Books

Here are the 2020 Forest of Reading winners, honouring Canadian books for school-aged children

More than 110,000 readers across the country voted in 2020, choosing winners across six English-language categories based on age and genre.
Forest of Reading curates a wide selection of Canadian titles for school-aged children to read and vote for their favourite. (Ontario Library Association/CBC)

The Forest of Reading Festival is the culminating event of an Ontario-wide program in which students from kindergarten to high school are encouraged to read from a selection of shortlisted books and vote for their favourites over several months.

More than 110,000 readers across the country voted in 2020, choosing winners across categories based on age and genre.

The 2020 English-language winners are:

The French-language winners are:

  • Le prix PeuplierLa corde à linge by Orbie 
    Le prix MélèzeAventurosaure 01: Le réveil de Rex by Julien Paré-Sorel
    Le prix TamaracVingt-cinq moins un by Geneviève Piché

The Forest of Reading program is organized by the Ontario Library Association.

CBC broadcast the 2020 award ceremonies on Curio, CBC's educational service, as the in-person festival was cancelled due to COVID-19. You can watch replays of all the ceremonies here.

Get to know the six English-language winners below.

Blue Spruce Award:That's Not Hockey! by Andrée Poulin, illustrated by Félix Girard

That's Not Hockey! is a picture book by Andrée Poulin and illustrated by Félix Girard. (Annick Press)

That's Not Hockey! tells the story of Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante and how he defied his coach's orders and wore a mask on the ice.

Andrée Poulin has published over 50 children's books and previously won the Silver Birch Express Award for the novel The Biggest Poutine in the World. Félix Girard is an illustrator from Quebec City who has published over a dozen books for children.

The Blue Spruce Award is for picture books for readers in kindergarten to Grade 2.

Silver Birch Express Award: Megabat by Anna Humphrey, illustrated by Kass Reich

Megabat is a chapter book by Anna Humphrey and illustrated by Kass Reich. (Tundra Books)

When Daniel Misumi moves into a new house, he's worried it's haunted. But it turns out that the ghost is just a lost bat looking for a new friend.

Anna Humphrey is a Kitchener, Ont.-based writer whose books include Mission (Un)Popular and Clara Humble. 

Kass Reich is an illustrator based in Toronto.

The Silver Birch Express Award is for fiction or nonfiction for readers in Grades 3-4.

Silver Birch Fiction Award: The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is a chapter book by Julia Nobel. (Sourcebooks)

Emmy is sent to Wellsworth, an elite boarding school in England, where she and her new friends investigate the school's super secret society. Emmy has a hunch that The Order of Black Hollow Lane might know something about the mysterious disappearance of her father.

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is the first in Julia Nobel's mystery series for middle grade readers. The second book is The Secret of White Stone Gate.

The Silver Birch Fiction Award is for fiction for readers from Grades 3-6.

Yellow Cedar Award: Too Young to Escape by Van Ho & Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Too Young to Escape was written by Van Ho & Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. (Submitted by Pajama Press)

As the Vietnam War ends and a communist regime begins in Ho Chi Minh City, Van Ho wakes up to find that her mother, sister Loan and brother Tuan have escaped in the middle of the night without her. At just four years old, Van is too young — and her grandmother is too old — to make the dangerous boat journey west. Once the family is settled, they plan to send for Van and grandmother, but until then Van is treated like a servant by her aunt and uncle and is bullied by a classmate, who turns out to be the son of a military policeman.

This nonfiction book is based on co-author Van Ho's childhood. She writes her story with Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, who has published 25 books for young readers.

The Yellow Cedar Award is for nonfiction for readers in Grades 4-8.

Red Maple Award: No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

Susin Nielsen is the author of the middle-grade novel No Fixed Address. (Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

When 12-year-old Felix Knuttson's loving (but unreliable) mother loses yet another job, the two are forced to live in a camper van. While Astrid looks for work, Felix enrolls at school with a fake address and learns about a national quiz show. He becomes determined to win the cash prize so he and his mother can afford a home. 

B.C. writer Susin Nielsen has been publishing YA and middle grade novels since 2008. Her books include We Are All Made of Molecules, which was longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and Optimists Die First.

The Red Maple Award is for fiction for readers in Grades 7-8.

White Pine Award: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie is a young adult novel by Courtney Summers. (Megan Gunter, Raincoast Books)

In Sadie, a teen girl named Sadie lives in an isolated small town with her sister Mattie. When Mattie is found dead and the police botch the investigation, Sadie becomes determined to track down the killer herself. At a gas station, a travelling radio personality named West McCray hears about Sadie's story and starts a podcast about her investigation.

Courtney Summers is a bestselling novelist. Her next book is the novel, The Project, to be released in 2021.

The White Pine Award is for fiction for readers in high school.

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