Silver Birch Express Award Program

ages 8-10, Grades 3–4 | English, fiction / non-fiction

This award is unique in providing a mix of fiction and non-fiction titles for readers at different reading levels, especially those in Grades 3 to 4. If you have an ESL student, reluctant reader, a reader with exceptionalities, or others, this is a program suited for them!

AWARD GIVEN: Forest of Reading Festival in Toronto in May

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Silver Birch Express Passport

Passport (inside & outside) – credit. D. Maliszewski (Toronto DSB)

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Counting on Katherine

Counting on Katherine 

Written by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

The bold story of Katherine Johnson: an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the film Hidden Figures.

You’ve likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius that made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home?

As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps on the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink, everything! Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe. From Katherine’s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, Counting on Katherine is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.

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Dragons in a Bag

Dragons in a Bag

Written by Zetta Elliot, Illustrated by Geneva B

When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she’s not his grandmother–but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don’t let them out of the bag, and don’t feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?

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Earthrise

Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photograph That Changed the World

Written by James Gladstone, Illustrated by Christy Lundy

1968 was a year of unrest: many nations were at war. People marched for peace, fairness, and freedom. At the same time, the Apollo 8 crew was about to go farther into space than anyone had gone before—to the moon.

As they surveyed the moon’s surface, astronauts aboard Apollo 8 looked up just when Earth was rising out of the darkness of space. They saw the whole planet—no countries, no borders. The photograph they took, Earthrise, had a profound effect when published widely back on Earth, galvanizing the environmental movement, changing the way people saw our single, fragile home planet, and sparking hope during a year of unrest.

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Go Show the World

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes

Written by Wab Kinew, Illustrated by Joe Morse

“We are a people who matter.” Inspired by President Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing, Go Show the World is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington.

Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both the more well known and the not-so-widely recognized. Individually, their stories, though briefly touched on, are inspiring; collectively, they empower the reader with this message: “We are people who matter, yes, it’s true; now let’s show the world what people who matter can do.”

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Light a Candle: Tumaini Pasipo Na Tumaini

Light a Candle: Tumaini Pasipo Na Tumaini

Written by Godfrey Knongolo and Eric Walters, Illustrated by Eva Campbell

In the northeast of what is now the country of Tanzania sits Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. At the base of the mountain live the Chagga people, known throughout the region as the caretakers of the mountain.

Co-written by Eric Walters and Godfrey Nkongolo, Light a Candle weaves nonfiction with fiction to tell the story of a boy coming of age in the shadow of Kilimanjaro and his father, the chief of their tribe. The boy climbs the mountain against his father’s wishes to fulfill a request of the country’s first leader, Julius Nyerere, to light a candle on the top of the mountain and unify the mainland of Tanganyika and the islands of Zanzibar as one country, the United Republic of Tanzania.

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Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein

Written by Linda Bailey, Illustrated by Júlia Sardà

The inspiring story of the girl behind one of the greatest novels — and monsters — ever, perfectly timed for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. For fans of picture book biographies such as I Dissent or She Persisted.

How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on the tombstone of her famous feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of sixteen runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. Two years later, they travel to Switzerland where they meet a famous poet, Lord Byron. On a stormy summer evening, with five young people gathered around a fire, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. Mary has a waking dream about a monster come to life. A year and a half later, Mary Shelley’s terrifying tale, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, is published — a novel that goes on to become the most enduring monster story ever and one of the most popular legends of all time.

A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels ever written and one of the first works of science fiction, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is an exploration of the process of artistic inspiration that will galvanize readers and writers of all ages.

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Meet Tom Longboat

Meet Tom Longboat

Written by Elizabeth MacLeod, Illustrated by Mike Deas

Meet Tom Longboat, world-famous Onondaga runner who broke both records and stereotypes.

On a cold and windy April day in 1907, Tom Longboat beat a crowd of top runners to win the famous Boston Marathon. His exhilarating, record-breaking performances earned him legions of fans in Canada and around the world. But there is more to his story than being a famous athlete. Tom volunteered and bravely served in WWI. He was dedicated to his family and community. Tom didn’t always win, but he always worked hard with his head held high. Tom did things the way he knew was right… and achieved success on his own terms.

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Megabat

Megabat

Written by Anna Humphrey, Illustrated by Kass Reich

Daniel Misumi has just moved to a new house. It’s big and old and far away from his friends and his life before. AND it’s haunted… or is it?

Megabat was just napping on a papaya one day when he was stuffed in a box and shipped halfway across the world. Now he’s living in an old house far from home, feeling sorry for himself and accidentally scaring the people who live there.

Daniel realizes it’s not a ghost in his new house. It’s a bat. And he can talk. And he’s actually kind of cute.

Megabat realizes that not every human wants to whack him with a broom. This one shares his smooshfruit.

Add some buttermelon, juice boxes, a lightsaber and a common enemy and you’ve got a new friendship in the making!

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The Mushroom Fan Club

The Mushroom Fan Club

Written and Illustrated by Elise Gravel

Join Elise Gravel as she explores the science of some of nature’s weirdest and wildest characters—mushrooms!

Elise Gravel is back with a whimsical look at one of her family’s most beloved pastimes: mushroom hunting! Combining her love of getting out into nature with her talent for anthropomorphizing everything, Gravel takes us on a magical tour of the forest floor and examines a handful of her favourite alien specimens up close. While the beautiful coral mushroom looks like it belongs under the sea, the peculiar lactarius indigo may be better suited for outer space! From the fun-to-stomp puffballs to the prince of the stinkers—the stinkhorn mushroom—and the musically inclined chanterelles, Gravel shares her knowledge of this fascinating kingdom by bringing each species to life in full felt-tip marker glory.
Governor General award winning author Elise Gravel’s first book with Drawn & Quarterly, If Found…Please Return to Elise Gravel, was a Junior Library Guild selection, and instant hit among librarians, parents, and kids alike. Fostering the same spirit of creativity and curiosity, The Mushroom Fan Club promises to inspire kids to look more closely at the world around them and seek out all of life’s little treasures, stinky or not!

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Wicked Nix

Wicked Nix

Written by Lena Coakley, Illustrated by Jaime Zollars

Wicked Nix starts out as the whimsical story of a woodland fairy who is up to no good but has the best of intentions. He brings to mind Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream—he is wonderfully awful and charmingly mischievous, and, for some reason, we know we won’t be able to resist delighting in his misdoings, even as members of his enemy party: people.

Nix himself narrates the story of his experience with a human intruder in the fairies’ forest, describing the impish tactics and spiteful threats he uses while attempting to drive the “tallish and oldish and baldish” man away. The truth is, though, that Nix lacks in the wicked magic he professes to have, and he fears the fairy queen who has left him in charge of the forest. The sordid tricks Nix uses to deceive the cottage-dweller into believing he does possess charms never sit well with him, and we begin to see that Nix is not exactly like Puck. He dreams of glory and feigns an overblown pride, but he has an empathic heart of gold and a deep-seated fear that we cannot help but want to quell. Eventually, we learn that not only is Nix not foul, but that he may not be a fairy at all.

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