The Red Cedars

I went to the Red Cedar Awards Gala on Saturday. This is a student-choice award (the very best kind). About 100 kids from across the province were in attendance, along with their teachers and librarians. Some of my favourite authors were also there. In the photo below, you’ll see Linda Bailey (Seven Dead Pirates), Janet Whyte (Shot in the Dark), Robin Stevenson (The Summer We Saved the Bees), Jordan Stratford (The Case of the Missing Moonstone), Sharon Jennings (Connecting Dots), Jennifer Mook-Sang (Speechless), Merrie-Ellen Wilcox (What’s the Buzz), and me.

It never matters who wins a student-choice award. The reward is in the nomination — knowing hundreds of kids will read your book (DNA Detective, in this case), discuss with friends, and vote. But I did think it was funny that my daughter, when scoping out the competition, said, “Mom, it’s too bad you’re up against that animal rescue book.”

And alas, she was right!

A big congratulations to Julia Coey, who won the Red Cedar information book prize this year with Animal Hospital.

Note to self: add baby chipmunks to all future books.

The reading tally

I was SO CLOSE to my 75-book goal for last year. I tried a final sprint to the finish line, but then the kids were off school and snowshoeing called and… 73.

It’s really all Naomi Klein‘s fault. (Though she was worth it.)

I read 12 non-fiction books. The ones with the biggest impact were This Changes Everything and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. I read the two at the same time, and it was a nice balance. That is to say, Big Magic kept me from jumping off a cliff while I struggled through This Changes Everything.

Other non-fiction books I loved: Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide, about Edward Snowden; Caroline Moorehead’s Village of Secrets, about a tiny region in France that sheltered Jewish refugees during World War II; and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, about a community in the slums of Mumbai. All amazing books, well worth any reading-goal delays.

bbf

In the world of adult fiction (20 books), I loved Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. If you haven’t read it, you should get a copy immediately.

light

The rest of my books were middle-grade and young adult fiction (41). And I have so many favourites in that category, it’s hard to choose. Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle, definitely, because of its wonderful mash-up of realistic romance and inventive sci-fi. Also Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener (deliciously creepy) and Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger (contemporary perfection). For the younger set, I choose Jordan Stratford’s The Case of the Missing Moonstone, which made me wish I lived in London in the early 1800s. In a house with a maid, a butler, and a hot-air balloon.

moonstone

I’ve been reading up a storm these last few weeks. My tracking website predicts I’ll hit 123 books this year. But let’s keep our expectations realisttic and say 74, shall we? If you have recommendations for me, leave me a comment.

My reading friends, may every rainy day in 2016 find you curled on a window seat with a cup of tea and the perfect book.