MEGHAN, THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX, TO PUBLISH THE BENCH,
A MODERN CHILDREN’S BOOK ABOUT THE SPECIAL BOND BETWEEN FATHER AND SON—AS SEEN THROUGH A MOTHER’S EYES
THE BENCH TO RELEASE ON JUNE 8
ILLUSTRATED BY CHRISTIAN ROBINSON, CALDECOTT HONOR AND CORETTA SCOTT KING HONOR WINNER
Toronto, ON (May 4, 2021)—Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, has authored and will publish on June 8, 2021, her first children’s book, THE BENCH, about the special bond between father and son—as seen through a mother’s eyes. Inspired by her own husband and son, The Duchess of Sussex’s debut touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between fathers and sons and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family.
THE BENCH is illustrated by Caldecott-winning and bestselling artist Christian Robinson and will be published by Random House Children’s Books (RHCB) in the US, as announced by Barbara Marcus, President & Publisher, RHCB. The title will be published simultaneously by Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada; and Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Random House Children’s UK, in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa.
The author will also narrate the audiobook edition, to be released in the US by Listening Library, an imprint of the Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group; in Canada by Tundra Books; and in the UK by Penguin Random House UK Audio.
Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, THE BENCH gives readers a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and lasting comfort.
Christian Robinson expands on his signature style, working in watercolor for the first time, to bring joy and softness to the pages, reflecting the beauty of a father’s love through a mother’s eyes.
“The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born,” says Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex. “That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens. My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.”
“Meghan’s touching text explores the relationship between fathers and sons and undeniably tugs at the heartstrings that parents and caregivers feel,” says Mallory Loehr, EVP & Publisher, Random House Books for Young Readers Group. “Christian’s art beautifully matches the tender emotion of Meghan’s words, and every spread is infused with a vibrant sense of joy and love. The Bench is timeless—it feels destined to become one of those books that people will be reading for generations to come.”
Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, is a mother, wife, feminist, and activist. Through the nonprofit work of the Archewell Foundation, she and her husband are committed to activating compassion in communities across the world. She currently resides in her home state of California with her family, two dogs, and a growing flock of rescue chickens.
Christian Robinson received a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his art in Last Stop on Market Street. He is the author and illustrator of the picture books Another and You Matter, and he has illustrated many more, including Milo Imagines the World, Carmela Full of Wishes, and the Gaston and Friends series.
By Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272163 | Tundra Books
Release Date: June 8, 2021
In The Bench, Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between father and son and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family. Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Duchess’s debut children’s book gives us a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and comfort and nurture. Working in watercolor for the first time, Caldecott-winning, bestselling illustrator Christian Robinson expands on his signature style to bring joy and softness to the pages, reflecting the beauty of a father’s love through a mother’s eyes. With a universal message, this thoughtful and heartwarming read-aloud is destined to be treasured by families for generations to come.
Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. The following titles are now available in stores and online!
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.
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.
Whose Poo? By Daisy Bird Illustrated by Marianna Coppo 48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover ISBN 9780735267992 | Tundra Books One day, Daddy Rat announces to his baby rats that he’ll be taking them to the zoo . . . but only if they’re good, which means no talking about poo! And yet, before the family can even leave the house, the two rascally siblings can’t help but wonder . . . what sort of poo would an astronaut do? Shiny, silver, space-age poo! Rocket-powered, weightless poo, and it spins round and round like a planet does, too! Head chefs, balloon sellers, blue whales . . . everyone and everything must have a unique poo, and the siblings simply have to stop and imagine each and every one (much to the chagrin of Daddy Rat, who is getting increasingly irritated with all the poo talk). Once the rats finally reach the zoo, things escalate, because of course each and every animal in the zoo must do a special kind of poo! Finally, Daddy Rat has simply had enough, and is forced to sit down and explain the facts to his curious kids. And when he thinks he may have gotten through to his youngsters, he encounters a surprising (and smelly) twist which will have little rats everywhere laughing out loud!
New in Board Book:
Mermaid Dreams By Kate Pugsley 30 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book ISBN 9780735270596 | Tundra Books One sunny Saturday, Maya and her parents visit the beach. Maya loves the beach: the warm sand feels wonderful between her toes. But it would be more fun if she had a friend. Too shy to say hello, Maya watches the kids play nearby, and slowly her eyes droop closed. . . . When Maya awakens she has been transported to a magical underwater world. Maya admires the sea creatures flitting around her, and she discovers that she too has a beautiful tail. Maya is a mermaid! But who is calling out a greeting from behind that coral? Whose bright eyes are peering at her from the sea grass? Whose laughter does she hear? Could it be a new friend? Or just another sea creature? This adorable picture book will delight the youngest daydreamers and shows us that making new friends may not be as hard as you think – if you have a good imagination!
New in Paperback:
Clan By Sigmund Brouwer 256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Paperback ISBN 9780735269330 | Tundra Books Part survival story, part animal-human friendship story and part redemption story, Clan follows the journey of Atlatl and the saber tooth cub he rescues from a dire wolf attack. Injured as a child, Atlatl dreams of one day earning his father’s respect as a hunter. But when Atlatl brings the young saber tooth to his Clan, it leads to a devastating moment of torn loyalties between Atlatl and his father – a moment that will change their lives forever. Then an epic disaster strikes, and suddenly Atlatl has to rely on wits, ingenuity and bravery to face his biggest foe yet and try to save what remains of his Clan.
Innovation Nation: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, Happier By David Johnston and Tom Jenkins Illustrated by Josh Holinaty 128 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback ISBN 9780735270602 | Tundra Books Successful innovation is always inspired by at least one of three forces – insight, necessity, and simple luck. Innovation Nation moves through history to explore what circumstances, incidents, coincidences, and collaborations motivated each great Canadian idea, and what twist of fate then brought that idea into public acceptance. From the marvels of aboriginal inventions such as the canoe, igloo and lifejacket to the latest pioneering advances in medicine, education, science, engineering and the arts, Canadians have improvised and worked together to make the world a better place. With striking, vibrant illustrations throughout, Innovation Nation is a gorgeous companion to the adult edition that will surprise, enlighten and entertain young readers, and will be a valuable resource for teachers and librarians.
Kens By Raziel Reid 256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback ISBN 9780735263796 | Penguin Teen Canada Every high school has the archetypical Queen B and her minions. In Kens, the high school hierarchy has been reimagined. Willows High is led by Ken Hilton, and he makes Regina George from Mean Girls look like a saint. Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson, standing next to his throne. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences in each edition, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan’s doll factory. Soul sold separately. Tommy Rawlins can’t help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection that glide through the halls. He’s desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens? Tommy has high hopes for their future together, but when their shared desire to overthrow Ken Hilton takes a shocking turn, Tommy must decide how willing he is to reinvent himself – inside and out. Is this new version of Tommy everything he’s always wanted to be, or has he become an unknowing and submissive puppet in a sadistic plan?
We can’t wait to see you reading these titles! If you share these books online, remember to use #ReadTundra in your hashtags so that we can re-post.
National Dinosaur Day is on Saturday, May 15, 2021! Here are some dino-myte reads to celebrate.
Dino Detective and Awesome Possum, Private Eyes: The Case of the Nibbled Pizza
By Tadgh Bentley
80 Pages | Ages 6-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593093498 | Penguin Workshop
By veteran author-illustrator Tadgh Bentley comes a new series, chronicling the misadventures of a dynamic detective duo. When Grandma Thunderclaps’s pizza is found with all the pepperoni missing, who’s to blame? Dad’s been at work, Grandma’s a strict vegetarian, and everyone knows Plant couldn’t be the culprit. . . . So with a thirst for the truth, and a hunger for justice (and pizza), our heroes are on the case! With full-color illustrations on every page, this humorous story is perfect for kids just beginning to read on their own.
By Matt Myers
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593179871 | Random House Studio
Cole is very excited about his new Dino-Gro toy. He can’t wait for it to reach its full size! But when Dino-Gro becomes much larger than intended, Cole goes so far as to put Dino-Gro on a liquid-free diet and an exercise regimen, which don’t seem to make a difference! As Dino-Gro becomes so big that he can’t fit in the house, Cole learns that growing up and getting bigger can have advantages too, even if you’re not a dinosaur.
Dinosaurs Before Dark: Graphic Novel
By Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrated by Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews
Adapted by Jenny Laird
176 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593174715 | Random House BFYR
Where did the tree house come from? Before Jack and Annie can find out, the mysterious tree house whisks them to the prehistoric past. Now they have to figure out how to get home. Can they do it before dark . . . or will they become a dinosaur’s dinner? For the first time in graphic novel, live the adventure again in the very first Magic Tree House book, with new art from comic artists Kelly and Nichole Matthews!
Dinosaur Hidden Pictures Puzzles to Highlight
32 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9781644723357 | Highlights Press
The perfect gift for any dinosaur-loving child, this collection of Hidden Pictures puzzles offers a unique puzzling experience. Kids can use the included bright green highlighter to find hundreds of hidden objects and create fluorescent scenes. This dinosaur activity book with inverted white-on-black puzzles combines the fun of coloring with highlighters and the enduring popularity of intricate Hidden Pictures puzzles. Dinosaur-themed images such as dinosaurs at the dentist, a dinosaur construction site, and a dino rock band pair with Highlights’ trademark humorous illustrations, creating a fun and engaging puzzling activity perfect for the whole family.
Gigantosaurus: Five-Minute Stories
By Cyber Group Studios
192 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536218008 | Candlewick Entertainment
Join prehistoric pals Rocky, Bill, Mazu, and Tiny as they discover a mysterious dinosaur egg, get lost inside a spooky cave, save an endangered species, and more. Little ones are invited to follow the four dinosaur friends as they adventure and explore throughout Cretacea – and watch out for GIGANTO! Each of the seven stories in this treasury – Don’t Cave In; Rock Out, Rocky; The Last Dragonfly; Smart Move, Mazu; Dream Big, Bill; Try Again, Tiny;and The Lost Egg – can be read aloud in no more than five minutes. They all feature characters from the animated series Gigantosaurus, based on the book by Jonny Duddle.
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.
Jacob Two-Two and the Dinosaur
By Mordecai Richler
Illustrated by Dusan Petricic
104 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780887769269 | Tundra Books
When his parents bring a little green lizard home from their vacation in Kenya, Jacob Two-Two is thrilled. But as the days pass, he realizes that Dippy isn’t just an ordinary lizard at all. In fact, it becomes obvious to Jacob that Dippy’s not so little either. As Dippy grows bigger and bigger, he begins to attract some very big attention from some very important people. Before Jacob realizes, he is on the run from the entire government of Canada – and with a full-grown dinosaur!
Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide
By Emma Yarlett
36 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270718 | Puffin Canada
Nibbles the mischievous book monster is back and he’s chewed his way into a book about dinosaurs! Young readers will not only be tickled as they search each page for Nibbles, but also entertained as they are introduced to Triceratops, Velociraptors, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and more! With bright and lively illustrations, this book has something for everyone.
By Kim Norman
Illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201796 | Candlewick
Look there, in a child’s bedroom, where some prehistoric pals are gathered in a counting game. Nine dinosaurs are playing a sing-song rendition of hide-and-seek – but something isn’t adding up. Where is number ten? Stomp, stomp, stomp!CHOMP, CHOMP, CHOMP! Ready or not, here he comes, and he sounds . . . big! With big, bold numerals, an array of dinosaurs in comical poses, and a humorous twist at the end, this tribute to a child’s imagination makes learning numbers a gigantic treat.
Peter Lee’s Notes From the Field
By Angela Ahn
Illustrated by Julie Kwon
312 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268241 | Tundra Books
Eleven year-old Peter Lee has one goal in life: to become a paleontologist. Okay, maybe two: to get his genius kid-sister, L.B., to leave him alone. But his summer falls apart when his real-life dinosaur expedition turns out to be a bust, and he watches his dreams go up in a cloud of asthma-inducing dust. Even worse, his grandmother, Hammy, is sick, and no one will talk to Peter or L.B. about it. Perhaps his days as a scientist aren’t quite behind him yet. Armed with notebooks and pens, Peter puts his observation and experimental skills to the test to see what he can do for Hammy. If only he can get his sister to be quiet for once – he needs time to sketch out a plan.
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.
Regina Is NOT a Little Dinosaur
By Andrea Zuill
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593127285 | Schwartz & Wade
When Regina’s mother heads off to hunt, she tells her little dinosaur: stay in the nest and be mama’s good little carnivore. But just who is she calling little?! Regina is big! And she has all the tools to hunt herself: a fear-inducing predator stare, a terrifying roar, and an uncanny ability to camouflage. And so Regina sets off on her first real hunt, all alone. ROAR! Along the way, she meets some truly huge dinosaurs, and hilariously, and miserably, fails at catching anything. What if she has to live her life as an . . . herbivore?! Little kids everywhere will recognize themselves in Andrea Zuill’s intrepid young dino – eager for independence, but still very much needing the safety and comfort of home.
T. Rexes Can’t Tie Their Shoes
By Anna Lazowski
Illustrated by Steph Laberis
40 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593181386 | Doubleday BFYR
Bees can’t ride bicycles, penguins can’t play ping-pong, and zebras can’t go zip-lining. No one is good at everything, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying! Here is a funny and encouraging picture book for any child learning how to tie their shoes, ride a bike, spell their name, or do a variety of new things. Follow a hilarious alphabet of animals, and see all the things they can’t do but kids can – from doing gymnastics to flipping pancakes to playing a xylophone. Along the way, young readers will learn that it’s okay if they can’t do everything; they can still have a LOT of fun trying.
Theo TheSaurus: The Dinosaur Who Loved Big Words
By Shelli R. Johannes
Illustrated by Mike Moran
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593205518 | Philomel BFYR
Theo TheSaurus is a little dino who loves words – the bigger the better! And he’s determined to share that love with his new classmates in his new school, no matter that they don’t understand him at first. But when a trip to the athenaeum (also known as the library) becomes a visit to the auditorium instead, and a suggestion to play conceal-and-search (or hide-and-seek) only earns him looks of confusion, Theo realizes that misinterpretations can actually just be plain confusing! It’s only when his newfound friends find a way to show they care that Theo learns that sometimes, there are things more important than words. In this sweet and funny book filled with bright art, a brand-new dino character, and a full glossary of big words at the end, readers have tons of fun – and learn some new words along the way! It’s Fancy Nancy for the dino-loving set!
Tyrone O’Saurus Dreams
By James Howe
Illustrated by Randy Cecil
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536210873 | Candlewick
Tyrone has a dream. But it seems like everyone else has their own dream for Tyrone. Should he be a dentist? A lawyer? A football player like his brother Johnny? None of these things make Tyrone happy. But then he meets the strongest dinosaur he’s ever seen, who inspires him to follow his own heart and become a dancer – like her. The creators of Brontorina reunite for a captivating companion story about a young dinosaur who, with a little love and encouragement, finds the courage to dance his way into his dreams.
Earlier this week, we hosted our annual #PenguinTeenSocial where we played a bit of trivia, talked about summer reading, and, of course, revealed our #Penguin10 of 2021 – the top ten books you need to read this fall. Here are all ten titles . . . sorry in advance for how long your TBR is about to get.
Both Sides Now By Peyton Thomas 300 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780735269750 | Penguin Teen Canada Release Date: August 24, 2021 There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, DC, and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls. And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality. Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity. People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things – like who you are and who you love – are not up for debate.
Dark and Shallow Lies By Ginny Myers Sain 432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593403969 | Razorbill Release Date: August 31, 2021 La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide. This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World – and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier. Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something – her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave. When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou – a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history – Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent – and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.
Idol Gossip By Alexandra Leigh Young 352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781536213645 | Walker Books US Release Date: September 14, 2021 Every Friday after school, seventeen-year-old Alice Choy and her little sister, Olivia, head to Myeongdong to sing karaoke. Back in San Francisco, when she still had friends and earthly possessions, Alice took regular singing lessons. But since their diplomat mom moved them to Seoul, her only musical outlet is vamping it up in a private karaoke booth to an audience of one: her loyal sister. Then a scout for Top10 Entertainment, one of the biggest K-pop companies, hears her and offers her a spot at their Star Academy. Can Alice navigate the culture clashes, egos, and extreme training practices of K-pop to lead her group onstage before a stadium of 50,000 chanting fans – and just maybe strike K-pop gold? Not if a certain influential blogger and the anti-fans get their way . . . . This debut novel is about standing out and fitting in, dreaming big and staying true. It will speak to fans of K-pop and to anyone who is trying to take their talents to the next level.
Walking in Two Worlds By Wab Kinew 296 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780735269002 | Penguin Teen Canada Release Date: September 14, 2021 Bugz is caught between two worlds. In the real world, she’s a shy and self-conscious Indigenous teen who faces the stresses of teenage angst and life on the Rez. But in the virtual world, her alter ego is not just confident but dominant in a massively multiplayer video game universe. Feng is a teen boy who has been sent from China to live with his aunt, a doctor on the Rez, after his online activity suggests he may be developing extremist sympathies. Meeting each other in real life, as well as in the virtual world, Bugz and Feng immediately relate to each other as outsiders and as avid gamers. And as their connection is strengthened through their virtual adventures, they find that they have much in common in the real world, too: both must decide what to do in the face of temptations and pitfalls, and both must grapple with the impacts of family challenges and community trauma. But betrayal threatens everything Bugz has built in the virtual world, as well as her relationships in the real world, and it will take all her newfound strength to restore her friendship with Feng and reconcile the parallel aspects of her life: the traditional and the mainstream, the east and the west, the real and the virtual.
Iron Widow By Xiran Jay Zhao 400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada Release Date: September 21, 2021 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.
When We Make It By Elisabet Velasquez 368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593324486 | Dial BFYR Release Date: September 21, 2021 Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied. When We Make It is a love letter to girls who were taught to believe they would not make it at all. The verse is evocative and insightful, and readers are sure to be swept into Sarai’s world and rooting for her long after they close the book.
Beasts of Prey By Ayana Gray 496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593405680 | Putnam BFYR Release Date: September 28, 2021 There’s no such thing as magic in the broken city of Lkossa, especially for sixteen-year-old Koffi, who holds a power within her that could only be described as magic – a power that if discovered could cost her life. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, Koffi knows the fearsome creatures in her care and paying off her family’s debts to secure their eventual freedom can be her only focus. But the night those she loves are gravely threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi finally unleashes the power she doesn’t fully understand, upending her life completely. As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six – an elite warrior – and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, Ekon encounters not only the Shetani – a vicious monster that has plagued the city for nearly a century and stalks his nightmares, but Koffi who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior. Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani could also be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon form a tentative alliance and together enter the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild, frightening magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.
Before Takeoff By Adi Alsaid 304 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593375761 | Knopf BFYR Release Date: October 5, 2021 James and Michelle find themselves in the Atlanta airport on a layover. They couldn’t be more different, but seemingly interminable delays draw them both to a mysterious flashing green light – and each other. Where James is passive, Michelle is anything but. And she quickly discovers that the flashing green light is actually . . . a button. Which she presses. Which may or may not unwittingly break the rules of the universe – at least as those rules apply to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta. Before they can figure up from down, strange, impossible things start happening: snowstorms form inside the B terminal; jungles sprout up in the C terminal; and earthquakes split the ground apart in between. And no matter how hard they try, it seems no one can find a way in or out of the airport. James and Michelle team up to find their families and either escape the airport, or put an end to its chaos – before it’s too late.
The Heartbreak Bakery By A.R. Capetta 352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781536216530 | Candlewick Release Date: October 12, 2021 Syd (no pronouns, please) has always dealt with big, hard-to-talk-about things by baking. Being dumped is no different, except now Syd is baking at the Proud Muffin, a queer bakery and community space in Austin. And everyone who eats Syd’s breakup brownies . . . breaks up. Even Vin and Alec, who own the Proud Muffin. And their breakup might take the bakery down with it. Being dumped is one thing; causing ripples of queer heartbreak through the community is another. But the cute bike delivery person, Harley (he or they, check the pronoun pin, it’s probably on the messenger bag), believes Syd about the magic baking. And Harley believes Syd’s magical baking can fix things, too – one recipe at a time.
Skin of the Sea By Natasha Bowen 320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593120941 | Random House BFYR Release Date: November 9, 2021 Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata – a mermaid – collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable – she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it. To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . . Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.
If you missed the social, have no fear: we recorded it! Check it out on YouTube now and keep scrolling for our two playlists: the official #PenguinTeenSocial playlist and our “read these books if you like these Taylor Swift songs” list.
And if you attended and really enjoyed the synth-y vibes of our intro/outro music, here’s the link:
The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award started in 1953 and is given to books that share a message of problem solving, overcoming prejudice, or approaching life constructively. We would like to congratulate Jess Keating and Katie Hickey whose gorgeous Ocean Speaks was named an honor book this year!
“The 2021 Selection Committee recognized the importance of Ocean Speaks which introduces Marie Tharp’s story. The secret of the ocean floor that Marie discovered is illustrated across a three page spread in the middle of the book. . .which reminds us of the enormous size of Marie’s map. It shows children that gender is not an obstacle to become a great scientist.” – Selection Committee statement
Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret By Jess Keating Illustrated by Katie Hickey 34 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover ISBN 9780735265080 | Tundra Books From a young age, Marie Tharp loved watching the world. She loved solving problems. And she loved pushing the limits of what girls and women were expected to do and be. In the mid-twentieth century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job at a laboratory in New York. But then she faced another barrier: women were not allowed on the research ships (they were considered bad luck on boats). So instead, Marie stayed back and dove deep into the data her colleagues recorded. She mapped point after point and slowly revealed a deep rift valley in the ocean floor. At first the scientific community refused to believe her, but her evidence was irrefutable. She proved to the world that her research was correct. The mid-ocean ridge that Marie discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet, and she mapped it all from her small, cramped office
“Marie deserves to be known and the children of today also deserve to know about her. Even if you may feel small or underestimated. . .they can change the world from exactly where they are.” – Jess Keating
“Unlike a traditional fictitious picture book, this story is based on fact so everything has to be really accurate. . .during the process of this project I did quite a lot of visual research. . . I hope it will go on to inspire lots of young people in the future.” – Katie Hickey