Books·Forest of Reading

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

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2020 Blue Spruce Award, which celebrates picture books for readers in kindergarten to Grade 2.
The Blue Spruce Award is for Canadian picture books for readers from kindergarten to Grade 2. (Ontario Library Association)

Ten Canadian books are finalists for the 2020 Blue Spruce Award, which celebrates picture books for readers in kindergarten to Grade 2.

The Blue Spruce Awards will be broadcast at 9 a.m. ET on Tuesday, June 16 on Curio.ca, CBC's educational service.

Sloth at the Zoom by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Orbie

Sloth at the Zoom is a picture book by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Orbie. (Owlkids Books)

A sloth expecting to arrive at the Zzzzzoo, a low-key relaxing kind of place, is mistakenly sent to the Zoom where the animals are always galloping or climbing in a hurry.

Helaine Becker is an award-winning writer who has published over 90 books for children. Her nonfiction books, Hubots and Counting on Katherine, are finalists for two other Forest of Reading awards.

Orbie is an award-winning children's book illustrator based in Cap d'Espoir, Gaspésie.

Giraffe and Bird Together Again by Rebecca Bender

Giraffe and Bird Together Again is a picture book by Rebecca Bender. (Pajama Press)

Bird loves to fly off on adventures, but his friend Giraffe is more timid. When Bird doesn't return home one afternoon, Giraffe braves the dangerous forests, mountains and plains to rescue his friend.

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

The Reptile Club by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Elina Ellis

The Reptile Club is a picture book by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Elina Ellis. (Kids Can Press)

Rory isn't interested in any of the clubs at school, so he starts his own: Reptile Club. No students show up to the first meeting — but a crocodile, anaconda and gecko do.

Maureen Fergus is the author of 13 picture books and six novels. Elina Ellis is an illustrator based in Cambridge, U.K.

Mustafa by Marie-Louise Gay

Marie-Louise Gay is the author of Mustafa. (Groundwood Books)

Mustafa's new country is very far away from his old home. Sometimes he wakes up forgetting where he is, but then his mother shows him the moon — the same moon from their old country. In the park, Mustafa watches kids play, but he always feels like he's an outsider looking in. One day, "girl-with-a-cat" invites him to join in the fun.

Marie-Louise Gay is an award-winning author and illustrator from Quebec. She has published over 60 books for children, including Any Questions? and Rainy Day Magic.

Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Anne Villeneuve

Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden is a picture book by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Anne Villeneuve. (Kids Can Press)

Vincent is staying with his aunt Mimi in the city while his mom recuperates from surgery. At first, Vincent isn't too charmed by her concrete neighbourhood, but then he meets a new friend named Toma.

Andrew Larsen is a bestselling author who has published over a dozen books for children. Anne Villeneuve is an award-winning children's illustrator and author from Quebec.

The Magic Boat by Kit Pearson & Katherine Farris, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

The Magic Boat is a children's book by Kit Pearson and Katherine Farris, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. (Katherine Farris/kfarris.com/Annick Press/Orca Book Publishers)

Ellie goes to the beach every morning with her Nonna. One day, she musters the courage to play with an older girl and ends up on a wild adventure.

Kit Pearson is among Canada's most revered children's writers, whose books include A Day of Signs and Wonders. Katherine Farris is a painter based in Victoria, B.C. Gabrielle Grimard is an award-winning illustrator from Quebec.

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.

Emma's Gems by Anne Renaud, illustrated by Leanne Franson

Emma Gems is a picture book written by Anne Renaud and illustrated by Leanne Franson. (Peanut Butter Press)

Emma's Grandpa Phil has a special gift: he can turn ordinary stories into gems.

Anne Renaud has written over a dozen books of fiction, historical nonfiction and picture books. Leanne Franson has illustrated over 20 picture books and lives in Saskatchewan.

A Plan for Pops by Heather Smith, illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan

A Plan for Pops is a picture book by Heather Smith and illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan. (Orca Book Publishers)

Lou loves spending Saturdays with Grandad and Pops. But when Pops falls and needs a wheelchair, it's up to Lou and Grandad to lift his spirits.

Originally from Newfoundland, Heather Smith, also known as Heather T. Smith, is an author of YA fiction based in Waterloo, Ont. Smith is the author of books The Agony of Bun O'Keefe, Angus All Aglow, Baygirl and Ebb & Flow.

Brooke Kerrigan has illustrated over 10 picture books and splits her time between Ontario and France.

Sleep, Sheep! by Kerry Lyn Sparrow, illustrated by Guillaume Perreault

Sleep, Sheep! is a picture book by Kerry Lynn Sparrow and illustrated by Guillaume Perreault. (Kids Can Press)

Duncan has a hard time getting to sleep so his mother suggests counting sheep. All is going well until Sheep #68, who insists on causing trouble for Duncan.

Kerry Lyn Sparrow is an elementary school teacher and Sleep, Sheep! is her first book. Quebec artist Guillaume Perreault has been nominated for many awards for his illustrations in children's books.

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