2021 Shortlists for the CCBC Book Awards

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has announced the shortlists for their 2021 awards. This is the first year for the Jean Little First-Novel Award. Here are the shortlisted titles in each of the English-language categories:


Cover for The Barnabus Project

The Barnabus Project by the Fan Brothers

Cover for The Barren Grounds

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

Cover for A Beginner's Guide to Goodbye

A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye by Melanie Mosher

Cover for Bloom (The Overthrow #1)

Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

Cover for When Emily Was Small

When Emily Was Small by Lauren Soloy


Cover for The Barnabus Project

The Barnabus Project by the Fan Brothers

Cover for Golden Threads

Golden Threads by Suzanne Del Rizzo, illustrated by Miki Sato

Cover for Our Little Kitchen

Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki

Cover for Swift Fox All Along

Swift Fox All Along by Rebecca Thomas, illustrated by Maya McKibbin

Cover for Weekend Dad

Weekend Dad by Naseem Hrab, illustrated by Frank Viva


Cover for 111 Trees

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh, illustrated by Marianne Ferrer

Cover for Science Comics

Crows: Genius Birds (Science Comics) by Kyla Vanderklugt

Cover for The Eagle Mother, 3

The Eagle Mother by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson), illustrated by Natasha Donovan

Cover for Powwow

Powwow: A Celebration Through Song and Dance by Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane

Cover for This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes

This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science Is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illustrated by Drew Shannon


Cover for Barry Squires, Full Tilt

Barry Squires, Full Tilt by Heather Smith

Cover for The Brushmaker's Daughter (Holocaust Remembrance Series for Young Readers)

The Brushmaker’s Daughter by Kathy Kacer

Cover for Journal of a Travelling Girl

Journal of a Travelling Girl by Nadine Neema, illustrated by Archie Beaverho

Cover for The Paper Girl of Paris

The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor

Cover for Under Amelia's Wing

Under Amelia’s Wing by Heather Stemp


Cover for Charming as a Verb

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Cover for Facing the Sun

Facing the Sun by Janice Lynn Mather

Cover for Followers

Followers by Raziel Reid

Cover for He Must Like You

He Must Like You by Danielle Young-Ullman

Cover for The Silence of Bones

The Silence of Bones by June Hur


Cover for Journal of a Travelling Girl

Journal of a Travelling Girl by Nadine Neema, illustrated by Archie Beaverho

Cover for My Name Is Konisola

My Name Is Konisola by Alisa Siegel

Cover for No Vacancy

No Vacancy by Tziporah Cohen

News to Wake Your Brain Cells – Sept 17


11 enchanting children’s picture books that inspire a love of nature – Forbes

23 beautiful kids’ books to celebrate and honor Hispanic Heritage Month – Today

2021 Growing Good Kids Book Award winners – American Horticultural Society

Books can help kids learn about what happened on 9/11. Here are some good ones – NPR

Jason Reynolds: How can we connect with kids through the written word – NPR

Peter Sis – The Wall: how I grew up behind the Iron Curtain – ARTFIX daily

These kids’ books depicting ‘joyful, queer stories’ are being censored in Hungary and Russia – CBC


#SaveNilesLibrary – OIF Blog

Bias in the Library – WNYC

Guidance for social work positions at the library – Public Libraries Online

Utah librarians talk about 9/11, the Patriot Act, and how they became privacy warriors – The Salt Lake Tribune

When I was struggling, libraries gave me a place to belong – Good Housekeeping


13 must-read young adult novels by Latinx authors – PopSugar

26 must-have Latinx YA books filled with romance, history, and magical realism – SLJ

All the new young adult SFF books arriving in September – Tor

Malorie Blackman: ‘Hope is the spark’ – The Guardian

2021 National Book Award Longlist for Young People’s Literature

The longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature has been announced. Five finalists will be selected from this list and announced on October 5th with the winner announced on November 17th. Here are the ten longlisted titles:

Cover for From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry

From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo

Cover for Home Is Not a Country

Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

Cover for Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Cover for The Legend of Auntie Po

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

Cover for Me (Moth)

Me (Moth) by Amber McBride

Cover for The Mirror Season

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

Cover for Revolution in Our Time

Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People by Kekla Magoon

Cover for A Snake Falls to Earth

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

Cover for Too Bright to See

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Cover for Unspeakable

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

The Fastest Girl on Earth! Meet Kitty O’Neil, Daredevil Driver by Dean Robbins

Cover image for The Fastest Girl on Earth.

The Fastest Girl on Earth! Meet Kitty O’Neil, Daredevil Driver by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (9780593125717)

As a child, Kitty O’Neil loved to go fast. She loved running, riding on the lawn mower with her father, and swimming and diving. Though she lost her hearing due to a childhood fever, it never slowed Kitty down. Kitty grew up to be a stuntwoman in movies. She also set records as the fastest water skier and boat racer. Then Kitty set her sights on being the fastest driver. Her car was called the Motivator and it was rocket powered, capable of going over 300 mph, if Kitty could steer it at that speed. The woman’s land speed record at the time was 308 mph. Kitty went 618 mph! She became an American hero in the 1970’s even having an action figure made in her likeness. Kitty continued to be a champion of children with disabilities and held records in an incredible range of sports.

Robbins’ book about Kitty O’Neil is just as fast paced as her records. His writing is brisk, opening the book with Kitty in her rocket car and closing the book with her record drive. This frames the story very successfully, as young readers will want to know what happens on that historic drive. Robbins also captures the breathlessness of the countdowns, the danger of the drive, and Kitty’s own fearlessness. It’s a marvelous rocket read of a book just right for the subject.

The art, done in pencil, watercolor, acrylic and digital, get readers right into the cockpit with O’Neil. They capture her joy at going fast and breaking records. With bright colors, they also show the dynamic moments of the countdowns, the acceleration, the determination and the eventual win.

A wild ride of book about a deaf woman driver who became a hero. Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Goodbye Old House by Margaret Wild

Cover image for Goodbye, Old House.

Goodbye, Old House by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ann James (9781736226452)

A child knows they are moving, so proceeds to say goodbye to their old home. It’s the last time they will fish in the river, the last time to run through the trees, the last time to pet this pony. It’s the last time to lay by this fire, the last time to sleep in this house. They say goodbye to each room from the hall, leaving a message for the new owners on the wall. Then it’s time for a lot of first moments. The first time to jump over these cracks, the first time to push open the gate, and the first time entering the new house. They say hello to all of the new rooms from the hall. They discover a window seat in their new room, complete with a message from the previous child who lived there.

Wild is a master storyteller. In this picture book she takes very simple lines of farewell and discovery and turns them into a story that is immensely poignant. The angst of moving, of losing all the beloved elements of your life comes full circle here as the child celebrates the current moment of firsts and hellos to their new home. The text is utter simplicity, allowing the emotions to come through without being described at all.

The illustrations by James are captivating. She shows the androgynous child and their homes in stark black and white with engaging expressions and body language. Beyond the windows of the homes and outside, the world is awash is color from the watercolor of the flowing river to the sun on the hills to the orangey tones of the new home.

A moving book that takes time to deal with goodbyes but also celebrates new discoveries too. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Blue Dot Kids Press.

Bad Sister by Charise Mericle Harper

Cover image for Bad Sister.

Bad Sister by Charise Mericle Harper, illustrated by Rory Lucey (9781250219060)

Released September 14, 2021.

This graphic novel memoir explores what happens when you are an older sister with far too many creative ideas. Charise and Daniel love spending time together, even though Daniel often gets hurt. Charise has a lot of powers, like the power of the trick where Daniel ended up eating cat food. She used the power of games to get her way a lot, though Daniel could also use them to bother her. There is also the power of lying, when Charise let Daniel take the blame, at least at first. When Daniel ends up breaking his tooth though, Charise decides she has to do better as a big sister. Luckily, she has a younger brother willing to forgive her and let her try to be a good sister. Though that may be more complicated than she realizes.

It is so refreshing to see a complex and layered depiction of being siblings. Here, there is clearly a lot of love between the two siblings. That foundation is what lets them take a lot of risky behaviors together, making their bond even tighter with the secrets they keep from their parents. When Daniel ends up getting bashed, banged, thrown and more, the two continue to spend time together, showing how much they actually enjoy one another. Through her memoir, Charise shows that change is possible, even if it still means that Daniel might still get hurt. It’s her intentions and responses that mature along the way.

Lucey’s illustrations are perfect. They unflinchingly show the build up towards near disasters and true disasters that we will all recognize from our own childhoods whether egged on by a big sister or not. The illustrations also show the huge grins as the siblings plot together about what to attempt next and the changing dynamic between them as Charise learns to be less of a bad sister.

Full of laughter, gasps and accidents, this is a great graphic novel memoir. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by First Second.

When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clark

Cover image for When We Say Black Lives Matter.

When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clark (9781536222388)

This picture book looks at the Black Lives Matter movement and explains it to young children in a way they can understand. Using rhythm, repetition and rhyme, the picture book is engaging while explaining larger societal issues. The book focuses on concepts that include respect, fear, remembrance, freedom and being enough. The book directly speaks to the Black child, explaining the vitality and importance of the protests and incorporating the protests into a message of self-worth, joy and music.

Clark’s writing is masterful. She uses rhythm and rhyme so successfully here, moving the words like jazz music or the tempo of drums. She uses rhythm to have her words become protest chants and then transforming anger into sorrow, remembrance and tears into power. She shows how all of the emotions, negative and positive, can be used as a demand for change.

The illustrations are large, colorful and bold. They move from a family with a new baby and the warm reds and yellows of their home to starry nights of protest done in deep blues to the poison green of the trouble that comes. She incorporates stained-glass windows into several of the images, showing the timelessness and importance of the demand for racial justice.

An importance picture book for public library collections. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick.

King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza

Cover for King of Ragtime.

King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza (9781534410367)

Released September 14, 2021.

Scott Joplin was a child who loved to listen to the sounds around him rather than using his own voice. He was the son of a man who was once enslaved. Their home was full of music with his father fiddling, his mother playing banjo and singing, and his siblings playing instruments too. Scott played the cornet. To find work, the family moved north to Texarkana where Giles found work laying tracks for the railway. Scott’s mother found work as a housemaid for a wealthy white family who happened to have a piano. When Scott came along to help, he saw the piano and started to play when he had time. Eventually, the Joplin family was able to purchase a piano for Scott and traded housework for lessons. Scott loved learning about the piano and music, but most of all he loved composing his own songs. He played all over town, and eventually made his way north to play in saloons and eventually in Chicago where he heard ragtime for the first time. Scott went to Sedalia, Missouri where he went to college and composed music. He tried to get his songs published and finally found a man willing to take a chance on a Black unknown composer. That’s how “Maple Leaf Rag” became a national sensation.

Constanza’s writing is full of rhythm and talks about music throughout. From his mother singing hymns to his family playing together to learning piano to getting work playing and composing, the entire book dances along to the importance of music in Joplin’s life. The writing also incorporates lots of sounds like the chirping of cicadas, the swish of brooms, the plink of the piano, and the OOM-pah! The writing is full of energy and tells the story of Joplin’s life with style.

The illustrations are bright and full of color and light. They have elements of quilts that fill the ground with patterns. The skies are blue with swirling clouds that dance in the sky. The towns are full of colorful buildings. Everything is inspiration for Joplin’s music, from the trains to the chickens to the flowers to the towns. It all comes together into one warm and bright world.

A jaunty and rhythmic biography of a musical legend. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Hurricane by John Rocco

Cover image for Hurricane.

Hurricane by John Rocco (9780759554931)

The boy who narrates this story of a hurricane has a neighborhood dock that he loves. No one ever uses it except for him. It’s old, splintery and weathered, and just perfect. He can fish from the dock, catch crabs and swim. One day when he returned home from the dock, the air felt different and his father was putting boards over the windows. A storm was coming. The winds were big enough to shake the whole house and the river crept up the street. The next morning, the boy headed back to his dock, ready to fish. But his neighborhood looked different and the dock was destroyed. The boy asked everyone for help rebuilding the dock, but they were busy fixing their homes. So he knew he had to do it himself. Day after day, he worked on the dock all alone. Just when he was about to give up, help arrived. The whole town helped rebuild the dock into something that they could all share.

Caldecott-Honoree, Rocco, continues his exploration of natural disasters with this third book following Blizzard and Blackout. Rocco captures the joy of being near water, both when you have a treasured place that you can use alone and when it’s bustling and shared. The connection with nature is evident throughout the book, with the unnamed protagonist taking solace during the storm by imagining himself under his dock. The hard work the boy does to get his special place back is then supported by the community and shows the power of helping one another.

Rocco’s illustrations are full of sunshine and water at first. They show how the boy loves his time at the dock. Then the storm comes and Rocco has captured the unique lighting of pre-storm hours and then the darkness that descends. The devastation afterwards is realistic and dramatic, with trees down, shingles on the ground, and a flooded road. The moment that the boy sees his dock is particularly heart-wrenching and also a moment of resilience.

This picture book celebrates nature and community even in moments of devastation. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Little, Brown and Company.