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.

Holiday Spotlight: Holiday House 2021

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we’re lucky to work with so many different publisher 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.

Amira’s Picture Day
By Reem Faruqi
Illustrated by Fahmida Azim
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823440191 | Holiday House
Just the thought of Eid makes Amira warm and tingly inside. From wearing new clothes to handing out goody bags at the mosque, Amira can’t wait for the festivities to begin. But when a flier on the fridge catches her eye, Amira’s stomach goes cold. Not only is it Eid, it’s also school picture day. If she’s not in her class picture, how will her classmates remember her? Won’t her teacher wonder where she is? Though the day’s celebrations at the mosque are everything Amira was dreaming of, her absence at picture day weighs on her. A last-minute idea on the car ride home might just provide the solution to everything in this delightful story from acclaimed author Reem Faruqi, illustrated with vibrant color by Fahmida Azim.

Bear Outside
By Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jen Corace
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446131 | Neal Porter Books
In this imaginative picture book by Jane Yolen, acclaimed author of many distinguished children’s books including Owl Moon and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, a girl explores the many ways she expresses herself by imagining that she wears a bear as her personal protective shell. They go everywhere and do everything together. The Bear is like a suit of armor and a partner all in one, protecting her from bullies and giving her strength to be bold when she needs it. In turn, she listens to and takes care of the Bear.

Bright Star
By Yuyi Morales
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443284 | Neal Porter Books
Told with a combination of powerful, spare language and sumptuous and complex imagery that is typical of Yuyi Morales’s work, this is the story of a fawn making her way through a border landscape teaming with flora and fauna native to the region. A gentle but empowering voice encourages her to face her fears when she comes across an obstacle in the form of an insurmountable barrier. Yuyi Morales’ first book since her New York Times bestseller  Dreamers is a book for very young children looking for their place in a world full of uncertainty. It is a book with resonance for all children, especially those whose safety is threatened due to the immigration crisis in the US.

Cardboardia 1: The Other Side of the Box
By Lucy Campagnolo
Illustrated by Richard Fairgray
112 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781645950998 | Pixel+Ink
When Mac, Masie, and Bird find mysterious tokens in their cereal boxes, they’re transported to Cardboardia, a magical land made of paper and cardboard. In this parallel universe to ours, creativity thrives: Every time a box of anything is created in our world, a replica appears there, bringing residents art supplies, food, books, and more. But an evil presence is slowly moving in, threatening to wipe all art and beauty from this paper paradise. It’s no mistake that the three friends have been transported through their cardboard portals. Each has a special talent they never knew existed. And only when they figure out to harness them together will they be able to stop the destruction.

Deadman’s Castle
By Iain Lawrence
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446551 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime – and ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They’ve lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can’t even remember his real name. But now he’s twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He’s even starting to wonder – what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father’s frightened mind? Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he’s lived by all his life – making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he’s allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them – is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all?

Dear Beast
By Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Kevan Atteberry
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823448432 | Holiday House
Simon has taken care of his owner, Andy, for many years. He’s a good cat. Clean, responsible, and loyal. What more could a boy want? Even when Andy’s dad moves out, Simon is certain that Andy doesn’t need another pet. So why would Andy’s dad adopt a DOG?! To make matters worse, the animal is a rude, rowdy troublemaker. Simon’s job is clear: the beast has got to go. He decides to write him a letter. Strongly worded, of course. But when the dog’s response sets off an unexpected correspondence, Simon realizes the beast may be here to stay. Can he make room for another pet in Andy’s life?

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
By Crystal Maldonado
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447176 | Holiday House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing – he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? Because it’s time people did.

Let Me Fix You a Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens
By Elizabeth Lilly
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443253 | Neal Porter Books
First my family drives through the mountains to stop at Mamaw and Papaw’s house in rural West Virginia. We share blueberry jam and toast for breakfast the next morning, then munch cookies and cut bananas to make banana pudding with Mamaw. After the last bite of pudding, we get ready for the next part of the journey, down to Florida to visit Abuela and Abuelo for crispy tostones, fresh squeezed juice, and arepas with queso blanco. This celebration of family and our diverse, delicious traditions is sure to leave readers hungry for more! Elizabeth Lilly’s tale of a joyous road trip, drawn from her own experience, is illustrated with quirky charm that captures all the warmth and love of her family’s two distinct cultures.

Salt Magic
By Hope Larson
Illustrated by Rebecca Mock
240 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823450503 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Vonceil’s older brother, Elber, comes home to their family’s Oklahoma farm after serving on the front lines of World War I, things aren’t what she expects. His experiences have changed him into a serious and responsible man who doesn’t have time for Vonceil anymore. He even marries the girl he had left behind. Then a mysterious and captivating woman shows up at the farm and confronts Elber for leaving her in France. When he refuses to leave his wife, she puts a curse on the family well, turning the entire town’s water supply into saltwater. Who is this lady dressed all in white, what has she done to the farm, and what does Vonceil’s old uncle Dell know about her? To find out, Vonceil will have to strike out on her own and delve deep into the world of witchcraft, confronting dangerous relatives, shapeshifting animals, a capricious Sugar Witch, and the Lady in White herself – the foreboding Salt Witch. The journey will change Vonceil, but along the way she’ll learn a lot about love and what it means to grow up.

Song for Jimi: The Story of Guitar Legend Jimi Hendrix
By Charles R. Smith Jr.
Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez
56 Pages | Ages 7+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443338 | Neal Porter Books
From his turbulent childhood through his epical appearance at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals, Charles R. Smith Jr. covers it all in this rich and rhythmic account of a singular life, accompanied by the psychedelic splendor of Edel Rodriguez’s acid-tinged artwork. Written as a series of verses beginning with intro and ending with outro, this unique mix of rhythm and rhyme captures the essence of rock icon Jimi Hendrix and his struggle to live life on his own terms.

The Bear House
By Meaghan McIsaac
368 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446605 | Holiday House
Moody Aster and her spoiled sister Ursula are the daughters of Jasper Lourdes, Major of Bears and lord of all the realm. Rivals, both girls dream of becoming the Bear queen someday, although neither really deserve to, having no particular talent in . . . well, anything. But when their Uncle Bram murders their father in a bid for the crown, the girls are forced onto the run, along with lowly Dev the Bearkeeper and the Lourdes’s half-grown grizzly Alcor, symbol of their house. As a bitter struggle for the throne consumes the kingdom in civil war, the sisters must rely on Dev, the bear cub, and each other to survive – and find wells of courage, cunning, and skill they never knew they had.

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess
By Tom Gauld
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446988 | Neal Porter Books
For years, the king and queen tried desperately to have a baby. Their wish was twice granted when an engineer and a witch gave them a little wooden robot and an enchanted log princess. There’s just one catch, every night when the log princess sleeps, she transforms back into an ordinary log. She can only be woken with the magic words “Awake, little log, awake.” The two are inseparable until one day when the sleeping log princess is accidentally carted off to parts unknown. Now it’s up to her devoted brother to find her and return her safely to the kingdom. They need to take turns to get each other home, and on the way, they face a host of adventures involving the Queen of Mushrooms, a magic pudding, a baby in a rosebush, and an old lady in a bottle.

Toasty
By Sarah Hwang
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447077 | Margaret Ferguson Books
Toasty loves dogs – so much so that he’d like to be one. He knows there are some differences – most dogs have four legs, but Toasty has two arms and two legs. Some dogs sleep in dog houses, but Toasty sleeps in a toaster. All dogs have hair and fur, but Toasty has neither because he’s made of bread. In spite of these differences, he decides to go to the park to play with the dogs but runs into trouble when they want to eat him. Lucky for Toasty, he is rescued by a little girl who has always wanted a dog but can’t have one because she is allergic. Toasty is the perfect dog for her.

Watercress
By Andrea Wang
Illustrated by Jason Chin
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446247 | Neal Porter Books
Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl’s parents stop suddenly when they spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road. Grabbing an old paper bag and some rusty scissors, the whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the muddy, snail covered watercress as they can. At first, she’s embarrassed. Why can’t her family get food from the grocery store? But when her mother shares a story of her family’s time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Together, they make a new memory of watercress. Andrea Wang tells a moving autobiographical story of a child of immigrants discovering and connecting with her heritage, illustrated by award winning author and artist Jason Chin, working in an entirely new style, inspired by Chinese painting techniques. An author’s note in the back shares Andrea’s childhood experience with her parents.

The Great Peach Experiment 1: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie
By Erin Soderberg Downing
256 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781645950349 | Pixel+Ink
After a tough year, Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach are ready for vacation. Lucy wants to read all of the books on the summer reading list. Freddy wants to work on his art projects (when he isn’t stuck in summer school). Herb wants to swim every day. Then their dad makes a big announcement: one of the inventions their mom came up with before she passed away has sold, and now they’re millionaires! But Dad has bigger plans than blowing the cash on fun stuff or investing it. He’s bought a used food truck. The Peaches are going to spend the summer traveling the country selling pies. It will be the Great Peach Experiment – a summer of bonding while living out one of Mom’s dreams. Summer plans, sunk. And there’s one more issue Dad’s neglected: none of them knows how to bake . . . . A perfect blend of humor, heart, and family antics, When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie is a delectable treat to be gobbled down or savored slowly. (Slice of pie on the side, optional, but highly recommended.)