2022 Pacific Northwest Book Award Winners

Since 1964, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has presented annual awards to recognize excellence in writing from the Pacific Northwest. We would like to congratulate Xiran Jay Zhao (Iron Widow) and Julie Morstad (Time is a Flower) who were winners of the 2022 PNBA Award.

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

“Giant transforming robots fueled by the life force of their pilots; a system which exploits gender norms and sacrifices girls in the name of empire; a protagonist who will do anything to put an end to it. A fierce retelling of the life of the Chinese Empress Wu Zetian and an iron strong debut.​” – PNBA jury

Time Is a Flower
By Julie Morstad
56 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267541 | Tundra Books
What is time? Is it the tick tick tock of a clock, numbers and words on a calendar? It’s that, but so much more. Time is a seed waiting to grow, a flower blooming, a sunbeam moving across a room. Time is slow like a spider spinning her web or fast like a wave at the beach. Time is a wiggly tooth, or waiting for the school bell to ring, or reading a story . . . or three! But time is also morning for some and night for others, a fading sunset and a memory captured in a photo taken long ago. In this magical meditation on the nature of time, Julie Morstad shines a joyful light on a difficult-to-grasp concept for young readers and reminds older readers to see the wonders of our world, including children themselves, through the lens of time.

“A brilliant and beautiful invitation to think about our relationship to time and how we spend it. Pages of bright, saturated color flow with a rhythm that allows space to breathe, inviting the reader to turn the pages over and over again.” – PNBA jury

Our Stars of 2021

At Tundra Book Group (Tundra Books, Puffin Canada, and Penguin Teen Canada), we think all our books are brilliant, and it’s nice when others think so too! Congratulations to our authors and illustrators; these are our starred books of 2021!

FIVE STARS:

Instructions for Dancing
By Nicola Yoon
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271234 | Penguin Teen Canada
“An endearing, affecting exploration of the journey of love. Everything Yoon touches turns to gold and this cinematic supernatural romance will be no exception.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“A remarkable, irresistible love story that will linger long after readers turn the final page.” – Starred Review, Kirkus
“Yoon delivers a story of love’s unpredictability and the importance of perspective that unfolds with ease and heart.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“A sweet, genuine love story sure to pull on the heartstrings.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“Yoon delivers this captivating story of first love with beautiful prose, clever dialogue that swings between laugh-out-loud funny and wildly insightful, clear respect for the complexity and nuance of her teen characters’ perspectives and emotions – and just enough magic to make it all truly unforgettable.” – Starred Review, BookPage

FOUR STARS:

In the Wild Light
By Jeff Zentner
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263055 | Penguin Teen Canada
“A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Evocative and moving, highlighting Zentner’s impressive skill with both poetry and prose.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“A wise, gorgeous exploration of loss and survival that will make readers cry…Lyrical and heartbreaking.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“Heartfelt and deeply moving . . . a book that readers will unhesitatingly take to their hearts.” – Starred Review, Booklist

THREE STARS:

Little Witch Hazel
By Phoebe Wahl
96 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264892 | Tundra Books
“The writing is lush and lyrical, and the textured, earth-toned illustrations expertly capture Hazel’s world, both cozy and gloriously wild . . . More Mosswood, please.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“A thread of loving and nurturing emerges through this treasury of quiet adventures . . . and readers will find satisfaction in seeing the way [Little Witch Hazel’s] sturdy care succors her community and results in gentle reciprocation.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“The quiet but insistent rejection of conventional norms is both cheer worthy and effortlessly integrated, and the result is a story that can sit happily next to any classic fairy story as well as contemporary picture books directly addressing physical differences.” – Starred Review, Booklist

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681  | Tundra Books
“An outstanding contribution to the literature about family, intergenerational friendship, remembrance, community, Indigenous experience, and more.” – Starred Review, The Horn Book
“Robertson’s text is as spare as Flett’s artwork, leaving plenty of space for readers to feel the emotions evoked by both.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“A deeply affecting journey of memory and history.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Time Is a Flower
By Julie Morstad
56 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267541 | Tundra Books
“Thoughtful metaphors and diverse characters take viewers through the manifold dimensions of time. . . . This exuberant vehicle will expand the thinking of those just beginning to comprehend clocks and calendars.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“A conceptual meditation, winsome and enigmatic.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating way to think about the passage of time.” – Starred Review, Booklist

TWO STARS:

Bear Wants to Sing
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268036 | Tundra Books
“Sparkling whimsy . . . a delicate story full of humor and friendship.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“This tender tale of creativity, manners, and nurturing friendship by the creators of King Mouse has all the makings of a contemporary classic.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Blankie
By Ben Clanton
22 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735266780 | Tundra Books
“A delightful celebration of friendship and fancy.” –  Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“From Clanton’s early graphic novel series, hilarious best-friend duo Narwhal and Jelly happily talk about their favorite things and dart about in their simple, signature colors across the pages.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Both Sides Now
By Peyton Thomas
300 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269750 | Penguin Teen Canada
“Emotionally charged and politically relevant, this is a must-read.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Thomas’ debut is achingly vulnerable . . . There’s no debate: Both Sides Now is a compelling, heartfelt must-read.” – Starred Review, Booklist

Ten Little Dumplings
By Larissa Fan
Illustrated by Cindy Wume
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266193 | Tundra Books
“Stepping out of the shadows: a gentle, persuasive #ownvoices take on a hitherto-untold perspective.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“A sincere and beautiful story for all ages, and one that can gently introduce a serious discussion topic of rank and gender for older readers.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

The Great Godden
By Meg Rosoff
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735268319 | Penguin Teen Canada
“One wants to read the book several times to tease out how Rosoff achieves her effects. The effort is a joy, just like this unforgettable novel, the first of a planned, summer-themed trio.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“There’s enough tension here that readers may hope for a ramp-up into full thriller, but the story moves toward a different kind of satisfying conclusion, with victory lying in an unpredictable tennis match and the ability to preserve the possibilities of future summers.” – Starred Review, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

What Does Little Crocodile Say?
By Eva Montanari
40 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268135 | Tundra Books
“This endearing take on a common preschool scenario will make an appealing read-aloud at home or school.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Montanari’s economic, softly textured pencil crayon drawings and intimate, inventive vignette framings provide plenty to linger over, and deliver the gentle persuasion that reluctant, or sensorially sensitive, preschoolers need.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

ONE STAR:

Anonymouse
By Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Anna Pirolli
40  Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263949 | Tundra Books
“Slyly subversive, Anonymouse offers a shrewd commentary on the challenges and hazards facing nature in the city.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Bubbles
By Ben Clanton
22 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735266766 | Tundra Books
“From Clanton’s early graphic novel series, hilarious best-friend duo Narwhal and Jelly happily talk about their favorite things and dart about in their simple, signature colors across the pages.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Butterflies Are Pretty . . . Gross!
By Rosemary Mosco
Illustrated by Jacob Souva
36 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265929 | Tundra Books
“A proboscis-in-cheek introduction to butterflies that will appeal to reluctant readers and bug enthusiasts alike.” –  Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Children of the Fox: Thieves of Shadow #1
By Kevin Sands
416 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270411 | Puffin Canada
“The protagonists’ natural chemistry as they learn to collaborate and trust one another helps to ground the epic story, especially once it leans more heavily into fantasy elements, while Callan’s narrative voice adds just the right amount of self-aware humor.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem
By Lauren Soloy
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266087 | Tundra Books
“An excellent introduction to the natural sciences, Darwin, fairies, and inquiry, sure to inspire and fascinate young readers and listeners.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

I Do Not Like Yolanda
By Zoey Abbott
44  Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266513 | Tundra Books
“[F]ull of little wonders that hold the reader’s attention from page to page.A book that will inspire readers to find their own pen pals, a good book, and a new friend.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Out Into the Big Wide Lake
By Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265592 | Tundra Books
“A heartening Canadian picture book with an emotionally resonant ending.” –  Starred Review, Booklist

Peter Lee’s Notes From the Field
By Angela Ahn
Illustrated by Julie Kwon
312 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268241 | Tundra Books
“[A] winsome . . . and fetching middle-grade novel. Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field is a winner.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

Super Detectives: Simon and Chester #1
By Cale Atkinson
64 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267428 | Tundra Books
“This story is a winner for new readers and aspiring gumshoes alike. Readers will look forward to seeing more of this entertaining detective duo in the future. It’s no mystery – all clues point to fun!” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Great Bear: The Misewa Saga #2
By David A. Robertson
288 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266131 | Puffin Canada
“Robertson’s nods at the complexity of time-travel plots serve as wry metafictive commentary and also tie into his consideration of profound existential questions.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Secret Fawn
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Elly MacKay
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265165 | Tundra Books
“Sweet and pretty for bedtime or naptime – and validating to little ones all the time.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Tiny Reindeer
By Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271180 | Tundra Books
“Tiny Reindeer is a wonderful addition to the Christmas picture book canon that reminds us of the special gifts we all have to offer, no matter how tiny we might be.” – Starred Review, BookPage

Walking in Two Worlds
By Wab Kinew
296 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269002 | Penguin Teen Canada
“Kinew’s first novel for teens stands out in the field of speculative fiction with its respectful, celebratory, and nuanced exploration of cultures and communities all too often at risk of erasure (particularly Indigenous communities).” – Starred Review, Booklist

Our 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award Winner

Each year, the Canada Council for the Arts honours the best books in Canadian literature with the Governor General’s Literary Awards. We would like to congratulate David A. Robertson and Julie Flett whose beautiful book, On the Trapline, won the Governor General’s Literary Award in English for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books.

“With its muted palette and gentle text, On the Trapline is quietly profound. Robertson’s reflective storytelling coupled with Flett’s masterpiece illustrations make this picture book a must-read about the connection to language, family, the land and tradition.”
—Peer assessment committee: Kyrsten Brooker and Catherine Hernandez

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681  | Tundra Books
A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago – a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination, and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.

Special thanks to the peer assessment committee: Kyrsten Brooker and Catherine Hernandez.

Follow the conversation on Twitter through @CanadaCouncil and by using the hashtag #GGbooks.

2021 New York Times / NYPL Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award Winner

We would like to congratulate Julie Morstad who is a winner of the 2021 New York Times / NYPL Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award for Time Is a Flower!

Time Is a Flower
By Julie Morstad
56 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267541 | Tundra Books
What is time? Is it the tick tick tock of a clock, numbers and words on a calendar? It’s that, but so much more. Time is a seed waiting to grow, a flower blooming, a sunbeam moving across a room. Time is slow like a spider spinning her web or fast like a wave at the beach. Time is a wiggly tooth, or waiting for the school bell to ring, or reading a story . . . or three! But time is also morning for some and night for others, a fading sunset and a memory captured in a photo taken long ago. In this magical meditation on the nature of time, Julie Morstad shines a joyful light on a difficult-to-grasp concept for young readers and reminds older readers to see the wonders of our world, including children themselves, through the lens of time.

“An exploration of the concept of time is a daunting premise for a children’s book, but Morstad pulls it off with panache. Her warm, friendly renderings in pencil, marker and ink distill the book’s abstract ideas – does time move slowly or quickly, in a straight line or a circle? – with ingenuity and simplicity. The judges also appreciated Morstad’s judicious use of empty space, which leaves ample room for thought.” – Catherine Hong

2021 Writers’ Trust Awards

The Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People is given annually to the author of an exceptional body of work in children’s literature and the winner is selected by a three-member judging panel. We would like to congratulate Linda Bailey who was the recipient of this year’s award!

From the jury citation: “Warm, humorous, and fun are the best words to describe the works of Linda Bailey over a career that has spanned three decades,” said the jury. “Bailey’s highly imaginative, propulsive plots frequently send characters — two, four, and six-legged — on journeys across uncharted territory or time, driven by burning questions or a yearning to escape the ordinary.”

Thank you to the 2021 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People Jury: Hadley Dyer, Marthe Jocelyn, and Mahtab Narsimhan!

Carson Crosses Canada
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
36 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918838 | Tundra Books
Feisty Annie Magruder and her dog, Carson, live in British Columbia, Canada, and they’re setting out to visit her sister, Elsie, in Newfoundland. In their little rattlebang car, packed with Carson’s favorite toy, Squeaky Chicken, and plenty of baloney sandwiches, Annie and Carson hit the road! They travel province by province, taking in each unique landscape and experiencing something special to that particular part of this vast, grand country. For example, they marvel at the beauty of the big, open sky – and grasshoppers! – in Saskatchewan and discover the gorgeous red earth and delicious lobster rolls in PEI, before finally being greeted by Elsie – and a surprise for Carson!

If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Colin Jack
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495685 | Tundra Books
If you happen to have a dinosaur, lying around your living room, and you don’t know what to do with it . . . why don’t you use it as a can opener? It will make a terrific nutcracker too! There are oodles of uses for a dinosaur – from a fine umbrella to an excellent kite and a dandy pillow, not to mention a reliable burglar alarm and the perfect excuse to forget your homework. This delightfully absurd exploration of the domestic uses of dinosaurs – and the things dinos just aren’t good for at all – is guaranteed to tickle funny bones and spark imaginations. If you read carefully, you’ll learn how to make your dinosaur last a very long time.

Mary Who Wrote FrankensteinMary Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Júlia Sardà
Hardcover | 56 Pages | Ages 5-8
ISBN 9781770495593 | Tundra Books
How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on the tombstone of her famous feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of sixteen runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. Two years later, they travel to Switzerland where they meet a famous poet, Lord Byron. On a stormy summer evening, with five young people gathered around a fire, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. Mary has a waking dream about a monster come to life. A year and a half later, Mary Shelley’s terrifying tale, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, is published – a novel that goes on to become the most enduring monster story ever and one of the most popular legends of all time.

Princesses Versus Dinosaurs
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Joy Ang
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264298 | Tundra Books
This is a princess book! No, it’s a dinosaur book! No, it’s . . . a T. rex book? A dragon book? A rubber ducky book?! From Linda Bailey, award-winning and critically acclaimed author, and Joy Ang, Adventure Time-artist and illustrator of the Mustache Baby series, comes an irresistibly irreverent picture book in which plucky princesses and determined dinosaurs have a battle royale over whose book this is. When they start calling in the big guns – or rather, the big carnivores – and decide to build a wall to resolve their differences, princesses and dinosaurs alike learn a thing or two about open-mindedness and sharing.

Seven Dead Pirates
By Linda Bailey
304 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781770498167 | Tundra Books
Lewis Dearborn is a lonely, anxious, “terminally shy” boy of eleven when his great-grandfather passes away and leaves Lewis’s family with his decaying seaside mansion. Lewis is initially delighted with his new bedroom, a secluded tower in a remote part of the house. Then he discovers that it’s already occupied – by the ghosts of seven dead pirates. Worse, the ghosts expect him to help them re-take their ship, now restored and on display in a local museum, so they can make their way to Libertalia, a legendary pirate utopia. The only problem is that this motley crew hasn’t left the house in almost two hundred years and is terrified of going outside. As Lewis warily sets out to assist his new roommates – a raucous, unruly bunch who exhibit a strange delight in thrift-store fashions and a thirst for storybooks – he begins to open himself to the possibilities of friendship, passion and joie de vivre and finds the courage to speak up.

The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson
336 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263208 | Tundra Books
Eddie is a tiny green bug who loves to read and who lives behind the chalkboard in Mr. Wang’s fourth-grade classroom with his parents, his 53 brothers and sisters, and his Aunt Min. But when Aunt Min goes to the school library and never returns, Eddie leaves the comfort of his home for the first time and begins the dangerous trek through the elementary school. After dodging sneakers, falling books and terrifying spiders, Eddie reaches the library, where he finds Aunt Min stuck on a desk with two broken legs! To top it all off, there’s a substitute librarian who has terrible plans to close the library and turn it into a local testing center. No more books at all! Encouraged by the brave deeds done by small creatures like Stuart Little and Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web, Eddie comes up with a plan to save the library – a plan that requires all the courage one little bug can muster.

Under-the-Bed Fred
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Colin Jack
64 Pages | Ages 6-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495531 | Tundra Books
There’s a monster under Leo’s bed making a ruckus every night. When Leo needs to go to the bathroom, he leaps from the bed to the door – careful not to put his feet on the floor within the monster’s reach. But one night Leo gets tired of being scared and boldly calls out to the monster to see if they can’t just work something out. Surprisingly, the monster listens, and Leo finds out that even enormous monsters have fears! Leo and his monster, Fred, team up to face their fears, each with his own unique strengths. Over the course of five easy-to-read chapters, their friendship blooms as they face everything from bullies to bedbugs. A funny and endearing tale of two very different and unlikely friends, in the tradition of Bink and Gollie and Frog and Toad.

When Santa Was a Baby
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495562 | Tundra Books
Santa’s parents think their little one is absolutely wonderful, even though he has a booming voice instead of a baby’s gurgle, loves to stand in front of the refrigerator, gives his birthday presents away, trains his hamsters to pull a matchbox sleigh . . . and has an unusual interest in chimneys. The adorably funny portrait of an oddball kid who fulfills his destiny – and two very proud parents.