Friday 10 April 2015

The Red Maple Award

The Red Maple Award, established by the Ontario Library Association in 1998, celebrates the best fiction and non-fiction books written for Grades 7 and 8.  The winner is selected by Ontario's young readers.  Here are some titles which stand out for me:

1998 After the War (Carol Matas)

Teenager Ruth is realeased from Buchenwald Concentration Camp at the end of World War II, only to find out she is the only survivor of her family.  She meets a young man who convinces her to travel to Palestine, where many Jewish refugees are headed.  They make a daring escape across Europe.

After the war 1997 book cover.jpg

2002 Clara's War (Kathy Kacer)

Clara, a 13-year-old girl imprsioned in a Jewish ghetto called Terezin during the Second World War, faces hunger, disease and death as she awaits transportation to a Concentration Camp.

2008 Safe as Houses (Eric Walters)

Teenager Lizzie Hardy walks two children home from school on a wet, blustery day in 1954.  Inside the children's house, she babysits, not knowing that Hurricane Hazel is on its way.  Outside, the Humber River rises at an alarming rate.

2010 Word Nerd (Susin Neilsen)

A 12-year-old boy is picked on at school to the point where some bullies, knowing he has a peanut allergy, contaminate his lunch.  His mother pulls withdraws him, choosing to home school him.  He befriends the landlord's 25 year old son who invites him to his Scrabble Club.  There, he finds the acceptance he never had.

2011 The Bite of the Mango (Mariatu Kamara)

One girl's journey from Sierra Leone war victim to UNICEF special representative.

2013 Real Justice:  Fourteen and Sentenced to Death:  The Story of Steven Truscott (Bill Swan)

When I was in elementary school, I first read the account of Steven Truscott's trial and conviction for the murder of his 12 year old schoolmate, Lynne Harper.  Pierre Berton wrote a poem "Requiem to a 14 Year Old", which included vivid images of the anxious boy, sentenced to hang, in the Goderich Jail.  Here is another book about Steven Truscott, who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time and was wrongly accused of murder.

Note:  For more information about the Red Maple award, visit

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