Tundra Telegram: Books That Cast a Long Shadow

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we dig into the things badgering our readers – over and over –  and suggest a few books that might help Phil the time.

February 2 is Groundhog Day, the holiday observed in the United States and Canada that centers the intersection of rodents, sunlight and climate prediction. Based on a Pennsylvania Dutch superstition, legend has it that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den, and winter will continue for six weeks. If it does not see its shadow because the sky is cloudy, spring should arrive early. Groundhog Day is also the name of a 1993 feature film by Harold Ramis starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell in which a self-obsessed weatherman repeats the same day over and over in a seemingly endless time loop.

So today, in honor of Groundhog Day, we’re recommending two types of books. For the youngest readers, we’ve got fistfuls of books about the furry creatures and the holiday they are named after. And since groundhogs so rarely feature in YA romance or thrillers or even fantasy novels, we’re also recommending books that feature time loops, with characters repeating certain days or time periods over and over. Rise and shine, readers, if you want books about Groundhog Day or like Groundhog Day, we’ve got you, babe.

PICTURE BOOKS

If young readers want the straight scoop on the holiday, they can’t do better than Groundhog Day! by Gail Gibbons. Originally released in 2007, and re-released in 2022 in a new and updated edition, the nonfiction picture book describes the tradition, its particular resonance in the Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney, as well as a profusion of groundhog animal facts, to boot.

Instead of the weather, what if Groundhog Day was about the importance of friendship? Gregory’s Shadow by Don Freeman  (yes, Corduroy Don Freeman) answers that theoretical question. Gregory, who is a groundhog (as you may have guessed) is separated from his best friend Shadow. Not only does this leave poor Gregory sad and lonely, but their separation couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Tomorrow is Groundhog Day!

Similar in plot, but different in tone is Groundhog’s Runaway Shadow by David Biedrzycki. Phil (also a groundhog) and his shadow are, again, inseparable friends. But instead of separating against their wills, Phil and his shadow friend grow apart and even have a big argument, after which Shadow leaves to see the world. Will Phil and Shadow reunite? More than the length of winter hangs in the balance!

For those who are wistful that February 2 means we’re moving further and further from the winter holidays, there’s The Night Before Groundhog Day by Natasha Wing and Amy Wummer. A rhyming story told in the style of Clement C. Moore’s famous Christmas poem, this ode to Groundhog Day Eve is the perfect book to lull young readers to sleep on February 1.

Groundhog Gets It Wrong by Jess Townes and Nicole Miles calls into question the power of groundhog prediction. In this funny book, Groundhog is shocked and a bit ashamed when he discovers that he doesn’t have innate weather-predicting gifts, and his faulty prediction ruins the spring carnival. First he tries fixing the mistake by shoveling up the snow and hosing it away, but that only causes more problems! All that is left for Groundhog to do to make things right is learn a few things about meteorology.

A book that could help Groundhog with that is Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holub and Kristin Sorra. The book, which promises “Fun Facts About Weather and Groundhogs,” features a cast of groundhog students who learn all about the weather – and why we have different seasons – and whether some plants and animals can help predict the weather.

Groundhog gets a little frustrated that interest in him lasts but one day a year in Groundhog Gets a Say by Pamela C. Swallow and Denise Bankus, and he’s not afraid to tell people about it! Groundhog and some of his die-hard forest creature fans tells readers all about his wonderful qualities in this book, from how loud he can whistle, to how fast he cannot run, to how many reasons he has to use his teeth. This is a little ground squirrel with a big personality who is eager to share tons of groundhog animal facts.

What if a groundhog had a friend who wasn’t its shadow? And if the book had nothing to do with predicting the seasons? A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins and Chris Appelhans is a tongue-twister-filled story about an unlikely friendship between two animals with similar names. And it’s as much fun to read out loud as it is to look at.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Zoe inadvertently downloads a magical app that allows her to re-do moments of her life in Jen Calonita’s novel The Retake, which shares a few commonalities with Groundhog Day. Given Zoe and her best friend Laura have been drifting apart for months, Zoe goes back to revisit middle-school moments with Laura – sleepovers and field trips and school projects – to see if she can diagnose the demise of their friendship and repair the rift.

Finn and the Time-Traveling Pajamas by Michael Buckley may veer more into intergalactic territory than either The Retake or Groundhog Day, but it does involve pajamas with time travelling powers. (And since Groundhog Day always starts in bed, can we say it does not?). he pajamas come into play when an older version of Finn tells (younger) Finn and his friends that he needs their help to win battles in their near future that he lost decades ago. So, though the scale and scope may be different, it’s very much a story about do-overs in life.

YOUNG ADULT

Perhaps a better analog for Again, Again by E. Lockhart is Sliding Doors, but who can resist the idea of suggesting a book that’s Groundhog Day if it were written by the author of We Were Liars? Adelaide is a girl devastated by heartbreak and grief and a family affected by addiction. But, through the magic of fiction, she is able to re-live her life, making different choices and watching the same events play out in multiple parallel worlds. (This is actually Lockhart’s second book on this Groundhog Day list, if you know your nom-de-plumes!)

Nephele makes her own Groundhog Day happen in Sarah Lariveire’s Time Travel for Love and Profit, in which – after a disastrous freshman year of high school – she invents a time-travel app to try again. (Is this part of the Extended Retake Universe?) However, something goes very wrong. She creates a time loop, and is stuck reliving her ninth grade year over and over – for ten years – while the rest of the world goes on! Her former classmates grow up, get jobs and she gets stuck as a fourteen-year-old forever. (Or does she?)

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl is like a horror-movie version of Groundhog Day (though not quite a Happy Death Day). After narrowly escaping a car accident on the stormy night of a one-year high school reunion, five friends find themselves in a rented mansion where a mysterious man makes a visit. He tells them the friends must unanimously decide which of the five of them will die that evening. Then the night repeats: all five live that same night again – and again. And the only way out, as the mysterious stranger reminds them, is for them to unanimously vote on who from their group shall die. (Consider us spooked!)

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. This title is now available in stores and online!

Pluto Rocket: New in Town (Pluto Rocket #1)
By Paul Gilligan
88 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271906 | Tundra Books
Meet Pluto Rocket, a friendly alien, and Joe Pidge, a wise-cracking pigeon, in the first book of this hilarious new early graphic novel series, for fans of Narwhal and Jelly and Pizza and Taco! Joe Pidge, not just a pigeon but also the stylish king of the neighborhood, is bobbing his way down the street one day when, all of a sudden, Pluto Rocket enters the scene. It turns out, Pluto is from another planet, and is disguising herself for her secret mission — to find out what life in the neighborhood is really like. Lucky for Pluto, Joe Pidge has seen it all before, eaten it all before, and pooped on it all before, so he takes her under his wing and the two become fast friends. But Joe is the one who actually learns a thing or two and whose mind is blown by the out-of-this-world Pluto in this hilarious graphic novel series from Paul Gilligan, creator of the syndicated comic strip Pooch Cafe!

Pluto Rocket: New in Town is also available today in Paperback!

We can’t wait to see you reading this title! If you share this book online, remember to use #ReadTundra in your hashtags so that we can re-post.

Tundra Telegram: Books To Put Hare On Your Chest

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we burrow into the issues of the day, and suggest a few books beyond comp-hare that might warren-t a closer read.

This past weekend was the beginning of the Lunar New Year, arguably the most important annual holiday in Chinese culture, and a celebration in several other Asian countries. The Lunar New Year began on Sunday, January 22, and will last fifteen days, ending on the first full moon. This year is the Year of the Rabbit (except in Vietnam, where it is the Year of the Cat), which, in the Chinese Zodiac, symbolizes longevity, peace, and prosperity. (Sounds good to us!)

If you know children’s books at all, you know rabbits pop up now and then, so we’ve assembled a colony of kids’ books featuring everyone’s favorite fuzzy lagomorphs. While we could have included the classics: your Peter Rabbits, your Velveteen Rabbits, your Pat the Bunnies, your Guess How Much I Love You Nut-Brown Hares . . . instead we tried to highlight some bunnies off the beaten path that are worth a read. So, let’s hop to it!

PICTURE BOOKS

An unforgettable rabbit who actually forgets quite a bit stars in Barnaby Never Forgets by Pierre Collet-Derby. Barnaby insists he has a great memory, even though he can’t remember where he put his glasses when they’re on his own face! Barnaby’s story is very funny, with a lovable lead character and a totally hilarious surprise ending.

If you like your rabbits strong-willed rather than absent-minded, you’ll like Marjoke Henrichs’s No! said Rabbit. A perfect read for anyone, like Rage Against the Machine, who doesn’t like to be told what to do. It’s all about a bunny who doesn’t want to listen when he’s told to get up, get dressed, have breakfast, play outside, have a bath or more. (This must be why rabbits are so difficult to train!)

Mr. Mole Moves In by Lesley-Anne Green may seem from its title and cover to be thin on rabbit content, as it’s the story of the arrival of Mr. Mole to Juniper Hollow, who surprises his new neighbors with some peculiar behavior – talking to watermelons and giving children erasers to eat, among other bizarre actions. But it’s an observant rabbit who befriends Mr. Mole and diagnoses exactly why the newcomer is acting so wacky.

When it comes to observant rabbits, no one does it better than Katherine Battersby’s Squish Rabbit. Squish is a tiny rabbit and others seldom see or hear him. But Squish notices everything – especially when someone needs some help. Squish proves that even small animals can make a big difference in a book intended for some of the youngest readers.

Richard Scarry may be known as a classic children’s author, but do you know his book Rabbit and His Friends, an unusual ode to rabbit fatherhood? Rabbit finds an egg and assumes it belongs to Hen, until it hatches. That’s when Rabbit and his friends learn what a platypus is and how it takes a village to raise a child.

In the same vein of unexpected companionship lies Dog and Rabbit by Barney Saltzberg, about Dog who likes Rabbit, but Rabbit only likes Bunny. (Can we blame all these animals for liking rabbits and bunnies?) Dog and Rabbit is a calm and gentle book about unrequited friendship and patience (rather than a how-to guide to multiple pet ownership).

Bunny uses the power of books and libraries in the rabbit-and-reading-lover dream project Bunny Figures It Out by Ruby Shamir and Andrew Joyner. Bunny runs out of jelly while making a sandwich (must be at Shakira’s house), so she endeavors to make her own. How will she do it? She heads to the library and does jelly research in a book with lessons for any DIY preserve fan.

The bunny in Peter Raymundo’s The Mysterious Sea Bunny may not be the kind you’re used to seeing in picture books. It’s not fluffy; it’s kind of slimy. And it’s only an inch long! A sea bunny is a species of sea slug and young readers will love learning about it (even if they may not want to give it a cuddle).

And for a rabbit that knows how to defend itself, you’ll want to read Black Belt Bunny by Jacky Davis and Jay Fleck, with a rabbit who can do front-kicks and back-flips to air-chops – but gets anxious when he has to try something new: making a salad. This is a very funny book that features a bunny, a bunny’s favorite food and how martial arts can help even in basic food prep.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Rabbits practicing martial arts makes sense – everyone knows they are phenomenal at kicking – but what about a rabbit playing baseball? Or a rabbit zapped into a video game? Or blasting into outer space? Such are the premises of the Jack books by Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli, which star the titular mischievous rabbit, a cranky old lady, and dog friend Rex.

The first book in the Melanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel Nutty Adventures graphic novels, Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell, sees our anxiety-plagued hero overcome his fears to leave his tree (despite the danger) and make a new fluffy bunny friend Ivy! (And, trust us, it is not lost on Scaredy that this bunny friend shares a name with one of the most poisonous plants you can name, but the friendship may be worth the risk!)

If you need early reader graphic novels where a rabbit isn’t just a best friend, but is the main character, there’s Stone Rabbit by Erik Craddock. In BC Mambo, Stone Bunny finds a time portal under his bathroom rug and winds up in the Jurassic Period, running from thunder lizards. Things only get zanier as the series progresses, as Stone Rabbit finds himself fighting pirates, stopping alien invasions, becoming a ninja, and basically dipping into every other genre beloved by kids.

And Princess Magnolia and her unicorn Frimplepants face an unexpectedly adorable foe in the third book in the series by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and LeUyen Pham, The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde. Their monster alarm goes off and the dynamic duo is sent to a field full of cute little bunnies nibbling on grass, twitching their noses and wiggling their tails. Are these bunnies really monsters in disguise?

Speaking of monsters, Kelley Armstrong’s pulse-pounding A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series doesn’t feature any rabbits, but it does feature the rabbit’s mythological cousin, the jackalope! And not just any jackalope – it’s a baby jackalope (mythical jackrabbit with antelope horns) that accompanies Rowan, the unexpected royal monster slayer, as she hunts down a dangerous gryphon, among other exploits.

Who loves the summer more than The Penderwicks? Maybe rabbits? (It is part of their mating season.) The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall is the story of four sisters with very different personalities who spend one summer with their father at a beautiful Massachusetts estate called Arundel – an estate replete with a duo of tame rabbits! Other adventures happen, too – they meet a boy, Jeffrey, the son of the estate’s owner, and run into some trouble. But the important thing is there are two rabbits!

The ultimate rabbit book is The Last Rabbit by Shelley Moore Thomas, a magical story also about four sisters – four enchanted rabbit sisters – on an isolated Irish island that is slowly sinking into the sea. Each of Albie’s sister rabbits have left the island to become girls again, but Albie doesn’t want to leave. She has visits with each of her sisters, now human again, before making her ultimate decision.

YOUNG ADULT

Let’s be honest – there aren’t a lot of YA novels that have a high quotient of bunny content. (I guess most readers grow out of reading about fuzzy rabbits as they get more mature, but please do not count us among them!) One exception is Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee. Samantha is a Chinese girl in Missouri, 1849. Annamae has escaped slavery. The two meet at a crime scene they’re implicated in, and flee for the West disguised as boys along the Oregon Trail – and then Samantha starts to fall in love with a cowboy. But where it fits our list is Samantha reads the people she meets through their Chinese zodiac signs (including those born in the Year of the Rabbit). And Annamae tells a crucial parable about a rabbit and snake. (There’s even a rabbit on the hardcover – see if you can find it!)

There are few more famous rabbits in literature than Alice in Wonderland‘s White Rabbit. So, you know the World War II Blitz homage to Carroll’s classic, Steven Sater‘s Alice by Heart, will feature a white rabbit. Interestingly, in this version, as fifteen-year-old Alice Spencer takes shelter in an underground tube station recounts her favorite story and her real life and Wonderland begin to blend, it is her friend (and love interest), tuberculosis-stricken Alfred, who becomes the White Rabbit. Who hasn’t wanted to smooch that perpetually late critter? (Be sure to check out the musical, as well!)

And what is an illusionist without a classic rabbit-out-of-a-hat trick? We’re not sure if fifteen-year-old budding magician Quinn Purcell, the star of Don Calame’s The Delusionist, has a rabbit trick, or his partner Perry does, or if his magic rival-slash-crush Dani Darling does, for that matter. But that would be some real sleight-of-hand if a bunny never even made an appearance.

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. This title is now available in stores and online!

The Pancake Problem (Weenie Featuring Frank and Beans Book #2)
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Alexandra Bye
48 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267947 | Tundra Books
Fans of Narwhal and Jelly will love this laugh-out-loud graphic novel: a pancake adventure with Weenie, Frank and Beans featuring wiener dog smooches, a huge pile of stinky brussels sprouts and a whole lot of syrup. Weenie loves his human, Bob. He loves his guinea pig friend Beans and his cat friend Frank. He loves naps, adventures and sharing. In fact, Weenie loves pretty much everything (except brussels sprouts). And Weenie SUPER LOVES pancakes. Maybe too much. When the SuperSonic Pancake Maker malfunctions, Weenie knows exactly what to do! Sort of . . .

We can’t wait to see you reading this title! If you share this book online, remember to use #ReadTundra in your hashtags so that we can re-post.

Our New Publicist: Meet Graciela!

Hi I’m Graciela and I’m the newest Publicist at the Young Readers division at Penguin Random House Canada! I immigrated to Canada three years ago from the Mexican Caribbean and traded beautiful beaches for the concrete jungle that is Toronto.

I live and breath YA, but you can also catch me singing from the top of my lungs to one of the many showtunes I listen to. (Note: I am not a good singer)

5 Random Facts About Me

  1. I was born and raised in Cancun but I can’t handle spicy food.
  2. I am a sucker for musicals. One of my goals is to open a company for talentless people that want to be on Broadway.
  3. I have two mini schnauzers that are my whole world.
  4. I was a med student for three semesters. Turns out it was nothing like Dr. House
  5. I didn’t learn how to read until I was 7 years old because no one knew that I could not see the letters in the books or whiteboard in the classroom.

Favorite Penguin Random House Titles

Fallen
By Lauren Kate
480 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385739139 | Ember
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori. Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move. Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

If I Stay
By Gayle Forman
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593403846 | Penguin Books
In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

Looking for Alaska
By John Green
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593109069 | Penguin Books
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words—and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps. Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A modern classic, this stunning debut marked #1 bestselling author John Green’s arrival as a groundbreaking new voice in contemporary fiction.

The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak
608 Pages | Ages 12+| Paperback
ISBN 9780375842207 | Knopf BFYR
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Vampire Academy
By Richelle Mead
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781595141743 | Razorbill
Love and loyalty run deeper than blood. St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school – it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s – the very place where they’re most in danger . . . Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi – the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires – make Lissa one of them forever.

Favorite Non Penguin Random House Titles

Anticipated Penguin Random House Titles