Books·Forest of Reading

Here are the 2020 Silver Birch Express Award finalists: 10 great Canadian books for readers in Grades 3-4

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2020 Silver Birch Express Award, which celebrates nonfiction and fiction books for readers in Grades 3-4.
The Silver Birch Express Award celebrated fiction and nonfiction for readers in Grades 3-4. (Ontario Library Association)

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2020 Silver Birch Express Award, which celebrates nonfiction and fiction books for readers in Grades 3-4.

The Silver Birch Express Award will be broadcast at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, June 16 on, CBC's educational service.

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Júlia Sardà

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is a picture book by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Júlia Sardà. (, Tundra Books)

This biographical picture book tells the story of Mary Shelley and how she came up with idea for her classic horror novel Frankenstein. When her friend Lord Byron suggests a ghost story competition, Mary wants to come up with the best tale.

Linda Bailey is a Vancouver-based children's writer who has published over 35 books. Júlia Sardà is an artist based in Barcelona.

Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Counting on Katherine is a picture book by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. (Henry Holt & Co./Raincoast Books)

This picture book tells the story of African American mathematician Katherine Johnson and how she grew up to be an important figure at NASA.

Helaine Becker is the author of over 90 books for children. Two of her other titles, Hubots and Sloth at the Zoom, are finalists for other Forest of Reading prizes.

Dow Phumiruk is a Colorado-based pediatrician and children's book illustrator.

Segregated, underestimated and invaluable. A group of African-American women whose job at NASA was to do the math pushed for civil rights and made a lasting mark on the U.S. space program. Author Margot Lee Shetterley shares this hidden story.

Wicked Nix by Lena Coakley, illustrated by Jaime Zollars

Lena Coakley is an author of children's books. (Lena Coakley/HarperCollins)

This middle grade fantasy novel follows Nix, a mischievous fairy who professes to have wicked magical powers. When the scary fairy queen leaves Nix in charge of the forest, a "tallish and oldish and baldish" human moves in. Nix is determined to drive the man out and uses all manner of tricks and pranks to get his way.

Lena Coakley is a Toronto-based YA writer whose other books include Worlds of Ink and Shadow and Witchlanders. 

Jaime Zollars is a children's book illustrator from South Carolina.

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Geneva Bowers

Zetta Elliott is the author of Dragons in a Bag (CBC, Random House)

Jaxon is helping to deliver baby dragons from Brooklyn to a magical world. The adventure gets even more exciting when two important rules are broken: don't let them out of the bag and don't feed them anything sweet!

Zetta Elliott is a Canadian children's writer and poet now based in the U.S. She has also published a sequel to Dragons in a Bag called The Dragon Thief.

Geneva Bowers is an illustrator from North Carolina.

Zetta Elliott on what inspired her new kids book.

The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel

Elise Gravel is a Canadian children's book author and illustrator. (Drawn & Quarterly)

The Mushroom Fan Club is inspired by her family's love of mushroom hunting. The book journeys through the world of mushrooms — from boletes to chanterelles and more — teaching young readers how to identify different mushrooms and describing their many fascinating traits.

Elise Gravel is a celebrated author and illustrator from Quebec. She has published over 20 books for children, including What is a Refugee? and The Worst Book Ever.

Author-illustrator Elise Gravel uses humour to subvert gender roles and teach children about frustration in her new book, "The Cranky Ballerina."

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.

Meet Tom Longboat by Elizabeth MacLeod, illustrated by Mike Deas

Meet Tom Longboat by Elizabeth MacLeod and illustrated by Mike Deas. (Scholastic Canada Ltd.)

Meet Tom Longboat is a biography of the great Onondaga runner who won the Boston Marathon in 1907 and served in the First World War.

Elizabeth MacLeod is a Toronto children's author who has been nominated for many Forest of Reading Awards in the past. 

Mike Deas is a Salt Spring Island-based illustrator who has published over 20 books for children.

The astonishing marathoner "Wildfire" mysteriously collapsed in the 1908 Olympics.

Go Show the World by Wab Kinew, illustrated by Joe Morse

Go Show the World is a children's book written by Wab Kinew and illustrated by Joe Morse. (Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

This rap-song-turned-picture-book by politician Wab Kinew and Joe Morse celebrates Indigenous leaders in the U.S. and Canada. Some of the figures mentioned include Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price.

Wab Kinew is a former CBC broadcaster and current Leader of the Manitoba NDP. He is also the author of the bestselling memoir The Reason You Walk.

Joe Morse is an artist and children's book illustrator based in Toronto, Ont. His acclaimed work includes illustrations for Casey at the Bat and Hoop Genius.

Writer, musician and politician Wab Kinew talks about his new children's book Go Show The World, which introduces a whole new generation of kids to some of North America's Indigenous trailblazers.

Earthrise by James Gladstone, illustrated by Christy Lundy

Earthrise is a picture book by James Gladstone and illustrated by Christy Lundy. (Owlkids Books)

In 1968, astronauts aboard Apollo 8 photographed the Earth rising out of darkness. The photo made a major impact on the whole world.

James Gladstone is an editor and children's author based in Toronto.

Karen Reczuch is the illustrator behind award-winning books like Loon by Susan Vande Grief and Just Like New by Ainslie Manson.

50th anniversary of Bill Anders' iconic 'Earthrise' photo

4 years ago
Duration 1:06
This Christmas Eve marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic "Earthrise" photo, taken from lunar orbit by astronaut Bill Anders. Here's the story behind the powerful image.

Light a Candle by Godfrey Nkongolo & Eric Walters, illustrated by Eva Campbell

Light a Candle is a picture book by Godfrey Nkongolo and Eric Walters, illustrated by Eva Campbell. (Orca Book Publishers)

Light a Candle tells the story of a boy whose father is the chief of their tribe. Against his father's wishes, the boy climbs Mount Kilimanjaro to light a candle to unify the mainland of Tanganyika and islands of Zanzibar.

Godfrey Nkongolo is a political science doctoral student who lives in Toronto. Eric Walters has published over 80 novels and picture books for young readers.

Eva Campbell is a Victoria, B.C.-based artist and children's illustrator whose work has been exhibited around the world.

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