Tundra Telegram: Books That Blue Us Away

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we run through the issues giving readers grief, and suggest a few books for reading AND weeping.

Since 2005, people have acknowledged “Blue Monday.” (Celebrate is not exactly what we’d say happens.) The third Monday of January was given that name by a UK travel company, since they had allegedly calculated it as the most depressing day of the year. (One can assume they hoped to inspire some January travel to combat said blues.) Relatedly, “Blue Monday,” the song by New Order, has been acknowledged since 1983 to be a serious banger.

Whether there is any basis for “Blue Monday” being the saddest date on the calendar – many mental health professionals have dismissed it as pseudoscience – we nevertheless felt it’s never a bad time to recommend some books for all ages that discuss sadness, grief, and clinical depression. (Though, as a content warning, we should note many of the YA books, in particular, feature frank depictions of mental illness, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.) That said, let’s wallow in some great books about being blue.

PICTURE BOOKS

The titular ursine friend in Cecile Metzger’s Invisible Bear is not necessarily sad or depressed (per se), but he does spend his days alone in his quiet, colorless home in a forgotten place, where no one comes to visit him. That is, he does until the colorful Madam Odette bursts into his life as a friendly neighbor and both their lives are forever changed for the better.

The Pink Umbrella by Amélie Callot and Geneviève Godbout is similarly about the transformative power of friendship over sadness. Café owner Adele finds the care that she gives her customers and community is returned when she finds herself in the midst of (emotionally and physically) rainy days. One café customer helps her find the sun during a period of severe gray weather.

There are many metaphors for sadness – lack of color, rainy days. And in What’s Up, Maloo? by skipper of sadness Geneviève Godbout, it’s a kangaroo who loses his hop. Maloo the kangaroo starts stepping everywhere instead. His animal pals look for ways to help Maloo to un-stop the hop, and find patience and support can help get a bounce back.

Some say grief is love persevering, which is a beautiful analogy. But for the purposes of this list, grief is a deep sorrow, usually caused by a great loss. A Garden of Creatures by Sheila Heti and Esmé Shapiro is a tender and moving picture book about a great loss and the big questions it poses. Featuring a little bunny and cat whose friend, a big bunny, passes away, the book is a perfect read for anyone struggling with grief and a non-traditional meditation on death that offers tranquility.

Grief is also at the heart of Rodney Was a Tortoise by Nan Forler and Yong Ling Kang, a book that perfectly captures the sorrow of losing a pet. But as devastating as Bernadette’s loss of her dear friend Rodney is, the book shows the importance of expressing kindness and empathy, especially when people are experiencing some of life’s most trying moments.

Completing our grief picture book trilogy is Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing by Kenesha Sneed. Eisha’s mother helps her make a special shape out of clay that reminds her of her father. But as her day goes on, the piece of clay hardens and then eventually shatters into pieces when Eisha bumps into it. Eisha has to live with the loss, and work to make something new out of what is left behind. This is a very subtle book about grief, as well as a book about the joys and pain of the creative process.

Kids don’t always know what to do with their sadness, nor do the adults in their lives know how to respond. The Rabbit Listened by Cory Doerrfeld has lessons in sadness for all ages. Young Taylor doesn’t know who to talk to when feeling sad. All the animals Taylor approaches have their own reactions – they want to talk, they want to get angry. But only the rabbit, who simply listens, can provide Taylor with any comfort.

Eva Eland’s When Sadness Is at Your Door is similar, but suggests young readers treat a feeling of sadness as if it were a guest. Sadness – especially when it lasts a long time – can be confusing and overwhelming. This book suggests you give your sadness a name, maybe do some activities to do with it, like sitting quietly, drawing, or going outside for a walk. This is an excellent book that helps separate sadness from the self, and eschews the idea of “getting over it” or that sadness is, in itself, inherently bad.

And once you finish that, you can read the follow up, Where Happiness Begins, that anthropomorphizes happiness in the same fashion. The book gives happiness a shape, and show readers where they might find it (though it can be elusive).

Being sad or depressed can be a heavy emotion. And Whimsy’s Heavy Things by Julie Kraulis is about a young girl whose things keep weighing her down. Whether she tries to sweep them under the rug or set them out to sea, they keep returning to trip her up. Only by dealing with her heavy things one at a time does Whimsy’s fortune change.

A Shelter for Sadness by Anne Booth and David Litchfield also looks at depression through a figurative lens, and shares some similarities with Eva Eland’s work. In it, a boy creates a shelter for his sadness so that he can visit it whenever he needs to, and the two of them can cry, talk, or just sit. The book views sadness as something that needs to be tended and cared for as much as any friend.

Rachel Tomlinson and Tori-Jay Mordey’s A Blue Kind of Day is less fanciful and more straightforward in its depiction of childhood depression. Coen is depressed and his family members all think they know the way to cheer him up. But (like The Rabbit) only when they begin to listen can they hear what Coen needs as support.

While there are many emotions depicted in Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman – anger, fear, glee, anxiety – sadness is certainly one of the stars of the emotional show. And the adorable kids from the class first seen in All Are Welcome navigate their emotions together, partially by trying to empathize and see multiple points of view.

Finally, Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond and Daniel Minter may not be about sadness or depressions, but Blue Monday is a perfect opportunity to recommend this fascinating cultural history of the color blue. From Afghan painters grinding sapphire rocks to the slave trade’s connections to the demand for indigo pigment and the ways blue jeans are worn, Blue will make you think twice about what colors mean.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Susin Nielsen’s No Fixed Address is a very funny book that deals with some difficult issues. Felix is a twelve-year-old kid who lives in a camper van with his mom and has a knack for trivia. While the book chronicles his quest to hide his family’s poverty and compete on a national quiz show to earn them a windfall, it also documents his mother Astrid’s struggles with depression and how their poverty affects how she manages, looking at the economic contributors to mental health.

Natalie in The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller also has a mom with depression. And while Felix thinks winning a quiz show will solve most of his problems, Natalie leans into an egg drop competition for similar reasons. With the prize money, she can fly her botanist mother to see the miraculous Cobalt Blue Orchids – flowers that survive against impossible odds – and bring some hope into her life. The novel is a great read for any kid trying to grasp the nuances of depression and loneliness, especially in a parent or guardian.

Laura Tucker’s All the Greys on Greene Street also features a depressed mother – in this case it’s Olympia’s mother, who falls into a deep funk after Olympia’s father, an antique painting restorer, mysteriously leaves in the middle of the night. Olympia’s mom’s depression is depicted with honesty and sensitivity, and the book looks at family, friendship, and art – all set in 1981 Soho, New York City.

But – as you probably know – it’s not just parents who have depression. And Dunkin Dorfman, one half of the titular duo in Donna Gephart’s Lily and Dunkin, is a thirteen-year-old new in town with bipolar disorder. His best friend is a trans girl and together, they’re going to do their best to survive school, despite the odds stacked against them.

Lucy’s mother in Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton also has bipolar disorder, and Lucy finds it a challenge in her efforts to become a world-famous robotics scientist. But despite her frustration, Lucy and her baby sister Izzy will go to great lengths to protect the mother they love in a empathetic portrayal of manic depression.

Delsie in Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt does not, as far as readers know, have bipolar disorder or depression, but she is having one cruel summer in Cape Cod. She’s dealing with the loss of a best friend, bullying, and her absent mother. But in time, Delsie learns to live with gratitude and in a way that helps others respond in positive ways.

YOUNG ADULT

Nothing is more emo than YA, so obviously there are tons of great novels that delve into sadness and depression. Exhibit A: The Year After You by Nina De Pass, in which Cara is consumed by grief and survivor’s guilt after she survives a tragic accident on New Year’s Eve – but her friend does not. Months later, at a boarding school in Switzerland where no one knows the accident happened, new classmates Ren and Hector try to break through the walls Cara has built and help her begin to forgive herself.

Do you need another novel about a young woman trying to outrun tragedy in her past written by someone named ‘Nina’? Try We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, a moving portrait of loss and loneliness, which one GoodReads reviewer said had her crying “in a park while staring into the unsympathetic rodent eyes of a squirrel hiding nuts for the winter.” Sounds perfect.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow is a difficult book that looks at self-harm, one method many teens sadly use to handle their grief and sadness. And protagonist Charlie’s life is filled with traumas – a dead father, abusive mother, life on the street – that can be hard to read, but her journey to put herself back together and find new outlets for her grief is inspiring.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (which is now also a movie!) is a romance between two very sad (read – trigger warning – suicidal) teens, dealing respectively with deep grief or bipolar disorder. But when Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the school’s bell tower, it’s unclear who saves whom. Together, they decide to discover the natural wonders of their state of Indiana and give them reasons to live – finding they can really be themselves with each other. But how long can that feeling last?

There’s a similar journey to an unknown land in Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini: Kayla is sent to Canada (!) from Trinidad to live with an estranged aunt after she is hospitalized for depression. Her mother sees it as the only solution (someone didn’t read When Sadness Is At Your Door!) and Kayla finds herself in the cold and confusing North. But Canada – in addition to frozen landscapes and Tim Hortons iced capps – also could feature the chance at a family that loves unconditionally, some new friends, and the promise of a hopeful future.

Julia in Erika L. Sánchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a teenager moving through the grief of losing her older sister – the perfect daughter her parents had all their hopes pinned upon. Not only must she deal with her own devastation, she finds her mother is channeling her grief into criticizing her for all the ways she is not like her dead sister.

For a book about depression and – in particular – intergenerational mental illness, readers should check out How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox. Biz, who lost her dad when she was seven, has begun seeing her dad again. But she keeps this information – along with her many dark thoughts – from everyone in her life, so she seems like she’s just floating along, totally fine. Biz slowly begins to come undone, but the book explores the beautiful places loss can sometimes take people and how – ultimately – to return to the world.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram documents a nerdy Persian American who never feels like he’s enough, as he takes his first-ever trip to Iran. He feels out of sorts, and his clinical depression is hard for him to explain to his grandparents. But things start to look up when he meets a sweet boy next door, Sohrab.

Not only is the content of Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker profoundly emo – the soundtrack is, too! One of the funnier novels about depression, the book features a seventeen-year-old Black girl in mostly white suburbia dealing with clinical depression (largely through listening to Sunny Day Real Estate).

Many of Heather Smith’s bittersweet novels have their moments of intense sadness, but we wanted to limit ourselves to one. That one book is The Agony of Bun O’Keefe, mainly because “agony” is in the title. But also, we love the 1980s Newfoundland setting and the found family Bun discovers after leaving her solitary life in an unsafe house – though those found family members she ends up rooming with all have their sad tales to tell, as well.

Unhappy reading, friends!

Find Yourself in a Book

Here at Tundra Book Group we have many books to help conversations around mental health for young readers. As January is self-love month, we have created a list of beautiful children’s books anyone can find themselves in, and to help celebrate who you are!

Celebrate yourself

My Lala
By Thomas King
Illustrated by Charlene Chua
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269347 | Tundra Books
Lala wakes up one morning and decides that she owns the world. Quick as a fox, she bounds to her box of treasures and finds her shiny red dots – to mark what is hers, because there’s nothing that’s not! Lala’s bear gets a dot, as does her blankie, boots, and even the markers she uses to make scrawls on her walls. When she finishes labeling everything in her room and goes to label her dad-daddy’s socks, Lala realizes that she’s out of dots! But when Lala discovers that she can simply create her own red dots, will anything be safe from Lala? Join rambunctious Lala on her quest to own the world in this joyful picture book that celebrates confidence and positive thinking.

My Self, Your Self
By Esmé Shapiro
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880234 | Tundra Books
From the way you button your coat to the way you tap your toes, from the top of your head to your adorable tummy, there are so many reasons to love your self, and so many reasons to be loved. Join a group of endearing forest creatures as they bake and eat cranberry-butter-pie muffins, sing silly songs at bath time and stop to smell the chestnut-nettle roses, all the while exploring their individuality. This joyously affirming picture book from the inimitable Esmé Shapiro encourages the youngest readers to get to know and love and be kind to their wonderful selves and the equally wonderful selves around them.

Listen to your voice

Kumo: The Bashful Cloud
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Nathalie Dion
64  Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267282 | Tundra Books
Kumo is a cloud whose only wish is to float unseen. When she’s assigned cloud duty for the day, she feels overwhelmed by self-doubt and her fear of being noticed. But after learning that closing your eyes isn’t a good solution to your troubles, Kumo pulls her fluff together and does her duties – drifting, releasing rain and providing shelter – meeting some new friends along the way and inspiring the imagination (and capturing the heart) of a small daydreamer like her. Kyo Maclear’s sweetly humorous and lyrical parable about shyness, vividly brought to life by Nathalie Dion’s ethereal illustrations, is an affirmation of the pleasures of community and the confidence that can arise from friendship and visibility.

Little Echo
By Al Rodin
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880623 | Tundra Books
Have you ever heard an Echo?
They live in lakes and tunnels and caves.
But have you ever seen an Echo?
Little Echo lives alone in a cave. Shy, she hides away, echoing the noises around her. But Little Echo isn’t just shy – she’s lonely. And when Max comes to the cave one day, in search of treasure, Little Echo starts to discover that maybe she has a voice of her own.

It’s okay to ask for help

The Pink Umbrella
By Amélie Callot
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919231 | Tundra Books
When it’s bright outside, Adele is the heart of her community, greeting everyone who comes into her café with arms wide open. But when it rains, she can’t help but stay at home inside, under the covers. Because Adele takes such good care of her friends and customers, one of them decides to take care of her too, and piece by piece leaves her little gifts that help her find the joy in a gray, rainy day. Along with cute-as-a-button illustrations, The Pink Umbrella celebrates thoughtful acts of friendship.

Tough Like Mum
By Lana Button
Illustrated by Carmen Mok
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265981 | Tundra Books
Kim’s mum is tough. Everyone says so. She can deal with unruly customers at the Red Rooster with a snap of her fingers. Kim is tough, too. She doesn’t need to wear a hat to keep her ears warm. And she can make soup all by herself, even without the stove. Kim and her mum are tough. But Kim is learning that sometimes toughness doesn’t look like what you’d expect. In this tender exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, Kim and her mother learn that in order to support and truly take care of each other, they need to be tough – and that sometimes being tough means showing vulnerability and asking for help.

It’s okay to feel down

The Invisible Bear
By Cecile Metzger
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266872 | Tundra Books
A bear sits in his quiet, colorless home in a forgotten place. He feels invisible; no one comes to see him, and he spends his days alone. Then someone moves in next door. Madame Odette is sound and sunshine, and at first, the bear isn’t sure about this colorful new neighbor. But through an act of kindness, the bear and the Madame Odette meet, and as time goes by, they become friends. And in the end, they are both forever changed by the gifts they bring each other. The first book from author-illustrator Cécile Metzger, The Invisible Bear is a powerful and beautiful meditation on the beauty of friendship and how two people can save each other just by being themselves.

What’s Up, Maloo?
By Geneviève Godbout
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266643 | Tundra Books
Maloo the kangaroo has lost his hop. Can his friends help him find it again? This sweet picture book explores the idea of sadness and the importance of friendship through ups and downs. No other kangeroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo’s friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What’s wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. With patience, support and a little “hop” from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back. Simple text and adorable art convey the power of friendship over a gloomy mood in Geneviève Godbout’s charming debut as both author and illustrator.

Coping with grief isn’t easy

A Garden of Creatures
By Sheila Heti
Illustrated by Esmé Shapiro
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268814 | Tundra Books
Two bunnies and a cat live happily together in a beautiful garden. But when the big bunny passes away, the little bunny is unsure how to fill the void she left behind. A strange dream prompts her to begin asking questions: Why do the creatures we love have to die, and where do we go when we die? How come life works this way? With the wisdom of the cat to guide her, the little bunny learns that missing someone is a way of keeping them close. And together they discover that the big bunny is a part of everything around them – the grass, the air, the leaves – for the world is a garden of creatures. With its meditative text, endearing illustrations and life-affirming message, A Garden of Creatures reveals how the interconnectedness of nature and the sweetness of friendship can be a warm embrace even in the darkest times.

Bug in a Vacuum
By Mélanie Watt
ISBN 9781770496453 | Hardcover
Ages 5-9 | Tundra Books
A bug flies through an open door where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance – the five stages of grief – as it comes to terms with its fate.

Rodney Was a Tortoise
By Nan Forler
Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266629 | Tundra Books
Bernadette and Rodney are the best of friends. Rodney’s not so good at playing cards, but he’s great at staring contests. His favorite food is lettuce, though he eats it VERRRRRRY SLOOOOOWLY. And he’s such a joker! When Bernadette goes to sleep at night, Rodney is always there, watching over her from his tank.  As the seasons pass, Rodney moves slower and slower, until one day he stops moving at all. Without Rodney, Bernadette feels all alone. She can’t stop thinking about him, but none of her friends seem to notice. Except for Amar. Rodney Was a Tortoise is a moving story about friendship and loss. It shows the importance of expressing kindness and empathy, especially in life’s most difficult moments.

Small Business Saturday

The Saturday after Black Friday is usually called Small Business Saturday to encourage and remind us to shop and support local businesses. Here are some books about celebrating local shops and books where kids take matters into their own hands and start their own businesses.

J.D. and the Great Barber Battle
By J. Dillard
Illustrated by Akeem S. Roberts
128 Pages | Ages 6-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593111529 | Kokila
J.D. has a big problem – it’s the night before the start of third grade and his mom has just given him his first and worst home haircut. When the steady stream of insults from the entire student body of Douglass Elementary becomes too much for J.D., he takes matters into his own hands and discovers that, unlike his mom, he’s a genius with the clippers. His work makes him the talk of the town and brings him enough hair business to open a barbershop from his bedroom. But when Henry Jr., the owner of the only official local barbershop, realizes he’s losing clients to J.D., he tries to shut him down for good. How do you find out who’s the best barber in all of Meridian, Mississippi? With a GREAT BARBER BATTLE!

Katie the Catsitter
By Colleen AF Venable
Illustrated by Stephanie Yue
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781984895639 | Random House BFYR
Katie is dreading the boring summer ahead while her best friends are all away at camp – something that’s way out of Katie and her mom’s budget, UNLESS Katie can figure out a way to earn the money for camp herself. But when Katie gets a job catsitting for her mysterious upstairs neighbor, life get interesting. First, Madeline has 217 cats (!) and they’re not exactly . . . normal cats. Also, why is Madeline always out EXACTLY when the city’s most notorious villain commits crimes?! Is it possible that Katie’s upstairs neighbor is really a super villain? Can Katie wrangle a whole lot of wayward cats, save a best friendship (why is Beth barely writing back? And who’s this boy she keeps talking about?!), AND crack the biggest story in the city’s history? Some heroes have capes . . . Katie has cats!

Marcus Makes a Movie
By Kevin Hart and Geoff Rodkey
Illustrated by David Cooper
208 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593179147 | Crown BFYR
Marcus is NOT happy to be stuck in after-school film class . . . until he realizes he can turn the story of the cartoon superhero he’s been drawing for years into an actual MOVIE! There’s just one problem: he has no idea what he’s doing. So he’ll need help, from his friends, his teachers, Sierra, the strong-willed classmate with creative dreams of her own, even Tyrell, the local bully who’d be a perfect movie villain if he weren’t too terrifying to talk to. Making this movie won’t be easy. But as Marcus discovers, nothing great ever is – and if you want your dream to come true, you’ve got to put in the hustle to make it happen. Comedy superstar Kevin Hart teams up with award-winning author Geoff Rodkey and lauded illustrator David Cooper for a hilarious, illustrated, and inspiring story about bringing your creative goals to life and never giving up, even when nothing’s going your way.

Marty
By Rachel Noble
Illustrated by Zoey Abbott
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446629 | Holiday House
Marty is a tiny green Martian who lives here on Earth. You’ve never noticed him before, because he is undercover . . . Marty wears disguises and studies human behavior in order to fit in. He is always watching, learning, and laughing. And then one day, after much preparation, Marty gets a job! He loves to watch his customers, and he even makes some friends. But Marty knows he can never reveal his secret. Humans are terrified of Martians. When his cover gets blown, Marty needs somewhere safe to go. Who will see beyond his strange, green looks to show him kindness?

Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk!
By Greg Howard
336 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525517542 | Putnam BFYR
Twelve-year-old Mikey Pruitt is a budding entrepreneur. Inspired by his grandfather Pap Pruitt, who successfully ran all sorts of businesses, Mikey is still looking for his million-dollar idea. Unfortunately, most of his ideas – from a roadside general store to croquet lessons – haven’t taken off. It isn’t until kid drag queen Coco Caliente, Mistress of Madness and Mayhem (aka eighth grader Julian Vasquez) walks into his office (aka his family’s storage/laundry room) looking for a talent agent that Mikey thinks he’s finally found a business that will put him on the map, and the Anything Talent and Pizzazz Agency is born! Soon, Mikey has a whole roster of kid clients looking to hit it big or at least win the middle school talent show’s hundred-dollar prize. As newly out Mikey prepares Julian for the gig of a lifetime, he realizes there’s no rulebook for being gay – and if Julian can be openly gay at school, maybe Mikey can, too, and tell his crush, the dreamy Colton Sanford, how he feels. Full of laughs, sass, and hijinks, this hilarious, heartfelt story shows that with a little effort and a lot of love, anything is possible.

Our Corner Grocery Store
By Joanne Schwartz
Illustrated by Laura Beingessner
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770491267 | Tundra Books
Anna Maria takes great pleasure and pride in her grandparents’ corner grocery store. Every Saturday she spends the day helping to arrange fruits and vegetables, greet the customers, and keep things neat and tidy. Through her day we meet the neighbors and learn what an important part the corner grocery store plays in the community. Nonno Domenico, Nonna Rosa, and Anna Maria supply more than goods as the steady stream of customers arrives. Lunches are made, news is shared, bargains are purchased, recipes are traded, and cheerful ciaos are called. By the end of a long day, Anna Maria has a true sense of just how wonderful the sights and smells within the store are and how much they mean to everyone.

Over the Shop
By JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201475 | Candlewick
A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the quarters above their store will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the possibilities of the space – until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl’s big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways. In this bustling wordless picture book, JonArno Lawson’s touching story and Qin Leng’s gentle illustrations capture all angles of the building’s transformation, as well as the evolving perspectives of the girl and her grandparent. A warm and subtly nuanced tale, Over the Shop throws open the doors to what it means to accept people for who they are and to fill your home with love and joy.

The Pink Umbrella
By Amélie Callot
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919231 | Tundra Books
When it’s bright outside, Adele is the heart of her community, greeting everyone who comes into her café with arms wide open. But when it rains, she can’t help but stay at home inside, under the covers. Because Adele takes such good care of her friends and customers, one of them decides to take care of her too, and piece by piece leaves her little gifts that help her find the joy in a gray, rainy day. Along with cute-as-a-button illustrations, The Pink Umbrella celebrates thoughtful acts of friendship.

CTV Your Morning Kids’ Book Segment on Wellness and Mental Health

Our Marketing and Publicity Director, Vikki VanSickle, was on CTV’s Your Morning today to talk about kids books that promote wellness and mental health. Check out our titles from her recommendations below and don’t forget to watch her segment for the full list!

AGES 3-7

The Pink Umbrella
By Amélie Callot
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919231 | Tundra Books
When it’s bright outside, Adele is the heart of her community, greeting everyone who comes into her café with arms wide open. But when it rains, she can’t help but stay at home inside, under the covers. Because Adele takes such good care of her friends and customers, one of them decides to take care of her too, and piece by piece leaves her little gifts that help her find the joy in a gray, rainy day. Along with cute-as-a-button illustrations, The Pink Umbrella celebrates thoughtful acts of friendship.

AGES 6-10

Megabat Is a Fraidybat
By Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
192 Pages | Ages 7-10  | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266025 | Tundra Books
Daniel is not so sure about going to camp. There will be bugs. And uncomfortable beds. And leeches! Megabat can’t wait to go to camp! There will be so much smooshfruit, and he loves a good sing-along. Soon Daniel starts to think camp isn’t so bad. He’s made friends, and his bed isn’t that uncomfortable. Megabat has made a new friend too. But his new friend wants him to go flying to spooky caves. And her mom is very toothy. As Daniel is getting into the swing of things and starting to enjoy camp, Megabat is getting himself into one tangle after another to avoid going into the scary woods. But can Megabat overcome his fears to help save his new friend? Kass Reich’s adorable illustrations paired with Anna Humphrey’s hilarious text make for another unforgettable Megabat adventure, one that will appeal to Megabat fans and newcomers!

AGES 14+

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined
By Danielle Younge-Ullman
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780143198215 | Penguin Teen Canada
When she was a little girl, Ingrid’s entire world was her mother: Margot-Sophia, the brilliant and sophisticated opera star. So when Margot-Sophia loses her singing voice, Ingrid loses everything. The two of them move to a small, normal house in a normal town, where Ingrid tries to convince her mother that there must still be something worth living for. It’s in this small, normal life that Ingrid discovers her own passion for the theater arts. But Margot-Sophia refuses to support her daughter’s dreams. They strike a deal: if Ingrid makes it through a summer of an extreme wilderness experience, then she can have her chance to pursue life as a performer. Over the course of this summer, Ingrid is stripped of every dignity and freedom. But she also comes to terms with her inner demons – and finally confronts the secret tragedy that defines her.

Picture Books about Mental Health

Kids Books about Mental Health
With childhood anxiety and other mental health concerns on the rise, talking to your child about mental wellness is more important than ever. Here are some picture books that can help start conversations about mental health and wellness with young children.

What's Up MalooWhat’s Up, Maloo?
By Geneviève Godbout
ISBN 9780735266643 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
No other kangeroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo’s friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What’s wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. With patience, support and a little “hop” from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back.

Noni Is NervousNoni Is Nervous
By Heather Hartt-Sussman
Illustrated by Geneviève Côté
ISBN 9781770493230 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Noni is nervous about playdates, and global warming, and most of all, about the first day of school. Her parents are worried too, and even her brother is a little wary. But Noni finds a friend, someone a little more outgoing than herself, and discovers that through friendship, she can belong and succeed in a world that once filled her with dread.

Where Oliver FitsWhere Oliver Fits
By Cale Atkinson
ISBN 9781101919071 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Oliver has always dreamed about where he will fit. Will he be in the mane of a unicorn? The tentacle of a pirate squid? The helmet of an astronaut? When he finally goes in search of his perfect place, he finds that trying to fit in is a lot harder than he thought. But like any puzzle, a little trial and error leads to a solution, and Oliver figures out exactly where he belongs.

swarm of beesSwarm of Bees
By Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Rilla Alexander
ISBN 9781101918791 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Watch out! A mischievous boy has unleashed an angry swarm of bees! The result is a zany gallop through a charming town where readers will encounter evidence of some bad behavior, some frenzied anger and thankfully, a hug and some spaghetti. It can feel good to be angry. It can feel better to stop.

Whimsy Heavy ThingsWhimsy’s Heavy Things
By Julie Kraulis
ISBN 9781770494039 | Hardcover
Ages 4-6 | Tundra Books
Whimsy’s heavy things are weighing her down. She tries to sweep them under the rug, but she trips over them. She even tries to sail them out to sea, but they always come back. Eventually Whimsy decides to deal with the heavy things one at a time … and a surprising thing happens.

Bug in a VacuumBug in a Vacuum
By Mélanie Watt
ISBN 9781770496453 | Hardcover
Ages 5-9 | Tundra Books
A bug flies through an open door where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance – the five stages of grief – as it comes to terms with its fate.

The Bad Mood and the StickThe Bad Mood and the Stick
By Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
ISBN 9781101918777 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
Moods can be confusing. Especially to children. The Bad Mood and The Stick offers a refreshing, thoughtful look at the ways in which a bad mood wreaks havoc as it moves through the world, from person to person, leaving an unexpected trail in its wake: opportunities for laughter, forgiveness and even love. With wry, luminous art by Matthew Forsythe, at last you can look your bad mood in the eye.

The Pink UmbrellaThe Pink Umbrella
By Amelie Callot
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
ISBN 9781101919231 | Hardcover
Ages 6-9 | Tundra Books
When it’s bright outside, Adele is the heart of her community, greeting everyone who comes into her café with arms wide open. But when it rains, she can’t help but stay at home inside, under the covers. Because Adele takes such good care of her friends and customers, one of them decides to take care of her too.