Books·The First Page

Meet the writers who will be reading The First Page entries for 2022!

A team of writers across Canada reviewed over 1,800 entries to determine the shortlist. The winners will be picked by Sarah Raughley.
From top to bottom, left to right: Marty Chan, Sarah Raughley, Gabrielle Prendergast, Andre Fenton, Nadine Neema, Tash McAdam, Angela Ahn, MJ Lyons, Alex Lyttle, Brett D. Huson, Angela Misri, Shane Arbuthnott, Regina Hansen. (Individual photo credits below)

The First Page student writing challenge is an annual competition for Grades 7 to 12 students.

Each year, CBC Books asks students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the future. They write the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical now and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Over 1,800 stories were submitted for the 2022 competition. Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by bestselling author Sarah Raughley. 

Middle-grade and YA writers from across Canada will be combing through the entries to find the best first pages and select the shortlist. Meet all our esteemed readers below.

Alex Lyttle, author of From Ant to Eagle

From Ant to Eagle is a YA novel by Alex Lyttle. (Central Avenue Publishing, Submitted by Alex Lyttle)

Alex Lyttle is a pediatric allergist and immunologist living in Calgary, Alberta with his wife and four children. He has two published novels — From Ant to Eagle and The Rise of Winter — and has won several awards for his writing. His latest book, tentatively titled The Society of Unfortunate Kids, is currently awaiting publication, and follows a young boy with Sickle Cell Disease.

From Ant to Eagle follows an almost sixth-grader named Calvin, who amuses himself by making his little brother Sammy do his chores and other random tasks. Sammy is eager to "level up" to Calvin's Eagle status, and happily does whatever Calvin asks. When Calvin meets fellow Goosebumps fan Aleta Alvarado, Sammy gets pushed aside — until a diagnosis changes their family forever. The book is for ages 9-12.

Andre Fenton, author of The Summer Between Us

The Summer Between Us is a YA novel by Andre Fenton. (Submitted by Andre Fenton, Formac)

Andre Fenton is an award-winning African Nova Scotian author, spoken-word artist, and arts educator who has represented Halifax at seven national poetry festivals across Canada. He was the 2015 recipient of The Spirit of The Slam Award. Andre is an author of two YA novels, Worthy of Love, which won bronze in The Coast Best of, and Annakaa finalist for the 2021 Ann Connor Brimer Award.

Andre's latest book, The Summer of Between Usis a YA novel coming out in April. The book takes place just after high school graduation, as Adrian struggles with the decision to spend his summer with on-tour with his girlfriend Mel, her band and the discomfort of mostly-white punk spaces. Adrian also tries to forge a stronger connection with his father, and comes to terms with what he's truly passionate about.

Angela Ahn, author of Peter Lee's Notes from the Field

Peter Lee's Notes from the Field is a middle-grade book by Angela Ahn, pictured, which was illustrated by Julie Kwon. (Tundra Books, angelaahnbooks.com)

Angela Ahn is a former teacher and librarian. She is the author of Peter Lee's Notes from the Field, which was nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award. Her next middle grade book Double O Stephen and the Ghostly Realm will be available in August 2022.  She lives in Vancouver, B.C.

Peter Lee's Notes from the Fieldfor readers in grades 3-6, is about an 11-year-old who dreams of being a paleontologist. But when Peter embarks on a real-life dinosaur expedition, he discovers that making his dream a reality might be harder than he first thought. On top of it all, his grandmother falls ill and no one in his family will talk to him about it.

Angela Misri, author of Valhamster

Valhamster is a book by Angela Misri. (DCB)

Angela Misri is an award-winning journalist, author, and educator. Her detective series, called The Portia Adams Adventures, is set at Baker Street in the 1930s, and her first middle-grade book, Pickles vs the Zombies, won the 2021 Hackmatack for fiction. Misri has an MA in journalism and has worked as a digital journalist for almost 20 years, first at the CBC and now at The Walrus. She also teaches in the journalism department at Ryerson University in Toronto.

One of Angela's upcoming middle-grade books, Valhamster, follows a zombie-fighting hamster named Emmy, who resolves to defeat the undead once and for all. Valhamster is for ages 9 to 12 and comes out on May 14, 2022.

Gabrielle Prendergast, author of The Overwood

The Overwood is a book by Gabrielle Prendergast. (Orca Book Publishers)

Gabrielle Prendergast is a B.C.-based author who has written a number of books for young people, including Audacious, winner of the Westchester Award; Zero Repeat Forever, winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Prize for Children's Literature and The Crosswood, the first title in the Faerie Woods series.

Her latest The Overwood, for readers aged 9 to 12, is the third book in the Faerie Woods series. The main character Blue Jasper has a stronger grip on magic, but with the evil Faerie queen Olea in hiding, magic is more unstable than ever.

    Hetxw'ms Gyetxw Brett D. Huson, author of The Wolf Mother

    The Wolf Mother is a nonfiction book for ages 9-11 by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw Brett D. Huson (above), and illustrated by Natasha Donovan. Brett can be found at @thegitxsan on Twitter. (Submitted by Highwater Press)

    Hetxw'ms Gyetxw, also known as Brett D. Huson, is from the Gitxsan Nation of the Northwest Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Brett has worked in the film and television industry for over 13 years and is a volunteer board member for organizations such as Ka Ni Kanichihk and sākihiwē festival. The award-winning Mothers of Xsan series is Brett's first series of books and part of a larger vision to share the worlds of the Gitxsan Nation.

    The Wolf Mother, for readers aged 9-11, follows the life cycle of a pack of grey wolves. It begins as a new pup opens her eyes, and follows her as she learns and grows into a young wolf.

    Marty Chan, author of Willpower

    Willpower is a book by Marty Chan. (Orca Book Publishers)

    Marty Chan is a children's book author and playwright based in Edmonton. He's published 19 books for middle grade and YA readers, including Kung Fu Master, Haunted Hospital, the Ehrich Weisz Chronicles and the Keepers of the Vault series.

    In Marty's latest middle-grade book Willpower, a girl named Jennifer has superhuman abilities. When an accident happens and her secret is discovered, Jennifer's father is taken away by the authorities. Jennifer must figure out a way to save him before it is too late. The book is for ages 9 to 12.

    MJ Lyons, author of Murder at the World's Fair

    Murder at the World's Fair is a novel by MJ Lyons. (Renaissance, Submitted by MJ Lyons)

    MJ Lyons is a writer and journalist from Toronto. His debut book, Murder at the World's Faira steampunk murder mystery, was a finalist for the 2020 Prix Aurora Award for best YA novel. He's also published short stories in the anthology Clockwork Cairo and the fanzine Chaos Theory.

    Murder at the World's Fair takes place in 1893, as Toronto prepares to host the most advanced inventions at the world's fair. Norwood Quigley, a journalist and scion of a wealthy airship magnate, finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation. The accused is a young Chinese delinquent named Jing, who works with Norwood to prove his innocence.

    Nadine Neema, author of Journal of a Travelling Girl

    Journal of a Travelling Girl is a novel by Nadine Neema. (Submitted by Nadine Neema, Heritage House)

    Born in Montreal to Egyptian and Lebanese parents, Nadine Neema is an award-winning writer and multi-disciplinary artist. She has four albums of songs and spoken word poetry, and has toured internationally, opening for artists such as Joe Cocker & Elton John, and was mentored by Leonard Cohen, who co-produced her 2nd album. Neema began working in the Tłįchǫ  community of Wekweètì, NWT in 1999, first as a community manager, then assisting with land claims and self-government negotiations. She has maintained a strong bond with the community through workshops, photography projects and canoe trips.

    Her YA historical fiction novel Journal of a Travelling Girl was a finalist for three awards: the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, Jean Little First-Novel Award and Janet Savage Blanchford prize for children and young literature. Journal of a Travelling Girl is a coming-of-age story about a girl who takes a canoe trip through the ancestral lands of the Tłı̨chǫ People, and grows to understand their culture and fight for self-governance.

    Regina Hansen, author of The Coming Storm

    The Coming Storm is a book by Regina M. Hansen. (Simon & Schuster, Dominic Kemmett)

    Regina M. Hansen is the author of the young adult fantasy novel The Coming Storma finalist for the Red Maple Award. She was born on Prince Edward Island and grew up there, in Montreal and Massachusetts. She teaches at Boston University and has published many nonfiction books and articles on fantasy and horror subjects. Her work has appeared in the children's magazines Calliope and DIG into History, as well as The Boston GlobeThe Wall Street Journal Review and The Conversation among others. 

    The Coming Stormfor ages 12 and up, is a fantasy novel set on Prince Edward Island. Beet MacNeill is concerned by her cousin Gerry's sudden odd behaviour — he plays a chilling tune on the fiddle and a strange beautiful woman named Marina has taken an interest in his new baby. Local lore about a vicious shape-shifting creature and a cruel woman who controls it starts to swirl.

    Sarah Raughley, author of The Bones of Ruin

    The Bones of Ruin is a YA novel by Sarah Raughley. (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

    Sarah Raughley is a fantasy novelist from Southern Ontario. Raughley's YA Effigies series, which includes Fate of FlamesSiege of Shadows and Legacy of Light, drops readers into a world where four young women are imbued with the powers of the four elements — fire, water, air and earth — and tasked with protecting the world from the evil Phantoms. 

    The Bones of Ruinfor ages 14 and up, takes place in 1880s London. An immortal African tightrope walker named Iris agrees to enter a supernatural tournament of freaks in order to unlock secrets from her past.

      Shane Arbuthnott, author of Guardians of Porthaven

      Guardians of Porthaven is a middle-grade book by Shane Arbuthnott. (Orca Book Publishers, Erin Elizabeth Hoos)

      Shane Arbuthnott is the author of Guardians of Porthaven, as well as the Molly Stout series. His debut novel, Dominion, was nominated for multiple awards, including the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. His short fiction has appeared in On Spec and Open Spaces. Shane grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and now lives in Regina with his family.

      In Guardians of Porthaven, Malcolm Gravenhurst is preparing to take on the mantle of Guardian on his 15th birthday. The Guardians are tasked with defending the city of Porthaven, and his family is the only one to possess the superpowers necessary to battle the frequent alien invasions of robotic klek. With the threat of annihilation, Malcolm must choose between family loyalty and doing the right thing. Guardians of Porthaven is for ages 9 to 12.

      Tash McAdam, author of The Ooze

      The Ooze is a novel by Tash McAdam. (Submitted by Tash McAdam, Orca Books)

      Tash McAdam is a Welsh-Canadian author, activist and high school educator. Their publications include The Psionics, and the Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selections Blood Sport and Sink or SwimThey are also featured in multiple anthologies. Tash is a recipient of the Shoot for the Moon fund for trans writers, and a founding mentor with the Gender Generations Project.

      Tash's latest book is The Oozea science fiction thriller for ages 9-12In the novel, Bran seems to be the only person left in Vancouver who doesn't have black ooze dripping from their ears — not to mention that his own mother can't remember his name. Bran must act fast to figure out what's going on.

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