VWF Recommends

As we look ahead to the end of the year, Writers Fest staff share their favourite recommendations of the year.

On top of the titles represented at the Festival this year, Artistic Director Leslie Hurtig (with help from Kidsbooks) shares some other highlights from children’s publishing in 2020.

Teatime Around the World by Denyse Waissbluth and Chelsea O’Byrne. This poetic picture book takes children of all ages on an adventure around the world to discover new cultures and friends through tea.

Woodland Dreams by Karen Jameson, illustrated by Marc Boutavant. This sweet bedtime book is at once a picture book and a lullaby, pairing familiar bedtime routines with nonfiction elements.

Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Kenard Pak. A snowy day, a trip to Grandma’s, time spent cooking with one another, and space to pause and discover the world around you come together in this perfect book for reading and sharing on a cozy winter day.

The Barnabus Project by The Fan Brothers. This suspenseful, poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson. Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle-grade fantasy series from this award-winning author.

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams. This deeply sensitive debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.

Hockey Super Six series by Kevin Sylvester. This hilarious new high-action series pits six ordinary kids with super hockey skills against the forces of evil—specifically, the nefarious wannabe genius, Clarence Crosscheck.

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin. A hilarious and biting social commentary, this tale is rife with thrilling action and visual humor… and a comic disparity that suggests the ultimate victor in a war is perhaps not who won the battles, but who gets to write the history.

Aggie Morton: Mystery Queen series by Marthe Jocelyn.A smart and charming middle-grade mystery series starring young detective Aggie Morton and her friend Hector, inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot.

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean. An extraordinary story of eight boys stranded on a rock in the middle of the sea, left to fight for their survival.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson. Becky Albertalli meets Jenny Han in a smart, hilarious, black girl magic, own voices rom-com by a staggeringly talented new writer.

A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer. A head-spinning epic about three friends on a quest to protect the world from a threat as unknowable as it is terrifying.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this electrifying novel takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen. A Valedictorian-wannabe struggles with the production of her school’s play while grappling with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

On November 20, Marketing & Development Coordinator Lauren Dembicky recommended laugh out loud essay collections from three hilarious women.

Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby. From the beloved author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, a rip-roaring, edgy and unabashedly raunchy new collection of hilarious essays.

Shit, Actually by Lindy West. West returns to her movie critic roots, re-examining beloved and iconic movies from the past 40 years with an eye toward the big questions of our time: Is Twilight the horniest movie in history? Why do the zebras in The Lion King trust Mufasa-WHO IS A LION-to look out for their best interests?

I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom. From the charming and wickedly funny co-creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a collection of hilarious personal essays, poems and even amusement park maps on the subjects of insecurity, fame, anxiety, and much more.


Lauren Dembicky