Books·Forest of Reading

Here are the 2022 Blue Spruce Award finalists: 10 great Canadian books for readers in kindergarten to Grade 2

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2022 Blue Spruce Award, which celebrates picture books for readers in kindergarten to Grade 2.
The Blue Spruce Award is for picture books for readers in kindergarten to Grade 2. (Ontario Library Association)

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2022 Blue Spruce Award, which celebrates picture books for readers in kindergarten to Grade 2.

The Blue Spruce 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 10 finalists in each category are chosen by a committee of library practitioners. 

More than 270,000 students across Canada participate each year through their schools, public libraries, literacy centres and at home. Those with a subscription can tune in through Curio, CBC's educational service. The awards will also be available at CBC Books.

On Day One of the festival (May 17, 2022), the Blue Spruce Award (10 a.m. ET), Red Maple Award (11:30 a.m. ET) and the White Pine Award (1:00 p.m. ET) are announced. You can see the complete schedule here.

48 Grasshopper Estates by Sara de Waal, illustrated by Erika Medina

48 Grasshopper Estates is a picture book written by Sara de Waal and illustrated by Erica Medina (Paulina Moreno, Annick Press, Esther de Waal)

48 Grasshopper Estates is a picture book that features a little girl who uses her imagination to make the community she lives in a bit more friendly. 48 Grasshopper Estates is about the power of creativity and finding friends wherever you are.

Sara de Waal is a writer and educator based in British Columbia. When she is not writing, she teaches music and art, telling stories with her students through colours and notes as well as words.   

Erika Medina is a Mexican illustrator and art instructor based in Vancouver. 

Beep Beep Bubbie by Bonnie Sherr Klein, illustrated by Élisabeth Eudes-Pascal

Bonnie Sherr Klein is an author, filmmaker and feminist and disability advocate. (Tradewind Books)

Beep Beep Bubbie is a picture book about a hip, cool grandmother named Gladys who travels by motorized scooter. At first her granddaughter Kate is worried that her Bubbie won't be the same in the scooter — but she slowly warms to the idea when she sees how much it helps Bubbie. 

Bonnie Sherr Klein is a documentary filmmaker, author and disability rights activist.

Élisabeth Eudes-Pascal has been illustrating children's books and novels for more than 40 years. 

The Doll by Nhung N. Tran-Davies, illustrated by Ravy Puth

Three panel composite image. Person in blue shirt on the left, illustrated book cover of young girl and a doll in the middle, person in brown jacket on the right.
The Doll is a picture book written by Nhung Tran-Davies, left, and illustrated by Ravy Puth.  (Second Story Press, Eloise Turgeon)

The Doll is inspired by the true story of author Nhung Tran-Davies's arrival in Canada as a refugee from Vietnam. She was given a doll by strangers that came to represent the kindness and compassion in her new home. Decades later she grows up to pay the gift forward to another family in need. 

Tran-Davies is an Alberta author, physician and advocate for social justice through education. Her family came to Canada as refugees from Vietnam in 1978. 

Ravy Puth is a Montreal-based visual artist and illustrator.

Harley the Hero by Peggy Collins

Harley the Hero is a picture book by Peggy Collins. (Pajama Press )

Based on a true story, Harley the Hero is about a classroom service dog named Harley and the normalization of neurodivergence. Harley the Hero honours service animals by telling a story about Harley, his human Ms. Prichard and a situation calling for quick thinking. 

Peggy Collins is a graphic designer and children's book author-illustrator with more than 35 titles to her name, including Harley the Hero, Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On and In the Snow.

The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

The Library Bus is a picture book by Bahram Rahman, top right, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, bottom right. (Pajama Press)

The Library Bus is the story of a girl named Pari. It's her first day as Mama's library helper on the library bus — a travelling vehicle with no seats but chairs, tables and shelves of books for people to read. Pari is excited to hand out notebooks and pencils at the villages when the bus visits the refugee camp, but a bit nervous as well. 

The Library Bus is also a finalist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature — illustrated books.

Bahram Rahman is an Ontario-based author and activist who was born in Kabul and grew up during the civil war and the Taliban regime. Rahman came to Canada as a refugee in 2012 and The Library Bus, is his debut picture book.

Gabrielle Grimard is an author and illustrator from Quebec. She wrote and illustrated the picture books Lila and the Crow and Nutcracker Night and illustrated the books Stolen Words by Melanie Florence and The Magic Boat by Kit Pearson and Katherine Farris.

Malaika's Surprise by Nadia L. Hohn, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

Malaika's Surprise is a picture book written by Nadia L. Hohn (left) and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. (Groundwood Books)

Malaika's Surprise is a picture book that continues the story of Malaika from the books Malaika's Winter Carnival and Malaika's Costume. This time around, Malaika learns she will soon have a new baby brother or sister and she doesn't initially know how to react or feel. Malaika's Surprise is a story of celebrating love and family. 

Nadia L. Hohn is an educator and author from Toronto. Hohn was named one of six Black Canadian writers to watch in 2018 by CBC Books. Her other books include Malaika's Winter Carnival and Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter

Irene Luxbacher is an artist and illustrator whose projects include the I Can... series for Kids Can Press. She is based in Toronto.

No More Plastic by Alma Fullerton

No More Plastic is a picture book by Alma Fullerton. (, Pajama Press)

No More Plastic is a picture book that reminds children that protecting the environment is a goal worth pursuing. When ocean-loving Isley discovers a beached whale that perished after swallowing plastic, she is inspired to save the world by creating less waste. But when everyone around her isn't as passionate about her cause as she is, Isley finds a way to ensure the whale didn't die in vain.

Alma Fullerton is a children's book writer from Ontario. Her other picture books include When the Rain ComesIn a Cloud of DustA Good Trade and Community Soup.

The Sorry Life of Timothy Shmoe by Stephanie Simpson McLellan, illustrated by Zoe Si

The Sorry Life of Timothy Shmoe is a picture book by Stephanie Simpson McLellan, left, and illustrated by Zoe Si. (Owlkids, JoAnne & Dennis Murphy)

The Sorry Life of Timothy Shmoe is a picture book featuring a boy named Timothy who keeps making mistakes and apologizing for it by writing letters. When he ruins his sister's dance recital, he writes a final letter to his sister and learns more about impulse control and acceptance. 

Stephanie Simpson McLellan is a Canadian author of books for children. Her first picture book, The Chicken Cat, won the Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award for excellence in Canadian children's literature.

Zoe Si is a cartoonist, illustrator and lawyer from Vancouver. She is the illustrator of the chapter book Wolfie and Fly, which was written by Cary Fagan.

Thunder and the Noise Storms by Jeffrey Ansloos & Shezza Ansloos, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley

Thunder and the Noise Storms is a picture book by Jeffrey Ansloos, left, and Shezza Ansloos, middle, and illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley. (Annick Press, Meg Wallace)

In Thunder and the Noise Storms, a young boy's grandfather helps him listen to the sounds of the world — from rushing water to bird wings flapping — with wonder and a sense of connectedness.

Jeffery Ansloos is a Cree educator and psychologist. He is also the author of The Medicine of Peace.

Shezza Ansloos is a Cree writer, educator, artist and speaker. She is the author of two children's books, I Loved Her and The Fire Walker. Ansloos is also a singer-songwriter and visual artist.

Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley is an Anishinaabe artist and illustrator from Wasauksing First Nation.

When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt

When We Are Kind is a picture book written by Monique Gray Smith, left, and illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt. (Centric Photography, Orca Book Publishers,

When We Are Kind is a picture book that walks children through simple acts of everyday kindness. It was created with the aim to encourage children to explore their feelings and to use kindness each and every day.

Monique Gray Smith is a mixed-heritage — Cree, Lakota and Scottish — author who often writes and speaks about the resilience of Indigenous communities in Canada. She is also the author of the children's books Speaking Our Truth and You Hold Me Up and the novels Tilly and Tilly and the Crazy Eights.

    Nicole Neidhardt is a Diné visual artist and illustrator. When We Are Kind is her first children's book.

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