Hip Hip Hooray! Forest of Reading Winners

Canadian Kid Lit Rock Stars Feted at Harbourfront!

The Forest of Reading winners were announced this afternoon, and what a line-up! Check out the winners here. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these awards, they are administered by the Ontario Library Association and voted on by thousands of Ontario school children. Similar “tree awards” exist in other provinces; they are the people’s choice awards of Canadian children’s lit.

The winners this year demonstrate not only the quality of Canadian kids books out there today, but the breadth of style, form, and content. Consider Blue Spruce winner Jeremy Tankard’s Boo Hoo Bird, the perfect follow-up to his newly minted storytime classic, Grumpy Bird, in which everyone’s favourite moody bird deals with a bonk on the head. Tankard’s illustrations are bright and engaging and his text is authentic, creating a fun, relatable reading experience for accident-prone readers of all ages.

Silver Birch winner Robert Paul Weston’s Zorgamazoo is a truly unique book, about resourceful Katrina Katrell who finds herself in cahoots with a nervous Zorgle named Morty. The premise is fun and magical, but what really stands out in this dark charmer is the narrative, which is told in hypnotic rhyming couplets. I have been championing this book for ages and I’m glad to see it getting the kid cred it deserves.

Silver Birch Express winner Cyndi Sand-Eveland’s Dear Toni combines a number of kid-friendly elements (namely dog-related content and diary formatting) into a charming early novel for young readers. The Red Maple award went to Susin Nielsen’s Word Nerd, about which I have already gushed at great length. See here for a refresher of why you should be reading it now. I have yet to read Pam Bustin’s White Pine-winning Mostly Happy, but you can bet it’s been added to the ever-growing stack that lives beside my bed. Given the stiff competition in this teen category, I expect it’s a fantastic read.

Congrats to all the nominees and winners. Having participated in B.C.’s Red Cedar Awards, I know how much kids enjoy the whole process. They treat the nominees like rock stars, and with good reason! A big shout-out to the good people working in Harbourfront’s IFOA program, without whom this amazing event could not have taken place. Hip, hip, hooray!

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