Off to Class, a non-fiction title detailing the experiences of children seeking an education in countries like India, China and Uganda, is a double nominee for the Canadian Children's Book Awards.


Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes is nominated for two Canadian Children's Book Awards. (Owlkids Books Inc.)

Veteran writer Susan Hughes' book is nominated for both the $25,000 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and the $10,000 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-fiction.

A Toronto writer who won 2011’s non-fiction CCBA for her book Case Closed?, Hughes conducted interviews with children who walk long distances to school, have their lessons in a cave and learn in very different ways than Canadian children.

Off to Class is a rare non-fiction contender for the literature award. The rest of the nominees, announced Wednesday by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, are fiction titles.

An increasing number of non-fiction books for children are being published in Canada.

The Dragon Turn, part of the popular boy Sherlock Holmes series by Shane Peacock of Baltimore, Ont., was also a double nominee, with nods for both the literature award and $5,000 John Spray Mystery Award.

Also nominated for the $25,000 children’s literature award are:

  • No Ordinary Day, by Deborah Ellis (Simcoe, Ont.), the story of a resourceful Indian girl who lives on the streets until she learns she has leprosy.
  • Seal Song, by Andrea Spalding (Pender Island, B.C.) and illustrated by Pascal Milelli (Vancouver), a magical story about a friendship between a boy and a seal, which might also be a shape-shifter.
  • Stones for My Father, by Toronto-born Trilby Kent (London, U.K.), the story of a Boer girl who is sent to an internment camp as war breaks out in South Africa.

Deborah Ellis has two books in contention: No Ordinary Day and True Blue. (Groundwood Books)

Ellis, who was also nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for No Ordinary Day, is recognized a second time in the mystery category for her crime novel True Blue.

The race for the $20,000 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award includes three books published by Kids Can Press: Cinnamon Baby, Small Saul and Without You. Jury members praised the charming artwork as well as the storytelling in these books, targeted to readers aged three to seven.

The five picture book nominees are:

  • Cinnamon Baby, by Nicola Winstanley (Toronto) and illustrated by Janice Nadeau (Montreal).
  • Picture a Tree, written and illustrated by Barbara Reid (Toronto).
  • Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been? written by Dan Bar-el and illustrated by Rae Maté (both Vancouver).
  • Small Saul, written and illustrated by Ashley Spires (Saskatoon).
  • Without You, written and illustrated by Geneviève Coté (Montreal).

A photo book about Afghanistan is up against gentler subjects, such as the beauty of nature, for the Vying the Norma Fleck non-fiction honour.

Beyond Bullets: A Photo Journal of Afghanistan by Rafal Gerszak (Vancouver) and Dawn Hunter (Toronto) features more than 40 photos about the everyday lives of Afghans as they struggle to rebuild their country. It is recommended for readers ages 12 and up. The other nominees in the non-fiction category are:

  • Biomimicry: Inventions Inspired by Nature, by Dora Lee (Vancouver) and illustrated by Margot Thompson (Toronto).
  • Loon, by Susan Vande Griek (Halifax) and illustrated by Karen Reczuch (Acton, Ont.).
  • Scribbling Women: True Tales from Astonishing Lives, by Marthe Jocelyn (Stratford, Ont.).

The CCBAs also announced nominees for prizes celebrating historical fiction, mystery books and francophone literature. Organizers also introduced a new category: the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, which will be presented for the first time this year.

Winners will be named in the fall.