2019 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Nominees
The Assassin’s Curse
Written by Kevin Sands
Published by Aladdin
Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this third novel of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series.
Wherever Christopher Rowe goes, adventure—and murder—follows. Even a chance to meet King Charles ends in a brush with an assassin.
All that’s recovered from the killer is a coded message with an ominous sign-off: more attempts are coming. So when Christopher’s code-breaking discovers the attack’s true target, he and his friends are ordered to Paris to investigate a centuries-old curse on the French throne. And when they learn an ancient treasure is promised to any assassin who succeeds, they realize the entire royal family is at stake—as well as their own lives.
In the third heart-pounding installment of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series, Christopher, Tom, and Sally face new codes, puzzles, and traps as they race to find the hidden treasure before someone else is murdered.
Don’t Tell the Enemy
Written by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Published by Scholastic Canada
How much would you do for a friend? Krystia’s family hides Jews from the Nazis at immense risk to their own lives.
Life is becoming dangerous for Krystia. It’s 1941 and her town in Ukraine is now occupied by the Soviets. Some members of her family are harassed, while others are arrested and killed. When the Nazis liberate the town, they are welcomed with open arms. But Krystia’s best friend Dolik has doubts. His family is Jewish and rumours are that the Nazis are even more brutal than the Soviets.
When the Nazis discover a mass grave of Soviet prisoners, they use it as an excuse and blame the slaughter on the Jews. Soon after, the Nazis establish ghettoes and begin public execution of Jews. Krystia can’t bear to see her friends suffer, so she smuggles food in for them. When word gets out that the ghetto will be cleared and Jews will be exterminated, Krystia must make an impossible decision. Will she risk her own family’s safety to save her friends?
Written by Eric Walters
Published by Penguin Teen
In a world with no power, chaos soon descends. A powerful look at the disintegration of society in the wake of a massive and mysterious outage that has knocked out all modern amenities.
Fifteen-year-old Emma has moved house with her ex-Marine mother and younger brother. It's a brand-new condo building, which explains the semi-regular power outages, as workers complete the units around them. So Emma isn't particularly concerned when the latest blackout hits just as they are preparing to leave town on a long weekend camping trip. But then the car won't start, and their cellphones appear dead -- and all the cars outside their building seem to be stalled in a long traffic jam ...
In the midst of what appears to be a massive power outage, with their camping gear packed and ready, Emma and her family canoe over to the islands, just offshore, to wait it out. But while they land on an isolated island, with a relatively hidden site, they are far from safe, as people become increasingly desperate to find food and shelter. And as the days pass, and the power remains out, the threat of violence becomes all too real.
The Last Namsara
Written by Kristen Ciccarelli
Published by HarperTeen
In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm.
When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.
Written by Colleen Nelson
Published by Dundurn Press
Sadia wishes life in high school was as straightforward as a game of basketball.
Fifteen-year-old Sadia Ahmadi is passionate about one thing: basketball. Her best friend Mariam, on the other hand, wants to get noticed by the popular crowd and has started de-jabbing, removing her hijab, at school every morning. Sadia’s mom had warned her that navigating high school could be tricky. As much as she hates to admit it, her mom was right.
When tryouts for an elite basketball team are announced, Sadia jumps at the opportunity. Her talent speaks for itself. Her head scarf, on the other hand, is a problem; especially when a discriminatory rule means she has to choose between removing her hijab and not playing. Mariam, Sadia’s parents, and her teammates all have different opinions about what she should do. But it is Sadia who has to find the courage to stand up for herself and fight for what is right — on and off the court.
Skating Over Thin Ice
Written by Jean Mills
Published by Red Deer Press
Imogen St. Pierre is a musical prodigy, a classical pianist touring Canada and abroad in a trio with her father and grandfather. Though clearly accomplished she is also painfully awkward socially, getting lost in the music even after it's over.
Imogen's in the final year in a private boarding school where she meets a boy of the same age, Nathan McCormick, who turns out to be the Next great hockey player. Nathan however has recently been penalized for a vicious fight in an international tournament. Imogen and Nathan don't exactly become an item, but there's an elusive special quality to their connection.
Jean Mills has given us a thoughtful, moving, powerful story about what it's like to be gifted and exceptional — and still young.
The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray
Written by E. Latimer
Published by Tundra Books
Lemony Snicket meets Oscar Wilde meets Edgar Allan Poe in this exciting and scary middle-grade novel inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray — a family curse is unleashed!
Bryony Gray is becoming famous as a painter in London art circles. But life isn’t so grand. Her uncle keeps her locked in the attic, forcing her to paint for his rich clients . . . and now her paintings are taking on a life of their own, and customers are going missing under mysterious circumstances.
When her newest painting escapes the canvas and rampages through the streets of London, Bryony digs into her family history, discovering some rather scandalous secrets her uncle has been keeping, including a deadly curse she’s inherited from her missing father. Bryony has accidentally unleashed the Gray family curse, and it’s spreading fast.
With a little help from the strange-but-beautiful girl next door and her paranoid brother, Bryony sets out to break the curse, dodging bloodthirsty paintings, angry mobs and her wicked uncle along the way.
A Time to Run: Stuart & Sam
Written by Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Published by Clockwise Press
Stuart can run like the wind. It’s a skill that has come in handy for him all his life. Born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), Stuart has learned to run away from all kinds of trouble – at least, if he can recognize it. Sometimes it’s hard for him to know when a friend really is a friend or when he’s just bad news.
Sam is a basketball player destined to play on a university varsity team until he is sidelined by a dangerous heart condition. After losing the one thing that centres his world, Sam focuses his energy on helping his Best Buddy, Stuart, make the school track-and-field team.
But first, both Stuart and Sam must come to understand that there is a time to run and a time to stay where they belong.
Written by Pam Withers
Published by Dundurn Press
When Tristan’s dad disappears, he puts his tracking skills to the test to find him — but will Tristan’s talents save him if it turns out to be a trap?
Thanks to his dad’s coaching, sixteen-year-old Tristan is one of the best climbers and trackers in his small town. He can read footprints and bushes like they’re security-camera footage, and fearlessly descend rock faces and waterfalls. But when his father disappears, leaving his mother too grief-stricken to function, the young canyoneer’s life goes into freefall.
Left in the hands of a well-meaning but incompetent uncle and a space-cadet housekeeper, Tristan finds life a struggle no matter how hard he works. When he nears the end of his rope at home, the teen decides to set off into Swallow Canyon in search of his father — only to realize that someone may be out to get him. Now the question is who’s stalking whom, and are Tristan’s skills up to the dangerous game playing out in the deep, shadowy canyon?
A World Below
Written by Wesley King
Published by Paula Wiseman Books
A class field trips turns into an underground quest for survival in the latest middle grade novel from the author of Edgar Award winner OCDaniel.
Mr. Baker’s eighth grade class thought they were in for a normal field trip to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. But when an earthquake hits, their field trip takes a terrifying turn. The students are plunged into an underground lake…and their teacher goes missing.
They have no choice but to try and make their way back above ground, even though no one can agree on the best course of action. The darkness brings out everyone’s true self. Supplies dwindle and tensions mount. Pretty and popular Silvia does everything she can to hide her panic attacks, even as she tries to step up and be a leader. But the longer she’s underground, the more frequent and debilitating they become.
Meanwhile, Eric has always been a social no one, preferring to sit at the back of the class and spend evenings alone. Now, he finds himself separated from his class, totally by himself underground. That is, until he meets an unexpected stranger.
Told from three different points of view, this fast-paced adventure novel explores how group dynamics change under dire circumstances. Do the students of Mr. Baker’s class really know each other at all? Or do they just think they do? It turns out, it’s hard to hide in the dark.