2020 Blue Spruce Award™ Nominees

         
         


 

Emma’s Gems
Written by Anne Renaud & Leanne Franson, Illustrated by Leanne Franson
Peanut Butter Press

Emma loves her grandfather, and the moments she shares with him are always filled with beautiful discoveries. That's because Grandpa Phil is so wise. He even knows how to change ordinary stones into precious gems. By using these stones to carry out three acts of kindness every day, Grandpa Phil demonstrates to his granddaughter the importance of helping people, animals, and the environment.






Giraffe & Bird Together Again
Written by Rebecca Bender, Illustrated by Rebecca Bender
Pajama Press
 

Bird lives for adventure. He wants to swoop, soar, and explore. Giraffe is perfectly happy right where he is, thank you very much. He never worries when Bird flits off for a while. But one afternoon his friend fails to return. Giraffe has a bad feeling that something has happened to Bird. Giraffe dreads the wide world full of tangly forests, craggy mountains, and mysterious plains. But he doesn't hesitate. If Bird is in trouble, then Giraffe will find and rescue him.






Magic Boat
Written by Katherine Farris & Kit Pearson, Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Orca Book Publisher

Every summer morning, Ellie and her Nonna go to the beach. They swim and build sandcastles, and while Nonna reads, Ellie watches the other children play. One day Ellie builds up the courage to approach an older girl playing on her own in a beached rowboat. Piper has a gift, an imagination so great that she whisks Ellie off on grand adventures, going high in the air, deep below the ocean and everywhere in between in their little blue boat, their magic boat. When Piper has to leave, Ellie discovers she has her own vivid imagination.

 






Me, Toma & The Concrete Garden
Written by Andrew Larsen, Illustrated by Anne Villeneuve
Kids Can Press

Vincent is staying with his aunt Mimi for the summer while his mom recuperates from surgery. Mimi's drab city neighborhood, complete with an empty dirt lot across the street, doesn't seem too promising. But then Vincent meets Toma, a boy who lives nearby, and things start looking up. Mimi has a mysterious box of dirt balls in her apartment. When she asks Vincent to get rid of them, the fun Vincent and Toma have throwing them into the lot becomes the start of a budding friendship. Then one day, they notice new shoots sprouting all over the lot. Maybe those balls weren't just made of dirt after all!






Mustafa
Written by Marie-Louise Gay, Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books

Mustafa and his family travelled a long way to reach their new home. Some nights Mustafa dreams about the country he used to live in, and he wakes up not knowing where he is. Then his mother takes him out to the balcony to see the moon — the same moon as in their old country. In the park, Mustafa sees ants and caterpillars and bees — they are the same, too. He encounters a “girl-with-a-cat,” who says something in a language that he can’t understand. He watches an old lady feeding birds and other children playing, but he is always looking in from the outside and he feels that he is invisible. But one day, the girl-with-the-cat beckons to him, and Mustafa begins to become part of his new world.







A Plan for Pops
Written by Heather Smith, Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
Orca Book Publishers

Lou spends every Saturday with Grandad and Pops. They walk to the library hand in  hand, like a chain of paper dolls. Grandad reads books about science and design; Pops listens to rock and roll, and Lou bounces from lap to lap. But everything changes one Saturday. Pops has a fall. That night there is terrible news: Pops will need to use a wheelchair, not just for now, but for always. Unable to cope with his new circumstances, he becomes withdrawn and shuts himself in his room. Hearing Grandad trying to cheer up Pops inspires Lou to make a plan. Using skills learned from Grandad, and with a little help from their neighbours, Lou comes up with a plan for Pops.






Reptile Club
Written by Maureen Fergus, Illustrated by Elina Ellis
Kids Can Press

There are lots of clubs for Rory to join at his new school, but none seem quite right for him. So when his parents suggest he start his own club about something he loves, Rory knows exactly what it will be: a Reptile Club! He's positive that there are other kids out there who share his passion. He sets up his first meeting and then waits and waits for students to show up. Just as he is about to give up, Rory hears whispering in the hallway and hurries over to see who it is. To his astonishment, it's not his schoolmates who have arrived to attend the first meeting, but a crocodile, an anaconda and a gecko!






Sleep, Sheep!
Written by Kerry Lyn Sparrow, Illustrated by Guillaume Perreault
Kids Can Press

There are lots of things Duncan likes about bedtime — the stories, the pajamas, the bubblegum-flavored toothpaste ... The only thing he doesn't like is going to sleep. And he'll do anything he can to avoid it. Until one day, Duncan's mom has had enough of his stalling. Try counting sheep, she tells him. So, he does. At first, it's kind of fun. As he counts, each sheep appears, wearing its number like a race car, and leaps over the bed. But then comes Sheep #68, who hesitates. He needs a drink of water before he can jump. Then he has to go to the bathroom. Then he wants to put on running shoes. Will Sheep #68 ever do what he's supposed to?

 







Sloth at the Zoom
Written by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Orbie 
Owlkids Books

One day, a sloth accidentally gets delivered to the Zoom! She was supposed to be dropped off at the Zzzzzoo, a much more laid-back, slow-paced place. She had been looking forward to long, languorous naps while the sun gently warmed her belly. But at the Zoom, the zebras gallop so fast they leave their stripes in puddles. The monkeys climb so fast they forget to stop at the treetops. And the parrots fly so fast their tails draw rainbows across the sky.

When the sloth tries to make friends, nobody has any time — until the sloth meets a creature who's a little more her speed, and everyone stops to notice. This is a surprising, delightful, and funny picture book about slowing down to enjoy the little things and making time for what matters.







That’s Not Hockey
Written by Andrée Poulin, Illustrated by Félix Girard
Annick Press
 

Young Jacques Plante’s way of playing hockey may look different from everyone else’s. Instead of a puck, he uses a tennis ball, and his shin pads are made out of potato sacks and wooden slats. But that’s not going to stop him. He loves the game.

Jacques is drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in his mid-twenties. Fans love the unstoppable goalie as he leads his team to one victory after another. But there’s a price to pay: pucks to the face result in a broken jaw, broken cheekbones, multiple stitches, and even a skull fracture. 

One day, Jacques has had enough. He goes on the ice wearing a fiberglass mask. The coach orders him to take it off.

Finally, at a game against the Rangers, when yet another puck hits Jacques square in the face, he puts his foot down. He will not continue to play unless he’s allowed to wear a mask.

Young hockey fans will enjoy this story of Jacques Plante, whose determination and love of the game brought about a revolutionary change to how it is played.