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Silver Birch Fiction Award 2020

By 49th Teachers
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The Silver Birch Award® is meant for readers aged 8 to 12, (Grades 3-6). The Forest of Reading® is Canada's largest recreational reading program! This initiative of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) offers ten reading programs to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages.
Anyone's Game (Cross Ups, Book 2)

Anyone's Game (Cross Ups, Book 2)

by Sylv Chiang
illustrated by Connie Choi
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Hardcover
tagged : games, computers

What’s up with Cali? Why does she keep changing her gamer tag?

 

It’s summertime, and even though his good friend Cali moved to another city, Jaden can connect with her online almost every day to play their favorite game, Cross Ups. His mom has loosened her rules on how often he can play, and he has an amazing new controller that will make him even better at tournaments. But then he gets roped into a dorky summer camp with his buddy Hugh, and Cali starts acting really weird . . . So when a las …

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Excerpt

Chapter 1
On screen, my dragon-cross, Kaigo, is locked in battle with Saki, the yeti-cross.
Kaigo breathes fire, but before he can melt the ice off Saki’s beard, Saki thrusts a snowstorm my way. The fire extinguishes, and Saki comes in for the punishment.
I’m playing my favorite game, Cross Ups IV. Kaigo’s my main. I play him so much it’s like he’s a part of me. Not the real me, of course. I’m just a skinny twelve-year-old who’s never been in a real fight. Kaigo’s the guy I am inside my head.
Kaigo wears kung fu gear and he’s totally buff. He’s super confident, probably because he can turn into a dragon and blow his opponents’ heads off with fireballs.
Most of the time.
Right now, he’s being shut down by Saki, who just unleashed a blizzard of punches. The yeti-cross is being played by my friend, Cali. It’s the second week of summer holidays and we’re playing online. Cali’s gotten good at Cross Ups since she moved to live with her dad in Montreal a few months ago. I mean, she was always good, but now she’s actually coming close to beating me. I’d better power up.
I go to throw my Dragon Fire Super but she’s faster. Her character transforms into a huge yeti and stomps across the screen. Ice flies everywhere. My Health Meter is down to a thin beat of red.
Not cool.
I jump in the air to breathe fire down her neck—a move she never blocks fast enough. But today she does. Before I compute what just happened, a yeti headbutt takes me down.
K.O.
She beat me?
That’s not supposed to happen.
HermIone Tuesday , 4:08 pm
YES! FINALLY! GTG
We’ve been playing for six hours, but I totally don’t want to stop. Not on a loss.
JStar Tuesday , 4:09 pm
1 MORE
HermIone Tuesday , 4:09 pm
CAN’T
JStar Tuesday , 4:09 pm
Y NOT?
HermIone Tuesday , 4:10 pm
TRBL TTYL
JStar Tuesday , 4:10 pm
WHAT KIND OF TRBL?
She logs off before I hit send.
It’s not like Cali to run off just because she finally got a win. Is her dad mad at her for playing so long? Or is it something more serious?
Sometimes Cali’s like the yeti. She freezes me out.

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Inkling

Inkling

by Kenneth Oppel
illustrated by Sydney Smith
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover

Get ready—a little ink blot is about to become your new best friend

The Rylance family is stuck. Dad’s got writer’s block. Ethan promised to illustrate a group project at school—even though he can’t draw. Sarah’s still pining for a puppy. And they all miss Mom so much more than they can say.

Enter Inkling. Inkling begins life in Mr. Rylance’s sketchbook. Then one night the ink of his drawings runs together—and leaps off the page! This small burst of creativity is about to change ev …

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My Life as a Diamond

My Life as a Diamond

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Ten-year-old Caspar "Caz" Cadman loves baseball and has a great arm. He loves the sounds, the smells, the stats. When his family moves from Toronto to a suburb of Seattle, the first thing he does is try out for the local summer team, the Redburn Ravens. Even though Caz is thrilled when he makes the team, he worries because he has a big secret.
No one knows that back in Toronto, Caz used to live life as a girl named Cassandra. And it's nobody's business. Caz will tell his new friends when he's r …

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The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

With a dad who disappeared years ago, and a mother who's a bit too busy to parent, Emmy has always felt a little out of place. So when her mother announces she's being shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England, Emmy's positive this will be the same.

Until she finds a box of mysterious medallions in the attic of her home. Medallions that belonged to her father. Her father who may have gone toWellsworth.

When she arrives at school, she finds the strange symbols from the me …

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Oculum

Oculum

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

"I'm Mann, just Mann."

The world is slowly recovering after environmental collapse, and the children of the automated, domed city of Oculum have begun to awaken. Miranda, William and the 998 other children wake to tend the fruit trees and gardens behind the thick, opaque walls of their world. Some speak quietly of Outside, which is forbidden. Until William finds a door ...

The children outside the dome of Oculum — Mann, Cranker and others raised by Grannie — live amongst the rubble of the old …

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A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

Monster hunting isn't for the faint of heart -- the first in a brand-new middle-grade series by NYT bestselling author, Kelley Armstrong.

Twelve-year-old Rowan is destined to be Queen; her twin brother, Rhydd, to be Royal Monster Hunter. Rowan would give anything to switch places, but the oldest child is always next in line, even if she is only older by two minutes. She resigns herself to admiring her monster hunting aunt's glorious sword and joining her queen mother for boring diplomatic teas. …

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Excerpt

“I know you love unicorns, Rowan, but please stop staring at mine. You’re making him nervous.
”I do not love unicorns, as my aunt Jannah knows. Jerks. All of them. I’m not staring at Courtois. I’m staring him down. Unfortunately, she’s wrong about the third part, too. I can’t make him nervous, no matter how hard I try.
We’re in the castle courtyard, the high stone walls stealing the morning sun. Around us, the royal hunters prepare for their mission. A mission I should be joining. My twin brother, Rhydd, is and I belong at his side, keeping him safe.
As I scowl at Courtois, Rhydd’s hand thumps on my shoulder. “Give it up, Ro.”
“That beast stepped on my foot,” I say. “On purpose.”
“Yep, I’m sure he did. He is a unicorn.”
I move away from Courtois only to stumble over my aunt’s warg, Malric. The giant wolf lifts his head, upper lip curling to reveal canines as long as my hand. The last person who tried to pet him lost two fingers. Even I know better. I quickstep out of his reach.
“Making friends with all the monsters this morning, aren’t you?” Rhydd teases.
As I grumble, he leans in to whisper, “I know you’re upset. You’re worried about me going on the gryphon hunt.”
“I’m not wor—”
“You’re worried, and this is how you show it. By grumbling and scowling and staring down unicorns.”
“It’s not fair.”
“I know,” he says.
My scowl deepens, and I want to kick the dirt and growl and stomp. That would be childish, though, and I am not a child. I’m twelve. I’m a princess. One day, I’ll be queen.
I don’t want to be queen. I’ll be horrible at it. Rhydd should get the throne. Even now, as scared as he is, he’s trying to calm me. That’s what a real leader does.
“Rhydd?” Jannah calls. “Saddle up.”
As Jannah climbs onto Courtois, her sheathed sword swings by her side. I look at that sword, a gleaming ebony-wood center with a razor-sharp obsidian edge. I imagine it in my hands, and a lump rises in my throat.
This is who I want to be. This is who I should be. Not the queen, but the royal monster hunter. Everyone knows it. I hear the whispers, how my thoughtful brother should sit on the ivory throne, how his headstrong twin sister should wield the ebony sword.

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Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

A brand-new novel by one of today's most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heart-rending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.

For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on "climbing boys"--orphans owned by chimney sweeps--to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived--and a girl. With her wits and will, she's managed to beat the deadly odds …

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Excerpt

"Nan, tell us about the Sweep.”
It was dark in the coal bin, but Nan could tell it was Newt who was asking. Newt was newest to Crudd’s crew. He was barely six years old; he didn’t know all the rules. The first rule was you never asked another climber about his life Before.
There were five climbing boys in the coal bin: Newt, Whittles, Shilling-Tom, Roger, and Nan. Nan wasn’t a boy, but you’d never know that to look at her. She was as grimy as the rest of them. “Who told you about the Sweep?” Nan said. “Was it Roger?”
“Keep me out of it, Cinderella,” Roger muttered. He called Nan “Cinderella” because he thought it annoyed her. He was right.
“No one told me,” Newt said. “I dreamed about him. Last night I slept in your corner. I dreamed him and the girl were both singing to all the people. Only I woke up before I could hear the words.”
This was a thing that happened: the dreaming. Every so often one of the boys would say that he had dreamed about the Sweep. Nan couldn’t explain it. It seemed to happen whenever one of them fell asleep close to her. All she knew was that she didn’t like it. The Sweep was hers.
“It was about you, wasn’t it?” Newt whispered. “You’re the girl from my dream.”
“No,” Nan said. “I’m the girl who wants to go to sleep.” She’d spent fourteen hours climbing chimneys and knew there were more waiting for her tomorrow.
“You’re splashing in the wrong puddle, Newt,” said a raspy voice by the slat window. It was Whittles. He was only eight, but his voice sounded like an old man’s on account of breathing too much chimney soot. “Me and Shilling-Tom been dreaming about the girl and her Sweep for years. Not once have we gotten Nan to fess up that it’s her.”
“Aye,” said Shilling-Tom. He was Whittles’s best mate. “You might as well try to get a second helping from Trundle’s pot.” Trundle was the woman who cared for them. If you could call it that. “I won’t fess up because it’s nonsense,” Nan said. And it was nonsense. How could two people have the same dream?
“Is the Sweep a real person?” Newt asked. “He sounds lovely. Much nicer than Master Crudd.” He whispered this last bit. Just in case Crudd could hear him upstairs.
“Sweeps aren’t supposed to be lovely,” Nan said. “They’re grimy and tough as stone. Just like chimneys.” Maybe lovely was a fine thing to call a person in Newt’s old life, but he was a climber now. He wouldn’t last long if he kept using words like that.
She heard the boy move closer. “Please, Nan?” Her eyes had adjusted to the dim light, and she could see the outline of his head. With his curls shaved of, he really did look like a newt. They had named him well. “Just tell me if he’s real. I promise I won’t tell the others.”
“Don’t beg. A climber never begs.” That was another rule.
“Maybe I can sleep here next to you?” He clasped her arm. “Then I’ll dream about him all on my own?”
Nan knew what the boy was saying. He thought that some-how the dreams were coming from her, which was impossible. She pulled away. “Find your own corner.”
“Aw, go easy on the kid.” It was Whittles. “It’s only been a week since he . . . you know . . .” He didn’t say the rest. None of them knew what had happened to Newt’s family to have him end up here, but it had to have been bad. It was always bad.
“I’m not begging,” Newt said. “But it’s a true fact: I can’t sleep without a bedtime story. My mummy always says . . .” He corrected himself. “. . . always said . . .” His voice faltered. “It’s just I thought hearing a story about the Sweep might help me fall asleep.”
Nan remembered when she had felt the same way. That was a long time ago. That was Before.

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Wings of Olympus

Wings of Olympus

by Kallie George
illustrated by Fiona Hsieh
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover

Take flight with Pippa and her winged horse in this heartfelt two-book series about a young girl who must win the hardest race in ancient Greece in order to stay with her closest friend.

This new series from acclaimed author Kallie George is perfect for horse lovers and fans of Greek myths alike!

High on the slopes of mighty Mount Olympus, among the sun-splashed meadows and sparkling waters, glide the winged horses of the ancient gods. Here up high is normally no place for a lost, parentless girl …

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