Holiday Spotlight: Holiday House 2021

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we’re lucky to work with so many different publisher lists. This holiday season, we’ll be highlighting each one with a dedicated post to help you find the perfect gift (or your next read). Today’s post is all about Holiday House.

Amira’s Picture Day
By Reem Faruqi
Illustrated by Fahmida Azim
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823440191 | Holiday House
Just the thought of Eid makes Amira warm and tingly inside. From wearing new clothes to handing out goody bags at the mosque, Amira can’t wait for the festivities to begin. But when a flier on the fridge catches her eye, Amira’s stomach goes cold. Not only is it Eid, it’s also school picture day. If she’s not in her class picture, how will her classmates remember her? Won’t her teacher wonder where she is? Though the day’s celebrations at the mosque are everything Amira was dreaming of, her absence at picture day weighs on her. A last-minute idea on the car ride home might just provide the solution to everything in this delightful story from acclaimed author Reem Faruqi, illustrated with vibrant color by Fahmida Azim.

Bear Outside
By Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jen Corace
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446131 | Neal Porter Books
In this imaginative picture book by Jane Yolen, acclaimed author of many distinguished children’s books including Owl Moon and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, a girl explores the many ways she expresses herself by imagining that she wears a bear as her personal protective shell. They go everywhere and do everything together. The Bear is like a suit of armor and a partner all in one, protecting her from bullies and giving her strength to be bold when she needs it. In turn, she listens to and takes care of the Bear.

Bright Star
By Yuyi Morales
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443284 | Neal Porter Books
Told with a combination of powerful, spare language and sumptuous and complex imagery that is typical of Yuyi Morales’s work, this is the story of a fawn making her way through a border landscape teaming with flora and fauna native to the region. A gentle but empowering voice encourages her to face her fears when she comes across an obstacle in the form of an insurmountable barrier. Yuyi Morales’ first book since her New York Times bestseller  Dreamers is a book for very young children looking for their place in a world full of uncertainty. It is a book with resonance for all children, especially those whose safety is threatened due to the immigration crisis in the US.

Cardboardia 1: The Other Side of the Box
By Lucy Campagnolo
Illustrated by Richard Fairgray
112 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781645950998 | Pixel+Ink
When Mac, Masie, and Bird find mysterious tokens in their cereal boxes, they’re transported to Cardboardia, a magical land made of paper and cardboard. In this parallel universe to ours, creativity thrives: Every time a box of anything is created in our world, a replica appears there, bringing residents art supplies, food, books, and more. But an evil presence is slowly moving in, threatening to wipe all art and beauty from this paper paradise. It’s no mistake that the three friends have been transported through their cardboard portals. Each has a special talent they never knew existed. And only when they figure out to harness them together will they be able to stop the destruction.

Deadman’s Castle
By Iain Lawrence
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446551 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime – and ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They’ve lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can’t even remember his real name. But now he’s twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He’s even starting to wonder – what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father’s frightened mind? Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he’s lived by all his life – making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he’s allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them – is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all?

Dear Beast
By Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Kevan Atteberry
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823448432 | Holiday House
Simon has taken care of his owner, Andy, for many years. He’s a good cat. Clean, responsible, and loyal. What more could a boy want? Even when Andy’s dad moves out, Simon is certain that Andy doesn’t need another pet. So why would Andy’s dad adopt a DOG?! To make matters worse, the animal is a rude, rowdy troublemaker. Simon’s job is clear: the beast has got to go. He decides to write him a letter. Strongly worded, of course. But when the dog’s response sets off an unexpected correspondence, Simon realizes the beast may be here to stay. Can he make room for another pet in Andy’s life?

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
By Crystal Maldonado
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447176 | Holiday House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing – he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? Because it’s time people did.

Let Me Fix You a Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens
By Elizabeth Lilly
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443253 | Neal Porter Books
First my family drives through the mountains to stop at Mamaw and Papaw’s house in rural West Virginia. We share blueberry jam and toast for breakfast the next morning, then munch cookies and cut bananas to make banana pudding with Mamaw. After the last bite of pudding, we get ready for the next part of the journey, down to Florida to visit Abuela and Abuelo for crispy tostones, fresh squeezed juice, and arepas with queso blanco. This celebration of family and our diverse, delicious traditions is sure to leave readers hungry for more! Elizabeth Lilly’s tale of a joyous road trip, drawn from her own experience, is illustrated with quirky charm that captures all the warmth and love of her family’s two distinct cultures.

Salt Magic
By Hope Larson
Illustrated by Rebecca Mock
240 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823450503 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Vonceil’s older brother, Elber, comes home to their family’s Oklahoma farm after serving on the front lines of World War I, things aren’t what she expects. His experiences have changed him into a serious and responsible man who doesn’t have time for Vonceil anymore. He even marries the girl he had left behind. Then a mysterious and captivating woman shows up at the farm and confronts Elber for leaving her in France. When he refuses to leave his wife, she puts a curse on the family well, turning the entire town’s water supply into saltwater. Who is this lady dressed all in white, what has she done to the farm, and what does Vonceil’s old uncle Dell know about her? To find out, Vonceil will have to strike out on her own and delve deep into the world of witchcraft, confronting dangerous relatives, shapeshifting animals, a capricious Sugar Witch, and the Lady in White herself – the foreboding Salt Witch. The journey will change Vonceil, but along the way she’ll learn a lot about love and what it means to grow up.

Song for Jimi: The Story of Guitar Legend Jimi Hendrix
By Charles R. Smith Jr.
Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez
56 Pages | Ages 7+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443338 | Neal Porter Books
From his turbulent childhood through his epical appearance at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals, Charles R. Smith Jr. covers it all in this rich and rhythmic account of a singular life, accompanied by the psychedelic splendor of Edel Rodriguez’s acid-tinged artwork. Written as a series of verses beginning with intro and ending with outro, this unique mix of rhythm and rhyme captures the essence of rock icon Jimi Hendrix and his struggle to live life on his own terms.

The Bear House
By Meaghan McIsaac
368 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446605 | Holiday House
Moody Aster and her spoiled sister Ursula are the daughters of Jasper Lourdes, Major of Bears and lord of all the realm. Rivals, both girls dream of becoming the Bear queen someday, although neither really deserve to, having no particular talent in . . . well, anything. But when their Uncle Bram murders their father in a bid for the crown, the girls are forced onto the run, along with lowly Dev the Bearkeeper and the Lourdes’s half-grown grizzly Alcor, symbol of their house. As a bitter struggle for the throne consumes the kingdom in civil war, the sisters must rely on Dev, the bear cub, and each other to survive – and find wells of courage, cunning, and skill they never knew they had.

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess
By Tom Gauld
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446988 | Neal Porter Books
For years, the king and queen tried desperately to have a baby. Their wish was twice granted when an engineer and a witch gave them a little wooden robot and an enchanted log princess. There’s just one catch, every night when the log princess sleeps, she transforms back into an ordinary log. She can only be woken with the magic words “Awake, little log, awake.” The two are inseparable until one day when the sleeping log princess is accidentally carted off to parts unknown. Now it’s up to her devoted brother to find her and return her safely to the kingdom. They need to take turns to get each other home, and on the way, they face a host of adventures involving the Queen of Mushrooms, a magic pudding, a baby in a rosebush, and an old lady in a bottle.

Toasty
By Sarah Hwang
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447077 | Margaret Ferguson Books
Toasty loves dogs – so much so that he’d like to be one. He knows there are some differences – most dogs have four legs, but Toasty has two arms and two legs. Some dogs sleep in dog houses, but Toasty sleeps in a toaster. All dogs have hair and fur, but Toasty has neither because he’s made of bread. In spite of these differences, he decides to go to the park to play with the dogs but runs into trouble when they want to eat him. Lucky for Toasty, he is rescued by a little girl who has always wanted a dog but can’t have one because she is allergic. Toasty is the perfect dog for her.

Watercress
By Andrea Wang
Illustrated by Jason Chin
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446247 | Neal Porter Books
Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl’s parents stop suddenly when they spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road. Grabbing an old paper bag and some rusty scissors, the whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the muddy, snail covered watercress as they can. At first, she’s embarrassed. Why can’t her family get food from the grocery store? But when her mother shares a story of her family’s time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Together, they make a new memory of watercress. Andrea Wang tells a moving autobiographical story of a child of immigrants discovering and connecting with her heritage, illustrated by award winning author and artist Jason Chin, working in an entirely new style, inspired by Chinese painting techniques. An author’s note in the back shares Andrea’s childhood experience with her parents.

The Great Peach Experiment 1: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie
By Erin Soderberg Downing
256 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781645950349 | Pixel+Ink
After a tough year, Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach are ready for vacation. Lucy wants to read all of the books on the summer reading list. Freddy wants to work on his art projects (when he isn’t stuck in summer school). Herb wants to swim every day. Then their dad makes a big announcement: one of the inventions their mom came up with before she passed away has sold, and now they’re millionaires! But Dad has bigger plans than blowing the cash on fun stuff or investing it. He’s bought a used food truck. The Peaches are going to spend the summer traveling the country selling pies. It will be the Great Peach Experiment – a summer of bonding while living out one of Mom’s dreams. Summer plans, sunk. And there’s one more issue Dad’s neglected: none of them knows how to bake . . . . A perfect blend of humor, heart, and family antics, When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie is a delectable treat to be gobbled down or savored slowly. (Slice of pie on the side, optional, but highly recommended.)

Bears and Dolls and Stuffies, Oh My!

Grab your favorite cuddly toy and grab one of these books – whether you’re looking for cozy or spooky, there’s something for everyone!

Always By My Side: A Stuffie Story
By Jennifer Black Reinhardt
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593173824 | Random House BFYR
A celebration of the special connection that exists between a young child and their comfort stuffed animal. Follow a little boy as he gradually outgrows the need for the constant presence for his comforting companion – a stuffed green dinosaur. But as the stuffed animal narrates, none of us grow out of loving our favorite toys, and, perhaps, they never stop loving us back. When you need a loving hug, or a cuddle of reassurance, or just someone to play with, fuzzy creatures big and small, short and tall, will always be your friend.

Book Buddies: Ivy Lost and Found
By Cynthia Lord
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536213546 | Candlewick
Ivy was Anne the librarian’s doll when she was a young girl. But now she has moved to Anne’s library to be its newest Book Buddy – a toy that can be checked out just like a book. Ivy isn’t sure she wants to be borrowed, though. She’d rather go back to just being Anne’s favorite toy. Fern, a child who visits the library with her stepfamily, also wishes things could go back to the way they were, when Fern had her dad all to herself. When Fern takes Ivy home, an unexpected outdoor adventure helps both of them find confidence and belonging in their changing worlds. This heartwarming story by Cynthia Lord, with a classic feel and gentle illustrations by Stephanie Graegin, is the first in a chapter-book series that pairs friendly toys with child characters who need them.

Gemma and the Giant Girl
By Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Marie Lafrance
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263673 | Tundra Books
Gemma has always lived in a very nice little house, always slept in the same room and always worn the same clothes. A doll in an old forgotten dollhouse, Gemma wonders if she will ever grow up, but her parents tell her she will always be their little girl. Until, one day, the dollhouse is opened by a GIANT, and Gemma’s whole life changes. New things are introduced into the little house – and Gemma finally has an opportunity to leave what’s familiar and see the enormous world beyond. A story that evokes children’s classics, Gemma and the Giant Girl is a gorgeously illustrated and poignant tale of what it feels like to be small in a big world and how even the smallest among us can take charge of our own destinies.

I Am Not a Dog Toy
By Ethan T. Berlin
Illustrated by Jared Chapman
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593119013 | Random House BFYR
A fun bear, who wears a vest with many pockets, is the brand new toy for a little girl. Bear couldn’t be more excited to play with the girl, but she is a little less than enthused. In fact, she throws him into the dog’s water bowl. Splash! Bear doesn’t take the hint. Dog, however, is very excited to play with Bear. But Bear insists he is not a dog toy, he is a kid’s toy. So he keeps trying to get the girl’s attention . . . to no avail. Will Bear ever realize that Dog is the better friend? Kids making friends will see that friendship isn’t really friendship unless it’s reciprocated in this hilarious and sweet picture book.

Kafka and the Doll
By Larissa Theule
Illustrated by Rebecca Green
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593116326 | Viking BFYR
Inspired by a true story, Kafka and the Doll recounts a remarkable gesture of kindness from one of the world’s most bewildering and iconic writers. In the fall of 1923, Franz Kafka encountered a distraught little girl on a walk in the park. She’d lost her doll and was inconsolable. Kafka told her the doll wasn’t lost, but instead, traveling the world and having grand adventures! And to reassure her, Kafka began delivering letters from the doll to the girl for weeks. The legend of Kafka and the doll has captivated imaginations for decades as it reveals the playful and compassionate side of a man known for his dark and brooding tales. Kafka and the Doll is a testament to living life to the fullest and to the life-changing power of storytelling.

The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story
By Charis Cotter
360 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269064 | Tundra Books
Alice’s world is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, and they’ve cancelled their yearly cottage trip – the one thing that gets Alice through the school year. Instead, Alice and her mom are heading to some small town where Alice’s mom will be a live-in nurse to a rich elderly lady. The house is huge, imposing, and spooky, and everything inside is meticulously kept and perfect – not a fun place to spend the summer. Things start to get weird when Alice finds a dollhouse in the attic that’s an exact replica of the house she’s living in. Then she wakes up to find a girl asleep next to her in her bed – a girl who looks a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse. . . . When the dollhouse starts to change when Alice isn’t looking, she knows she has to solve the mystery. Who are the girls in the dollhouse? What happened to them? And what is their connection to the mean and mysterious woman who owns the house?

The Dollhouse Murders (35th Anniversary Edition)
By Betty Ren Wright
Illustrated by Leo Nickolls
Foreword by R. L. Stine
160 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823439843 | Holiday House
Amy is terrified. She hears scratching and scurrying noises coming from the dollhouse in the attic, and the dolls she was playing with are not where she left them. Dolls can’t move by themselves, she tells herself. But every night when Amy goes up to check on the dollhouse, it’s filled with an eerie light and the dolls have moved again! Are the dolls trying to tell her something? Could this all be connected to the murders of her great-grandparents? Sinister secrets unravel as Amy gets closer to revealing the mystery of the dolls in this haunting novel that combines complicated family relationships with a bone-chilling mystery. Even readers who love scary stories will want to keep the lights on after finishing! The all-new foreword and jacket art make this spooky classic, an Edgar award nominee, perfect for sharing with a new generation.

Teddy Bear of the Year
By Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Sydney Hanson
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263925 | Tundra Books
Ollie is a regular bear with a regular job. He listens to his girl’s stories about her days, he snuggles her to sleep and he is there waiting when she gets home from school. Just your typical teddy bear stuff. So when he is whisked away to the annual teddy bears’ picnic, he feels insignificant compared to the other bears who do daring and daunting things: sleepovers, hospital stays – even a night in the lost and found! Ollie feels even more small and unimportant but he soon learns that it’s not just the big things that matter, it’s the little things too.

National Dog Day 2021

National Dog Day is on August 26 and we are getting ready to celebrate all our ulti-mutt friends in literature!

100 Dogs
By Michael Whaite
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593308301 | Random House BFYR
TOP DOGS! Can there really be 100 dogs behaving in oh-so familiar doggy ways packed into the pages of this picture book? Leap dog, sheep dog, fallen fast asleep dog. . . . Follow Michael Whaite’s fun and lively rhyme as it weaves its way from happy dogs to yappy dogs to every type of dog in between. This romp of a read-aloud is bursting with amusing details to spot and hilarious hounds that dog-lovers won’t be able to resist. Readers will want to pore over it again and again. Which dog is yours?

Awesome Dog 5000
By Justin Dean
208 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780525644842 | Random House BFYR
Marty, Ralph, and Skyler might make the ultimate secret combo when battling alien-slime ninjas in their favorite video game, but in real life they’re just regular kids. That is, until the three best friends discover Awesome Dog 5000, a robotic dog with very real power-ups. Awesome Dog can “bark” a sonic boom, “walk” at speeds over three hundred miles per hour, and “fetch” with an atomic cannon. Life for Marty, Ralph, and Skyler just got a major turbo-boost! Awesome Dog 5000 is a wild action-comedy told through a mix of text and black-and-white illustrations, with a mystery to solve at the end. Can you handle the awesomeness?

Dear Beast
By Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Kevan Atteberry
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823448432 | Holiday House
Simon has taken care of his owner, Andy, for many years. He’s a good cat. Clean, responsible, and loyal. What more could a boy want? Even when Andy’s dad moves out, Simon is certain that Andy doesn’t need another pet. So why would Andy’s dad adopt a DOG?! To make matters worse, the animal is a rude, rowdy troublemaker. Simon’s job is clear: the beast has got to go. He decides to write him a letter. Strongly worded, of course. But when the dog’s response sets off an unexpected correspondence, Simon realizes the beast may be here to stay. Can he make room for another pet in Andy’s life?

Dog Squad
By Chris Grabenstein
336 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593301739 | Random House BFYR
When trouble calls . . . it’s DOG SQUAD to the rescue! Duke is not your average dog. Along with his crew, he fights crime and goes on claw-biting adventures helping dogs in peril in the hit streaming sensation – DOG SQUAD! Fred is a pretty average dog. He’s scrappy. He’s loveable. But he’s not brave like his heroes on Dog Squad. Fred looks an awful lot like Duke from Dog Squad though. In fact, when Duke needs a stand-in, Fred’s the perfect choice. But the Dog Squad action doesn’t always stop on screen! When there’s danger in real life, can Fred find the courage to step up and save the day?! It’s all paws on deck in this action-packed, middle grade adventure series just right for anyone who loves dogs – and anyone who loves to laugh!

Hugo and the Impossible Thing
By Renée Felice Smith and Chris Gabriel
Illustrated by Sydney Hanson
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593204634 | Flamingo Books
Hugo has one goal – to conquer the Impossible Thing. At the edge of the forest stood the Impossible Thing. All the animals in the forest often wondered what was beyond the Impossible Thing, but since everyone said getting through it would be impossible, no animal ever tried. Until a brave little dog named Hugo decides he just might be up to the challenge. With determination and some unexpected help from his friends, Hugo learns that what may seem impossible might just be possible after all.

I Am Not a Dog Toy
By Ethan T. Berlin
Illustrated by Jared Chapman
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593119013 | Random House BFYR
A fun bear, who wears a vest with many pockets, is the brand new toy for a little girl. Bear couldn’t be more excited to play with the girl, but she is a little less than enthused. In fact, she throws him into the dog’s water bowl. Splash! Bear doesn’t take the hint. Dog, however, is very excited to play with Bear. But Bear insists he is not a dog toy, he is a kid’s toy. So he keeps trying to get the girl’s attention . . . to no avail. Will Bear ever realize that Dog is the better friend? Kids making friends will see that friendship isn’t really friendship unless it’s reciprocated in this hilarious and sweet picture book.

I, Cosmo
By Carlie Sorosiak
304 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781536219081 | Walker Books
Ever since Cosmo became a big brother to Max ten years ago, he’s known what his job was: to protect his boy and make him happy. Through many good years marked by tennis balls and pilfered turkey, torn-up toilet paper and fragrant goose poop, Cosmo has doggedly kept his vow. Until recently, his biggest problems were the evil tutu-wearing sheepdog he met on Halloween and the arthritis in his own joints. But now, with Dad-scented blankets appearing on the couch and arguing voices getting louder, Cosmo senses a tougher challenge ahead. When Max gets a crazy idea to teach them both a dance routine for a contest, how can Cosmo refuse, stiff hips or no? Max wants to remind his folks of all the great times they’ve had together dancing – and make them forget about the “d” word that’s making them all cry. Told in the open, optimistic, unintentionally humorous voice of a golden retriever, I, Cosmo will grab readers from the first page – and remind them that love and loyalty transcend whatever life throws your way.

Mad About Meatloaf (A Weenie featuring Frank and Beans Book)
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Alexandra Bye
56 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267916 | Tundra Books
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 the mail carrier). But the thing Weenie loves and desires more than anything else in the world is meatloaf. And he’ll do anything to get it. Join Weenie, Frank and Beans on a laugh-out-loud meatloaf adventure, complete with a trench coat disguise, a wild meatloaf trap and even a hungry wolf.

Puppy Problems
By Paige Braddock
96 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593524213 | Viking BFYR
Crackers is a rescue dog who’s a bit on the nervous side, but pretty comfy at home with Butter, a very plump cat who – like all cats – is all about himself. The two pets have a good life: big backyard, nice couch, good eats, and an owner who goes to work every day so they can pretty much do what they want. Enter Peanut, a brand-new puppy with big floppy ears, unabashed energy, and no appreciation for the quiet life. The little dog is a chowhound who dips into everybody’s food bowl. He drools, he chews up stuff, he doesn’t get how stairs work, and he’s afraid of the dark. Yowl! Not to mention he’s hogging their owner’s lap. Even the squirrels in the yard are laughing at this goofy little canine. Butter and Crackers have had it! This puppy has to go! But when the backyard gate is left open (the cat’s idea, of course!) and Peanut wanders out and gets lost, the older animals remember what it was like to be alone – and lonely. Butter and Crackers to the rescue!

Rocket Has a Sleepover
By Tad Hills
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593181225 | Random House BFYR
Rocket is having fun at a sleepover! But when Owl, Bella, and Fred get ready to catch some Z’s, Rocket refuses to go to bed. Can a bedtime story soothe Rocket and help him fall asleep? With its simple words, lots of repetition, and bright, colorful illustrations, young readers will love this Step 1 Step into Reading leveled reader about an unforgettable sleepover, which they can ready all by themselves!

Toasty
By Sarah Hwang
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447077 | Margaret Ferguson Books
Toasty loves dogs – so much so that he’d like to be one. He knows there are some differences – most dogs have four legs, but Toasty has two arms and two legs. Some dogs sleep in dog houses, but Toasty sleeps in a toaster. All dogs have hair and fur, but Toasty has neither because he’s made of bread. In spite of these differences, he decides to go to the park to play with the dogs but runs into trouble when they want to eat him. Lucky for Toasty, he is rescued by a little girl who has always wanted a dog but can’t have one because she is allergic. Toasty is the perfect dog for her.

International Cat Day 2021

August 8 is international cat day! Here are the purr-fect book picks to celebrate these sassy pets.

100 Cats: Cute Kitties to Count
By Michael Whaite
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593308332 | Random House BFYR
CATS RULE! Can there really be 100 cats behaving in oh-so familiar cat-like ways packed into the pages of this picture book? Caring cat, sharing cat, stood still staring cat. . . . Follow Michael Whaite’s fun and lively rhyme as it weaves its way through long cats, silly cats, frizzy cats . . . 100% hilarious cats. Speaking of 100, you can count them all! This romp of a read-aloud is bursting with amusing details to spot and funny felines that cat-lovers won’t be able to resist.

A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories
By John Martz
60 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270985 | Tundra Books
In Tim’s world, cats can paint on the ceiling and a cheerful porcine couple can wait months for the bus. A duck and a mouse can fly . . . a plane, of course. In “Doug & Mouse,” the first of four stories, a plucky duck and mouse pair embark on a globe-spanning journey by plane, jungle vine, horse, skis, skates, paraglider, boat, and submarine, but they’re sure to make it home in time for pizza and tunes. In “Tim,” the titular cat lives his nine lives to the fullest – he’s a basketball star (sort of), a scientist (but not a very good one), a painter (very lifelike), and an all-terrain golfer. In “Connie,” a plucky rabbit follows her line of inquiry wherever it leads. And in the final story, “Mr. and Mrs. Hamhock,” an amiable pig couple wait months and months for the bus, only to realize that they’ve forgotten something important behind at home.

ABC Cats: An Alpha-Cat Book
By Leslea Newman
Illustrated by Isabella Kung
26 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Board Book
ISBN 9781536209945 | Candlewick
A beguiling array of felines from A to Z makes learning the alphabet the cat’s pajamas. From curious to elegant, grouchy to inquisitive, rowdy to tangled to . . . well, unusual (who says cats don’t swim in the tub?), these twenty-six charming felines interact with oversize alphabet letters on rhyming spreads. Author Lesléa Newman and illustrator Isabella Kung offer a cat’s-eye concept book that makes the ABCs go down easy – and is sure to inspire many a repeat viewing.

Bad Cat! 
By Nicola O’Byrne
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536217285 | Nosy Crow
Fluffykins is a perfect cat. He wouldn’t do anything naughty . . . would he? But what’s this? He’s knocked over the flowers, tangled up all the yarn, bent the blinds, and scratched the sofa . . . and he won’t apologize. What a bad cat! Whatever will Fluffykins do next? This witty and perfectly paced story by award-winning author-illustrator Nicola O’Byrne revels in all the mayhem of living with a bad cat.

Cat Likes Red
By Christopher Russo
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823445875 | Holiday House
Cat learns colors and meets new friends! Cat meets a red ladybug. Turn the page: Cat and Cat’s new friend are outdoors in an all-red scene, chock full of details. Cat meets more friends – including a green lizard, a blue fish, and a yellow bee.

Cat Problems
By Jory John
Illustrated by Lane Smith
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593302132 | Random House Studio
Just like most cats, this cat lives an extremely comfortable life. But he has his problems too! The sun spot he’s trying to bathe in won’t stop moving. He keeps getting served dry food instead of wet. And don’t even get him started on the vacuum – it’s an absolute menace! – and the nosy neighbor squirrel that just can’t seem to mind its own business. Will this cat ever find the silver lining?

Dear Beast
By Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Kevan Atteberry
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823448432 | Holiday House
Simon has taken care of his owner, Andy, for many years. He’s a good cat. Clean, responsible, and loyal. What more could a boy want? Even when Andy’s dad moves out, Simon is certain that Andy doesn’t need another pet. So why would Andy’s dad adopt a DOG?! To make matters worse, the animal is a rude, rowdy troublemaker. Simon’s job is clear: the beast has got to go. He decides to write him a letter. Strongly worded, of course. But when the dog’s response sets off an unexpected correspondence, Simon realizes the beast may be here to stay. Can he make room for another pet in Andy’s life?

Home Is Where the Heart Is
By Emma Dodd
24 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536217124 | Templar
Just what IS it that makes home such a special place to be?
Home’s an extra special space
you hold within your heart
to keep you very close to me
when we must be apart.
A charming celebration of what home means to all of us, featuring a wise cat and an adorable little kitten who discover that there really is no place like home.

Katie the Catsitter
By Colleen AF Venable
Illustrated by Stephanie Yue
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781984895639 | Random House BFYR
Katie is dreading the boring summer ahead while her best friends are all away at camp – something that’s way out of Katie and her mom’s budget, UNLESS Katie can figure out a way to earn the money for camp herself. But when Katie gets a job catsitting for her mysterious upstairs neighbor, life get interesting. First, Madeline has 217 cats (!) and they’re not exactly . . . normal cats. Also, why is Madeline always out EXACTLY when the city’s most notorious villain commits crimes?! Is it possible that Katie’s upstairs neighbor is really a super villain? Can Katie wrangle a whole lot of wayward cats, save a best friendship (why is Beth barely writing back? And who’s this boy she keeps talking about?!), AND crack the biggest story in the city’s history? Some heroes have capes . . . Katie has cats!

Max Meow Book 1: Cat Crusader
By John Gallagher
240 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593121054 | Random House BFYR
Max is just a regular cat in Kittyopolis, trying to make it big as a podcaster UNTIL he accidentally takes a bite of an RADIOACTIVE SPACE MEATBALL at his best friend, scientist Mindy’s, SECRET LAB. Then before you can say MEOWZA, Max becomes . . . (drum roll!) . . . The CAT CRUSADER! Being a super hero is fun (Super strength? Check! Flying? YES!!!) – but not if you get so cocky, you forget your best friend! Will Max learn to listen? Will he and Mindy make up? And together, can Max and Mindy save Kittyopolis from the evil Agent M and BIG BOSS?! Find out in Max Meow: Cat Crusader – a laugh out loud, furr-ociously funny, action-packed new series filled with so many twists, turns, and terrific jokes it makes bad guys FLEA and kids cheer with glee! BONUS: Includes how to draw Max Meow!

Rectangle Time
By Pamela Paul
Illustrated by Becky Cameron
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593115114 | Philomel Books
This spunky, self-assured cat has always loved Rectangle Time – when the boy and the man he lives with curl up with their rectangle and read aloud from it. The cat knows how helpful he is during Rectangle Time, of course – his presence is vital to the very ritual! But when the rectangle starts to get smaller, the stories start to get quieter, and worst of all, the boy no longer needs the cat’s “help,” the cat must find a way to reclaim his part in Rectangle Time, even if slightly different from before. In this fun, funny, and ultimately sweet story about growing up, embracing change, and the ways we all can misread social cues, we see the power of stories to bring everyone together – there’s always room for everyone at story time.

Spotlight on Social-Emotional Learning Books

Social-emotional learning (SEL): is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. Children learn about identifying and managing emotions, coping with stress, positive motivation, building relationships, deepening their sense of self, and thinking critically and creatively.

Here are some books that help apply these everyday skills in their experiences at school, at home, and in the community.

Bear Outside
By Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jen Corace
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446131 | Neal Porter Books
In this imaginative picture book by Jane Yolen, acclaimed author of many distinguished children’s books including Owl Moon and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, a girl explores the many ways she expresses herself by imagining that she wears a bear as her personal protective shell. They go everywhere and do everything together. The Bear is like a suit of armor and a partner all in one, protecting her from bullies and giving her strength to be bold when she needs it. In turn, she listens to and takes care of the Bear.

Big Feelings
By Alexandra Penfold
Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
42 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525579748 | Knopf BFYR
In their bestselling picture book All Are Welcome, Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman celebrate kindness, inclusivity, and diversity. Now with Big Feelings, they help children navigate the emotional challenges they face in their daily lives. What should we do when things don’t go to plan? We may feel mad, frustrated, or overwhelmed, but by talking it through, compromising, and seeing another point of view, we can start fresh, begin anew.

Carol and the Pickle-Toad
By Esmé Shapiro
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263987 | Tundra Books
In the big city, people wear all kinds of hats. Not everyone wears a toad as a hat, but some people do . . . and some of those toad hats can be VERY bossy! Carol has always followed the orders of her demanding toad hat at the expense of her own inner voice. But when her toad hat is plucked away by a pigeon, how will Carol know what to do? After spending so long being told what to eat and do and paint, Carol’s not sure what SHE wants, and nothing feels quite right. Feeling lost, she creates a new hat – a toad made out of pickles and eggs – to help guide her. Even though her new pickle-toad doesn’t make a sound, Carol can hear it loud and clear! But when a pigeon takes away THAT hat too, Carol begins to understand that there is a big, booming voice that lives inside herself . . . and that it’s well worth listening to! For any reader who’s doubted their own voice and talents, or felt like a bossy friend or family member is always drowning them out, Carol and the Pickle-Toad is an inspiring invitation to listen to your own heart and stand on your own two feet – even better if you’re wearing very tall boots.

Daisy
By Jessixa Bagley
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446506 | Neal Porter Books
“Daisies seem so simple on the surface, but when you look closely you see their hidden beauty.” That’s what Daisy the warthog’s mom always says, and it’s the reason she got her name. But when Daisy goes to school, she doesn’t feel like her name. The other kids, Rose, Violet, and Petunia, make fun of her and call her “Thistle.” Daisy spends a lot of time with her head down, but she doesn’t need her classmates to have fun. When she looks at the forest floor, she starts to find all sorts of treasures, beautiful things that were once special and have since been forgotten. The other kids might make fun of her pastime, but it turns out she’s not the only one who appreciates the hidden beauty of forgotten things when she meets a like-minded new friend.

Ellie’s Dragon
By Bob Graham
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211139 | Candlewick
When Ellie is very small, she finds a lovable newborn dragon on a carton of eggs in the grocery store. Ellie calls him Scratch, takes him home, and moves him into her dollhouse. Her mother can’t see Scratch, and her teacher doesn’t notice when Ellie brings Scratch to preschool, yet her friends are amazed. Ellie is lucky to have an affectionate, house-trained dragon like Scratch! But dragons get quite large as they grow. And Ellie is growing, too, moving from dollhouses to dance parties, not noticing that Scratch’s brilliant green scales are beginning to fade a little. . . . A wistful, quietly thought-provoking tribute to the friends who appear when we need them most, even if it’s just for a little while.

I Do Not Like Yolanda
By Zoey Abbott
44  Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266513 | Tundra Books
When Bianca gets stuck in Yolanda’s line at the post office, she expects the worst: scowls, claws, teeth . . . This is what she gets for having a five-letter day. She might not survive . . . Or will Yolanda surprise her? This hilarious story explores fear and kindness, in that order, when Bianca decides to overcome her terror and ask Yolanda very nicely how her weekend was . . . and learns that Yolanda is not scary, she’s a delight! A truly lovely book about questioning your assumptions and reaching out to another person, no matter how scary they might be.

Jabari Tries
By Gaia Cornwall
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536207163 | Candlewick
Jabari is making a flying machine in his backyard! “It’ll be easy. I don’t need any help,” he declares. But it doesn’t work! Jabari is frustrated. Good thing Dad is there for a pep talk and his little sister, Nika, is there to assist, fairy wings and all. With the endearing father-child dynamic of Jabari Jumps and engaging mixed-media illustrations, Gaia Cornwall’s tale shows that through perseverance and flexibility, an inventive thought can become a brilliant reality.

Laxmi’s Mooch
By Shelly Anand
Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984815651 | Kokila
Laxmi never paid much attention to the tiny hairs above her lip. But one day while playing farm animals at recess, her friends point out that her whiskers would make her the perfect cat. She starts to notice body hair all over – on her arms, legs, and even between her eyebrows. With her parents’ help, Laxmi learns that hair isn’t just for heads, but that it grows everywhere, regardless of gender. Featuring affirming text by Shelly Anand and exuberant, endearing illustrations by Nabi H. Ali, Laxmi’s Mooch is a celebration of our bodies and our body hair, in whichever way they grow.

Mad, Mad, MAD
By Leslie Patricelli
26 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536203806 | Candlewick
Sometimes Baby is sad. And sometimes mad, mad, MAD! Baby screams and falls to the floor, and a spectacular tantrum follows, from furious crying to the final flop. What happens when Baby wants to stop, but even hugging a beloved blankie doesn’t dissolve the cranky? Maybe a walkabout is in order, with some mindful breathing to boot? Master of toddler expression Leslie Patricelli turns the focus to feelings in a relatable episode offering some tips for helping the mad go away.

Maya’s Big Scene
By Isabelle Arsenault
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267602 | Tundra Books
Maya is an imposing, burgeoning playwright and loves to have the kids in her Mile End neighborhood bring her scenes to life. Her latest work, about a feminist revolution, is almost ready for public performance. But as her actors begin to express their costume preferences, Maya quickly learns that their visions may not match hers . . . and as both Director and Queen, Maya demands obedience and loyalty in her queendom of equality! But she soon realizes – with the help of her friends and subjects – that absolute bossiness corrupts absolutely!

Mr. Mole Moves In
By Lesley-Anne Green
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918029 | Tundra Books
Mr. Mole is a very well-mannered fellow. He greets fence posts politely, he compliments watermelons and he generously gives children erasers to eat. The critters of Juniper Hollow are confused, but they befriend him anyway. After all, maybe this is just how things are done back in Moletown . . . and in Juniper Hollow, strangers are just friends waiting to happen! This hilarious story of compassion, friendship, and wacky misunderstandings will tickle readers, and the fuzzy artwork will delight fans big and small.

My Little Brave Girl
By Hilary Duff
Illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593300725 | Random House BFYR
A poetic text encourages girls to reach higher, dream bigger, and approach the world with their hearts wide open. This love letter to little girls was inspired by Hilary Duff’s own experience as a mother as she considered all the ways her daughter had to be brave even as an infant. With lush illustrations and an empowering message, My Little Brave Girl is the perfect gift for baby showers, birthdays, Mother’s Day, graduation, and any time a girl – or woman – is embarking on a new chapter of her life!

Sometimes It’s Bright
By Annie Ruygt
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781684379828 | Boyds Mills Press
In this visually rich picture book, a girl discovers the joy of creativity, first on a walk through the city and ultimately within herself. As Ronan and her mother spend an afternoon together, the girl notices a sparkling brightness – flowing in the notes of a street musician, blaring from billboards, and flying from dancers on stage. Why does she sometimes feel bright – and where could she find that brightness when she wants it? Curious, she experiments . . . until she discovers the magic can come from her, too, when she dances, draws, and paints. Sometimes It’s Bright explores how being our most creative selves brings joy to us and to the world.

The Joy in You
By Cat Deeley
Illustrated by Rosie Butcher
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593181416 | Random House BFYR
Journey through a magical world where readers will find endless opportunities to be themselves and find freedom in expression, no matter where they are or who they’re with.  Kids will delight in the silly humor and undeniable spirit of this rhythmic picture book – and take to heart the message that they are enough exactly as they are! Cat Deeley’s debut is the perfect gift for new mom and baby, birthday celebrations, and any family in need of a spark of happiness.

The Purple Puffy Coat
By Maribeth Boelts
Illustrated by Daniel Duncan
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536204971 | Candlewick
It’s almost Stick Bug’s birthday, and his fashionable friend Beetle can’t wait to give him his present – a purple puffy coat! The coat draws a lot of attention and makes Stick Bug really stick out in the crowd. Beetle thinks that’s terrific! He brings Stick Bug all over town, happily boasting and bragging (while Stick Bug waits behind a tree, in a pile of leaves, or under a bench). Oh, dear – maybe Stick Bug isn’t as wild about the purple puffy coat as Beetle is! What can the two friends do? Charming illustrations bring to life both characters’ endearing struggles in this warm and humorous story about learning to pay attention to what makes your friend happy rather than what makes you happy.

Toasty
By Sarah Hwang
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447077 | Margaret Ferguson Books
Toasty loves dogs – so much so that he’d like to be one. He knows there are some differences – most dogs have four legs, but Toasty has two arms and two legs. Some dogs sleep in dog houses, but Toasty sleeps in a toaster. All dogs have hair and fur, but Toasty has neither because he’s made of bread. In spite of these differences, he decides to go to the park to play with the dogs but runs into trouble when they want to eat him. Lucky for Toasty, he is rescued by a little girl who has always wanted a dog but can’t have one because she is allergic. Toasty is the perfect dog for her.

Will You Be My Friend?
By Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536217476 | Candlewick Press
Little Nutbrown Hare is out exploring on his own. Off he hops along the path and through the grass until he reaches Cloudy Mountain, where something extraordinary happens: he discovers a new friend! Now the fun can really begin. Twenty-five years after we met the Nutbrown Hares, this enchanting new tale about friendship is bound to capture the hearts of Guess How Much I Love You fans – and everyone else – the world over.