2018 Golden Oak Award™ Nominees


Adrift At Sea
By Marsha Skrypuch and Tuan Ho
Illustrated by Brian Deines
Pajama Press

It is 1981. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a fishing boat overloaded with 60 Vietnamese refugees drifts. The motor has failed; the hull is leaking; the drinking water is nearly gone. This is the dramatic true story recounted by Tuan Ho, who was six years old when he, his mother, and two sisters dodge the bullets of Vietnam's military police for the perilous chance of boarding that boat. Told to multi-award- winning author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and illustrated by the celebrated Brian Deines, Tuan's story has become Adrift At Sea, the first picture book to describe the flight of Vietnam's "Boat People" refugees. Illustrated with sweeping oil paintings and complete with an expansive historical and biographical section with photographs, this non-fiction picture book is all the more important as the world responds to a new generation of refugees risking all on the open water for the chance at safety and a new life.

All the Dirt: A History of Getting Clean
By Katherine Ashenburg
Illustrated by Cupucine Mazille
Annick Press

A real "stinker" of a book that takes a lighthearted look at the history of cleanliness.

Cleanliness is next to godliness. At least that was the point of view espoused by John Wesley in 18th century England. But accounts of people bathing go back to the Bronze Age in the Indus Valley. All the Dirt is a lively, informative exploration of the evolution of personal hygiene. Starting with a number of myths about cleanliness, the author gives a quick overview of the topic. Throughout most of history, people rejected the notion of keeping clean, with some exceptions - the ancient Romans were obsessive about it. Readers will discover how to definition of cleanliness is one part of the world may differ radically form another, In Zimbabwe, for example, cleanliness means coating your washed body with a mixture of oil and dirt!

There is just enough of a gross factor that young readers will find the book as entertaining as it is enlightening. Colourful spreads, lots of sidebars, humorous illustrations, and photos make it ideal for browsing as well as reading in depth. 

Blood and Belonging
By Vicki Delaney
Orca Book Publishers

RCMP Sergeant Ray Robertons is in the Turks and Caicos Islands, enjoying two weeks of leave from his job training police training police in Haiti with the UN. On an early-morning jog along famed Grace Bay Beach, he discovers a dead man in the surf. Ray is shocked to recognize the body as that of one his Haitian police recruits. To hi wife's increasing dismay, Ray is compelled to follow the dead man's trail and finds himself plunged into the world of human trafficking and the problems of a tiny country struggling to cope with a desperate wave washing up on its shores. 
This timely story is the third in the Sergeant Ray Robertson series. 

The Bootlegger's Goddaughter 
By Melodie Campbell
Orca Book Publishers

As Gina gets ready for her Christmas wedding, all is quiet in Steeltown. Then she's robbed, cousin Jimmy has a heart attack, and someone in the city has hijacked a transport truck full of booze. But who? And why? Gina knows bootlegging used to be a family business, but they stopped that in the '30s. Didn't they?

Gina and Nico work feverishly to keep the latest bungled family matter under wraps, but the police are closing in. And, once again, everything points to the Holy Cannoli Retirement home.

Fight to Learn
By Laura Scandiffio
Annick Press

In many countries around the world, universal access to education is a seemingly unattainable dream; however, determined individuals with vision and drive have made this dream come true for many.

Fight to Learn highlights people such as Okello, a former child soldier in Uganda, who founded a school for children like him whose education was derailed by war; Chicago teen Denote Tanner, who change one high school's culture from guns and gangs to talking and learning; Stephan Koostachin, a feisty 13-year-old Cree whose fight for the right of First Nations children to have proper schools endured even after her untimely death. 

The uplifting stories of people who were undeterred in their fight to bring education to children will leave young readers with excellent models of how to mobilize support when fighting for a cause you believe in. 

John McCrae: Beyond Flanders Fields
By Susan Raby-Dunne
Heritage House

Most Canadians are familiar with John McCrae through his iconic poem "In Flanders Fields," which was penned on the battlefields of the First World War and remains a symbol of remembrance to this day. Although he will always be remembered as a war poet, the Guelph, Ontario, native was a physician, a university professor, and a veteran of the Second Boer War before he ever laid eyes on the carnage at Flanders Fields. Citing rarely seen diary entries and letters, as well as never-before-published photos of McCrae's early life, military historian and McCrae enthusiast Susan Raby-Dunne tells the complete story of John McCrae - a man whose final chapter of life made him immortal, but who accomplished so much and helped so many in the decades before. 

No Trace
By Brenda Chapman
Grass Roots Press

Ryan Green disappears one day after school without a trace. His family is caught in a living nightmare. Six months later, the police have no leads. Desperate for answers, the parents contact private investigator Anna Sweet. The trail has gone cold, but Anna doesn't give up without turning over every clue. When a body is found in the woods, Anna and the police fear the worst. Who would want to harm Ryan Green, and who will be next? Anna's skills are about to be tested to their limits. 

Town is by the Sea
By Joanne Schwartz
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Groundwood Brooks

A young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather's grave after lunch and comes home to a simple family dinner with his family, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea. Stunning illustrations by Sydney Smith, the award-winning illustrator of Sidewalk Flowers, show the striking contrast between a sparkling seaside day and the darkness underground where the miners dig. 

With curriculum connections to communities and the history of mining, this beautifully understated and haunting story brings a price of Canadian history to life. The ever-present ocean and inevitable pattern of life in a Cape Breton mining town will enthral children and move adult readers.