Tundra Telegram: Books for a Wakanda Wild Side

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we check out the things that people are vibing (short for vibranium-ing) with on social media and recommend some forever heroic reads.  

This past weekend, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released in theatres across North America. The Marvel superhero film had an opening weekend box office of $180 million, making it the year’s second largest movie opening, and the largest movie opening in November ever. In addition to the financial success, the film is also, reportedly, a hit with critics and a fitting tribute to the late star of the original Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman.

With the release of any new Black Panther movie (yes, we know there have only been two so far), our minds naturally turn to afrofuturism, and the many great books – particularly YA – that combines science-fiction, history, and technology to explore the African diaspora experience. If you’re a fan of T’Challa, Shuri, Okoye, and the entire Black Panther supporting cast, and have been wondered what to read (with the youngsters in your life or by yourself) to hit that same chord, we have a few recommendations for you.

PICTURE BOOKS

It may not surprise you to discover there aren’t that many science fiction picture books. (Why there aren’t is another story. There are so many ones based in fantasy!) But perhaps the most obvious scratch for your afrofuturist itch can be found in the Frank Berrios-authored Little Golden Books Black Panther (illustrated by Patrick Spaziante) and Shuri Is Brave (illustrated by Anthony Conley). The Black Panther and his sister Shuri are each featured defending the technological utopia of Wakanda in these picture books with a fun retro design.

It’s less science fiction than science fact that’s featured in Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, a picture book about an aspiring young astronaut who rouses her community (with a charisma worthy of T’Challa) to take a break from their various distractions and look to the skies for a rare comet appearance. (You can read more Rocket adventures with Rocket Says Clean Up!, but the astronaut stuff seemed more futuristic.)

Finally, STEM enthusiast Ruby does some futuristic things in This Is Ruby by Sara O’Leary and Alea Marley. Ruby is curious about her world, which leads to her inventing things like a time machine and a book with smells instead of words (so dogs can read it). And illustrator Alea Marley has depicted Ruby growing up in Caribbean, based on her own youth in Barbados.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

A futuristic amusement park in – or rather over – Atlanta? You’ll find it Futureland: Battle for the Park by H. D. Hunter. When an extraordinary flying theme park where you can live out your wildest dreams arrives above Atlanta, it’s up to one boy – Cam Walker, the son of the park’s famous creators – to stop a sinister force from stealing the park’s technology and taking over the world.

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor is the perfect read if you’re looking for more African superheroes with superpowered family legacies. Nnamdi is a twelve-year-old boy whose father was the chief of police in their town in Nigeria until he was killed. But with his death, Nnamdi inherits a magical Ikenga figurine that allows him to transform into a huge and powerful monster, in a superhero origin story steeped in Igbo spiritualism.

Let’s be clear: there’s nothing futuristic or supernatural in Tight by Torrey Maldonado, a realistic and contemporary coming-of-age story. But the lead character Bryan loves reading comics and drawing superheroes – and relies on them and their guidance, in fact, when trying to escape the drama in his life. Especially when that drama is a new friend who might be pressuring him to do things he doesn’t want to. Tight shows how superheroes like Black Panther can lead us all on the right path.

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi is about a kid, Ebony Grace Norfleet, who loves everything science fiction. Her grandfather, who raises her, was one of the first Black engineers at NASA. An ds long as she can remember, Ebony has loved all things Star Trek and Star Wars. When Ebony is sent to live with her father in Harlem, she has trouble finding her place as a lover of all things space, but she finds even the big city can make room for stargazers.

YOUNG ADULT

If you’re looking for a YA novel that manages to be afrofuturist, superheroic, AND have connections to Hollywood, you want Nubia: The Awakening, the first book in a new series by acclaimed actor Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, House) and Clarence A. Haynes. The story follows three teens – Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho – the children of refugees from a fallen African utopia, who must navigate their newfound powers in a climate-ravaged New York City. It’s like X-Men meets Black Panther who team up to tackle class stratification and the climate crisis – who doesn’t want to read that?

Tochi Onyebuchi has been carrying the afrofuturist torch in YA for some time now, and his War Girls (and the follow-up, Rebel Sisters) are must-reads. Onyii and Ify star as two sisters in the futuristic, post-apocalyptic Nigeria of 2172 (where people fight in flying mech suits, which rules) who are willing to fight their way to a better future – but soon find themselves at battle with one another. Like the best afrofuturist fiction, it combines future with history, as Onyebuchi used the Nigerian civil war of the 1960s and 1970s as inspiration.

For a real charcuterie platter of some of the best afrofuturist women authors working in YA today, check out A Phoenix First Must Burn, edited by Patrice Caldwell, and featuring stories from Dhonielle Clayton, Ashley Woodfolk, Alaya Dawn Johnston, and many more. Alternate planets, soucouyants, dystopian future societies – this anthology has something for everyone.

Finally, the name Nnedi Okorafor has come up before – and with good reason: she’s one of the foremost authors of afrofuturist books and comics working today. Binti: The Complete Trilogy collects her Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning series that follows one extraordinary girl’s space journey from her home to distant Oomza University – a journey waylaid by an attack by the jellyfish-like Medusae on Binti’s spaceship. It’s an attack that leaves her the only survivor on a ship full of the beings who murdered her crew, and an event that leads to Binti herself trying to broker peace between two different species.

Wakanda forever, friends! See you in the (afro)future!

Holiday Spotlight: Holiday House 2022

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

A Seed Grows
By Antoinette Portis
40 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823448920 | Neal Porter Books
To understand how a seed becomes a sunflower, you have to peek beneath the soil and wait patiently as winding roots grow, a stalk inches out of the earth, and new seeds emerge among blooming petals. Leading up to a striking fold-out spread of a full-grown sunflower, the lively, bold illustrations in A Seed Grows offer a close-up view of each step of the growth cycle. Additional material in the back of the book explains the science of plant life cycles, and goes into more detail on the ways in which flowers and seeds depend on other creatures.

Aces Wild: A Heist
By Amanda DeWitt
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682634660 | Peachtree Teen
Some people join chess club, some people play football. Jack Shannon runs a secret blackjack ring in his private school’s basement. What else is the son of a Las Vegas casino mogul supposed to do? Everything starts falling apart when Jack’s mom is arrested for their family’s ties to organized crime. His sister Beth thinks this is the Shannon family’s chance to finally go straight, but Jack knows that something’s not right. His mom was sold out, and he knows by who. Peter Carlevaro: rival casino owner and jilted lover. Gross. Jack hatches a plan to find out what Carlevaro’s holding over his mom’s head, but he can’t do it alone. He recruits his closest friends – the asexual support group he met through fandom forums. Now all he has to do is infiltrate a high-stakes gambling club and dodge dark family secrets, while hopelessly navigating what it means to be in love while asexual. Easy, right? A wild romp told in a can’t-look-away-from voice, Aces Wild is packed with internet friend hijinks and ace representation galore!

Fire on Headless Mountain
by Iain Lawrence
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446544 | Margaret Ferguson Books
Virgil is making his older siblings trek to a mountain lake on a trip unlike any they’ve taken before. They carry precious cargo: the ashes of their beloved mother, who asked that her remains be scattered at her favorite spot. Then a forest fire is sparked by a bolt of lightning at the exact moment when their van breaks down, and the journey quickly turns to disaster. Virgil finds himself separated from his brother and sister. With the fire moving closer and closer, he isn’t sure he can make it alone in the wilderness. But with the memory of his late mother, a science teacher, and all her lessons about the ecosystem and fire safety to guide him, he quickly learns that survival starts with letting go of your fears and taking action. Fire on Headless Mountain is a thrilling adventure tale that showcases not only the overwhelming beauty and terrifying power of nature, but also the gift of memory when facing great emotional and physical trials.

Flipping Forward Twisting Backward
by Alma Fullerton
144 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682633663 | Peachtree
The gym is where Claire shines and she’s on her way to qualifying for the state championships. But at school, she’s known as a troublemaker – which is fine with her since it helps her hide her reading problem. Claire has never been able to make sense of the wobbling jumble of letters on a page.
When a sympathetic principal wonders if she’s acting out because she may have dyslexia, she’s stunned. Claire has always assumed she’s dumb, so she’s eager to get evaluated. But her mother balks. Afraid Claire will be labeled “stupid,” she refuses testing. Can Claire take on both her reading challenges and her mother’s denial? Is it worth jeopardizing her dream of the state championships? Told in clear and poignant verse and featuring black and white illustrations, Claire’s struggle with something that seems to come easily to everyone else will resonate with readers and have them cheering her on.

Hell Followed With Us
By Andrew Joseph White
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682633243 | Peachtree Teen
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him – the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with. But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all. Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms . . . until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.

Luli and the Language of Tea
By Andrea Wang
Illustrated by Hyewon Yum
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446148 | Neal Porter Books
When five-year-old Luli joins her new English as a Second Language class, the playroom is quiet. Luli can’t speak English, neither can anyone else. That’s when she has a brilliant idea to host a tea party and bring them all together. Luli removes her teapot, thermos, and teacups from her bag and calls out “Chá!” in her native Chinese. One by one, her classmates pipe up in recognition: in Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili. Tea is a tasty language they all know well, and it gives them a chance to share and enjoy each other’s company. When all the tea is gone and it’s time for dessert, Luli gets to use her favorite English word, cookie! After that, the playroom isn’t so quiet. Informed by her own experience as the child of Chinese immigrant parents, Andrea Wang makes the point that when you’re looking to communicate with people, you look for a common bond.

No Filters and Other Lies
By Crystal Maldonado
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447183 | Holiday House
Golden-haired Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and tons of followers. Her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable. Except it’s all fake. “Max” is actually Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic 17-year-old living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous about her existence – just bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with best friend Hari’s unrequited love. But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with fans, even finding a real friend (or more? – Is Kat into girls!?) in a gorgeous Fat follower named Elena. But the closer Elena and “Max” get, the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade. “Max” is the first time people have really listened to what Kat has to say – and after a lifetime of invisibility (including ice-cold indifference from her parents) can she really give that up? But when one of Kat’s posts goes viral and gets back to the girl she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake – comes crashing down around her. Can she escape the web of lies she’s woven without hurting the people she loves?

One Million Trees: A True Story
By Kristen Balouch
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823448609 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Kristen Balouch was 10 years old, her parents made a surprising announcement: their whole family was going on a trip to plant trees! Kristen, her sisters, and her mom and dad – and their pet, Wonder Dog! – flew from their California home to a logging site in British Columbia. There, they joined a crew working to replant the trees that had been cut down. In One Million Trees, Kristen reflects on the forty days they spent living in a tent, covered in mud and bug bites, working hard every day to plant a new forest. Young readers will learn a little French, practice some math skills, and learn all about how to plant a tree the right way! The kid-friendly, engaging text is paired with bold illustrations, full of fun details and bright colors. The story ends with a modern-day look at what Kristen’s family helped accomplish: a stand of huge trees growing on what used to be an empty, muddy patch of bare stumps. An author’s note shares more information on deforestation, sustainable logging practices, and the irreplaceable environmental benefit of old growth forests. . . . Plus, the amazing things even a small group of people can do when they work together.

The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey
By Jason Chin
40 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823450701 | Neal Porter Books
In Your Place in the Universe, Jason Chin zoomed outward, from our planet, solar system, and galaxy to the outer reaches of the observable universe. Now, Chin reverses course, zooming in past our skin to our cells, molecules, and atoms, all the way down to particles so small we can’t yet even measure them.
Like its companion, The Universe in You is a mind-boggling adventure that makes complex science accessible and enjoyable to readers of any age. Impeccably researched, wholly engrossing, and with extensive backmatter for additional learning, The Universe in You is another knockout from the award-winning creator of Redwoods, Grand Canyon, and other distinguished works of nonfiction for young readers

The Vermilion Emporium
by Jamie Pacton
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682634882 | Peachtree Teen
On the morning Twain, a lonely boy with a knack for danger, discovers a strand of starlight on the cliffs outside of Severon, a mysterious curiosity shop appears in town. Meanwhile, Quinta, the ordinary daughter of an extraordinary circus performer, chases rumors of the shop, the Vermilion Emporium, desperate for a way to live up to her mother’s magical legacy. When Quinta meets Twain outside of the Emporium, two things happen: One, Quinta is sure she’s infatuated with this starlight boy, who uses his charm to hide his scars. Two, they enter the store and discover a book that teaches them how to weave starlight into lace. Soon, their lace catches the eye of the Casorina, the ruler of Severon. She commissions Quinta and Twain to make her a starlight dress and will reward them handsomely enough to make their dreams come true. However, they can’t sew a dress without more material, and the secret to starlight’s origins has been lost for decades. As Quinta and Twain search the Emporium for answers, though, they discover the secret might not have actually been lost – but destroyed. And likely, for good reason. A powerful and romantic adventure set in a whimsically magical world. The Vermilion Emporium shines a light into the darkest spaces. It’s about healing in a world shrouded with despair and discovering a spark of magic when you need it most.

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra

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

Mad About Meatloaf: Weenie featuring Frank and Beans Book #1
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Alexandra Bye
56 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735267930 | Tundra Books
Weenie loves his human, Bob. He loves his guinea pig friend Beans and his cat friend Frank. He loves naps, adventures and sharing. In fact, Weenie loves pretty much everything (except the mail carrier). But the thing Weenie loves and desires more than anything else in the world is meatloaf. And he’ll do anything to get it. Join Weenie, Frank and Beans on a laugh-out-loud meatloaf adventure, complete with a trench coat disguise, a wild meatloaf trap and even a hungry wolf.

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

Holiday Spotlight: Puffin Canada and Penguin Teen Canada 2022

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

Ghostlight
By Kenneth Oppel
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272330 | Puffin Canada
The story of the tragic death of sixteen-year-old Rebecca Strand and her lighthouse keeper father is just an elaborate tale Gabe tells tourists for his summer job on the Toronto Island. Or so he thought. When his ghost tours awaken Rebecca’s spirit, Gabe is drawn into a world far darker than any ghost story he’s ever heard. Rebecca reveals that she and her father were connected to The Order, a secret society devoted to protecting the world from “the wakeful and wicked dead” – malevolent spirits like Viker, the ghost responsible for their deaths. But now the Order has disappeared and Viker is growing even stronger, and he’ll stop at nothing to wreak chaos and destruction on the living. Gabe and his friends – both living and dead – must find a way to stop Viker before they all become lost souls.

Green Mountain Academy
By Frances Greenslade
240 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267848 | Tundra Books
After a family trip turned disastrous when their truck broke down in the middle of an old logging road in Oregon, Francie is now back in British Columbia. People try to make things as “normal” as possible for her, but they don’t understand that trying to be normal in your old life that’s exploded is the worst feeling in the world. Luckily for Francie, the wilderness is still soothing, and an opportunity to attend the Green Mountain Academy, a tiny boarding school perched on the side of a mountain, seems perfect. It’s a new start, with new friends and a chance at a new family. But when a winter storm hits, knocking out all the power, news that a small plane has gone missing unsettles Francie. Knowing that the chance of survival in the middle of a wild nighttime snowstorm diminishes over time, Francie is compelled to leave the cozy school and set out into the icy cold, swirling snowstorm.

Me Three
By Susan Juby
224 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268722 | Puffin Canada 
Eleven-year-old Rodney is starting sixth grade in a new school, in a new home in a new state. The new school is really old and smells like someone ate a couple of pounds of glue and then barfed it back up, and he’s in a class with a bunch of kids who seem to sort of hate him. Even his best friend won’t write him back. It’s strange, because just a couple of months ago, Rodney was one of the most popular guys in his fifth-grade class. He lived in Las Vegas, with his mom, older sister and his dad, who was a successful professional poker player. Now his old life is over – his mom even says they shouldn’t tell anyone their real last name. Because of something his dad did. Or something people said that he did. His dad says it’s all a big misunderstanding, but he’s now staying in a center “for people who are having problems, like being addicted to drugs or gambling, or because other people don’t understand that you are just funny and friendly and sometimes you give people hugs or put your arm around them and they accuse you of taking liberties and ruin everything.” Rodney is confident that it won’t be long until the misunderstanding is all cleared up and they can all go back to their old life. But he can only keep the truth at bay for so long . . . .

Seekers of the Fox: Thieves of Shadow #2
By Kevin Sands
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270442 | Puffin Canada
Rule number one: Never mess with magic. Even so, a life-or-death situation calls for Callan and his criminal friends to make a deal with the Eye – the sinister, sentient artifact they stole from a sorcerer. It’s Lachlan’s life in exchange for a future task, and the gang has no choice but to agree. But even as Lachlan is resurrected, it’s not without cost. Through the Eye, Callan can see a tiny purple stain inside Lachlan’s soul, which will eventually consume him. The cure – and their part of the deal – lies with the Dragon’s Teeth, a pair of swords with extraordinary powers, and the search for them leads the thieves on a quest that will unravel the mystery of the Eye. Old friends, new betrayals, and an even more daring break-in than the last culminate in a confrontation that will take all the gang’s skill and power to resist – or they’ll die trying.

The Final Trial: Royal Guide to Monster Slaying #4
By Kelley Armstrong
320 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270206 | Puffin Canada
The time has come! After discovering the true reason for the monster migration, Rowan is on an expedition to ultimately prove that she is worthy of the ebony monster-slaying sword on her back. She and her twin brother, Rhydd, their friends Dain and Alianor, as well as some other trusted advisors – and the ever-growing group of monstrous companions – are on a mission to help protect the dragon living in their homeland and are travelling to kingdoms beyond to make their case. But not everyone agrees that people can live peacefully alongside monsters, especially when new terrifying creatures appear. It will take everything Rowan has to fight off threats of all kinds, from both monsters and people. It won’t be easy, but if she succeeds, she will become Royal Monster Hunter at long last.

The Grave Thief
By Dee Hahn
344 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269439 | Puffin Canada 
Twelve-year-old Spade is a grave thief. With his father and brother, he digs up the recently deceased to steal jewels, the main form of trade in Wyndhail. Digging graves works for Spade – alone in the graveyard at night, no one notices his limp or calls him names. He’s headed for a lifetime of theft when his father comes up with the audacious plan to rob a grave in the Wyndhail castle cemetery. Spade and his brother get caught in a royal trap, and Spade must find the master of the Woegon: a deadly creature that is stalking the castle by night. Along the way, he meets Ember, the queen’s niece, and together they race to solve the mystery of the legendary Deepstones and their connection to the Woegon, the queen, a missing king and the mysterious pebble Spade finds in the Wyndhail cemetery. This is a fantastic story of friendship, bravery, grief and acceptance.

The Puffin Keeper
By Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by Benji Davies
112 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271807 | Puffin Canada
As a child, Allen is saved from a nautical disaster by Benjamin Postlethwaite, a solitary lighthouse keeper. Years later, Allen returns to the lighthouse, and the two nurse an injured young puffin back to health. When Allen is called up to fight in World War Two, he’s not sure he’ll see his mother or Benjamin again, but his fond memories of his time at the lighthouse keep him going, even through prison camp. Allen and Ben’s enduring friendship over the years is the basis for this story about friendship, art, war and an incredibly adorable puffin. From masterful storyteller Michael Morpurgo and world-class illustrator Benji Davies comes this truly beautiful tale which will enchant readers of all ages.

The Stone Child: The Misewa Saga #3
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266162 | Puffin Canada
After discovering a near-lifeless Eli at the base of the Great Tree, Morgan knows she doesn’t have much time to save him. And it will mean asking for help – from friends old and new. Racing against the clock, and with Arik and Emily at her side, Morgan sets off to follow the trail away from the Great Tree to find Eli’s soul before it’s too late. As they journey deep into the northern woods, a place they’ve been warned never to enter, they face new challenges and life-threatening attacks from strange and horrifying creatures. But a surprise ally comes to their aid, and Morgan finds the strength to focus on what’s most important: saving her brother’s life. 

Unstoppable Us, Volume 1: How Humans Took Over the World
By Yuval Noah Harari
Illustrated by Ricard Zaplana Ruiz
208 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774882214 | Puffin Canada
Even though we’ll never outrun a hungry lion or outswim an angry shark, humans are pretty impressive – and the most dominant species on the planet. So, how did we become “unstoppable”? The answer to that is one of the strangest tales you’ll ever hear. And it’s a true story. From learning to make fire and using the stars as guides to cooking meals in microwaves and landing on the moon, prepare to uncover the secrets and superpowers of how we evolved from our first appearances millions of years ago. Acclaimed author Yuval Noah Harari has expertly crafted an extraordinary story of how humans learned to not only survive but also thrive on Earth, complete with maps, a timeline, and full-color illustrations that bring his dynamic, unputdownable writing to life.

Wrong Side of the Court
By H. N. Khan
312 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270879 | Penguin Teen Canada
Fifteen-year-old Fawad Chaudhry loves two things: basketball and his mother’s potato and ground-beef stuffed parathas. Both are round and both help him forget about things like his father, who died two years ago, his mother’s desire to arrange a marriage to his first cousin, Nusrat, back home in Pakistan, and the tiny apartment in Regent Park he shares with his mom and sister. Not to mention his estranged best friend Yousuf, who’s coping with the shooting death of his older brother. But Fawad has plans: like, asking out Ashley, even though she lives on the other, wealthier side of the tracks, and saving his friend Arif from being beaten into a pulp for being the school flirt, and making the school basketball team and dreaming of being the world’s first Pakistani to be drafted into the NBA. All he has to do now is convince his mother to let him try out for the basketball team. And let him date girls from his school. Not to mention somehow get Omar, the neighborhood bully, to leave him alone.

Our New Art Director: Meet Gigi!

Hi, my name is Gigi and I’m the new Art Director at Tundra Books. I’m originally from Vancouver and come from a chatty media-intense family: my parents ran the city’s first Chinese-language radio station with my father hosting live interviews and news shows and my mother as his producer, my sister is a journalist and digital news leader at CBC, while I was the introvert focused on visual storytelling and graphic communications.
 
I love working with creatives across all media and have been lucky to collaborate with so many from all backgrounds throughout my 16 years in publishing. Pure thrill is opening my email to find sketches and final art from artists! Previously, I was Art Director at HTP Books, designing and art directing books across six imprints including YA and MG titles. 
 
I live in Toronto with my husband and two kids. I picked up cycling over the pandemic as a mental health escape and am pushing myself at how far I can go by bike, this year’s longest ride was 140km. Now my must-do when visiting new cities is to explore a city by bike – you can see so much more!

Photo credit: Kristin Lewis

5 Random Facts About Me

  1. I have over 20 cousins.
  2. I love to indoor rock climb. 
  3. I’m a tea drinker (and only Earl Grey) even though I worked in coffee shops in high school and university.
  4. My hands have been photographed for two romance book covers. I retired from amateur hand modelling after there was feedback that my hands looked like kids’ hands.
  5. I can’t watch horror films.

Favorite Penguin Random House Titles

Ten Little Dumplings
By Larissa Fan
Illustrated by Cindy Wume
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266193 | Tundra Books
In the city of Tainan, there lives a very special family – special because they have ten sons who do everything together. Their parents call them their ten little dumplings, as both sons and dumplings are auspicious. But if you look closely, you’ll see that someone else is there, listening, studying, learning and discovering her own talent – a sister. As this little girl grows up in the shadow of her brothers, her determination and persistence help her to create her own path in the world . . . and becomes the wisdom she passes on to her own daughter, her own little dumpling. Based on a short film made by the author, inspired by her father’s family in Taiwan, Ten Little Dumplings looks at some unhappy truths about the place of girls in our world in an accessible, inspiring and hopeful way.

Story Boat
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263598 | Tundra Books
When a little girl and her younger brother are forced along with their family to flee the home they’ve always known, they must learn to make a new home for themselves – wherever they are. And sometimes the smallest things – a cup, a blanket, a lamp, a flower, a story – can become a port of hope in a terrible storm. As the refugees travel onward toward an uncertain future, they are buoyed up by their hopes, dreams and the stories they tell – a story that will carry them perpetually forward.

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.

The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga #1
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything – including them.

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.

Favorite Non Penguin Random House Titles

Anticipated Penguin Random House Titles

  • Dim Sum Palace by X. Fang
  • The Song That Called Them Home by David A. Robertson and Maya McKibbin
  • The Only Way to Make Bread by Cristina Quintero and Sarah Gonzales