Books·Forest of Reading

Here are the 2022 Silver Birch Express Award finalists: 10 great Canadian books for readers in Grades 3-4

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2022 Silver Birch Express Award, which celebrates fiction books for readers in Grades 3-4.
The Silver Birch Express Award is for fiction or nonfiction for readers in Grades 3-4. (Ontario Library Association)

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2022 Silver Birch Express Award, which celebrates fiction books for readers in Grades 3-4.

The Silver Birch Express 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. 

Details about voting will be announced later. The winners will be revealed in spring 2022.

Duck Days by Sara Leach, illustrated by Rebecca Bender

Duck Days is a picture book by Sara Leach, top right, illustrated by Rebecca Bender, bottom right. (Pajama Press,,

Duck Days is the third title in the the series that includes Slug Days and Penguin Days. Lauren is a Grade 3 student with autism spectrum disorder, who takes on the challenge of sharing her best friend Irma and persisting when classmate makes fun of her training wheels. 

Sara Leach is a teacher-librarian and children's author based in Whistler, B.C. She has written nine books. Her middle-grade novel Count Me In has been translated into four languages, and won the Red Cedar Award in 2013.

Rebecca Bender is a writer and illustrator based in Burlington, Ont. Her first book, Giraffe and Bird, won the Blue Spruce Award in 2012.

Hockey Night in Kenya by Danson Mutinda & Eric Walters, illustrated by Claudia Dávila

Hockey Night in Kenya is a picture book by Danson Mutinda, left, and Eric Walters, right, and illustrated by Claudia Dávila. (Kristina Laukkanen, Orca Book Publishers)

In Hockey Night in Kenyatwo orphans from Kenya, Kitoo and Nigosi, love to read, play soccer and help with chores around the orphanage. They discover a book called Sports Around the World and one of the children becomes fascinated with an image of the Canadian national men's ice hockey team. The boy teaches himself how to skate and dreams of one day playing hockey just like the players in the book.

Danson Mutinda is an author based in Kenya. His parents, Ruth and Henry Kyatha, co-founded the Hope Development Centre orphanage with Eric and Anita Walters in 2007. 

Eric Walters has penned over 100 books and is one of Canada's most prolific writers for young people. He won the 2020 Governor General's Literary Prize for young people's literature — text for The King of Jam Sandwiches.

Claudia Dávila is a Toronto-based artist and illustrator. Her other books include Super Red Riding Hood and Child Soldier, which was written by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys.

How I Survived: Four Nights on the Ice by Serapio Ittusardjuat, llustrated by Matthew K. Hoddy

How I Survived: Four Nights on the Ice is a graphic novel by Serapio Ittusardjuat and illustrated by Matthew K. Hoddy. (Inhabit Media)

In How I Survived, Serapio Ittusardjuat shares the traditional skills he depended on to survive when his snowmobile broke down halfway across the sea ice on a trip home from a fishing camp. The illustrated story is a first-person account of four nights spent on open sea ice in the harsh Arctic climate, with few supplies and no water.

Ittusardjuat was an Inuit residential school survivor, a certified journeyman mechanic and comes from a long line of walrus hunters. He died in 2021.

Matthew K. Hoddy is an illustrator and comic book author from Australia who currently lives in Toronto. He is co-creator of the Saga of Metalbeard and Space Pyrates comics.

Mellybean and the Giant Monster by Mike White

Mellybean and the Giant Monster is a book by Mike White. (, Razorbill)

Mellybean and the Giant Monster is a picture book that follows the adventures of a puppy named Mellybean. After being tricked into burying a shoe in the backyard by her feline friends, Melly ends up magically transported to a world of knights and monsters. Now she has to help her new friends and find a way home.

Mike White is a Canadian American author, illustrator and animator living in San Francisco. Mellybean and the Giant Monster is part of the Mellybean graphic novel series, which also includes Mellybean and the Wicked Wizard.

Race With Me! by Andre De Grasse & Robert Budd, illustrated by Joseph Osei Bonsu

Race With Me! is a children's book by Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, writer Robert Budd and illustrator Joseph Osei Bonsu. (Scholastic Canada, Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse inspires young kids to lace up their sneakers and run as fast as they can in Race with Me! , an illustrated book for middle grade readers. The athlete talks about what motivates his training and how it feels to be an underdog at the highest levels of sport.

De Grasse is a six-time Olympic medallist, winning one silver and two bronze medals at the Rio 2016 games and one gold and two bronze medals at the Tokyo games.

Robert Budd is a bestselling children's writer based in Victoria. He's a frequent collaborator of the artist Roy Henry Vickers. Their books include Raven Brings the LightCloudwalker and Orca Chief.

Joseph Osei Bonsu is an illustrator and animator from Mississauga, Ont. He is the co-creator of Heroes of the World comic.

Raymond the Buffalo by Lou Beauchesne, translated by Susan Ouriou & Christelle Morelli, illustrated by Kate Chappell

Raymond the Buffalo is a picture book by Lou Beauchesne, left, and Kate Chappell, right. (Orca Book Publishers, Chantale Lecours)

Raymond the Buffalo is a story of a buffalo who must learn how to be brave. When Raymond manages to magically escape his own book, he finds himself running amok in the public library. The picture book features a boy named Gilbert, a buffalo named Raymond and a librarian named Nicole who come together to help make sense of the situation.

Lou Beauchesne is an author and illustrator from Quebec. She has created more than 20 books geared for young readers. 

Kate Chappell is a freelance artist and illustrator based in Lincolnshire, U.K. Raymond the Buffalo is her first book.

Snooze-O-Rama by Maria Birmingham, illustrated by Kyle Reed

Snooze-O-Rama is a picture book by Maria Birmingham, left, and illustrated by Kyle Reed, right. (Owlkids)

Snooze-O-Rama is a fun nonfiction book that looks at the bedtime habits of humans and animals. Snooze-O-Rama highlights how animals all over the world get ready for bed using humour and collage illustrations.

Maria Birmingham is an Ontario author of several books for young people, including Acting WildBiometrics and A Beginner's Guide to Immortality.

Kyle Reed is a digital and traditional illustrator based in Hamilton, Ont. His work has appeared in children's books, magazines and advertisements. 

That's No Dino!: Or Is It? by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Marie-Ève Tremblay

That's No Dino! Or Is It? is a picture book by Helaine Becker, left, and Marie-Ève Tremblay, right. (Kids Can Press)

That's No Dino! Or Is It? is a fun look about what makes a dinosaur. The picture book features 10 prehistoric animals that look like dinosaurs — but they're missing at least one key characteristic that all true dinosaurs have. The hidden features are slowly revealed — helping children learn how amazing dinosaurs can be. 

Helaine Becker is a Toronto children's author of more than 90 books, including HubotsZoobots, and Lines, Bars and Circles. She is a two-time recipient of the Lane Anderson Award and a winner of the Silver Birch Award for Monster Science.

Marie-Ève Tremblay is an artist and illustrator based in Montreal. Her work has appeared on posters, stamps and television, as well as in numerous magazines and children's books, including Inside Your Insides and Lines, Bars and Circles

Walking For Water by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Nicole Miles

Walking For Water is a book by Susan Hughes and illustrated by Nicole Miles. (Kids Can Press)

Walking For Water is the inspiring story of a boy named Victor who realizes things aren't fair when his twin sister Linesi has to stop going to school so she can walk to the river to get water for their farm. Victor knows this is how it's always been but he comes up with a plan to change things.

Susan Hughes is a Toronto editor and author who has written more than 30 books for children of all ages, including Off to Class and What Happens Next

Nicole Miles is an illustrator from the Bahamas who currently lives in the U.K. She has done freelance work for Adobe, Google and the New York Times and her comic Barbara was nominated for an Eisner Award.

Wednesday Wilson Gets Down to Business by Bree Galbraith, illustrated by Morgan Goble

Wednesday Wilson Gets Down to Business is a picture book by Bree Galbraith, left, and Morgan Goble, right. (Kids Can Press)

Wednesday Wilson Gets Down to Business is a picture book about a young girl who is determined to be the best entrepreneur she can be. While her brother and her best friend are on her side, there are obstacles and opponents in her way that are working to stop her from saving the day. 

Bree Galbraith is a Vancouver children's book author whose picture books include Usha and the Stolen SunMilo and Georgie and Once Upon a Balloon

Morgan Goble is a children's illustrator and artist based in Ontario. Wednesday Wilson Gets Down To Business is her first book.

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