Fight Like a Girl: Q&A with Cover Artist Lauren Tamaki

Looking for a mid-week pick-me-up? Look no further: we have a new Q&A with artist Lauren Tamaki. She’s the genius behind the striking cover for Sheena Kamal‘s upcoming YA debut, Fight Like a Girl. Read on to see just how many sketches Lauren went through before she landed on this final image.

Did you read Fight Like a Girl before starting on the cover? If so, what about it stuck out to you the most?

I read the whole thing, front to back! I was struck by the ferocity of the main character: she’s angry, she swears, she fully realized. Her Trinidadian-Canadian identity is front and center and although we come from different backgrounds, I could relate to feeling of being in-between worlds and not knowing your place. The author explored the vagaries of being a 16 year old girl with gusto and the emotion was further heightened by the crazy fight sequences!

What emotions did you want to capture on the cover?

When John Martz, my wonderful art director, first briefed me on the project, we talked about dynamic image of a girl throwing a punch or a kick. The book is woven around the main character’s love for Muay Thai. I tried a few versions of that, and while they were active, sweaty and impactful, none of them had the confrontational nature that the character possessed. I tried a couple drawings that had direct eye contact but I didn’t want to create an explicit portrait of her face (someone told me a long time ago not to do that on book covers). I came to a nice solution that showcased the character’s searing stare and physicality with a bit of vulnerability tossed in.

How did you choose the colour scheme?

I knew the colour had to be hot and intense. The story is about love and violence, so I had no choice! I ended up using black ink washes coloured digitally (so it was still transparent in areas). I put a purple bruise colour under the red so it felt just a bit… achey.

Were you given any guidance from the author/editor?

The original vision for the cover was of a simple figure in an expressive illustrated style. I watched a ton of Muay Thai on YouTube to get an idea of what I was dealing with. This particular martial art is very calculated for all the fury it brings. We ended up gravitating away from that original thought, but drawing all those figures was extremely helpful.

How many drafts/designs did you go through before it was “finished”?

So so many…. I sent through 8 pencil sketches for the first review, mostly of the expressive figure in action. We toyed with a couple directions for a while but went with a more centralized view of a girl staring down the viewer while ‘on the ropes’. Once we decided on that path, I tried about 9 colour/tone tests, but nothing seemed right. I stripped it back to simple black line work and a flood of colour, which was the right treatment because it was bold and direct.

As per usual, I nit-picked right up to the delivery date: I noticed I hadn’t addressed the hand wrapping *exactly* as it should be so I went back in and fixed that. Research is so important!

Have you worked on other book covers before or do you have any coming up?

I’ve done a handful of book covers and this is definitely one of my favourites! My first book cover was with Penguin UK (Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe) and I had a great experience working with them: they let me go wild with the illustration and design of the entire wrap. I’m working on a book right now that will require a cover at some point… I think it’ll probably be the last thing I tackle!

How is designing a cover different from other illustration projects you’ve worked on?

I’ve heard designers and illustrators bemoan how book covers are difficult because of the variety of opinions required to pass muster. I’ve had wildly different experiences – mostly positive. The most joyous work occurs when you have trust and rapport with your AD. The worst experiences are when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, there is a lack of clarity and no respect for your time. Any illustration work (editorial, advertising, etc) can fall on either side.

What are some recent book covers you admire?

Designer Na Kim creates the most stunning book covers. The way she mixes illustration, photography, type… so wonderful! Her covers have incredible variety but are all blessed with her magic touch. Her image for Girl by Edna O’ Brian (featuring a gorgeous drawing by Chioma Ebinama) stopped me in my tracks.


Fight Like a Girl will be released on March 10, 2020. In the meantime, make sure you’re following Lauren and author Sheena Kamal on social media!

SHEENA KAMAL: website | instagram
LAUREN TAMAKI: website | instagram 

You’re Invited to the Launch of Colette’s Lost Pet

Launch Invitation

Please join Tundra Books in welcoming Isabelle Arsenault to Toronto for the launch of Colette’s Lost Pet.

When: Friday, May 12, 2017
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Where: Type Books
Address: 883 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON
Telephone: 416-366-8973

Download our activity kit here.

Colette's Lost PetColette’s Lost Pet
By Isabelle Arsenault
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Hardcover | 48 Pages | Ages 4 to 8
ISBN 9781101917596

“Arsenault crafts a story rooted in themes of understanding, empathy, and the way imagination can be used to silently conspire and inspire.” – Starred review, Quill & Quire

“Arsenault’s beautiful, smudgy, scratchy scenes, rendered in soft grays with pops of bright yellow and pale blue, feature big-eyed, adorable kids earnestly searching for the imaginary bird, which is rendered relatively realistically, even as it grows to gargantuan proportions in Colette’s story. With a graphic-novel-like format, arresting artwork, and a story that will ring true to many little kids with big imaginations of their own, this warm, funny picture book hits all the right notes.” – Starred review, Booklist

“It’s impossible not to love little Colette in her bright yellow hooded jacket…. Arsenault manages to make sure everyone in Colette’s Lost Pet lives happily ever after, while also reminding readers that when it comes to sharing imaginary worlds, it’s more fun when everyone plays along.” – Montreal Review of Books

“Arsenault’s story has the feel of a campfire song, increasingly fun and outrageous until the joyful end and its promise of new friendships.” – Kirkus Reviews

“It’s not Colette’s behavior that Arsenault holds up as exemplary, but that of her new friends. They welcome Colette and don’t shame her for making up stories that they understand come from nervousness. Most fibbing stories end with an abashed moment of coming clean; this one ends with a request for more make-believe.” – Publishers Weekly

“This charming tale demonstrates to kids a lovely and welcoming way to treat someone new in their community.” – City Parent

Tuesdays with Tundra 19

Tuesdays with Tundra is a monthly post on our new releases. The following books are available today in stores and online!

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom
By Susin Nielsen
Paperback | 240 pages | Ages 11-14
ISBN: 978-1-77049-295-0
eBook: 978-0-88776-978-8
“Nielsen (Word Nerd) has created a narrator as sassy and candid as this memorable novel’s title…. Nielsen skillfully balances her story’s keen humor…with poignancy. Especially affecting are Violet’s struggles to accept her father’s new family….” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

The Green Man
By Michael Bedard
Hardcover | 320 pages | Ages 10-14
ISBN: 978-1-77049-285-1
eBook: 978-1-77049-293-6
“…Bedard takes full advantage of the genre’s atmospheric creepiness and sepia-toned timelessness. O is a contemporary character, but the story is refreshingly free of hoodies, malls, product placements, and texting…. For more plot-hungry Goosebumps graduates, there are dark strangers, abandoned mansions, ghostly glowing, chilling coincidences, and otherworldly portals galore.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Here Comes Hortense!
By Heather Hartt-Sussman
Illustrated by Georgia Graham
Hardcover | 32 pages | Ages 4-7
ISBN: 978-1-77049-221-9
“…Here Comes Hortense should be a welcomed addition for those seeking stories that explore intergenerational relationships. Georgia Graham’s artwork is truly delightful…. The drawings suit the story so well and are complemented with large bold text in many strategic places. The theme park, depicted in all its ‘over the top’ garish features, is appealing and humorous. The results are playful, quirky, colourful and action-packed artwork!” – Highly Recommended, CM Magazine

The Last Song
By Eva Wiseman
Hardcover | 232 pages | Ages 11+
ISBN: 978-0-88776-979-5
eBook: 978-0-88776-980-1
“With spies and informers on all sides, the story builds to a gripping climax…readers will easily be caught by the young girl’s personal heartbreak and conflict and will want to find out more.” – Booklist

Pub Date Giveaway: Tell us which new release of ours you would love to read in the comments below and one lucky reader will receive their requested book!

One request per person and please review our rules. This giveaway ends at midnight on Thursday, April 12, 2012!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Heather, a copy of The Last Song will be sent to you!

PS: Our next Pub Date Giveaway will be on May 8, 2012.

Tuesdays with Tundra 18

Tuesdays with Tundra is a monthly post on our new releases. The following books are available today in stores and online!

Going Ape!
By Eduardo Bustos
Illustrated by Lucho Rodríguez
Hardcover | 24 pages | Ages 5-8
ISBN: 978-1-77049-282-0
There are more than 200 species of primates in the world. Going Ape! is a wonderful introduction to some of the most fascinating ones for children just discovering the world of animals. From Japan’s macaques to Africa’s gorillas, brilliant images and brief, informative text will capture the imagination of young children.

Man Overboard!
By Curtis Parkinson
Paperback | 160 pages | Ages 10-12
ISBN: 978-1-77049-298-1
eBook: 978-1-77049-299-8
During World War II, a German agent landed in Canada from a U-boat. Curtis Parkinson has used this true historical event to tell a fast-paced, exciting story. Sixteen-year-old Scott and his friend Adam find summer jobs as deckhands on the Rapids Prince, a ship that plies the waters between the town of Prescott, on the St. Lawrence River, and Montreal. Scott overhears convincing information that a German agent is actually on board the boat!

Puppet
By Eva Wiseman
Paperback | 240 pages | Ages 11+
ISBN: 978-1-77049-296-7
eBook: 978-1-77049-028-4
This powerful fictionalized account of one of the last blood libel trial in Europe is told through the eyes of Julie, a friend of the murdered Esther, and a servant at the jail where Morris is imprisoned. Although Puppet is a novel, it is based upon a real court case that took place in Hungary in 1883. In Hungary today, the name Morris Schar has become synonymous with “traitor.” Once again, Eva Wiseman illuminates a heartbreaking episode in history for young readers.

Pub Date Giveaway: Tell us which new releases you would love to read in the comments below and one lucky reader will receive their requested book!

One request per person and please review our rules. This giveaway ends at midnight on Monday, March 19, 2012!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Linda, she won a copy of Going Ape!

PS: Our next Pub Date Giveaway will be on April 10, 2012.

Tuesdays with Tundra 17

Tuesdays with Tundra is a monthly post on our new releases. The following books are available today in stores and online! Do you see the environmental theme this month? It’s all about the love for our planet this Valentine’s Day:

Creatures Great and Small
By Karen Patkau
Paperback | 32 pages | Ages 6-9
ISBN: 978-1-77049-309-4
A glossary, map endpapers, and handy charts – introducing the concepts of scale and proportion by comparing measurements of animals that are “Big” and “Really Big” to “Small” and “Really Small” – make this book a must-have for parents, schools, and libraries alike.

Creatures Yesterday and Today
By Karen Patkau
Paperback | 32 pages | Ages 6-9
ISBN: 978-1-77049-310-0
Captivating text in the voices of the animals themselves is complemented by the vibrant illustrations, map endpapers, glossary, geological time line, and chart of the history of life, making this fact-filled book a welcome addition to any home or school library, where a budding scientist can happily explore.

Who Needs a Jungle?
By Karen Patkau
Hardcover | 32 pages | Ages 7-10
ISBN: 978-0-88776-992-4
Jungles are treasures for all of us, regardless of where we live. In Who Needs a Jungle? we learn about its vital role in providing us with oxygen, food, medicinal ingredients, and raw materials we use every day.

Who Needs a Swamp?
By Karen Patkau
Hardcover | 32 pages | Ages 7-10
ISBN: 978-0-88776-991-7
Swamps are often seen as a dangerous and useless. They are often drained to create farmland or to reduce diseases. But such measures can be disastrous. Who Needs a Swamp? explores wetlands and their importance in the food chain and in preserving our soil and clean water.

Who Needs an Iceberg?
By Karen Patkau
Hardcover | 32 pages | Ages 7-10
ISBN: 978-0-88776-993-1
Who Needs an Iceberg? The Arctic ecosystem is changing rapidly. The Arctic Ice Cap is melting, the habitat for the creatures that live in the north is shrinking, and the earth is warming up. The impact is enormous for all of us.

Who Will Save My Planet?
By Cristina Urrutia
Hardcover | 32 pages | Ages 7+
ISBN: 978-1-77049-281-3
This unique and powerful wordless book uses striking photos to show the impact of humans on the environment. Each provocative image speaks volumes. On every spread we are shown a treasure that nature has given us beside a picture of how we’ve abused that treasure. It would take thousands of words to express the important environmental message presented by Cristina Urrutia.

Pub Date Giveaway: Tell us which new releases you would love to read in the comments below and one lucky reader will receive their requested book! You can either request for the set of two Creatures books, the set of three books in the Ecosystem Series, or Who Will Save My Planet?

One request per person and please review our rules. This giveaway ends at midnight on Thursday, February 16, 2012!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Eleanor Q! You will be getting a copy of Creatures Great and Small and Creatures Yesterday and Today.

PS: Our next Pub Date Giveaway will be on March 13, 2012.