Books·Forest of Reading

Here are the 2021 Silver Birch Fiction Award finalists: 10 great Canadian books for readers in Grades 3-6

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2021 Silver Birch Fiction Award, which celebrates fiction books for readers in Grades 3-6.

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2021 Silver Birch Fiction Award, which celebrates fiction books for readers in Grades 3-6.

The Silver Birch Fiction Award is part of the Forest of Reading 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.

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

The winners will be revealed in spring 2021.

All the Ways Home by Elsie Chapman

All the Ways Home is a book by Elsie Chapman. (Feiwel & Friends, elsiechapman.com)

All the Ways Home is about a boy named Kaede who has to live with his grandfather after his mother dies in a car accident. When Kaede enters Grade 7, he is given an assignment to write an essay about what home means to him. It's a difficult question, one that's made even more complicated by Kaede's upcoming trip to Japan to meet his estranged father and a half-brother he's never met before.

Elsie Chapman is a Chinese Canadian writer who grew up in B.C. and now lives in Tokyo. She is also the author of the YA novels DualedDividedAlong the Indigo and Caster.

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

The Barren Grounds is a middle-grade novel David A. Robertson (Puffin, Amber Green)

The Barren Grounds is the first book of a new middle-grade series by David A. Robertson. It is set in Winnipeg where two Indigenous kids, Morgan and Eli, are placed in a new foster home. The pair feel out of place and disconnected in their new surroundings — until they uncover a secret portal in the attic that opens up to a magical reality. The frozen barren grounds they find set the pair on a mission of survival and self-determination.

Robertson is an author and graphic novelist based in Winnipeg. The multi-talented writer of Swampy Cree heritage has published 25 books across a variety of genres, including the graphic novels Will I See? and Sugar Falls, a Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book called When We Were Aloneillustrated by Julie Flett and the YA book Strangers.

A Boy Is Not a Bird by Edeet Ravel

Edeet Ravel is an Israeli-Canadian novelist born in Israel and raised in Montreal. (Groundwood Books, Yudit Avi-Dor)

A Boy is Not a Bird is a middle-grade novel set during the Second World War. In 1941 Europe, tensions are high. Even though Natt knows that there's a war going on, he's still frustrated that his family treats him like a child. But when the Russians move into his small town of Zastavna and local authorities start to round up deportees bound for Siberia, Natt witnesses and experiences harsh events that force him to grow up faster than he'd like.

Edeet Ravel is an novelist born in Israel and raised in Montreal. She is also the author of the novel A Wall of Light, which was a finalist for the 2005 Giller Prize.

Dog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson

Dog Driven is a book by Terry Lynn Johnson. (HMH for Younger Readers)

Dog Driven is a story about a musher named McKenna Barney, who has a vision impairment. She signs up for a big dog-sled race, knowing doing well would mean attention for her disease and her family, but competition is steep. And the race is tough — it's three days racing over ice, facing wild animals and surviving the bitter cold.

Terry Lynn Johnson is a writer from northern Ontario, who publishes middle-grade adventure books. Her other books include Ice Dogs, Falcon Wild and Sled Dog School.

Ember and the Ice Dragons by Heather Fawcett

Ember and the Ice Dragons is a book by Heather Fawcett. (HarperCollins Canada, Karen McKinnon)

Ember and the Ice Dragons is a middle-grade fantasy novel about Ember St. George, a dragon who was turned into a human by her father to save her life. She may be human, but she still has some of her dragon powers, like breathing fire and having invisible wings. Which means she must live away from people, in desolate Antarctica, to keep herself and others safe. When she learns of an annual Antarctic ice dragon hunt, she knows she must protect her own. But how can she do that without revealing her true identity?

Heather Fawcett is a middle-grade fantasy writer from Vancouver Island. She is also the author of The Language of Ghosts and Even the Darkest Stars.

The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills

The Ghost Collector is a middle-grade novel by Allison Mills. (K. Ho, Annick Press)

The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills is about a young girl named Shelly with an important job. She catches ghosts in her hair and helps them transition to the afterlife. But when Shelly's mom dies, she stops helping the ghosts and starts hoarding them, as she waits for her mother's ghost to arrive. The Ghost Collector is inspired by Mills's great-grandmother's life and influenced by her Cree heritage.

Mills is a writer based in Vancouver. The Ghost Collector is her first book.

Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson

Harvey Comes Home is a book by Colleen Nelson. (Pajama Press)

Harvey Comes Home is about a dog named Harvey who gets lost. A young boy named Austin finds him, and starts to take him to a retirement home where he volunteers. There, Harvey finds a new home — and learns how to help the residents, many who are lonely or suffering from memory loss. Harvey is helping Austin, and Austin must decide if it's his turn to help Harvey, and find his original home.

Colleen Nelson is a YA author from Winnipeg. Her other books include Blood Brothers, Spin and Finding Hope.

The Jigsaw Puzzle King by Gina McMurchy-Barber

The Jigsaw Puzzle King is a book by Gina McMurchy-Barber. (Dundurn Press)

In The Jigsaw Puzzle King, twins Warren and Bennie, move to a new town. Bennie has Down syndrome, and Warren struggles with the fact his brother doesn't fit in. He's trying to protect his brother, but also trying to find friends at his new school. Can he do both? Or should he just top caring what people who aren't nice to his brother think?

Gina McMurchy-Barber is a writer from Surrey, B.C. Her other books include the YA novel Free as a Bird and the middle-grade nonfiction book When Children Play.

Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman

Music For Tigers is a middle-grade book by Michelle Kadarusman. (Micah Ricardo Riedl, Pajama Press)

Music for Tigers, is a middle-grade novel and coming-of-age story about a young violinist who finds out that her mother's family secretly has a sanctuary for extinct Tasmanian tigers — the island's most beloved and lost, creature — in the remote Australian rainforest.

Michelle Kadarusman is a Canadian-Australian-Indonesian author of novels for children and teens. She is the author of The Theory of Hummingbirds and Girl of the Southern Sea, which was a finalist for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer is a book by Gillian Goerz. (Dial Books, gilliang.com)

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer is about two girls, Jamila and Shirley, who become friends one summer. They don't have much in common, but summer is lonely, so they bond to make their summer unforgettable. When a boy named Oliver asks them for help to find his pet gecko, Jamila learns something amazing about Shirley: she's a kid detective. And she's really good at it.

Gillian Goerz is am illustrator, writer and cartoonist from Toronto. Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer is her first book.

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