The mid-October announcement of nominees for the Silver Birch Award for fiction revealed that the novel Me and Mr. Bell, by Philip Roy was among ten shortlisted books. In the non-fiction category, The Extraordinary Life of Anna Swan, by Anne Renaud, is on the list. Both books were published by CBU Press in 2013.
Speaking from Inverness, Scotland, while on a book tour, CBU Press Editor-in-Chief Mike Hunter was enthusiastic about the news.
“Forest of Reading is a big deal in Canadian publishing for young people on several fronts. First and foremost for us is, of course, recognition for the high level of creativity and excellence by these authors,” said Hunter. “Second is the fact that thousands of youngsters in Ontario will be exposed to Atlantic Canadian stories. Finally, it means sales in much greater numbers than we usually see.”
The news falls hard on the heels of two other major nominations for CBU Press books for young people Me and Mr. Bell and The Manager, by Caroline Stellings, are both on the shortlist for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People. The award is part of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre to be handed out at a gala event in Toronto on November 6.
“Two out of five books shortlisted for the Bilson award are Cape Breton stories,” notes Hunter. “That’s not bad.” Me and Mr. Bell is also on the Maritime Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award list.
The Forest of Reading consists of eight reading programs designed to cultivate a love of reading for people of all ages. More than 250,000 readers participate annually from their local school or public library.
In October, the programs are launched when the lists of nominated titles are announced by the OLA. Most schools and libraries start to run the program in December/January. The winning books will be announced at the Festival of Trees in May 2015.
The Silver Birch program – now in its 21st year – is meant for readers aged 8 to 12, while the non-fiction focuses on Grade 5 and 6 readers. The Silver Birch Express category focuses on the lower grade levels and reluctant readers.
The Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program. This initiative of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) encourages a love of reading in people of all ages.