Sponsored annually by the Ontario Library Association, the Red Maple Award reading program is geared to readers in Grade 7 and 8. Ten novels are nominated each year and ten non-fiction are selected every second year.
Abuelita and Me by Leonarda Carranza; Rafael Mayani (Illustrator)In this touching, empowering picture book debut, a girl and her beloved abuelita lean on each other as they contend with racism while running errands in the city. Spending time at home with Abuelita means pancakes, puddle-jumping, and nail-painting. But venturing out into the city is not always as fun. On the bus and at the grocery store, people are impatient and suspicious--sometimes they even yell. Sad, angry, and scared, the story's young narrator decides not to leave home again . . . until a moment of empowerment helps her see the strength she and Abuelita share when they face the world together. Warm, expressive illustrations by Rafael Mayani highlight the tenderness in Abuelita and the narrator's relationship.
Are You a Cheeseburger? by Monica ArnaldoA Kids' Indie Next List pick! Laugh-out-loud humor and a tender friendship blossom in author-illustrator Monica Arnaldo's charming picture book about a lonely raccoon and a glowing seed, and the world's most important question: Can this seed grow cheeseburgers? Grub is a lonely racoon. Rumbling in the trash. Looking for food. Seed is, well, a seed! Patiently waiting in the trash. Hoping someone will plant it. When the two finally meet, they realize they might be able to help each other! Grub has just one big question first: What will Seed grow? Could Seed grow Grub's favorite food, mouthwatering cheeseburgers? Seed isn't sure what a cheeseburger is exactly, but . . . maybe! And so begins a hilarious friendship following two unlikely strangers learning more about the other and discovering the pressure that comes with fulfilling expectations. Author-illustrator Monica Arnaldo will leave readers giggling and clamoring for more in this charming story that celebrates the unexpected--and how the most special friendships bloom only when we are unapologetically ourselves.
Be a Good Ancestor by Leona Prince; Gabrielle Prince; Carla Joseph (Illustrator)Rooted in Indigenous teachings, this stunning picture book encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about their behaviors. Addressing environmental issues, animal welfare, self-esteem and self-respect, and the importance of community, the authors deliver a poignant and universal message in an accessible way: Be a good ancestor to the world around you. Thought-provoking stanzas offer a call to action for each one of us to consider how we affect future generations. Every decision we make ripples out, and we can affect the world around us by thinking deeply about those decisions.
Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes by Mahak Jain; Anu Chouhan (Illustrator)"A necessary tool for helping children understand and develop cultural competency and compassion early on." --School Library Journal A girl explores her love of dancing and her cultural identity in a lively picture book with echoes of the real-life collaboration between Bharatanatyam icon Rukmini Devi Arundale and ballerina Anna Pavlova. Paro comes from a dancing family. At home, she dances Bharatanatyam with her mom, and now she's excited to learn ballet. But what if she can't dance like the other kids in her class? Ballerinas move like fairies, while Bharatanatyam dancers seem like queens. Paro can't be both...can she? Anu Chouhan's vibrant, energetic illustrations emphasize themes of creative flexibility and navigating the intersections of different cultural identities. The book's backmatter includes an author's note describing the inspiration behind the story, (the real-life meeting and collaboration of Bharatanatyam dancer Rukmini Devi and ballerina Anna Pavlova), a DIY ghungroo (ankle bell) activity, and a pronunciation and etymology guide.
Friends Are Friends, Forever by Dane Liu; Lynn Scurfield (Illustrator)A picture book based on the author's own immigration story, the infinite impact of friendship, and passing on love and kindness around the world. On a snowy Lunar New Year's Eve in Northeastern China, it's Dandan's last night with Yueyue. Tomorrow, she moves to America. The two best friends have a favorite wintertime tradition: crafting paper-cut snowflakes, freezing them outside, and hanging them as ornaments. As they say goodbye, Yueyue presses red paper and a spool of thread into Dandan's hands so that she can carry on their tradition. But in her new home, Dandan has no one to enjoy the gift with--until a friend comes along.
Granny's Kitchen by Sadé Smith; Ken Daley (Illustrator)Shelly-Ann lives with her Granny on the beautiful island of Jamaica. When Shelly-Ann becomes hungry, she asks her Granny for something to eat. Granny tells her "Gyal, you betta can cook!" and teaches Shelly-Ann how to get in touch with her Jamaican roots through the process of cooking. As Shelly-Ann tries each recipe, everything goes wrong. But when Granny is too tired to cook one morning, Shelly-Ann will have to find the courage to try one more time and prepare the perfect Jamaican breakfast.Accompanied by Ken Daley's vibrant, sun-soaked artwork, Sadé Smith's debut picture book Granny's Kitchen is the perfect readaloud for budding chefs everywhere.
Meena's Mindful Moment by Tina Athaide; Åsa Gilland (Illustrator)Meena is excited to visit Dada and explore all the exciting sights and sensations of his home with him. But Meena has so much energy, it becomes a whole imaginary character she calls her hurly-burly hullabaloo. Wherever Meena goes, her hurly-burly hullabaloo goes too. Together they're never calm, as they run and cartwheel and make a lot of noise! But when Meena makes a mess, her grandfather is there to teach her how to handle it with deep breaths and meditative poses--after all, he has a hurly-burly hullabaloo too. With playful art and engaging characters (real and imagined), this charming story all about mindfulness will be wonderfully relatable to anyone with a rambunctious hurly-burly hullabaloo of their own.
Rodney Was a Tortoise by Nan Forler; Yong Ling Kang (Illustrator)Bernadette and Rodney are the best of friends. Rodney's not so good at playing cards, but he's great at staring contests. His favorite food is lettuce, though he eats it VERRRRRRY SLOOOOOWLY. And he's such a joker! When Bernadette goes to sleep at night, Rodney is always there, watching over her from his tank. As the seasons pass, Rodney moves slower and slower, until one day he stops moving at all. Without Rodney, Bernadette feels all alone. She can't stop thinking about him, but none of her friends seem to notice. Except for Amar. Rodney Was a Tortoise is a moving story about friendship and loss. It shows the importance of expressing kindness and empathy, especially in life's most difficult moments.
A Sky-Blue Bench by Bahram Rahman; Peggy CollinsIt's Afghan schoolgirl Aria's first day back at school since her accident. She's excited, but she's also worried about sitting on the hard floor all day with her new prosthetic "helper-leg." Just as Aria feared, sitting on the floor is so uncomfortable that she can't think about learning at all. She knows that before the war changed many things in Afghanistan, schools like hers had benches for students to sit at. If she had a bench, her leg would not hurt so much. The answer is obvious: she will gather materials, talk to Kaka Najar, the carpenter in the old city, and learn to build a bench for herself. In A Sky-Blue Bench, Bahram Rahman, author of The Library Bus, returns again to the setting of his homeland, Afghanistan, to reveal the resilience and resolve of young children--especially young girls--who face barriers to education. Illustrator Peggy Collins imbues Aria with an infectious spunkiness and grit that make her relatable even to readers with a very different school experience. An author's note gently introduces an age-appropriate discussion of landmines and their impact on the lives of children in many nations, especially Afghanistan, which has the highest concentration of landmines of any country in the world. Don't miss The Library Bus, also by Bahram Rahman Winner of the Middle East Book Award Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award Finalist for the Florida Literary Association Children's Book Award Finalist for the OLA Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award Winner of the Northern Lights Book Award: Multicultural Category
That's Not My Name! by Anoosha SyedA debut picture book about loving your name, finding your voice, and standing up for yourself from the critically acclaimed illustrator of Bilal Cooks Daal and I Am Perfectly Designed. Mirha is so excited for her first day of school! She can't wait to learn, play, and make new friends. But when her classmates mispronounce her name, she goes home wondering if she should find a new one. Maybe then she'd be able to find a monogrammed keychain at the gas station or order a hot chocolate at the cafe more easily. Mama helps Mirha to see how special her name is, and she returns to school the next day determined to help her classmates say it correctly--even if it takes a hundred tries.