The 2021 OLA Forest of Reading® Winners and Honour Books

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

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 Honour Book

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 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Honour Book

Broken Strings
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.

2021 White Pine Award™ Winner

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.

Our New Fave Books for AAPI Heritage Month 2021

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and while we believe you should be reading diverse books all year round, 2021 has produced so many amazing new titles from AAPI authors! Here are the ones we’re loving this year, including some of our most anticipated books this summer (and one #Penguin10 title!).

A Taste for Love
By Jennifer Yen
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593117521 | Razorbill
To her friends, high school senior Liza Yang is nearly perfect. Smart, kind, and pretty, she dreams big and never shies away from a challenge. But to her mom, Liza is anything but. Compared to her older sister Jeannie, Liza is stubborn, rebellious, and worst of all, determined to push back against all of Mrs. Yang’s traditional values, especially when it comes to dating. The one thing mother and daughter do agree on is their love of baking. Mrs. Yang is the owner of Houston’s popular Yin & Yang Bakery. With college just around the corner, Liza agrees to help out at the bakery’s annual junior competition to prove to her mom that she’s more than her rebellious tendencies once and for all. But when Liza arrives on the first day of the bake-off, she realizes there’s a catch: all of the contestants are young Asian American men her mother has handpicked for Liza to date. The bachelorette situation Liza has found herself in is made even worse when she happens to be grudgingly attracted to one of the contestants; the stoic, impenetrable, annoyingly hot James Wong. As she battles against her feelings for James, and for her mother’s approval, Liza begins to realize there’s no tried and true recipe for love.

American Betiya
By Anuradha D. Rajurkar
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984897152 | Knopf BFYR
Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in – his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art – make him her mother’s worst nightmare. They begin dating in secret, but when Oliver’s troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give, desperately trying to fit into her world, no matter how high the cost. When a twist of fate leads Rani from Evanston, Illinois to Pune, India for a summer, she has a reckoning with herself – and what’s really brewing beneath the surface of her first love. Braiding together themes of sexuality, artistic expression, and appropriation, she gives voice to a girl claiming ownership of her identity, one shattered stereotype at a time.

Continuum
By Chella Man
Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593223482 | Penguin Workshop
“What constructs in your life must you unlearn to support inclusivity and respect for all?” This is a question that artist, actor, and activist Chella Man wrestles with in this powerful and honest essay. A story of coping and resilience, Chella journeys through his experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color, and shows us that identity lies on a continuum – a beautiful, messy, and ever-evolving road of exploration. Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists.

From Little Tokyo, With Love
By Sarah Kuhn
432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593327487 | Viking BFYR
If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale – being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business – she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills, and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold. All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America’s reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness – searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo’s hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe . . . finally finding a sense of belonging. But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn’t so kind. Rika knows she’s setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don’t happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?

Last Night at the Telegraph Club
By Malinda Lo
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525555254 | Dutton BFYR
Release Date: January 19, 2021
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father – despite his hard-won citizenship – Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Luck of the Titanic
By Stacey Lee
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524740986 | Putnam BFYR
Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren’t allowed into America. But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there’s not much a trained acrobat like Val can’t overcome when she puts her mind to it. As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America. Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.

Perfectly Parvin
By Olivia Abtahi
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593109427 | Putnam BFYR
Parvin Mohammadi has just been dumped – only days after receiving official girlfriend status. Not only is she heartbroken, she’s humiliated. Enter high school heartthrob Matty Fumero, who just might be the smoking-hot cure to all her boy problems. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to Homecoming, she’s positive it will prove to herself and her ex that she’s girlfriend material after all. There’s just one problem: Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself hasn’t worked for her in the past (see aforementioned dumping), she decides to start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those women aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk. But Parvin discovers that being a rom-com dream girl is much harder than it looks. Also hard? The parent-mandated Farsi lessons. A confusing friendship with a boy who’s definitely not supposed to like her. And hardest of all, the ramifications of the Muslim ban on her family in Iran. Suddenly, being herself has never been more important. Olivia Abtahi’s debut is as hilarious as it is heartfelt–a delightful tale where, amid the turmoil of high school friendships and crushes, being yourself is always the perfect way to be.

Red Tigress
By Amélie Wen Zhao
448 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525707837 | Delacorte Press
Ana Mikhailov is the only surviving member of the royal family of Cyrilia. She has no army, no title, and no allies, and now she must find a way to take back the throne or risk the brutal retribution of the empress. Morganya is determined to establish a new world order on the spilled blood of non-Affinites. Ana is certain that Morganya won’t stop until she kills them all. Ana’s only chance at navigating the dangerous world of her homeland means partnering with Ramson Quicktongue again. But the cunning crime lord has schemes of his own. For Ana to find an army, they must cross the Whitewaves to the impenetrable stone forts of Bregon. Only, no one can be certain what they will find there. A dark power has risen. Will revolution bring peace – or will it only paint the streets in more blood.

Renegade Flight
By Andrea Tang
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984835123 | Razorbill
Viola Park’s life is over. She’s gone from planning her future as a pilot-in-training to resigning herself to life on the ground. And it’s all because she made one tiny, not-altogether-legal maneuver on the prestigious GAN Academy’s entrance exam. It’s bad enough that she didn’t get into the Academy, but getting caught cheating? It’s probably the worst thing Vi could imagine. Still, there are perks that come with Vi’s family legacy at the school, and when Vi learns that recent pilot disappearances have left the Academy desperate for recruits, she does what any good Park would do – uses her connections to wiggle her way back in. But instead of matriculating with the regular class of future Peacekeepers, Vi is forced to enter as a probationary student, which means she’ll have to work twice as hard to prove herself worthy of a place in the cockpit of one of the legendary dragon mechs. Lucky for Vi, the Academy has set up a combat tournament for all students, and the prize is a guaranteed spot in the Peacekeeper corps. Unlucky for Vi, she’ll have to compete against her probie classmates, including Nicholas Lee, a mysterious boy prone to throwing Vi off her game. And as more Peacekeepers go missing, what starts out as a ploy to save her reputation turns into a fight for the future of Peacekeepers everywhere, and if Vi can’t master her mech combat skills, she might not survive the battle.

Rising Like a Storm
By Tanaz Bhathena
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267053 | Penguin Teen Canada
With King Lohar dead and a usurper queen in power, Gul and Cavas face a new tyrannical government that is bent on killing them both. Their roles in King Lohar’s death have not gone unnoticed, and the new queen is out for blood. What she doesn’t know is that Gul and Cavas have a connection that runs deeper than romance, and together, they just might have the strength and magic to end her reign for good. Then a grave mistake ends with Cavas being taken prisoner. Gul is left to train an army of warriors alone. With alliances shifting and the thirst for vengeance growing, the fate of Ambar seems ever more uncertain. It will take every ounce of strength, love, and sacrifice for Gul and Cavas to reach their final goal – and build a more just world than they’ve ever known.

Tell Me My Name
By Amy Reed
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593109724 | Dial BFYR
On wealthy Commodore Island, Fern is watching and waiting – for summer, for college, for her childhood best friend to decide he loves her. Then Ivy Avila lands on the island like a falling star. When Ivy shines on her, Fern feels seen. When they’re together, Fern has purpose. She glimpses the secrets Ivy hides behind her fame, her fortune, the lavish parties she throws at her great glass house, and understands that Ivy hurts in ways Fern can’t fathom. And soon, it’s clear Ivy wants someone Fern can help her get. But as the two pull closer, Fern’s cozy life on Commodore unravels: drought descends, fires burn, and a reckless night spins out of control. Everything Fern thought she understood – about her home, herself, the boy she loved, about Ivy Avila – twists and bends into something new. And Fern won’t emerge the same person she was. An enthralling, mind-altering fever dream, Tell Me My Name is about the cost of being a girl in a world that takes so much, and the enormity of what is regained when we take it back.

The Queen’s Secret
By Melissa De La Cruz
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525515944 | Putnam BFYR
Lilac’s birthright makes her the Queen of Renovia, and a forced marriage made her the Queen of Montrice. But being a ruler does not mean making the rules. For Lilac, taking the throne means giving up the opportunity to be with love of her life, the kingdom’s assassin, Caledon Holt. Worse, Cal is forced to leave the castle when a horrific set of magical attacks threatens Lilac’s sovereignty. Now Cal and Lilac will have to battle dark forces separately, even though being together is the only thing that’s ever saved them. In the riveting conclusion to Melissa De La Cruz’s fantasy duet, love, and magic are at war, and victory rests on a knife’s edge.

Coming Soon:

Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance
By Nisha Sharma
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780553523294 | Crown BFYR
Radha is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest kathak dancers in the world . . . until a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. Now she has left her Chicago home behind to follow her stage mom to New Jersey. At the Princeton Academy of the Arts, Radha is determined to leave performing in her past and reinvent herself from scratch. Jai is captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, ranked first in his class, and is an overachiever with no college plans. Tight family funds means medical school is a pipe dream, which is why he wants to make the most out of high school. When Radha enters his life, he realizes she’s the exact ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year. With careful choreography, both Radha and Jai will need to face their fears (and their families) if they want a taste of a happily ever after.

Six Crimson Cranes
By Elizabeth Lim
464 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593300916 | Knopf BFYR
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother. A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die. Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear – no matter what the cost.

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
Release Date: September 21, 2021
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.

2021 Sequels: January-June

So many of our favorite books have sequels coming out this year! Here are a few that are in our TBR pile for the first half of 2021.

NOTE: There may be spoilers in some of these descriptions, so proceed with caution!

A Queen of Gilded Horns
By Amanda Joy
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525518617 | Putnam BFYR
In this sequel to A River of Royal Blood, Eva and Isa must find a way to work together if they want to save their queendom in the thrilling conclusion to this royal fantasy duology. Now on the run, Eva is desperate for answers about her transformation and her true heritage. Along with Aketo, a small contingent of guards, and the sister she could not kill, Eva flees Ternain in hopes of finding friends and allies to the north – not to mention Baccha – to help her decide what to do next. Princess Isa is a difficult, unremorseful captive, and Eva knows better than to trust her sister, but she wants to. Despite their history, Eva is convinced that to survive the growing unrest in the queendom, she and her sister must make peace. Since the Entwining ceremony, Eva’s and Isa’s lives have been bonded, and each can only die by the other’s hand. This perhaps provides an opening for a truce and a more hopeful future for both the sisters and the queendom, if only Isa would see reason and give up the battle for the throne. With the two princesses on the run, the Queendom of Myre is on the brink of a revolution. And without Baccha to guide and train her magick, Eva must find a way not only to survive her own metamorphosis, but to unite all the people of Myre, including her sister, by finally taking the Ivory Throne.

Bloodsworn
By Scott Reintgen
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593119211 | Crown BFYR
The Races are over. War has begun. Ashlord and Longhand armies battle for control of the Empire as Dividian rebels do their best to survive the crossfire. This is no longer a game. It’s life or death. Adrian, Pippa, and Imelda each came out of the Races with questions about their role in the ongoing feud. The deeper they dig, the clearer it is that the hatred between their peoples has an origin point: the gods. Their secrets are long-buried, but one disgruntled deity is ready to unveil the truth. Every whisper leads back to the underworld. What are the gods hiding there? As the sands of the Empire shift, these heroes will do everything they can to aim their people at the true enemy. But is it already too late?

Flamefall
By Rosaria Munda
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525518242 | Putnam BFYR
After fleeing the revolution and settling into the craggy cliffs of New Pythos, the dragonlords are eager to punish their usurpers and reclaim their city. Their first order of business was destroying the Callipolan food supply. Now they’re coming for the dragonriders. Annie is Callipolis’s new Firstrider, charged with leading the war against New Pythos. But with unrest at home, enforcing the government’s rationing program risks turning her into public enemy number one. Lee struggles to find his place after killing kin for a leader who betrayed him. He can support Annie and the other Guardians . . . or join the rebels who look to topple the new regime. Griff, a lowborn dragonrider who serves New Pythos, knows he has no future. And now that Julia Stormscourge is no longer there to protect him, he is called on to sacrifice everything for the lords that oppress his people – or to forge a new path with the Callipolan Firstrider seeking his help. With famine tearing Callipolis apart and the Pythians determined to take back what they lost, it will be up to Annie, Lee, and Griff to decide who – and what – to fight for.

Good Girl, Bad Blood
By Holly Jackson
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984896407 | Delacorte Press
Pip is not a detective anymore. With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh. The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way . . . and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

Noelle: The Mean Girl
By Ashley Woodfolk
144 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593096086 | Penguin Workshop
There are only three things that matter to Noelle Lee: her family, school, and the cello. She doesn’t care if people see her as selfish or mean because she knows she has her priorities in order. That’s why when her dad loses his job, Noelle doesn’t hesitate to work more hours at her grandparents’ restaurant. Seeing her girls and dealing with her ex-boyfriend have to take a backseat so she can help her family and prepare for her school‘s fall showcase. But things get more complicated when Noelle realizes she can’t stop thinking about Tobyn, one of the other Flyy Girls. With her bad attitude getting even worse, Noelle starts to wonder if working hard even matters, especially if she can’t keep her life from falling apart around her.

Red Tigress
By Amélie Wen Zhao
448 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525707837 | Delacorte Press
Ana Mikhailov is the only surviving member of the royal family of Cyrilia. She has no army, no title, and no allies, and now she must find a way to take back the throne or risk the brutal retribution of the empress. Morganya is determined to establish a new world order on the spilled blood of non-Affinites. Ana is certain that Morganya won’t stop until she kills them all. Ana’s only chance at navigating the dangerous world of her homeland means partnering with Ramson Quicktongue again. But the cunning crime lord has schemes of his own. For Ana to find an army, they must cross the Whitewaves to the impenetrable stone forts of Bregon. Only, no one can be certain what they will find there. A dark power has risen. Will revolution bring peace – or will it only paint the streets in more blood.

Rising Like a Storm
By Tanaz Bhathena
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267053 | Penguin Teen Canada
With King Lohar dead and a usurper queen in power, Gul and Cavas face a new tyrannical government that is bent on killing them both. Their roles in King Lohar’s death have not gone unnoticed, and the new queen is out for blood. What she doesn’t know is that Gul and Cavas have a connection that runs deeper than romance, and together, they just might have the strength and magic to end her reign for good. Then a grave mistake ends with Cavas being taken prisoner. Gul is left to train an army of warriors alone. With alliances shifting and the thirst for vengeance growing, the fate of Ambar seems ever more uncertain. It will take every ounce of strength, love, and sacrifice for Gul and Cavas to reach their final goal – and build a more just world than they’ve ever known.

Stormbreak
By Natalie C. Parker
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780451478863 | Razorbill
Aric Athair is dead. But the fight for the Bullet Seas is far from over. Caledonia’s nemesis, Lir – the one responsible for destroying her family – has seized control of the warlord’s army. Caledonia and her crew have fled to Cloudbreak to prepare for an all-out war. And they are not the only ones. Rogue ships and even a few defecting Bullets show up to join their fight. But Lir always seems to be one step ahead of Caledonia, anticipating her every more as he secures the seas for himself. With the fight growing desperate, Caledonia is forced to make an unlikely and unsteady alliance with a new enemy. It’s a gamble that could cost her everything, but with the fate of the seas in her hands, Caledonia will do whatever it takes to win the war.

The Broken Raven
By Joseph Elliott
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536207484 | Walker Books US
After their escape from Norveg, Agatha and Jaime return with their clan to the Isle of Skye to find that their enclave is now in the hands of the treacherous people of Raasay. They find tenuous shelter with another clan, but disaster soon strikes when the terrifying shadow creatures known as sgàilean escape their magical prison and wreak havoc across the island. Now Agatha and Jaime must call on old and new allies to fight this threat. In the meantime, a ship from Norveg sails for the court of King Edmund of Ingland, where a dangerous alliance is forming, and Sigrid, a girl with an extraordinary memory, works to free herself from the clutches of a cruel king. All three protagonists must summon their particular powers to save the island from the horde of dark creatures and foil the plans of two vengeful monarchs.

The Desolations of Devil’s Acre
By Ransom Riggs
512 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735231535 | Dutton BFYR
The last thing Jacob Portman saw before the world went dark was a terrible, familiar face. Suddenly, he and Noor are back in the place where everything began – his grandfather’s house. Jacob doesn’t know how they escaped from V’s loop to find themselves in Florida. But he does know one thing for certain: Caul has returned. After a narrow getaway from a blood-thirsty hollow, Jacob and Noor reunite with Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children in Devil’s Acre. The Acre is being plagued by desolations – weather fronts of ash and blood and bone – a terrible portent of Caul’s amassing army. Risen from the Library of Souls and more powerful than ever, Caul and his apocalyptic agenda seem unstoppable. Only one hope remains – deliver Noor to the meeting place of the seven prophesied ones. If they can decipher its secret location.

The Queen’s Secret
By Melissa De La Cruz
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525515944 | Putnam BFYR
Lilac’s birthright makes her the Queen of Renovia, and a forced marriage made her the Queen of Montrice. But being a ruler does not mean making the rules. For Lilac, taking the throne means giving up the opportunity to be with love of her life, the kingdom’s assassin, Caledon Holt. Worse, Cal is forced to leave the castle when a horrific set of magical attacks threatens Lilac’s sovereignty. Now Cal and Lilac will have to battle dark forces separately, even though being together is the only thing that’s ever saved them. In the riveting conclusion to Melissa De La Cruz’s fantasy duet, love, and magic are at war, and victory rests on a knife’s edge.

War of the Dragons
By Jessica Cluess
512 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525648192 | Random House BFYR
The Emperor’s Trial is over. The dragon throne has been claimed – yet there is no peace to be had. For the first time in history, it is not one emperor who has taken power, but four. Although the young rulers seek to build a better world, there are many who oppose them. Tradition is broken, and so is Etrusia. And while the empire crumbles, something dark awakens. Something that has waited centuries to unleash true calamity upon the world. Something only the emperors of Etrusia can hope to stop. Once again, the outcasts will be challenged, but now they face a threat unlike any the world has ever seen. Because a Trial is one thing. War is something else entirely.

OLA Best Bets 2020

The OLA Best Bets committee is comprised of librarians and library technicians who are OLA members, work in public libraries, and are committed to children’s and young adult services and eager to evaluate and promote Canadian books. Members discuss and evaluate recent publications by Canadian authors and illustrators. The books evaluated are suitable for children and young adults from birth to nineteen years old. From these discussions, the Committee produces “Best Bets” lists, annual annotated lists of recommended titles. We’re thrilled to have so many books on the list and we congratulate our authors and illustrators.

Junior Fiction:

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.

The Fabled Stables: Willa and the Wisp
By Jonathan Auxier
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267725 | Puffin Canada
Auggie Pound is eight years old and has the greatest job of all time: he cares for all the animals in the Fabled Stables. The Fabled Stables house the rarest creatures in existence – all of them one-of-a-kind. Auggie’s job is to care for these creatures, as well as track down and safely capture endangered magical beasts in the wild. Some mornings, he arrives to find an empty stall with the name of a new creature to rescue. One day, the Stables rearrange themselves out of the blue, creating a new stall. The sign over the gate says, “Wisp.” But what is a wisp and where is it? All Auggie can see is a moonlit swamp stretching out before him. Then a hungry HOWLLLLLLL rings out in the darkness. It’s up to Auggie to go into the swamp to find the wisp before it’s too late.

Junior Non-Fiction:

I Talk Like a River
By Jordan Scott
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823445592 | Neal Porter Books
When a boy who stutters feels isolated, alone, and incapable of communicating in the way he’d like, it takes a kindly father and a walk by the river to help him find his voice. Compassionate parents everywhere will instantly recognize a father’s ability to reconnect a child with the world around him. Poet Jordan Scott writes movingly in this powerful and ultimately uplifting book, based on his own experience, and masterfully illustrated by Greenaway Medalist Sydney Smith. A book for any child who feels lost, lonely, or unable to fit in.

Ocean SpeaksOcean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret
By Jess Keating
Illustrated by Katie Hickey
34 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265080 | Tundra Books
From a young age, Marie Tharp loved watching the world. She loved solving problems. And she loved pushing the limits of what girls and women were expected to do and be. In the mid-twentieth century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job at a laboratory in New York. But then she faced another barrier: women were not allowed on the research ships (they were considered bad luck on boats). So instead, Marie stayed back and dove deep into the data her colleagues recorded. She mapped point after point and slowly revealed a deep rift valley in the ocean floor. At first the scientific community refused to believe her, but her evidence was irrefutable. She proved to the world that her research was correct. The mid-ocean ridge that Marie discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet, and she mapped it all from her small, cramped office.

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.

Young Adult Fiction:

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.

Camp Spirit
By Axelle Lenoir
208 Pages | Ages 13-17 | Paperback
ISBN 9781603094658 | Top Shelf Productions
Summer 1994: with just two months left before college, Elodie is forced by her mother to take a job as a camp counselor. She doesn’t know the first thing about nature, or sports, of kids for that matter, and isn’t especially interested in learning . . . but now she’s responsible for a foul-mouthed horde of red-headed girls who just might win her over, whether she likes it or not. Just as Elodie starts getting used to her new environment, though – and close to one of the other counselors – a dark mystery lurking around the camp begins to haunt her dreams.

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.

Honorable Mentions:

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen The Body Under the PianoAggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
336 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265462 | Tundra Books
Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative, but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal – including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends – to solve the case before Aggie’s beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn’t commit. Filled with mystery, adventure, an unforgettable heroine and several helpings of tea and sweets, The Body Under the Piano is the clever debut of a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere, from a Governor General’s Award-nominated author of historical fiction for children.

Me and BanksyMe and Banksy
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
272 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266919 | Puffin Canada
Dominica’s private school is covered in cameras, and someone is hacking into them and posting embarrassing moments for the whole school to see. Like Ana picking her nose. When Dominica quickly changes her shirt from inside out in what she thinks is the privacy of a quiet corner in the library, she’s shocked – and embarrassed – to discover a video has captured this and is currently circulating amongst her schoolmates. So mortifying, especially since over the past three years, they’ve had a half-dozen school talks about social media safety. Who has access to the school security cameras and why are they doing this? Dominica and her best friends, Holden and Saanvi, are determined to find out, and in the process start an art-based student campaign against cameras in the classroom.

The Gryphons LairThe Gryphon’s Lair
By Kelley Armstrong
352 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265387 | Puffin Canada
Rowan is now the Royal Monster Hunter, and her twin brother, Rhydd, is destined to be king. But her mother’s cousin Heward is still determined that his children be the ones to inherit the titles, and will stop at nothing to show that Rowan and Rhydd are too immature to properly lead. After the gryphon that Rowan captured in Book One gives birth but then dies, Rowan is left with a baby gryphon she knows she cannot keep. And it grows faster than anyone can imagine. . . . In order to save face after an accident involving the troublesome gryphon, Rowan, with the help of her friends Dain and Alianor, along with an entourage of monstrous companions, must make a journey to the mountains to release the gryphon back into the wild. What starts off as a simple enough task soon becomes a dangerous quest, as the group encounters numerous rare and deadly monsters along the way, including wyverns and ceffyl-dwrs. Nothing is easy when you’re a “monster magnet” like Rowan. Can she prove herself worthy of the title of Royal Monster Hunter? Find out in this exciting second book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series!

Wildfire
By Carrie Mac
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399556296 | Knopf BFYR
Annie and Pete have been best friends since they were little. They know each other better than anyone, and they’ve been on more adventures than they can count – they even have a notebook filled with all the times they’ve almost died. But they always survive, because together, they’re invincible. And they’ve always been just friends. But lately, Annie has been thinking that maybe friendship is just the beginning, and she’s been mentally replaying all the times they were almost something more. Now they’re heading out on their next great quest: a ten-day backpacking trip through the mountains of Washington State, ending at Fire Camp, where they’ll learn to fight the area’s growing wildfire problem. The woods spark with the promise of adventure, but a freak climbing accident interrupts their progress, and as the wildfires close in and smoke envelops them, Annie and Pete wander farther from the trail. Carrie Mac’s gripping story of the power of unrequited love and the danger of the elements is harrowing, beautiful, and unforgettable.

2021 Outstanding International Books List

Since 2006, the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) has put together an honor list of international books for young people. The list is published each year in February and highlights international books that are deemed to be outstanding in their field. We would like to congratulate Tanaz Bhathena, Kyo Maclear, Rashin Kheiriyeh, and David A. Robertson, whose books were included on this year’s Outstanding International Books list!

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.

Story Boat
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263598 | Tundra Books
When a little girl and her younger brother are forced along with their family to flee the home they’ve always known, they must learn to make a new home for themselves – wherever they are. And sometimes the smallest things – a cup, a blanket, a lamp, a flower, a story – can become a port of hope in a terrible storm. As the refugees travel onward toward an uncertain future, they are buoyed up by their hopes, dreams and the stories they tell – a story that will carry them perpetually forward.

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.

Thank you to the Outstanding International Books (OIB) committee for all their work!