Books to Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month! We’re putting the spotlight on our creators with AAPI heritage and all their wonderful works covering all sorts of themes and messages.

Ages 2-5

Can You Find My Robot's ArmCan You Find My Robot’s Arm?
By Chihiro Takeuchi
40 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919033 | Tundra Books
Robot has lost his arm — can you help him find a new one? Step into a charming mechanical world invented by a striking new picture book artist. Can You Find My Robot’s Arm? humorously invites children to explore beautiful and intricate hand-cut images.

Ages 3-7

A Bedtime Yarn
By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918081 | Tundra Books
Like a well-worn, snuggly blanket, this sweet bedtime story about a little bear who’s afraid of the dark and his mother’s creative solution will warm and comfort readers big and small. A beautiful story of love and crafting, A Bedtime Yarn will appeal to knitters, sleepy little bears and any parents dealing with their child’s fear of the dark.

Great Job, Dad!
By Holman Wang
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264106 | Tundra Books
Being a dad is eleven jobs in one! This unique picture book for very young readers celebrates the many jobs being a parent encompasses. When Dad gets home from his day job at the office, he never knows which job will be waiting for him, but he knows it’ll be fun!

Great Job, Mom!
By Holman Wang
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264083 | Tundra Books
Being a mom is eleven jobs in one! This unique picture book for very young readers celebrates the many jobs being a parent encompasses. When Mom gets home from her day job as a carpenter, she never knows which job will be waiting for her, but she knows it’ll be fun!

Natsumis Song of SummerNatsumi’s Song of Summer
By Robert Paul Weston
Illustrated by Misa Saburi
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265417 | Tundra Books
This sweet and gentle picture book celebrates summer in Japan, as one little girl shares her love for bugs with her cousin who is visiting from America. Natsumi’s Song of Summer is a tender, evocative story that celebrates the special pleasures of summertime and of reunions with faraway family and friends.

Princess Puffybottom … and Darryl
By Susin Nielsen
Illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919255 | Tundra Books
What’s a pampered cat to do now that she has to compete for attention with an ill-mannered puppy? Award-winning author Susin Nielsen delights in this laugh-a-minute twist on the classic sibling rivalry story.

Sakura's Cherry BlossomsSakura’s Cherry Blossoms
By Robert Paul Weston
Illustrated by Misa Saburi
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918746 | Tundra Books
A warm, gorgeous exploration of a little girl’s experience immigrating to a new country and missing her home and her grandmother, who still lives far away. Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms captures the beauty of the healing power of friendship through Weston’s Japanese poetry-inspired text and Saburi’s breathtaking illustrations.

Ages 4-8

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation
By Ted Staunton
Illustrated by Mika Song
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770498280 | Tundra Books
Harry and Clare are stuck at home for their spring break. No exotic locations, no plane trips, no exciting plans. So they make their own fun! The trouble is, older sister Clare is the one making all the rules, and that means deciding on the game AND eating all the food.

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior
By Heather Gale
Illustrated by Mika Song
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264496 | Tundra Books
Based on a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a celebration of Hawaiian culture and an empowering story of a girl who learns to lead and learns to accept who she really is – and in doing so, gains the respect of all those around her.

Julia, Child
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735264014 | Tundra Books
A charming, whimsically illustrated picture book about joie de vivre, told from the perspective of a child named Julia who loves to cook. Julia, Child is a fictional tale loosely inspired by the life and spirit of the very real Julia Child — a story that should be taken with a grain of salt and a generous pat of butter.

Skinnamarink
By Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison, with Randi Hampson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264496 | Tundra Books
Based on the classic folk song made famous by a beloved trio of children’s entertainers, this picture book is best sung aloud! “Skinnamarink” is a timeless anthem of love and inclusion. Through Qin Leng’s wonderfully imaginative illustrations, this delightful picture book tells the story of a community coming together.

Story Boat
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263598 | Tundra Books
When you have to leave behind almost everything you know, where can you call home? Sometimes home is simply where we are: here. A imaginative, lyrical, unforgettable picture book about the migrant experience through a child’s eyes.

the-darkest-darkThe Darkest Dark
By Commander Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion
Illustrated by the Fan Brothers
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918623 | Tundra Books
Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield and brought to life by Terry and Eric Fan’s lush, evocative illustrations, The Darkest Dark will encourage readers to dream the impossible.

The FogThe Fog
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Kenard Pak
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770494923 | Tundra Books
A clever and whimsical environmental fable about a bird who is a human-watcher from a dynamic author-illustrator duo. Kyo Maclear’s witty story, brought to life with the delicate, misty artwork of Kenard Pak, is a poignant yet humorous reminder of the importance of environmental awareness.

Yak and DoveYak and Dove
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Esme Shapiro
56 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770494947 | Tundra Books
Sometimes the unlikeliest friends form the greatest friendships. A funny, charming picture book from a dynamic duo. Yak and Dove whimsically captures the highs and lows of friendship through the three interconnected tales of two very different friends.

Ages 5-9

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
40 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918562 | Tundra Books
A dazzling first-person picture book biography of the life of iconic fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli by the award-winning team who created Julia, Child. With its warm, lyrical text and enchanting illustrations, Bloom shows readers how ingenuity, vision and self doubt all made Schiaparelli truly beautiful.

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
Gyo Fujikawa’s iconic children’s books are beloved all over the world. Now it’s time for Gyo’s story to be told — a story of artistic talent that refused to be constrained by rules or expectations. This luminous new book beautifully and openly touches on Gyo’s difficult experiences and growth.

The Good Little BookThe Good Little Book
Written by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Marion Arbona
40 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770494510 | Tundra Books
While banished to a dusty study one day “to think things over”, a boy pulls a book off a shelf and with great reluctance begins to read. A quirky, enchanting tale of literary love and loss — and love found again — that will win the heart of even the most reluctant reader.

the-lisztsThe Liszts
Written by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julia Sarda
40 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770494961 | Tundra Books
The Liszts make lists. They make lists most usual and lists most unusual. They make lists in winter, spring, summer and fall. Then one day a visitor arrives. He’s not on anyone’s list. Will the Liszts be able to make room on their lists for this new visitor?

Ages 7-10

Wolfie and Fly
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Zoe Si
96 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Paperback
ISBN 9781101919392 | Tundra Books
Our heroine, Renata Wolfman (Wolfie) does everything by herself. Friends just get in the way, and she only has time for facts and reading. But friendship finds her in the form of Livingston Flott (Fly), the slightly weird and wordy boy from next door.

Wolfie and Fly: Band on the Run
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Zoe Si
96 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918234 | Tundra Books
Fly has convinced Wolfie to join him in his one-man band. Before they know it, they’re playing live onstage in front of a stadium of screaming fans. But these fans are about to get out of control–and Wolfie and Fly have to make a daring escape!

Ages 12+

Hunted by the Sky
By Tanaz Bhathena
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267022 | Penguin Teen Canada
A riveting story of discovery, forbidden romance and idealism against all odds, set in a fantasy world inspired in part by Indian history and myth. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.

Tales from the Inner City
By Shaun Tan
224 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265202 | Tundra Books
A unique and beautiful book for kids and adults that combines short stories and poetry with surrealist art — a return to the form that made Shaun Tan a visionary in the world of graphic novels.

Tales from Outer Suburbia
By Shaun Tan
96 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265226 | Tundra Books
Breathtakingly illustrated and hauntingly written, Tales from Outer Suburbia is by turns hilarious and poignant, perceptive and goofy. Through a series of captivating and sophisticated illustrated stories, Tan explores the precious strangeness of our existence.

The Beauty of the Moment
By Tanaz Bhathena
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263765 | Penguin Teen Canada
Susan dreams of being an artist. Malcolm wants to move him and his sister out of a bad living situation. In spite of their burdens, they fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.

Get these books from your favourite bookstore or online and celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander heritage month with us!

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!

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra
Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. The following books are available today in stores and online!

If I Couldn't Be AnneIf I Couldn’t Be Anne
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Genevieve Godbout
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770499287 | Tundra Books
A beautiful read-aloud picture book about the power of the imagination, inspired by the best-selling Anne of Green Gables. In this whimsical and magical picture book, Anne’s boundless imagination takes flight! She imagines being all the things she loves so dearly. But even as Anne’s imagination soars far and wide, she comes back down to earth, recognizing that some things – like friendship! – are even better than the imagination.

Natsumis Song of SummerNatsumi’s Song of Summer
By Robert Paul Weston
Illustrated by Misa Saburi
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265417 | Tundra Books
“Poetry and art harmoniously evoke the simplicity of a summer friendship set in Japan…. Eye-catching illustrations, done in a seasonal palette of pinks, greens, blues, and purples, capture the flora and fauna of these few months—especially the cicadas…. Weston tells this sweet story in a sequence of tanka, a traditional Japanese poetic form that builds on haiku with an extra couplet…. Immersive illustrations and rich poetry urge young readers to slow down and appreciate nature.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

We Contain Multitudes-paperbackWe Contain Multitudes
By Sarah Henstra
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735264236 | Penguin Teen Canada
“This is an absolutely extraordinary work of fiction that proves the epistolary novel is an art form. Kurl and Jo are characters to die for, emotionally compelling and empathetic. . . . [This novel] is not to be missed.” – Starred Review, Booklist

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

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Penguin10 Reveal

If you were following us last year, you might have seen the Penguin10 pop up – the ten YA books we thought everyone should read in 2019. Well, we’re doing it again this year – and we’ve just revealed the list with some help from Heather T. Smith! Check out the list below for the ten books you need to read this fall!

Watch Over Me
By Nina LaCour
272 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9780735267466 | Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release date: September 15, 2020

Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.
But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.
Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Mila’s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.

Barry Squires, Full Tilt
By Heather T. Smith
232 Pages | Ages 12+
ISBN 9780735267466 | Penguin Teen Canada
Release date: September 22, 2020

It’s 1995. When the Full Tilt Dancers give an inspiring performance at the opening of the new bingo hall, twelve-year-old Finbar (Barry) Squires wants desperately to join the troupe. Led by Father O’Flaherty, the Full Tilt Irish Step Dancers are the most sought-after act in St. John’s, Newfoundland (closely followed by popular bagpiper, Alfie Bragg and his Agony Bag). Having watched Riverdance twice, Barry figures he’ll nail the audition. And good thing too — it’d be nice to be known for something other than the port wine stain on his cheek. With questionable talent and an unpredictable temper, Barry’s journey to stardom is jeopardized by his parents’ refusal to take his dreams seriously. Thankfully, Barry has the support of a lively cast of characters: his ever-present grandmother, Nanny Squires; his adorable baby brother, Gord; an old British rocker named Uneven Steven; a group of geriatrics from the One Step Closer to God Nursing Home; and Saibal, a friend with whom Barry gets up to no good.

How It All Blew Up
By Arvin Ahmadi
272 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9780593202876 | Viking Books for Young Readers
Release date: September 22, 2020

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?
Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

Breathless
By Jennifer Niven
400 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9781524701963 | Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: September 29, 2020

Before: With graduation on the horizon, budding writer Claudine Henry is making plans: college in the fall, become a famous author, and maybe–finally–have sex. She doesn’t even need to be in love. Then her dad drops a bombshell: he’s leaving Claude’s mother. Suddenly, Claude’s entire world feels like a lie, and her future anything but under control.
After: Claude’s mom whisks them away to the last place Claude could imagine nursing a broken heart: a remote, mosquito-infested island off the coast of Georgia. But then Jeremiah Crew happens. Miah is a local trail guide with a passion for photography–and a past he doesn’t like to talk about. He’s brash and enigmatic, and even more infuriatingly, he’s the only one who seems to see Claude for who she wants to be. So when Claude decides to sleep with Miah, she tells herself it’s just sex, nothing more. There’s not enough time to fall in love, especially if it means putting her already broken heart at risk.

The Magic Fish
By Trung Le Nguyen
256 Pages | Ages 12+
ISBN 9780593125298 | Random House Graphic
Release date: October 13, 2020

Real life isn’t a fairytale. But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through? Is there a way to tell them he’s gay?
A beautifully illustrated story by Trung Le Nguyen that follows a young boy as he tries to navigate life through fairytales, an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected.

The Woods Are Always Watching
By Stephanie Perkins
304 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9780525426028 | Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release date: October 27, 2020

Another blood-chilling contemporary horror novel, the perfect companion to her New York Times bestseller There’s Someone Inside Your House, soon to be a Netflix feature.

There’s Someone Inside Your House is a heart-pounding page-turner with an outstanding cast of characters, a deliciously creepy setting, and an absolutely merciless body count. Best read at night with big bowl of popcorn, this is a killer addition to the slasher genre written by one of the best contemporary YA writers around.” —Courtney Summers, author of All the Rage and Cracked Up to Be

The Enigma Game
By Elizabeth Wein
448 Pages | Ages 12+
ISBN 9780735265288 | Penguin Teen Canada
Release date: November 3, 2020

A German soldier risks his life to drop off the sought-after Enigma Machine to British Intelligence, hiding it in a pub in a small town in northeast Scotland, and unwittingly bringing together four very different people who decide to keep it to themselves. Louisa Adair, a young teen girl hired to look after the pub owner’s elderly, German-born aunt, Jane Warner, finds it but doesn’t report it. Flight-Lieutenant Jamie Beaufort-Stuart intercepts a signal but can’t figure it out. Ellen McEwen, volunteer at the local airfield, acts as the go-between and messenger, after Louisa involves Jane in translating. The planes under Jamie’s command seem charmed, as Jamie knows where exactly to go, while other squadrons suffer, and the four are loathe to give up the machine, even after Elisabeth Lind from British Intelligence arrives, even after the Germans start bombing the tiny town .

City of the Uncommon Thief
By Lynne Bertrand
400 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9780525555322 | Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release date: November 10, 2020

In a walled city of a mile-high iron guild towers, many things are common knowledge: No book in any of the city’s libraries reveals its place on a calendar or a map. No living beasts can be found within the city’s walls. And no good comes to the guilder or foundling who trespasses too far from their labors. Even on the tower rooftops, where Errol Thebes and the rest of the city’s teenagers pass a few short years under an open sky, no one truly believes anything uncommon is possible within the city walls. But one guildmaster has broken tradition to protect her child, and as a result the whole city faces an uncommon threat: a pair of black iron spikes that have the power of both sword and needle on the rib cages of men have gone missing, but the mayhem they cause rises everywhere. If the spikes not found and contained, no wall will be high enough to protect the city–or the world beyond it. And Errol Thebes? He’s not dead and he’s certainly not safe.

The Bitterwine Oath
By Hannah West
320 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9780823445479 | Holiday House
Release date: December 1, 2020

San Solano, Texas, is a quaint town known for its charm, hospitality, and history of murder. Twice now, twelve men have been brutally killed, and no one knows who did it. A shadowy witch? A copycat killer? Or a man-hating murderess?
Eighteen-year-old Natalie Colter is sure that the rumors about her great-great-grandmother’s cult of wronged women are just gossip, but that doesn’t stop the true-crime writers and dark tourism bloggers from capitalizing on the town’s reputation. It’s an urban legend that’s hard to ignore, and it gets harder when Nat learns that the sisterhood is real. And magical. And they want her to join.
But everything becomes more urgent when people start getting “marked” as new victims–including Levi Langford, the boy whose kiss haunted Nat for a year.

The Cousins
By Karen M. McManus
336 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN 9780525708001 | Delacorte Press
Release date: December 1, 2020

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.
Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.
The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter and Instagram for more info as these books start to come out!

Not sure where to start? Take our quiz to find out which of the Penguin10 is your perfect match!

 


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!