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Two days. Four trees. Seven awards. More than 7,000 kids!

TORONTO, April 22, 2008 ----- On the eve of the official Forest of Reading® voting day, programme partners Authors at Harbourfront Centre and the Ontario Library Association are delighted to announce the 3rd annual Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™, May 13 to 14, 2009. Forest of Reading®, a series of Ontario-wide children’s choice award programmes that promotes literacy through shared reading experiences, plants itself at Harbourfront Centre for the third time, presenting two action-packed days of award ceremonies, workshops, activities and other exciting entertainment.

Included in the Forest of Reading® awards are: Blue Spruce Award™ (Kindergarten–Grade 2); Silver Birch Express® (Grade 3–4); Silver Birch Fiction® (Grade 4–6); Silver Birch Non-fiction® (Grade 4–6); Red Maple Fiction Award™ (Grade 7–8); Red Maple Non-fiction Award™ (Grade 7–8); and White Pine Award™ (Grade 9–12).

In 2008, 6,500 students from 518 Ontario schools descended upon the Harbourfront Centre site to celebrate more than 60 nominated authors/illustrators over a two-day period, making Forest of Reading® the largest children’s literary festival in Canada. And this year, the festival has grown to accommodate over 8,000 students, by presenting each of the six award ceremonies in Harbourfront Centre’s largest venue, the Sirius Satellite Radio Stage.

On May 13, the Blue Spruce Award (10am) features more than ten authors and illustrators nominated in this category. Authors and illustrators include: Mélanie Watt (Chester), Ann Cottringer (Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero), Dan Bar-El (Such a Prince) and Chris Mizzoni (Clancy with the Puck). Students attending the Blue Spruce Award ceremony will also have the chance to create their own illustrated characters in a craft workshop facilitated by some of the Blue Spruce authors; choose a crazy design to have painted on their faces; be amazed by the Incredible World of Bugs, a 90-foot-long bug exhibit featuring the most unusual, rare, deadly and beautiful of species; and catch Duffle Bag Theatre’s retelling of the classic Peter Pan tale, a unique interactive theatrical experience.

Also on May 13, the Red Maple Fiction Award and Red Maple Non-fiction Award (11:30am) features nominated authors such as Nicole Luiken (Frost), Jean Rae Baxter (The Way Lies North), Yvonne Prinz (Not Fair, Claire), Hugh Brewster (At Vimy Ridge) and John Wilson (Desperate Glory), to name a few. Students attending the Red Maple Award may learn more about Canada’s battle history in a World War I workshop facilitated by Hugh Brewster and John Wilson; learn the process of creating a Forest of Reading®-nominated book from Nicole Luiken; climb aboard one of three tall ships located on Harbourfront Centre’s dock (Kajama and Toronto Brigantine, Inc.); or learn about the greatest players in hockey history and test their hockey skills at Canada’s Hockey Hall of Fame interactive exhibit.

The White Pine Award (1pm), also May 13, includes nominated authors for Forest of Reading®’s older crowd, such as Allan Stratton (Chandra’s War), Marsha Skrypuch (Daughter of War) and Norah McClintoch (Dooley Takes the Fall). Students can get up close and personal with Allan Stratton as he answers questions about his 2009-nominated novel, Chandra’s War, which discusses the topic of child soldiers in Sub-Saharan Africa; using short, snappy writing exercises Shelley Hrdlitschka (Gotcha) teaches budding authors the dos and don’ts of writing dialogue, axing adverbs and showing versus telling to add pizzazz to fiction; keen lyricists looking to add a beat to their words can catch a performance by the Charles Gordon Drumming Club, a group of 14 students drumming Burundian style.

On May 14, fans of the three Silver Birch Awards – Silver Birch Express (10am), Silver Birch Fiction (11:30am) and Silver Birch Non-fiction (1pm) – have the opportunity to hear a plethora of their favourite nominated authors including, Alan Cumyn (Dear Sylvia), Raquel Rivera (Tuk and the Whale), Michael McGowen (Newton and the Time Machine), Deborah Ellis (Sacred Leaf), Ann Alma (Brave Deeds: How One Family Saved Many) and Rob Laidlaw (Wild Animals in Captivity). Silver Birch Award enthusiasts can also meet Winston, the Metro Toronto Zoo’s striped skunk, and get hands-on at their “touch table,” with animal biofacts such as furs, bones and feathers; bring their own amazing facts to a workshop about the strange and the unusual with author Hazel Hutchins (TJ and the Quiz Kids); learn some fancy footwork from a Toronto Football Club Academy player; and be amazed by So You Think You Can Dance Canada finalist Jesse Catibog, as he performs with his legendary break-dancing crew, Conscious Soles.

S&B Books Ltd. is the official wholesaler of Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™.

All events and activities are located at York Quay Centre, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queen’s Quay West, Toronto) and take place between 10am and 2pm. For more information and to purchase tickets the public may visit or call 416-973-4760.


Since its inception in 1974, Authors at Harbourfront Centre has hosted over 5,000 authors from more than 100 countries, including 16 Nobel Laureates. Our season runs from September to June and includes the annual International Festival of Authors (IFOA) (October 21–31, 2009), including YoungIFOA (October 27, 29 & 30, 2009); the annual ALOUD: a Celebration for Young Readers (May 4–6, 2009); and Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™ (May 13–14, 2009).

The Ontario Library Association (OLA) creates programmes, advocacy and promotion for its more than 5,000 members who work in primary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and public libraries across Ontario. The mission of the OLA is to foster free public access to information, and to promote Canada’s history and culture through the programmes and services of the libraries of Ontario.

Lindsay Gulin:; 416-973-4395
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