Hamilton Public Library Junior Teen Top Novel 2020 Winner

The Hamilton Public Library Summer Reading Club has voted for their favourite novel from a set of four options. We would like to congratulate Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer whose novel, Broken Strings, is the Junior Teen Top Novel Winner.

Broken Strings
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266247 | Puffing Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

2020 The Christophers Award

First presented in 1949, the Christopher Awards honors outstanding books that encourage people to pursue excellence in creative arenas. We would like to congratulate Mireille Messier and Kass Reich whose book, Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War, won a Christopher Award in the Books for Young People Category.

Sergeant BillySergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War
By Mireille Messier
Illustrated by Kass Reich
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 |  Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264427 | Tundra Books
During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort. This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration. This unforgettable goat and the platoon that loved him will capture your heart!

2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Award Honor Book

Since 1967, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards has been celebrating excellence in chidren’s and young adult literature. Last week, they announced the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners and we would like to congratulate Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad. Their beautiful book, It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way has been named an non-fiction honor book.

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918593 | Tundra Books
“Author Maclear lucidly outlines a remarkable life of art and creativity, of struggle and perseverance…The telling makes smooth transitions between stages in Fujikawa’s life, culminating in the publication of Babies in 1963…Morstad’s illustrations — in liquid watercolor, gouache, and pencil crayons — effectively vary in style and coloring to match events…During scene of Babies‘s creation, the art capably mimics Fujikawa’s own, with a diverse cast of frolicsome tots dotting an open layout.” — The Horn Book

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Penguin Teen Social Trivia Night

Today we’re hosting our third #PenguinTeenSocial event – trivia night! We’ll be joined by four very special authors: Katie Heaney, Marie Lu, Jo Treggiari, and Rory Power. Scroll down for a list of their most recent releases and RSVP here if you want to join us tonight!

Girl Crushed
By Katie Heaney
352 Pages | Ages 12+
ISBN 9781984897343 | Knopf BFYR
Release date: April 7, 2020
 
Before Quinn Ryan was in love with Jamie Rudawski, she loved Jamie Rudawski, who was her best friend. But when Jamie dumps Quinn a month before their senior year, Quinn is suddenly girlfriend-less and best friend-less.
 
Enter a new crush: Ruby Ocampo, the gorgeous and rich lead singer of the popular band Sweets, who’s just broken up with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Quinn’s always only wanted to be with Jamie, but if Jamie no longer wants to be with her, why can’t Quinn go all in on Ruby? But the closer Quinn grows to Ruby, the more she misses Jamie, and the more (she thinks) Jamie misses her. Who says your first love can’t be your second love, too?
 
The Kingdom of Back
By Marie Lu
336 Pages | Ages 12+
ISBN 9781524739010 | Putnam BFYR
Release date: March 3, 2020
 
Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish–to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age--her tyrannical father has made that much clear.
 
And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true–but his help may cost her everything.
 
The Grey Sisters
By Jo Treggiari
228 Pages | Ages 12+
ISBN 9780735262980 | Penguin Teen Canada
Release date: September 24, 2019
 
D and Spider have always been close friends, and they are further united in their shared heartbreak: they both lost siblings in a horrific plane crash two years earlier. A chance sighting of a beloved cuddly toy in a photograph of the only survivor spurs D to finally seek closure. She and Spider and their friend, Min, set off on a road trip to the mountainside site of that terrible crash.
 
Ariel has lived on the mountain all her life. She and her extended family are looked down upon by neighboring townsfolk and she has learned to live by her wits, trusting few people outside of her isolated, survivalist community. A terrifying attack sends her down the mountain for help; on her way, she comes upon the three girls — a chance encounter that will have far-reaching consequences for them all.
 
Burn Our Bodies Down
By Rory Power
352 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9780525645627 | Delacorte Press
Release date: July 7, 2020
 
Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along. But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.
 
Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there? The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.
 

Can’t make it tonight? Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of chances to catch up with the Penguin Teen Canada team and talk YA books – check out our full schedule of #PenguinTeenSocial events coming up this month!

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Penguin Teen Screen with Katharine McGee

If you’re looking for a fun thing to do tonight, join us and our friends at the Revue Cinema in a tweet-a-long! We’ll be watching the classic Amanda Bynes film, What a Girl Wants. Featuring a world where Colin Firth is an English lord running for Prime Minister and Amanda Bynes is his estranged daughter who grew up in the US, What a Girl Wants is an ideal teen movie – and it pairs perfectly with Katharine McGee’s American Royals.

We’re pleased to bring you a Q&A with Katharine ahead of the screening – keep reading for her thoughts on how Canada would fit into her reimagined world and who would play the conniving Daphne in a movie adaptation. And don’t forget to tune in tonight at 7pm EST – we’ll be tweeting too!

Given this is a film screening series, imagine American Royals is a film and give us your elevator pitch.
American Royals is Gossip Girl meets The Crown! It’s a fun, escapist story of romance, drama, family tensions and forbidden love set in a world where America has a royal family.

The seed of the idea behind the book comes from a real historical moment: American revolutionaries offering General George Washington the crown (which he refused). How much real American (and British) history went into the book? Is there a Canada in this alternate reality?
The worldbuilding was definitely one of my favorite parts of writing American Royals. I’m such a history nerd, I could have spent years teasing out all the what-ifs! I tried to acknowledge the real historical timeline whenever I could, such as mentioning that the British burned part of Washington Palace during the War of 1812 (in the real War of 1812, they burned the White House!).

I had such fun plans for Canada, but didn’t have space to get into them in the book. One of my favorite moments of British history has always been the Jacobite Rebellion—I have a soft spot for displaced royals trying to reclaim their thrones (I rooted for Daenerys throughout Game of Thrones!). In American Royals, I had hoped to rewrite history and send Bonnie Prince Charlie to Canada, making modern Canada an independent monarchy ruled by the descendants of the Stuarts. I pictured a brooding Stuart prince as one of Beatrice’s suitors at the Queen’s Ball!

The relationship between Princess Beatrice and her father is one the most engaging in the book. What drew you to this father-daughter dynamic?
One of the strangest parts of being the future king or queen is surely the fact that you spend your life training for a job you’ll only take on when your parent dies. It builds an extremely unusual conflict into the parent-child dynamic! I loved exploring this tension through Beatrice and the king. He is a dad talking to his oldest daughter, but at the same time a monarch addressing his second-in-command. And even though Beatrice adores her father, and would never want anything bad to happen to him, she will also never be fully empowered until he’s gone.

Daphne is ostensibly a villain, but her motives are entirely understandable and complex. What was it like writing Daphne?
This may surprise you, but Daphne is the easiest character to write! Every time I reach a new scene, I have to ask myself what my character wants and what she’s willing to do to get it. That can get muddled with some of the other characters—Samantha is often her own greatest obstacle, and Nina struggles to figure out what she wants—but with Daphne it’s inevitably so clear. What does she want? Prince Jefferson. What is she willing to do to win him? Anything.

The book was written before there were actual royals living in America. How does the context of the book change now that there is an American Royal, Meghan Markle?
I actually started working on this concept back in 2012, before Harry and Meghan were dating! I always knew that there would be an “everygirl” character who fell into a romance with the prince. More recently, when I started the first draft, I found myself working parts of Harry and Meghan’s relationship into the pages: particularly since Nina, like Meghan, is a person of color. The criticism that Nina faces from the media echoes many of the headlines about Harry and Meghan.

Americans have been fascinated by all the trappings of monarchy, the palaces and tiaras and big ceremonial occasions, because we don’t have any of our own. But I do think that Harry and Meghan have sparked a renewed flood of American interest in the royal family. Now that we have a duchess living on the west coast, the concept of my book doesn’t feel quite as far-fetched as it once did.

If you had to cast a film of American Royals, who would be your dream Beatrice, Samantha, and Jefferson?
This is such a hard question! I don’t know who I would cast as the royal siblings, but I could see Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl from Riverdale!) as Daphne—I think she’d capture both her ruthlessness and her surprising vulnerability. Also, I frequently have readers reach out asking if I can cast one of the Hemsworth brothers as Connor!

Without giving too much away, what can readers expect to see in the sequel, coming this fall?
Majesty has more of everything! More drama, more romance, more secrets coming to light. You’ll also see some fun new corners of the American Royals world.

When is the last time you saw What a Girl Wants? How do you think it connects to American Royals?
I love What a Girl Wants! I’ll watch anything with Colin Firth (he’ll always be Mr. Darcy in my mind… sorry Matthew Macfadyen). Like American Royals, What a Girl Wants follows a young woman struggling to figure out who she is, despite what the world expects of her. It’s got romance, family drama, and social commentary, set in a world of ballrooms, titles, and glittering tiaras.

***

American Royals
By Katharine McGee
448 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9781984830173 | Random House BFYR

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American.

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. Two girls vying for the prince’s heart. This is the story of the American royals.

KATHARINE MCGEE: website | instagram | twitter

Can’t make it tonight? Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of chances to catch up with the Penguin Teen Canada team and talk YA books – check out our full schedule of #PenguinTeenSocial events coming up this month!