2024 Blue Spruce Award™ Nominees
JK-Grade 2, picture books
Benny the Bananasaurus Rex
Written by Sarabeth Holden
Illustrated by Emma Pedersen
Published by Inhabit Media Inc.
Benny loves bananas. He eats them morning, noon, and night. He even rides a bike with a yellow banana seat. In fact, Benny has a secret, he hopes one day he will turn into a banana! And if there is one thing Benny knows, it’s that with a little imagination anything is possible.
A funny and relatable story of a little boy who can be anything he wants to be (whether it’s a dinosaur, a banana, or both!) with a big imagination and a bit of help from his anaana.
Written by Sandra Bradley and
Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Published by Pajama Press
Eight-year-old Daniel cherishes the hour he spends every morning helping his Great-Uncle Lewis in his chocolate shop. They mix, temper, pour, and mould. “It’s magic, my boy,” Uncle Lewis says. Daniel agrees.
When a new girl named Sarah joins his class, Daniel sees how lonely she is and begins sneaking chocolates into her desk. Seeing Sarah light up after each treat is wonderful…but then Daniels starts noticing other classmates with troubles. Soon he is hiding more and more chocolates until the exciting day when everyone in class receives one, even the teacher! The best part is, no one knows it’s him.
But then, when Daniel is the one feeling sad and alone, who will know to comfort him?
Written by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Illustrated by Caroline Bonne-Müller
Published by Kids Can Press
Alice loves her street. She loves its tall maple trees and marigolds and its apartment buildings with their colourful balconies. But not everyone feels the same. “Grumble, grumble, more construction, grumble, late, grumble,” she overhears. So Alice decides to write her street a love letter, which she leaves for someone to find.
Through the seasons, as Alice encounters people grumbling about other things, she writes those things love letters, too, and leaves them to be found. She writes to her local park, a maple tree and even the snow. Then, one day, when Alice finds herself grumbling, she discovers a letter someone else has written to the spring crocuses. And Alice feels the joy she has been spreading to others come back to her!
Garden of Lost Socks
Written by Esi Edugyan and
Illustrated by Amélie Dubois
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
This big-hearted picture book debut from one of Canada’s brightest literary stars follows Akosua, a budding Exquirologist, as she finds both a new friend and a remarkable world hidden right in her very own community. Acclaimed artist Amélie Dubois adds a layer of magic to Akosua’s charming adventure with her delicate, compelling illustrations.
Each turn of the page pulls readers deeper into Akosua’s journey, daring them to become Exquirologists too, and encouraging them to seek out magic in the mundane!.
How to Party Like A Snail
Written by Naseem Hrab
Illustrated by Kelly Collier
Published by Owlkids Books
Snail is a party animal. Well…kind of. He loves the quiet things about parties: confetti, making new friends (using his indoor voice, of course), and the silence before everyone yells, “SURPRISE!” But when parties get loud, Snail retreats into his shell. He’s still partying, but no one can tell he’s having a good time while he’s tucked inside. His friends don’t understand why he doesn’t love loud parties like they do, and soon Snail’s party invites begin to dry up.
In response, Snail decides to plan his own quiet party, complete with warm milk and lullaby lip-syncing. But something is missing—does Snail long for the “loud” after all? That’s when Stump, a fellow introvert, chimes in with an idea. Maybe Snail isn’t missing the “loud”…maybe he’s just missing a friend to share the quiet. Together, Stump and Snail turn the lullabies down low and celebrate “the shush” together.
The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
Illustrated by Hatem Aly
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
It’s picture day and Faizah can’t wait to wear her special red dress with matching hair ribbons, passed down from her mother and sister. Faizah’s teacher starts the day by asking her students to envision the kind of world they want, inspiring Faizah and her friends to spend the day helping one another in ways large and small.
But when it’s time for sibling pictures, Faizah realizes that she and her older sister, Asiya, don’t match like her classmates do with their siblings. With help from her classmates inspired by Asiya’s hijab, Faizah finds that acts of kindness can come back to you in unexpected ways.
My Fade is Fresh
Written by Shauntay Grant
Illustrated by Kitt Thomas
Published by PRHC Penguin Workshop
When a little girl walks into her local barbershop, she knows she wants the flyest, freshest fade on the block! But there are so many beautiful hairstyles to choose from, and the clients and her mother suggest them all: parts, perms, frizzy fros, dye jobs, locs, and even cornrows!
But this little girl stays true to herself and makes sure she leaves the shop feeling on top with the look she picks!
My Name is Saajin Singh
Written by Kuljinder Kaur Brar
Illustrated by Samrath Kaur
Published by Annick Press
Saajin loves his name—he loves it so much that he sees it spelled out in the world around him in his snacks, in the sky and sometimes he even sings it aloud. On his first day of school, Saajin is excited to meet his new classmates, but things take a turn when the teacher mispronounces his name as Say-jin and he is not sure how—or if he should—correct her. After trying to live with the different version of his name for a while and some thoughtful conversations with his family about the meaning behind it, Saajin realizes the importance of reclaiming his name and embracing his identity.
Princess Pru and the Ogre on the Hill
Written by Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Danesh Mohiuddin
Published by Owlkids Books
Princess Pru’s life is practically perfect. She has two loving dads, an ostrich named Orville, and three royal tarantulas. But one day, a ghastly ogre with crusty toenails and goopy ears moves into the house on the hill. At first, Pru sees the ogre as a nuisance: he disrupts her royal rock band practices, weekly tickle tag games, and even the hide-and-seek tournament. But then she starts to wonder if the ogre is just lonely.
The unsympathetic townspeople become especially terrified when Oggy the ogre is spotted buying cupcakes and balloons. They receive ominous notes (that look very much like invitations), and the kings are convinced that Oggy wants to make everyone into a stew! But with courage and spunk, Pru heads to the house on the hill to meet Oggy—for a party! All along, Oggy just wanted to make friends—and thanks to Pru, he does.
The Words We Share
Written and Illustrated by Jack Wong
Published by Annick Press
Angie is used to helping her dad. Ever since they moved to Canada, he relies on her to translate for him from English to Chinese. Angie is happy to help: when they go to restaurants, at the grocery store, and, one day, when her dad needs help writing some signs for his work.
Building off her success with her dad’s signs, Angie offers her translation skills to others in their community. She’s thrilled when her new business takes off until one of her clients says he’s unhappy with her work. When her dad offers to help, she can’t imagine how he could. Working together, they find a surprising solution, fixing the problem in a way Angie never would have predicted.