Each year Alberta teachers, librarians, parents, and students select exemplary Canadian literature for students to read in grades 4-7. After reading, the students will vote on their favorite books and the winners will be announced in spring of 2021.

An incredible seven Transatlantic clients have been nominated for the 2021 Awards:

BEASTLY PUZZLES, by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler (Kids Can Press). This book asks children: If you’re given a list of features and characteristics, can you guess which animal they make? This might seem easy enough. But solving the puzzles in this book is deviously, outrageously, almost impossibly tricky!

Rachel Poliquin is a writer and curator with a background in visual arts, cultural history and natural history. Rachel is also the author of the four-book Superpower Field Guide Series. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia and is represented by Amy Tompkins.

BROKEN STRINGS, by Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer (Puffin Canada). A violin and a middle-school musical unleash a dark family secret in this moving story by an award-winning author duo. For fans of The Devil’s Arithmetic and Hana’s Suitcase.

Eric Walters is one of Canada’s best-known and most prolific writers of fiction for children and young adults. His books have won over 120 awards, including thirteen separate children’s choice awards, as well as the Africana Children’s Book Award, the UNESCO Award for Literature in Service of Tolerance and The Christopher Award. His books have been translated into thirteen languages. He lives in Guelph, Ontario, and is the co-founder of Creation of Hope, a charity that provides care for orphans in the Mbooni district of Kenya. In 2014 Eric was named a Member of the Order of Canada. His most recent novel is Elephant Secret, which is his hundredth published book. Eric is represented by Amy Tompkins.

Kathy Kacer’s award-winning list of Holocaust fiction and non-fiction for young readers includes The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser (winner of OLA Silver Birch Award), The Diary of Laura’s Twin (winner of the National Jewish Book Council Award [US] as well as the Canadian Jewish Book Award), Hiding Edith (winner of the OLA Silver Birch Award; the Sydney Taylor Book Award [Association of Jewish Libraries], Notable Book for Older Readers; and the Yad Vashem Award for Children’s Holocaust Literature [Israel]), and To Look a Nazi in the Eye (a Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teens). Her books have been published and translated in twenty countries. She is the child of Holocaust survivors, and the parent of two actors and musical theater performers. For more information, please see: www.kathykacer.com. Kathy is represented by Amy Tompkins for BROKEN STRINGS.

HOME SWEET NEIGHBORHOOD by Michelle Mulders (Orca Book Publishers). Placemaking―personalizing public and semi-private spaces like front yards―is a growing trend in cities and suburbs around the world, drawing people out of their homes and into conversation with one another. Kids are natural placemakers, building tree forts, drawing on sidewalks and setting up lemonade stands, but people of all ages can enjoy creative placemaking activities. From Dutch families who drag couches and tables onto sidewalks for outdoor suppers to Canadians who build little lending libraries to share books with neighbors, people can do things that make life more fun and strengthen neighborhoods.

Michelle Mulder is the founding author of and has written six other titles in the Footprints series—Pedal It!, Brilliant!, Every Last Drop, Trash Talk, Pocket Change and Going Wild. Michelle has also written the novels The Vegetable Museum, Not a Chance, Out of the Box, After Peaches and several other books for young people. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Michelle is represented by Amy Tompkins.

SERGEANT BILLY, by Mireille Messier, Illustrated by Kass Reich (Tundra Books). During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort. This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration.

Kass Reich was born in Montreal, Quebec. She works as an artist and educator and has spent the majority of the last decade traveling and living abroad. She now lives in Toronto. She is the illustrator of the award-winning Megabat series, the bestselling  Carson Crosses Canada, and Hamsters Holding Hands. 

THE PHONE BOOTH IN MR. HIROTA’S GARDEN by Heather Smith and Rachel Wada (Orca Book Publishers). When the tsunami destroyed Makio’s village, Makio lost his father . . . and his voice. The entire village is silenced by grief, and the young child’s anger at the ocean grows. Then one day his neighbor, Mr. Hirota, begins a mysterious project―building a phone booth in his garden. At first Makio is puzzled; the phone isn’t connected to anything. It just sits there, unable to ring. But as more and more villagers are drawn to the phone booth, its purpose becomes clear to Makio: the disconnected phone is connecting people to their lost loved ones. Makio calls to the sea to return what it has taken from him and ultimately finds his voice and solace in a phone that carries words on the wind.

Originally from Newfoundland, Heather Smith now lives in Waterloo, Ontario, with her family. Her Newfoundland roots inspire much of her writing. Her middle-grade novel Ebb and Flow was short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and her YA novel The Agony of Bun O’Keefe won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award and was short-listed for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

Rachel Wada’s work is defined by heavy texture, bold color and intricate details that capture the nuances of people, places and ideas, real and surreal. Rachel’s identity as Japanese-Cantonese, an immigrant and a woman informs her artistic practice. She loves to put her own spin on traditional techniques, motifs and symbolism inspired by her cultural background. This duality of old and new is also apparent in her use of both traditional and digital mediums, and she draws inspiration from a variety of sources, from Japanese woodblock prints, Chinese pottery and ceramics, food packaging design to traditional folk art. She has a special love for the ocean, tea and noodles of all kinds. Rachel lives in Vancouver.

Heather and Rachel are represented by Amy Tompkins.

To see the full list of honorees, please visit: https://rmba.info/

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