2020 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Nominees

         
         



Call of the Wraith 
Written by Kevin Sands 
Aladdin

Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this fourth novel of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series.

Christopher Rowe has no idea who he is. After being shipwrecked in Devonshire, he wakes up alone, his memories gone. Villagers tell him he was possessed by an unseen evil, and only became conscious after being visited by the local witch.

As Christopher tries to get his bearings, he realizes his current state may be far from coincidence. Dark events have been happening in this corner of Britain—village children are disappearing without a trace. There are whispers that the malevolent ghost of the White Lady has returned to steal the children away, one by one, and consume their souls.

Thankfully, friends Tom and Sally find Christopher and help him reconnect with his unique skills and talents, even as his memories elude him. But as motives and secrets are revealed, Christopher finds himself in a desperate race to reclaim his memories and discover the missing children before it’s too late.







Crush
Written by Svetlana Chmakova
Yen Press

Following the overwhelming success of AWKWARD and BRAVE, Svetlana Chmakova's award winning Berrybrook Middle School series continues with its next installment - CRUSH!

Jorge seems to have it all together. He's big enough that nobody really messes with him, but he's also a genuinely sweet guy with a solid, reliable group of friends. The only time he ever really feels off his game is when he crosses paths with a certain girl... But when the group dynamic among the boys starts to shift, will Jorge be able to balance what his friends expect of him versus what he actually wants?









A Grain of Rice
Written by Nhung Tran-Davies
Tradewind Books

A Grain of Rice is a story of a young girl’s journey through poverty and oppression to escape her war-torn homeland of Vietnam. It is a story of courage, hope and faith, and the meaning in a grain of rice.

It is semi-autobiographical, written to honour the courage and strength of our mother.









In the Key of Nira Ghani
Written by Natasha Deen
Running Kids Press

Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira's grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it's now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion. 

As if fighting with her parents weren't bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie "Mac," take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira's much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily's attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira's trusted trumpet "George" remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.

But it isn't until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she's not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.






The Light Between Worlds
Written by Laura E. Weymouth
HarperTeen
 

What happens when you return to the real world after being in a fantastical one like Narnia? This YA debut by Laura E. Weymouth is perfect for fans of Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.

Six years ago, sisters Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell were swept away to a strange and beautiful kingdom called the Woodlands, where they lived for years. But ever since they returned to their lives in post-WWII England, they have struggled to adjust.

Ev desperately wants to return to the Woodlands, and Philippa just wants to move on. When Ev goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

Walking the line between where fantasy and reality meet, this lyrical and magical novel is, above all else, an exploration of loss and healing, and what it means to find where you belong.








No Fixed Address
Written by Susin Nielsen
Tundra Books

Felix Knuttson, twelve, is an endearing kid with an incredible brain for trivia. His mom Astrid is loving but unreliable; she can't hold onto a job, or a home. When they lose their apartment in Vancouver, they move into a camper van, just for August, till Astrid finds a job. September comes, they're still in the van; Felix must keep "home" a secret and give a fake address in order to enroll in school. Luckily, he finds true friends. As the weeks pass and life becomes grim, he struggles not to let anyone know how precarious his situation is. When he gets to compete on a national quiz show, Felix is determined to win -- the cash prize will bring them a home. Their luck is about to change! But what happens is not at all what Felix expected.

 









Operatic
Written by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiller
Groundwood Books
 

Somewhere in the universe, there is the perfect tune for you.

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, from hip-hop to metal to disco, but it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks. On top of everything, she has been talked into participating in an end-of-year performance with her best friends.

Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?

This evocatively illustrated graphic novel brilliantly captures the high drama of middle school by focusing on the desire of its finely drawn characters to sing and be heard.





Stowaway
Written by Pam Withers
Dundurn Press

When Owen’s parents leave him on his own for a week, the sixteen-year-old gets bored and hatches a crazy idea: sneak onto the yacht that’s visiting the sleepy Pacific Coast island where he lives and stow away on an adventure! Once on board the vessel, Owen quickly finds this is anything but innocent fun. The ship is packed with teenagers from Central America, and it looks like Owen has stumbled into a people-smuggling operation.

Complications pile up and as things head from bad to worse, a haunting incident from Owen’s past tightens its grip on him. There’s only one way to break free and make his way home. Owen and the first mate, Arturo — a former street kid — must work together to commandeer the boat and win the trust of those on board. But who’s friend and who’s foe in the shifting tides?










Surviving the City 
Written by Tasha Spillet, Illustrated by Natasha Donovan
Highwater Press

 
Tasha Spillett’s graphic novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, colonialism, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape – they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don’t?

 








The Unteachables 
Written by Gordon Korman 
Scholastic Canada Ltd

Gordon Korman's newest stand-alone novel, featuring Greenwich Middle School's class of outcasts and miscreants - The Unteachables!

In the multiple-narrator format that Gordon perfected in Ungifted and Supergifted, this book tells the story of Greenwich Middle School's class SCS-8, a.k.a The Unteachables!

The Unteachables are a wayward medley of characters: Parker the dyslexic farm boy; Aldo, who is perpetually angry; Elaine (rhymes with pain); Barnstorm the jock; Rahim the sleep-deprived artist; and Mateo, lost in fantasy worlds. Plus Kiana, who is just in town visiting her dad and isn't even registered with the school. Not to mention their teacher, Mr. Ribbit - er, Mr. Kermit - who remains in disgrace after a 25-year-old cheating scandal and is just killing time, doing crossword puzzles and waiting to take early retirement at the end of the year.

Are they really incorrigible, or is it possible they are just misunderstood? This unlikely group of heroes is about to find out for themselves.