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2021 Red Maple Award Nominees


Jonnie, Brianna.
If I go missing

A graphic novel about the subject of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Combining fiction and non-fiction, this young adult graphic novel looks into one of the unique dangers of being an Indigenous teen in Canada today. The text of the book is derived from excerpts of a letter written to the Winnipeg Chief of Police by fourteen-year-old Brianna Jonnie--a letter that went viral and in which, Jonnie calls out the authorities for neglecting to immediately investigate and involve the public in the search for missing Indigenous people, and urges them to "not treat me as the Indigenous person I am proud to be" if she were to be reported missing.

Slade, Arthur G.
Dragon assassin

Carmen is at the top of the class at the Red Assassin School. She is an expert with bladed weapons and poisons, and is perfect at riding the giant black swans that assassins use for their missions. But, in a practice sword fight, her twin brother "accidentally" blinds her in one eye. She continues to train but drops to the bottom of her class. Still, she's sure she'll graduate. Then the nearby emperor is killed by an assassin and his replacement declares war on the assassin school itself. And worst of all Carmen discovers her brother may have betrayed them all on graduation night. In her desperation, she makes a life-altering pact with a dragon to save her school.

Walters, Eric
Broken strings

In the aftermath of the twin towers and the death of her beloved grandmother, Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. She auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is given the part of the old Jewish mother. While looking for props in her grandfather's attic, Shirli discovers an old violin in the corner. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before.

Oppel, Kenneth.

Odd black plants begin to grow after a downpour. As they spread toxic pollen and begin feeding, three teenagers find themselves immune. They must figure out why before the plants complete their invasion.

Camlot, Heather
Other Side

Twelve-year-old Liam finds a dead body along the shore at his grandfather's cottage. He can't erase what he's seen and can't focus on anything else, not even the upcoming opportunity of a lifetime to try out for an elite soccer team. Liam believes there is more to the girl's story than her "accidental death" and decides to investigate. When Liam visits his grandfather, living in palliative care, things go from bad to worse. As they watch Germany's 2014 World Cup soccer games together, his grandfather, a German World War II veteran, reveals stories about his past -- stories a Jewish Canadian kid doesn't want to hear. Angry and overwhelmed, Liam is swept up in a history that may just help him solve the girl's death -- and make sense of his own world again.

Sherrard, Valerie
Rise and Fall of Derek Cowell

Derek didn't mean to become popular. His accidental photo bomb -- the one that made him internet-famous -- took him from invisibility to middle-school fame overnight. And you know what? He's not sure if he likes it. But his best friend Steve does, and schemes to find other ways to help Derek to remain the talk of the school. But what goes up must come down, and Derek's reluctant rise is followed by a regrettable crash.

Kilbourne, Christina
Safe Harbour

Fourteen-year-old Harbour is living in a tent in a Toronto ravine with her dog, a two-month supply of canned tuna, and an unconventional reading list. She's not homeless, she tells herself. She's merely waiting for her home -- a thirty-six-foot sailboat -- to arrive with her father at the helm. Why should she worry when the clouds give her signs that assure her that she's safe and protected? When her credit card gets declined, phone contact from her father stops, and summer slips into a frosty fall, Harbour is forced to face reality and accept the help of a homeless teen named Lise to survive on the streets. Lise shows Harbour how to panhandle and navigate the shelter system while trying to unravel Harbour's mysterious past. But if Harbour tells her anything, the consequences could be catastrophic.

King, Wesley.
Sara and the search for normal

Sara wants to be normal, but what she has instead are multiple diagnoses. Her panic attacks and other episodes cause her to isolate herself. When she starts group therapy, she meets someone new, talkative and outgoing Erin. And Sara finds herself in unfamiliar territory: at the movies, at a birthday party, and with someone to tell about her crush--in short, with a friend.

Weymouth, Laura E.
Treason of Thorns

Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh's magic kept both the countryside and Violet happy. That is, until her father's treason destroyed everything. Now she's been given a chance to return home. But Burleigh isn't what she remembered. Wild with grief, Burleigh's very soul is crying out in pain. As its tormented magic ravages the countryside, Vi must decide how far she's willing to go to save her house--before her house destroys everything she's ever known. A house left unchecked will lead to ruin. But I will not let it ruin me.

Saeed, Jamal
Yara's Spring

Growing up in Aleppo, Yara's childhood has long been shadowed by the coming revolution. But when the Arab Spring finally arrives at Yara's doorstep, it is worse than even her Nana imagined: sudden, violent, and deadly. When rescuers dig Yara out from under the rubble that was once her family's home, she emerges to a changed world. Her parents and Nana are gone, and her brother, Saad, can't speak--struck silent by everything he's seen. Now, with her friend Shireen and Shireen's charismatic brother, Ali, Yara must try to find a way to safety. With danger around every corner, Yara is pushed to her limits as she discovers how far she'll go for her loved ones--and for a chance for freedom.