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.

Pride Reading List 2022

June is Pride Month and we love books that celebrate love in all its form! Here’s a list of some recent YA titles featuring LGBTQ+ stories.

Bitter
By Akwaeke Emezi
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593309032 | Knopf BFYR
After a childhood in foster care, Bitter is thrilled to have been chosen to attend Eucalyptus, a special school where she can focus on her painting surrounded by other creative teens. But outside this haven, the streets are filled with protests against the deep injustices that grip the city of Lucille. Bitter’s instinct is to stay safe within the walls of Eucalyptus . . . but  her  friends  aren’t  willing  to  settle  for  a  world  that’s  so  far  away from what they deserve. Pulled between old friendships, her artistic passion, and a new romance, Bitter isn’t sure where she  belongs – in  the  studio  or  in  the  streets.  And  if  she  does  find a way to help the revolution while being true to who she is, she must also ask: at what cost? This  timely  and  riveting  novel – a  companion  to  the  National  Book Award finalist Pet – explores the power of youth, protest, and art.

Both Sides Now
By Peyton Thomas
300 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269750 | Penguin Teen Canada
There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, DC, and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls. And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality. Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity. People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things – like who you are and who you love – are not up for debate.

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 term . . . until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
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.

Kings of B’more
By R. Eric Thomas
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326183 | Kokila
With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he’s on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that – it’s like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend, Linus, will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: He’s moving out of state at the end of the week. To keep from completely losing it – and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his dad – Harrison plans a send-off à la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that’s worthy of his favorite person. If they won’t be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day together. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things – big and small – they’ve been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.

Kiss & Tell
By Adib Khorram
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593325261 | Dial Books
Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend – leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all – and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens. But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the star of the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble – for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.

Man o’ War
By Cory McCarthy
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593353707 | Dutton BFYR
River McIntyre has grown up down the street from Sea Planet, an infamous marine life theme park slowly going out of business in small-town Ohio. When a chance encounter with a happy, healthy queer person on the annual field trip lands River literally in the shark tank, they must admit the truth: they don’t know who they are – only what they’ve been told to be. This sets off a wrenching journey of self-discovery, from internalized homophobia and gender dysphoria, through layers of coming out, affirmation surgery, and true freakin’ love.

Melt With You
By Jennifer Dugan
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593112564 | Putnam BFYR
Fallon is Type A, looks before she leaps, and always has a plan (and a backup plan). Chloe is happy-go-lucky, flies by the seat of her pants, and always follows her bliss. The two girls used to be best friends, but last summer they hooked up right before Chloe left for college, and after a series of misunderstandings, they aren’t even speaking to each other. A year later, Chloe’s back home from school, and Fallon is doing everything in her power to avoid her. Which is especially difficult because their moms own a business together – a gourmet ice cream truck where both girls work. When a meeting with some promising potential investors calls their parents away at the last minute, it’s up to Fallon to work a series of important food truck festivals across the country. But she can’t do it alone, and Chloe is the only one available to help. Tensions heat up again between the two girls as they face a few unexpected detours – and more than a little roadside attraction. But maybe, just maybe, the best things in life can’t always be planned.

Nate Plus One
By Kevin Van Whye
256  Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593376423 | Random House BFYR
Nate Hargraves is a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. That’s why he dreams of being a songwriter instead of a singer. But things change the summer after junior year as Nate gets ready to fly to South Africa for his cousin’s lavish destination wedding. The trip is bound to be epic. Except – Nate just found out that his ex-boyfriend will be at the reception. Ugh. He does not want to face this one solo. Jai Patel, Nate’s best friend (and secret crush), has his own problems. The lead singer of Jai’s band, Infinite Sorrow, quit weeks before a contest that promised to be their big break. But Nate rocks Jai’s world when he agrees to sing with the band. Even though Nate’s not one for the spotlight, he knows this is the kind of stuff you do for . . . friends. In return, Jai volunteers to be Nate’s travel buddy around South Africa, a buffer against his ex, and his plus-one at the wedding. Maybe this summer will be epic after all. Now that Nate’s crush is on board, will love crash the party?

Right Where I Left You
By Julian Winters
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593206478 | Viking BFYR
Isaac Martin is ready to kick off summer. His last before heading off to college in the fall where he won’t have his best friend, Diego. Where – despite his social anxiety – he’ll be left to make friends on his own. Knowing his time with Diego is limited, Isaac enacts a foolproof plan: snatch up a pair of badges for the epic comic convention, Legends Con, and attend his first ever Teen Pride. Just him and Diego. But when an unexpected run-in with Davi – Isaac’s old crush – distracts him the day tickets go on sale, suddenly he’s two badges short of a perfect summer. Even worse, now he’s left making it up to Diego by hanging with him and his gamer buddies. Decidedly NOT part of the original plan. It’s not all bad, though. Some of Diego’s friends turn out to be pretty cool, and when things with Davi start heating up, Isaac is almost able to forget about his Legends Con blunder. Almost. Because then Diego finds out what really happened that day with Davi, and their friendship lands on thin ice. Isaac assumes he’s upset about missing the convention, but could Diego have other reasons for avoiding Isaac?

Swimming in the Moonsoon Sea
By Shyam Selvadurai
280 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880333 | Tundra Books
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Shyam Selvadurai’s brilliant novels, Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens, have garnered him international acclaim. In his first young adult novel, now with a new cover, he explores first love with clarity, humor and compassion. The setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life “before,” when his doting mother was still alive. Amrith’s holiday plans seem unpromising: he wants to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin arrives from Canada and Amrith’s ordered life is storm-tossed. He finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy. Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed.

The Gifts That Bind Us
By Caroline O’Donoghue
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536222227 | Walker Books
It’s senior year, and Maeve and her friends are practicing and strengthening their mystical powers, while Maeve’s new relationship with Roe is exhilarating. But as Roe’s rock star dreams start to take shape, and Fiona and Lily make plans for faraway colleges, Maeve, who struggles in school, worries about life without them – will she be selling incense here in Kilbeg, Ireland, until she’s fifty? Alarm bells sound for the coven when the Children of Brigid, a right-wing religious organization, quickly gains influence throughout the city – and when its charismatic front man starts visiting Maeve in her dreams. When Maeve’s power starts to wane, the friends realize that all the local magic is being drained – or rather, stolen. With lines increasingly blurred between friend and foe, the supernatural and the psychological, Maeve and the others must band together to protect the place, and the people, they love.

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester
By Maya MacGregor
360 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781635923599 | Astra Young Readers
Sam Sylvester has long collected stories of half-lived lives – of kids who died before they turned nineteen. Sam was almost one of those kids. Now, as Sam’s own nineteenth birthday approaches, their recent near-death experience haunts them. They’re certain they don’t have much time left . . . . But Sam’s life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, their next-door neighbor. Yet the past keeps roaring back – in Sam’s memories and in the form of a thirty-year-old suspicious death that took place in Sam’s new home. Sam can’t resist trying to find out more about the kid who died and who now seems to guide their investigation. When Sam starts receiving threatening notes, they know they’re on the path to uncovering a murderer. But are they digging through the past or digging their own future grave? The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester explores healing in the aftermath of trauma and the fullness of queer joy.