2018 Silver Birch Express Award® Nominees

 


The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World
Written by Katie Smith Milway
Illustrated bt Shane W. Evans
Kids Can Press

Separated from his family when they were forced to flee their home, a young East African boy named Deo lives alone in the Lukole refugee camp in Tanzania. With scarce resources at the camp, bullies have formed gangs to steal what they can, and a leader named Remy has begun targeting Deo. Then one day a coach gathers all the children to play soccer. Though Deo loves soccer and has even made his own ball out of banana leaves, he's unsure at first about joining in when he sees Remy on the field. But as Deo and the other boys get drawn into the game, everything begins to change. Their shared joy in playing provides the children - including Remy --- with a sense of belonging. “Ball by ball, practice by practice, children who were once afraid of each other laugh together,” the book explains, and “no one feels so alone anymore.”

Based on a true story, Katie Smith Milway's inspiring tale shows how a desperate situation can be improved by finding common ground through play. It provides a perfect starting point for discussing the social justice issues surrounding the growing number of refugees worldwide. Award-winning Shane W. Evans's artwork powerfully and poignantly personalizes for children the experience of refugees. Furthermore, the book examines the value of using sports to build pro-social behaviour, particularly as it relates to bullying. By depicting characters who change and evolve over the course of the story, kids of all backgrounds and experiences will find something positive to relate to. The back matter contains information about the “real” Deo, instructions for games that build trust and inclusion through play, and suggestions for how to support play-based nonprofit organizations.

Big Blue Forever: The Story of Canada's Largest Blue Whale Skeleton
Written By Anita Miettunen
Red Deer Press

Big Blue Forever is inspired by the true story of how a blue whale skeleton found on a remote beach in PEI was shipped cross country and reassembled for permanent display at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. This unique Canadian adventure story is complemented with intriguing facts about blue whales and their environment, and the fascinating process that museums go through to uncover, prepare, and reassemble skeletons for display and study.




A Boy Named Queen
Written by Sara Cassidy
Groundwood Books

Evelyn is both aghast and fascinated when a new boy comes to grade five and tells everyone his name is 

QueenQueen wears shiny gym shorts and wants to organize a chess/environment club. His father plays weird loud music and has tattoos.

How will the class react? How will Evelyn?Evelyn is an only child with a strict routine and an even stricter mother. And yet in her quiet way she notices things. She takes particular notice of this boy named Queen. The way the bullies don't seem to faze him. The way he seems to live by his own rules. When it turns out that they take the same route home from school, Evelyn and Queen become friends, almost against Evelyn's better judgment. She even finds Queen irritating at times. Why doesn't he just shut up and stop attracting so much attention to himself?

Yet he is the most interesting person she has ever met. So when she receives a last-minute invitation to his birthday party, she knows she must somehow persuade her mother to let her go, even if it means ignoring the No Gifts request and shopping for what her mother considers to be an appropriate gift, appropriately wrapped with "boy" wrapping paper.Her visit to Queen’s house opens Evelyn's eyes to a whole new world, including an unconventional goody bag (leftover potato latkes wrapped in waxed paper and a pair of barely used red sneakers). And when it comes time for her to take something to school for Hype and Share, Evelyn suddenly looks at her chosen offering - her mother's antique cream jug - and sees new and marvelous possibilities.


Heartwood Hotel 01: A True Home
Written by Kallie George
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

When Mona the mouse stumbles across the wondrous world of the Heartwood Hotel in the middle of a storm, she desperately hopes the staff will let her stay. As it turns out, Mona is precisely the maid they need at the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest, where animals come from far and wide for safety, luxury and comfort. But it’s not all acorn soufflé and soft, moss-lined beds. Danger lurks nearby, and as it approaches, Mona has to use all her wits to protect the place she’s come to love. Because this hotel is more than a warm shelter for the night. It might also be a home.



I Am Not a Number
Written by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
Illustrated by Gillian Newland
Second Story Press

When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene's parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, I Am Not a Number is a hugely necessary book that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.


Pablo Finds a Treasure
Written by Andrée Poulin
Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Annick Press

A poignant, simply-told story that shows the resourcefulness of poverty-stricken children around the world.Pablo and his sister spend every day at "Treasure Mountain", the local dump. There, they rummage through the mounds of garbage looking for items that their mother can sell in order to provide food for the family. Occasionally, they find a "real" treasure like some still-edible food, or a picture book, which Pablo delights in, even though he can't read. The work is exhausting, and sometimes not very lucrative, but the worst thing they have to contend with is Filthy-Face, a brutish bully who steals the finds of all the children. But one day, Pablo discovers a real treasure. Will he be able to keep it from falling into the hands of Filthy-Face? Simply written with highly expressive illustrations, this book brings home the reality of poverty around the world.



Smiley: A Journey of Love
Written By Joanne George
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited

While working as a veterinary technician, Joanne George heard about a puppy mill not far from the clinic and embarked on a rescue mission with her coworkers. On that special day Joanne met Smiley for the first time. He had been born without eyes and with dwarfism and because of his time in the puppy mill, Smiley was suffering from serious anxiety. While the other dogs rescued that day were found loving homes, Smiley was going to need some extra special care. Nothing happens without practice and patience and Joanne and Smiley learned both those traits together. Gradually Smiley was able to walk offleash and started greeting Joanne at the back door. She gave Smiley a loving home and he taught her patience, understanding and acceptance. It became evident that Smiley would be a wonderful therapy dog. 



Tank & Fizz: The Case of the Missing Mage
Written by Liam O'Donnell
Illustrated by Mike Deas
Orca Book Publishers

As the eve of the great Wizards' Summit approaches, wizards from all over Rockfall Mountain descend on the school at Shadow Tower to refine their craft. When professors start disappearing, it's up to magic-fearing monster sleuths Tank and Fizz to solve this spell-packed mystery and find the missing mages. Aleetha, their detective partner and a wizard-in-training, has dragged Tank and Fizz into the heart of the Shadow Tower, where libraries fly, spells fill the air, and an ancient army of darkness stirs when she receives a mysterious message from her missing teacher. Using their detective skills, a pinch of magic and a trickle of technology, the friends stumble into a battle that's been brewing for decades. And what starts as a simple missing-persons case turns into a clash of light versus dark magic. Can Tank and Fizz overcome their fears and track down the missing mages before the black magic makes them disappear for good? The Case of the Missing Mage is the third book in the Tank & Fizz series about two crime-solving monsters living under a mountain, following The Case of the Slime Stampede and The Case of the Battling Bots.


The Vimy Oaks: A Journey to Peace
Written By Linda Granfield
Illustrated by Brian Deines
Scholastic Canada Ltd.

A soldier, a handful of acorns — and a hundred-year legacy of hope, remembrance and renewal.

“I am writing seated at the foot of a large oak,” wrote Leslie Miller in his diary in 1916, while war raged around him. Little could this Canadian soldier have imagined how future generations would come to enjoy the majestic oak trees he grew after his return to Canada.

Standing amidst the devastation of war, Leslie picked up a handful of acorns and mailed them home, where they were nurtured. This small but amazingly hopeful act continues to be felt just as powerfully today, one hundred years after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The living legacy of Leslie Miller’s “Vimy Oaks” inspires hope as the world remembers and honours the soldiers who served in the First World War.



Wolf Island
Written By Nicholas Read
Illustrated by Ian McAllister
Orca Book Publishers

The Great Bear Rainforest is a majestic place full of tall trees, huge bears and endless schools of salmon. Award-winning photographer and author Ian McAllister's luminous photographs illustrate the story of a lone wolf who swims to one of the small islands that dot the rainforest's coast. The island provides him with everything he needs—deer, salmon, fresh water—everything, that is, but a mate. When a female wolf arrives on the island's rocky shores, she and he start a family and introduce their pups to the island's bounty.