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The 2021 Forest of Reading nominations shine a light on the best in Canadian kidlit

The Ontario Library Association has announced the nominees for the 2021 Forest of Reading. The initiative raises the profile of Canadian authors and publishing houses by encouraging students to read and vote on books across a number of categories, based on reading level and age group.

In the Blue Spruce category (JK-Grade 2), the 10 nominees include Be You! (Scholastic) by heavyweight author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds and critical favourite Salma the Syrian Chef, by Danny Ramadan and illustrator Anna Bron.

In the Silver Birch category (Grade 3-6), Forest of Reading favourite Michelle Kadarusman is nominated again this year for her latest, Music for Tigers (Pajama Press), as well as David A. Robertson for The Barren Grounds (Puffin Canada).

The Red Maple category (Grade 7 and 8) is filled with kidlit vets, including Kenneth Oppel for Bloom (HarperCollins), Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer for Broken Strings (PRHC), Arthur Slade for Dragon Assassin (Scholastic Canada), and Wesley King for Sarah and the Search for Normal (Paula Wiseman Books).

There are 10 strong nominees in the White Pine category (Grade 9-12), including Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (Groundwood Books), Ben Philippe’s Charming As A Verb (HarperCollins), and Zalika Reid-Benta’s award-winning crossover short-story collection, Frying Plantain (House of Anansi Press).

In the non-fiction category, there’s a range of subjects covered in the 10 nominees, from popular fads in Trending: How and Why Stuff Gets Popular by Kira Vermond and illustrator Clayton Hanmer (Owlkids Books) to inspiring environmentalists in One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet (Orca Book Publishers) by Anuradha Rao.

Readers can vote for their favourite books in April, and the winners will be announced at the Forest of Reading Festival, scheduled for May 18, 19, and 20, 2021. CBC Books will run the award ceremonies online, and more details about the popular event will be available in the new year.

The full 2021 Forest of Reading nominees are listed on the OLA website.