maxwell

Lucas: Did designing this book cover during the pandemic present any challenges?

Tanaz: There were definite challenges as the cover for HUNTED BY THE SKY was based off a photoshoot with a model (Tara Gupta) and we couldn’t safely do that during a pandemic. Thankfully my cover designer at Macmillan, Beth Clark, is a genius! She used a photo from the old shoot and designed it to perfectly capture the themes of RISING LIKE A STORM.

Lucas: The Wrath of Ambar duology is inspired by stories from medieval India, what attracted you to them and what impact do these stories have on you as a writer?

Tanaz: I was always drawn to medieval India as a kid, whether it came to TV shows or even history class. I was fascinated by stories about the Mughals, Rajputs, and the Marathas, the opulent medieval courts, the wars for succession, the many kingdoms rising and falling. My research also led me to powerful women (warriors and politicians) during this time period and I felt a deep sense of pride and joy in discovering these historical figures. India has such a rich pre-colonial history and I really wanted to showcase some of that by writing this historical fantasy.

Lucas: What do you enjoy most about creating a world like Svapnalok?

Tanaz: Just getting immersed into this world which is so closely intertwined with my culture and who I am as a person.

Lucas: Did writing this duology help you reconnect with your past?

Tanaz: It did! I’m a Parsi (Indian Zoroastrian) and I discovered several interesting anecdotes about Parsis across Indian history during my research.

Lucas: What do you hope readers take away from the Wrath of Ambar duology?

Tanaz: I hope they find a world they can escape to – especially during this pandemic – and enjoy spending time with these characters as much as I did!

Thanks Tanaz and Lucas for joining us today!

P.S. Head to this form to sign up for a chance to get an e-ARC of Rising Like a Storm as soon as it’s available!

Tanaz Bhathena: website | instagram
Lucas Maxwell: website | twitter | podcast


If you haven’t read Hunted by the Sky yet, you have until June to catch up before Rising Like a Storm comes out!

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.

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Fantasy Recs If You Loved Harry Potter

If you’ve been paying attention to social media over the last few months, you might be in the market for a new fantasy series to replace a childhood fave…and we’re happy to provide you with some options! Check out our list below and let us know if we missed any truly magical series!

If you love the witches and wizards element

Akata Witch
By Nnedi Okorafor
384 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780142420911 | Speak
Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.

A Wicked Magic 
By Sasha Laurens
368 Pages | 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593117255 | Razorbill
The Black Book granted Dan and Liss power and turned them into witches. During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured? But then he turns up alive and trapped by an ancient force and they’re forced to work together again.

These Witches Don’t Burn
By Isabel Sterling
336 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780451480347 | Razorbill
Hannah’s a witch, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. When a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire and evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: her ex, Veronica. Especially once she meets a cute new dancer, Morgan, while investigating a house party.

If you miss a male protagonist in fantasy

Beasts Made of Night
By Tochi Onyebuchi
320 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780448493916 | Razorbill
In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts. Taj is the most talented of the sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. When Taj is called to eat a sin of a member of the royal family, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves—and his own life.

If you love the found family coming together to save what they love

Seafire
By Natalie C. Parker
400 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780451478825 | Razorbill
After her family is killed by the corrupt Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship with a crew of girls and women just like her. But when her best friend barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down the Bullets once and for all?

If you love the combination of magic and school

Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House
By Janet Hill
240 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770499249 | Tundra Books
It has been a year since Lucy Crisp graduated from high school and she still hasn’t found her calling. Until she discovers an exclusive arts college called Ladywyck Lodge where she applies on a whim and is accepted. Lucy moves to Esther Wren, the charming little town where it’s based, and finds a new home in a magnificent building built by a sea captain in 1876. The house has history and personality –perhaps too much personality because strange things are happening…

If you love the dark magic

Ash Princess
By Laura Sebastian
464 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781524767099 | Delacorte BFYR
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. For ten years Theo has been a held captive by the Kaiserin her own palace. Then the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable and Theo realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

Reign of the Fallen
By Sarah Glenn Marsh
400 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780448494401 | Razorbill
Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to retrieve their souls before they turn into bloodthirsty Shades. A increase in Shade attacks reveals a disturbing conspiracy: Someone is intentionally creating Shades and training them to attack. Odessa is forced to contemplate a terrifying question: What if her magic is the weapon that brings the kingdom to its knees?

If you want to solve some strange paranormal happenings

The Babysitter’s Coven
By Kate Williams
368 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525707370 | Delacorte Press
Esme Pearl has a babysitters club and the rebellious Cassandra desperately wants to join. Why? The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her before she disappeared: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.” Esme and Cassandra soon discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

The Beautiful
By Renée Ahdieh
448 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524738174 | Putnam BFYR
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But for Celine Rousseau, it’s a safe haven – until she becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s enigmatic leader, Sébastien Saint Germain. When a body is found in Sébastien’s own lair – the second dead girl to turn up in recent weeks – Celine battles her attraction to Sébastien and suspicions about his guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

If you’re looking for something with roots in myths and fairy tales

House of Salt and Sorrows
By Erin A. Craig
416 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984831927| Delacorte BFYR
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life with her sisters. Once there were twelve, but four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Disturbed by ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that her sister’s deaths were no accidents. The girls have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers. Who – or what -are they really dancing with?

Spin the Dawn
By Elizabeth Lim
432 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593126028 | Knopf BFYR
Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, and poses as a boy while competing for the job of court tailor. Maia’s task is complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, And nothing can prepare her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars.

Wicked Fox
By Kat Cho
464 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984812360 | Putnam BFYR
Miyoung has a secret: she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide. But after feeding one night, Miyoung finds Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead – her gumiho soul – in the process.

If you just want dragons

House of Dragons
By Jessica Cluess
448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525648154 | Random House Books for Young Readers
When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year these five outcasts will answer the call: A liar, a soldier, a servant, a thief, and a murderer. Who will win?

Rebelwing
By Andrea Tang
368 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984835093 | Razorbill
One minute, Prudence is cashing in on a routine smuggling deal. The next, she’s escaping enforcers on the wings of what very much appears to be a sentient cybernetic dragon. Pru is used to life throwing her some unpleasant surprises–she goes to prep school, after all, and selling banned media across the border in a country with a ruthless corporate government obviously has its risks. But a cybernetic dragon? That’s new.

Seraphina
By Rachel Hartman
528 Pages | 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385668415 | Penguin Teen Canada
A talented musician, Seraphina, joins the court in the Kingdom of Goredd just as a member of the royal family is murdered in suspiciously draconian fashion. Soon she is drawn into the investigation. While they begin to uncover a sinister plot to destroy the peace between humans and dragons, Seraphina struggles to protect the secret behind her musical gift, a secret so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

If you’re craving a more diverse fantasy world

An Ember in the Ashes
By Sabaa Tahir
480 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781595148049 | Razorbill
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. When Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier who secretly wants to be free. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

A River of Royal Blood
By Amanda Joy
368 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525518587 | Putnam BFYR
Eva was born with the magick of blood and marrow, something that hasn’t been seen for generations. As is tradition, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne. When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead.

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. Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. But sparks fly when he meets Gul in the capital’s bazaar, and soon he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance—and discovers a magic he never expected to find.

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Hunted by the Sky Blog Tour Recap

This week, Hunted by the Sky, the fierce new fantasy from Tanaz Bhathena, was officially released. To celebrate, we hosted a mini Instagram tour – keep scrolling to see all the gorgeous pictures and thanks to everyone who took part!


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.