Red Cedar Book Award Reviews 2021/22

Reviews by: Cosmic C!!

The Gryphon’s Lair

I really enjoyed the first book in this series so I was excited to read this book, which is the second one in the series. Although I’d read the first book and I already knew the main characters, I think you could read this book by itself and it would still make sense.

The main character is a 12 year old princess called Rowan. She’s the royal monster hunter (in training). Her twin brother is training to be the king. In this book, there’s a dangerous Gryphon they brought back to their castle to study. The Gryphon was pregnant when it was captured, and they were interested in studying the baby. They find out lots about young gryphons, and Rowan develops a friendship with the gryphon who she names Tiera. However, Rowan also learns that gryphons do not make good pets! She and some friends set off on a quest to find a home for Tiera. Along the way, they encounter many adventures with other monsters. Will Tiera find a home? Will Rowan get back safely?

I thought this was a really good book. It was exciting to read. Once I started, I found it difficult to stop reading! I liked that Rowan always wants to go on adventures. She’s not the sort of kid who wants to stay home! The monsters were interesting with lots of unique characteristics. My favourite is her pet jakalope. He is really funny and does a lot of silly stuff. Her two main friends are quite different people, and I liked reading about their friendships. If there is a third book in the series, I will definitely read it!

The Barren Grounds

The main character is called Morgan. She and another Indigenous child, Eli, are brought together in a foster home. One day, when Morgan is in a hidden room in the attic, Eli shows her a drawing he made and they staple it to the wall. When they do that, it causes a blizzard to come into the room from the picture and the creature in the drawing appears in the room. They take down the drawing and it stops. When Morgan can’t find Eli, she feels cold coming from the attic and suspects he’s put the picture back up. She goes to investigate and suspects he’s gone into the drawing’s portal to explore. She decides to follow him to find him. She discovers herself Aski, a place where there are people-like creatures, animals who can walk on two legs and talk. Morgan and Eli go on adventure with Ochek and Arik to try to bring back the warm seasons because Aski is stuck in an endless winter.


I thought this book was great. I liked that the author combined a real setting, with Indigenous children in foster care, with a fantasy world. I liked the people-like creatures. My favourite character in the book is Arik, the squirrel, because she thinks she is really funny and says jokes at the wrong times. She pushes her luck sometimes! She made me laugh. The adventure was exciting and the story was left open at the end. I really want to read the next book in the series.

The Lost Scroll of the Physician

This story is set in the past in ancient Egypt. The main character is Sesha. A fire burned her house down and left her and her younger brother, Ky, orphans. Her father was the pharaoh’s physician. Before he died, he was transcribing a rare medical document. After his death, no one knows where it is. The palace asks her to try to find it. She has her own reasons for wanting to find it too. She makes friends with a scribe at the temple and together they try to track down the document, which she hopes might have some answers to several mysteries.

I thought it was a really good story because it was set in ancient Egypt and it seemed very realistic to me. Although it is fiction, the setting and details seemed very accurate. The characters all had different personalities and I liked the adventure. It kept me interested. Once I started reading, I wanted to keep going to find out what would happen next. I’d definitely recommend this book to my friends.

Pretty Tricky – The Sneaky Ways Plants Survive

 The title gives the reader a big clue about what this book is about. Each double page is about one or two plants and how they have adapted to survive to their environment. For example, it describes strategies plants use to reproduce, get nutrients, defend themselves against predators and harsh weather. The illustrations are collages showing colourful pictures of each plant across the whole page. The information is added to the picture in a way that makes it interesting to read.

I  thought it gave great descriptions about each plant, and taught you a lot about small details that I didn’t know or think about before. When I look at plants I usually just see the leaves and the flowers and I don’t see all the strategies behind them. This book made the plants really interesting to me. I’d be interested to learn more about plants from these authors. It was fun!

Bring Back the Wolves – How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem

 This book shares the story of when the wolves of Yellowstone National Park in the USA were reintroduced to the park. They disappeared because people hunted them. A long time ago, the government encouraged the hunting to try to ‘tame’ the west to make it easier to farm. When the wolves disappeared, the elk population grew and they ate most of the plants. This affected many other animal species in the park so that a lot of them declined. The book explained how one animal’s disappearance can affect many things in the ecosystem, including other animals, plants and even the landscape. After they were reintroduced, the wolves grew in number, feeding on the large number of elks. It describes how the changes in the wolf and elk numbers gradually affected the whole forest and the animals in it so that the ecosystem recovered.

Every double page has a big illustration of the animals and habitat the text is describing. On some of the pages, there are also diagrams explaining the food webs and interactions. Sometimes there are also boxes with fun facts about the wolves. I thought it was a really cool story showing how one species can affect so many different things. The book gave me a lot of information I didn’t already know. The illustrations were really good. They gave a picture to the words so I could see what was happening. I would definitely recommend it!

In the Dark – the science of what happens at night

This book explains all sorts of processes that happen during the night, from what your body does when it’s asleep to how nocturnal animals behave and what happens in the night sky. It goes into lots of cool details in these topics. For example, it looks at why we dream, it explains how cats can see in the dark, and describes the polar night sky. I hadn’t thought much about this before because it’s when I’m asleep! I enjoyed reading this book and learning lots of new facts. The drawings are bright and colourful. They helped to explain the writing and that helped me understand better.

The Boreal Forest

This book describes what life is like in the boreal forests across the world from Canada across northern Europe and Russia and even into Japan. It goes through the changes in the forest through the seasons, describing how the animals adapt to the different times of year. I enjoyed the format of the book. Every double page has a large drawing that is very realistic. The drawings help explain the facts in the text. As well as fact information, each page also has a poetic description about the drawing. It was a nice way for me to learn about the animals and what happens in this habitat. I didn’t put it down until I finished it!

Trending – how and why stuff gets popular

This book explains what trends and fads are and how their popularity can have knock on effects. Each double page has a story about a different trend or fad, from hula hoops to baby names to quinoa. Each story has an information section ‘What does it all mean?’ that explains more about the impacts of trends and fads. For example, it explains how they can start small, grow quickly and then disappears again. Some effects can be bad, for example, some fads can make people greedy. I thought that it was a good book. It included a lot of information about things I haven’t learnt about. For me, it was the sort of book you don’t need to read cover to cover. I enjoyed flicking through the pages and going back and forth, choosing the ones that were most appealing to me.

How I survived four nights on the ice

This graphic novel tells the story of how the author survived after getting lost on a solo trip in the Arctic. He lost his trail on his way back home from a fishing camp across the sea ice when his snowmobile engine also broke down. He used his survival knowledge taught to him by his elders to guide him in his survival. The book describes all the things he went through before he was rescued. The author realised that the lessons from the past are still very helpful to today, and that we should value the wisdom our elders have to teach us. Even though there aren’t a lot of words in the book, the pictures tell the story very well. The book grabbed my attention and I wanted to know what happened next. I read the book quickly and the rest of my family read it too!

Me and Bansky by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

The main character in this book is called Dominica. Her grandmother shares interesting books with her. One day, she gives her a book about the anonymous street artist Banksy. She really likes the artist’s work and finds it inspiring.

In her school, which is a private school for gifted children, the principal has put in video cameras after thefts to try to prevent more and/or catch the thieves. The principal came up with a new school motto of ‘Security breeds success!’

One day, Dominica finds out at school that her shirt is inside out. She goes to the library and flips it the right way round. Soon after, there’s a bunch of embarrassing videos of students and one teacher posted on the school’s online forum by an anonymous source. One of the videos was off Dominica turning her t-shirt around! It turns out that someone hacked into the video cameras to get the footage.

This makes Dominica feel upset. To make herself feel better, she draws a squirrel on a wall hidden away from the video cameras, just like Banksy’s rats. After that, she spray paints more squirrels around the school, keeping them hidden away from the cameras. The principal can’t see who is behind it but she keeps getting them painted over.

What will happen – will Dominica get caught? Will the parents find out about the videos being posted online?

I thought the story was an interesting way for me to learn about surveillance and some of the problems it can cause. For example, it can lead to people’s privacy being invaded and cyber-bullying. Learning about this serious topic could be boring if it was all just facts but reading this story about a kid who is about the same age as me was a fun way to learn something new. I really liked learning more about Banksy and their work too.

The King of Jam sandwiches

The main character Robbie lives with his dad. His mother died when he was very young. His dad doesn’t act like most parents. He doesn’t pay Robbie much attention, sometimes leaving him alone, and sometimes getting mad at him for no obvious reason. Robbie has to look after himself much of the time which is why he is the King of Jam Sandwiches. Robbie knows his dad’s behaviour isn’t normal but he hasn’t told anyone at his middle school until now. A new girl called Harmony starts school and Robbie is asked to be her guide. Everyone thinks she’s mean but after a bumpy start, Robbie realises they have things in common and learns to trust her. His friendship with Harmony helps Robbie realise that perhaps he doesn’t need to be alone with his problems after all.

I liked reading the book even though it was a tough topic. The book shows that not everyone has a stable, secure and loving home life. Robbie felt alone with his problems even though he had friends at school. I think I would have felt worried and scared if I was in Robbie’s life. Through the story, he learnt that there are always people who can help if you are willing to ask. I think Robbie was very brave.