2020 Forest of Reading brings Author Nominees to You!

May 14, 2020 | Laurie

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Kids at home? Keep them reading!

The Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program and an initiative of the Ontario Library Association. This annual celebration of Canadian literature features ten awards with ten nominated books for each award.

The Forest is usually a paid program, but it's now free for everyone to access during this unprecedented time. The website, forestofreading.com, is open to all. Check out the lists of author nominees for 2020, watch author interviews on Forest Fridays and Mercre-LIT, and find activities for each nominated book.      

The Forest of Reading awards range from picture books to adult novels. The English school-aged awards are Blue Spruce, Silver Birch Express, Silver Birch Fiction, Yellow Cedar, Red Maple and White Pine. French literature is celebrated through the Peuplier, Mélèze and Tamarac awards. Evergreen is the adult award program.

Kids can read books, or watch authors read their books, before voting for their favourite. The English school-aged award winners were announced at the Forest of Reading Festival on June 16. This one-day, free digital event was hosted and streamed by CBC Books. The French awards were presented on June 18. Visit this page for a full list of winners and nominees, as well as videos of the award ceremonies.

Now let’s look at the picture books nominated for the Blue Spruce Award and for Le prix Peuplier. Some of the titles are available as ebooks through Overdrive eBooks & eAudiobooks. You'll need a library card to access Overdrive. If you don't have one and you are a Toronto resident, you can get a new temporary Instant Digital Card for Overdrive.

Even for books that aren't available as ebooks, you can still enjoy the majority of them by watching the author readings linked below!


Blue Spruce Award

Blue Spruce Award logo

Blue Spruce Award nominees 

Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2 / Ages 4-7

English Picture Books


Emma's Gems by Anne Renaud & Leanne Franson, illustrated by Leanne Franson

Emma's Gems by Anne Renaud and Leanne Franson. Illustrated by Leanne Franson.

Watch the author read-aloud video

Emma loves her wise grandfather, and the moments she shares with him are always filled with beautiful discoveries. He even knows how to change ordinary stones into precious gems. He uses these stones to carry out three acts of kindness every day and shows his granddaughter the importance of helping people, animals, and the environment.


Giraffe and Bird Together Again by Rebecca Bender

Giraffe and Bird Together Again by Rebecca Bender.

Watch the author read-aloud video.

Bird lives for adventure. He wants to swoop, soar, and explore. Giraffe is perfectly happy right where he is. He never worries when Bird flits off for a while, but one afternoon his friend fails to return. Giraffe has a bad feeling that something has happened to Bird. Giraffe dreads the wide world of tangling forests, craggy mountains, and mysterious plains, but he doesn't hesitate. If Bird is in trouble, then Giraffe will find and rescue him.


The Magic Boat by Kit Pearson & Katherine Farris, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

The Magic Boat by Kit Pearson and Katherine Farris. Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. Available as an ebook.

Watch the author read-aloud video

Every summer morning, Ellie and her Nonna go to the beach. They swim and build sandcastles. While Nonna reads, Ellie watches the other children play. One day, Ellie builds up the courage to approach an older girl playing in a beached rowboat. Piper has a gift, an imagination so great that she whisks Ellie off on grand adventures in the magic boat. They soar high in the air, go deep below the ocean, and everywhere in between. When Piper has to leave, Ellie discovers her own vivid imagination.


Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Anne Villeneuve

Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden by Andrew Larsen. Illustrated by Anne Villeneuve.

Watch the author read-aloud video

Vincent is staying with his aunt Mimi for the summer. Mimi's drab city neighbourhood, with an empty dirt lot across the street, doesn't seem too promising. But then Vincent meets Toma, a boy who lives nearby, and things start looking up. Mimi has a mysterious box of dirt balls in her apartment that she asks Vincent to get rid of. Vincent and Toma have great fun tossing them into the lot, until one day they notice that something interesting is happening. Maybe those balls weren't just made of dirt after all!


Mustafa by Marie-Louise Gay

Mustafa by Marie-Louise Gay. Available as an ebook.

Watch the author read-aloud video

Mustafa and his family have travelled a long way to reach their new home. Some nights Mustafa dreams about the country he used to live in, and he wakes up not knowing where he is. Then his mother takes him out to the balcony to see the moon – the same moon as in their old country. He meets a “girl-with-a-cat,” who says something in a language that he can’t understand. He watches an old lady feeding birds and other children playing, but he is always looking in from the outside and he feels that he is invisible. But one day, the girl with the cat beckons to him, and Mustafa begins to become part of his new world.


A Plan for Pops by Heather Smith, illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan

A Plan for Pops by Heather Smith. Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan. Available as a digital audiobook.

Watch the author read-aloud video

Lou spends every Saturday with Grandad and Pops. They walk to the library hand-in- hand, like a chain of paper dolls. Then everything changes one Saturday. Pops has a fall and will need to use a wheelchair, not just for now, but for always. Pops becomes withdrawn and shuts himself in his room. Hearing Grandad trying to cheer up Pops inspires Lou to make a plan. Using skills learned from Grandad, and with a little help from the neighbours, Lou comes up with a plan for Pops.


The Reptile Club by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Elina Ellis

The Reptile Club by Maureen Fergus. Illustrated by Elina Ellis. Available as an ebook.

Watch the author read-aloud video

There are lots of clubs for Rory to join at his new school, but none seem quite right. His parents suggest he start his own club about something he loves and Rory knows exactly what that will be: a Reptile Club! He's positive there are other kids who share his passion. He sets up his first meeting and then waits and waits and waits, but no one shows up.  He’s about to give up when he hears whispering in the hallway. To his amazement, it's not his schoolmates – it’s a crocodile, an anaconda and a gecko!


Sleep, Sheep! by Kerry Lyn Sparrow, illustrated by Guillaume Perreault

Sleep, Sheep! by Kerry Lyn Sparrow. Illustrated by Guillaume Perreault. Available as an ebook.

Watch the author read-aloud video

There are lots of things Duncan likes about bedtime – the stories, the pajamas, the bubblegum-flavoured toothpaste. The only thing he doesn't like is going to sleep and he'll do anything to avoid it. Then his mom tells him to try counting sheep. At first, it's fun as the sheep jump over his bed, but then Sheep #68 stops. Sheep #68 needs a drink of water before he can jump. Then he wants to put on running shoes. Will Sheep #68 ever jump so Duncan can get to sleep?


Sloth at the Zoom by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Orbie

Sloth at the Zoom by Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Orbie.

Watch the author read-aloud video

One day, a sloth accidentally gets delivered to the Zoom. She was supposed to be dropped off at the Zzzzzoo, a laid-back, slow-paced place. She had been looking forward to long, relaxing naps. But at the Zoom, the zebras gallop so fast they leave their stripes in puddles. The monkeys climb so fast they forget to stop at the treetops, and the parrots fly so fast their tails draw rainbows across the sky. When sloth tries to make friends, nobody has any time – until sloth meets a creature who's a little more her speed, and everyone stops to notice.


That's Not Hockey! by Andrée Poulin, illustrated by Félix Girard

Winner: That's Not Hockey! by Andrée Poulin. Illustrated by Félix Girard. Available as an ebook.

Watch the author read-aloud video

Young Jacques Plante’s way of playing hockey may look different from everyone else’s. Instead of a puck, he uses a tennis ball, and his shin pads are made out of potato sacks and wooden slats. But that’s not going to stop him. He loves hockey. In his mid-twenties, Jacques is drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. Fans love the unstoppable goalie as he leads his team to one victory after another. But there’s a price to pay: a broken jaw, broken cheekbones and many stitches. One day, Jacques has had enough. He goes on the ice wearing a fiberglass mask and forever changes how the game is played.


Le prix Peuplier

Le prix Peuplier logo

Le prix Peuplier nominees

Ages 4-8

French Picture Books

Bilou et la libraire du tonnerre par Roxane Turcotte, illustré par Jean-Luc Trudel

Bilou et la libraire du tonnerre. Écrit par Roxane Turcotte, illustré par Jean-Luc Trudel.

Watch the author read-aloud video.

Bilou voudrait tant pouvoir lire l'histoire de Bourbon, le terrible pirate. Mais dès qu'il commence à lire, son cœur se met à tanguer dans sa poitrine, les mots chavirent et les lettres s'embrouillent... Heureusement que madame Lulis, la libraire du tonnerre, a plus d'un tour dans son sac!


Comment attraper un ours qui aime lire par Juliana Léveillé & Andrew Katz, illustré par Joseph Sherman

Comment attraper un ours qui aime lire. Écrit par Juliana Léveillé-Trudel et Andrew Katz, illustré par Joseph Sherman.

Watch the author read-aloud video.

Julia a beaucoup d’amis dans la forêt près de chez elle. Elle grimpe aux arbres avec Léon l’écureuil, joue à la cachette avec Charlotte la marmotte et fait des concours de pet avec Georgette la mouffette. Julia rêve de rencontrer un ours. Ils pourraient jouer ensemble et se donner de gros câlins! Mais aucun ours ne montre le bout de son museau. Ainsi commence une aventure trépidante qui mènera Julia dans des coins inconnus de la forêt et de son cœur. Mettant en scène une jeune héroïne audacieuse et amoureuse des livres, Comment attraper un ours qui aime lire invite les enfants à partager leur amour de la lecture, et des ours, avec Julia.


La corde à linge par Orbie

Lauréat: La corde à linge. Écrit et illustré par Orbie. Available as an ebook.

Watch the author read-aloud video.

Dès qu’il a de l’argent de poche, Réal, cinq ans, qui habite au-dessus d’un dépanneur de quartier, bondit hors de sa maison, dévale l’escalier, tire sur le nœud de la corde à linge au passage, et cours acheter des bonbons. Mais un jour, cette petite habitude tourne au cauchemar lorsqu’il perd pied et se retrouve suspendu au-dessus du vide, au beau milieu de la corde à linge. Arrivera-t-il à se déprendre de cette fâcheuse position sans laisser tomber son argent de poche?


Dans mes bottes de sept tonnes par Danielle Chaperon, illustré par Marilyn Faucher

Dans mes bottes de sept tonnes. Écrit par Danielle Chaperon, illustré par Marilyn Faucher. Available as an ebook.

Watch the author read-aloud video

Dans mes bottes de sept tonnes, c’est l’histoire de la longue journée d’un enfant au lendemain de la dispute de ses parents. En classe, dans la cour de récré, sur le chemin… le coeur du bambin pèse des tonnes. Quand les adultes se chamaillent, cela peut prendre une proportion démesurée dans le coeur de leurs enfants. Un texte empreint de mélancolie, sur les gros chagrins qu’on fait peser sur les petits, mais aussi plein d’espoir.


La gardienne du musee par Simon Boulerice, illustré par Lucie Crovatto

La gardienne du musée. Écrit par Simon Boulerice, illustré par Lucie Crovatto.

Watch the author read-aloud video

Une mystérieuse gardienne de musée qui voudrait tant être heureuse. Un portrait mal aimé qui cache un grand secret. Un petit garçon au foulard rouge qui voit beaucoup plus loin que le bout de son nez... On entre dans ce livre comme dans un musée, transporté par la beauté des œuvres d'art, bouleversé par la pureté de l'enfance qui peut tout changer.


L'histoire du loup et du petit chaperon rouge aussi! par Seblight (Sébastien Léger)

L’histoire du loup et du petit chaperon rouge aussi! Écrit et illustré par Seblight (Sébastien Léger)

Watch the author read-aloud video.

L’histoire du loup (et du petit chaperon rouge aussi), c’est qu’il n’arrive plus à dévorer l’enfant tant convoité pour une raison toute simple: ses dents sont trop usées. Dans ce conte revisité, la grand-mère ne cède pas son lit mais son dentier au loup qui en limera les dents pour mieux croquer le petit chaperon… Oui mais après, que se passera-t-il quand il aura croqué celle qui semble être sa seule amie? 


Ils ne veulent pas jouer avec moi!!! par Andrée Poulin, illustré par Lucile Danis Drouot

Ils ne veulent pas jouer avec moi!!! Écrit par Andrée Poulin, illustré par Lucile Danis Drouot.

Watch the author read-aloud video.

Zac et Paco ne veulent pas jouer avec Fanfan. Le zèbre et le panda trouvent le flamant trop rose. Au début, Fanfan est triste. Mais ce petit flamant futé a plus d’un tour dans son sac... Réussira-t-il à convaincre Zac et Paco que le noir et le blanc peuvent très bien côtoyer le rose? Ce récit teinté d'humour aborde le theme de l'exclusion et du vivre-ensemble.


Leonard le mouton qui ne voulait pas etre tricote par Melanie Fortin, illustré par Philippe Béha

Léonard, le mouton qui ne voulait pas être tricot. Écrit par Mélanie Fortin, illustré par Philippe Béha. Available as an ebook.

Watch the author read-aloud video

Alors que tous ses amis passent leurs journées à brouter, Léonard a toujours les yeux fixés au ciel. Il n’a qu’un rêve : voler et parcourir le monde. Mais comment faire quand on est un mouton destiné à finir tricoté ? La solution lui apparaît lorsqu’il découvre un nuage de montgolfières voler au-dessus du pré. C’est décidé, il va tout mettre en œuvre pour monter dans l’un de ces gros ballons volants et partir explorer le monde!


La perilleuse aventure de la petite bestiole par Caroline Merola

La périlleuse aventure de la petite bestiole. Écrit et illustré par Caroline Merola. Available as an ebook.

Watch the author read-aloud video

La petite bestiole fait encore à sa tête ! Elle change de nouveau le cours de son histoire et entraîne son ami le cochon d’Inde dans une autre aventure périlleuse. En leur compagnie, les jeunes lecteurs et lectrices font la rencontre d’une adorable famille de mulots… et d’un dangereux monstre aux longues moustaches. Mais la petite bestiole a plus d’un tour dans son sac pour se tirer d’affaires!


Tellement sauvage! par Mireille Messier, illustré par France Cormier

Tellement sauvage! Écrit par Mireille Messier, illustré par France Cormier.

Papa, que font les animaux sauvages pendant que nous dormons? J’imagine qu’ils ne font rien de bien intéressant. Vous savez quoi? Papa se trompe… Des dialogues drôles et plein de finesse, et des illustrations qui disent la vérité! L’autrice réussit avec brio à jouer avec les mots lors de cette conversation entre un père et son fils, et les illustrations de France Cormier ajoutent la drôlerie au plaisir des mots. Des images fortes et cocasses!


Updated on June 19, 2020.

Did you and your children participate in the Forest of Reading awards and voting? What are your favourite nominated books? Share in the comments below!