The Bite of a Mango, a memoir of a child refugee who comes to Canada to escape war in Sierra Leone, has won the Red Maple Award for non-fiction, one of several children's literature prizes given annually by the Ontario Library Association.

The OLA's Forest of Reading winners are selected by school children who read the finalists and vote for their favourite books.

The Bite of a Mango is by child refugee Mariatu Kamara, who told her story with the help of Toronto journalist Susan McClelland. Though Kamara had her hands cut off by child soldiers who raided her village, she found the will to survive.

A multiple award-winner and recommended on reading lists around the world, the book took the Norma Fleck Award for non-fiction from the Canadian Children's Book Centre earlier this year.

The Red Maple Award for fiction went to Not Suitable for Family Viewing, about a girl exploring the secrets behind her TV star mother's past, by Vicki Grant of Halifax.

Children in Grades 7 and 8 choose the Red Maple winners.  


The Monkeyface Chronicles by Toronto's Richard Scarsbrook won the White Pine Award for teen readers. (Thistledown Press)

The winner of the White Pine Award for high school readers was Richard Scarsbrook of Toronto for The Monkeyface Chronicle. This coming-of-age novel set in a fictional Canadian town is a story of bullying, a quarreling family and a motorcycle accident that almost kills the main character.

Dave Whamond of Calgary won the Blue Spruce Award (for readers in kindergarten to Grade 2) for My-Think-A-Ma-Jink, a picture book about a bizarre contraption that takes a six-year-old boy on an imaginative journey.

The first batch of Forest of Reading Award winners were announced Wednesday at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre, where students gathered to meet some of Canada's top authors.

The winners of the Silver Birch Awards were announced Thursday. They are:

  • Express award (for Grade 3-4): Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires of Saskatoon.
  • Fiction award (for Grade 4–6): Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders by CBC Radio personality Kevin Sylvester of Toronto.
  • Non-fiction award (for Grade 4–6): How to Build Your Own Country by Valerie Wyatt of Victoria, B.C., and Fred Rix of New York.