Tundra Telegram: Books to Brighten Any Holmes

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we discuss ideas that are hounding readers and clue them into some relevant titles, in case they need a new literary obsession.

The holidays are just around the corner, so it would be perfectly reasonable to start talking about wintry or holiday books. But this week, we’re talking about something else: murder. Specifically, the murder of Enoch Drebber. The murder of this fictional Mormon kicks off the first story to feature fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the story was published in the 1887 edition of Beeton’s Christmas Annual, and first hit newsstands on December 1. The rest is literary history.

To celebrate 115 years of the world’s greatest detective, we’re recommending children’s books about, based on, or similar to the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. Nearly any mystery story is – in some fashion – indebted to the stories about Sherlock Holmes. But with this roundup, we’ve focused on those that most clearly are an homage to the great detective, or – at the very least – have a distinctly Victorian flavor.

PICTURE BOOKS

What better way to start a young reader’s journey with Sherlock than a picture-book biography about the man who created him? Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock by Linda Bailey and Isabelle Follath chronicles the incredible life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: a doctor, adventurer,  tireless campaigner for justice . . . and, of course, creator of the world’s greatest detective! Any kid with an interest in mysteries will love this lively story of the facts behind the fiction.

For a book of mysteries that many kids will know, and are conundrums worthy of Holmes himself, try Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?: And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries by David Levinthal and John Nickle. Who committed a B & E at the Three Bears’ family home? Did Humpty Dumpty really just fall off that wall, or was he pushed? A streetwise investigator delves into five fairy-tale criminal cases, and though Binky wears a fedora (rather than a deerstalker hat), his shrewd mind has much in common with the great detective.

As Holmes and Watson are to London, Sam Cat and Dudley Pig are to Busytown. And in Richard Scarry’s The Great Steamboat Mystery, the almost-dynamic duo have to solve a jewel theft during a wedding aboard a steamboat (instead of eating cake). The best part is that young readers can assist by finding clues and helping crack the case in this humorous story book.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Ghost and human child friends Simon and Chester may live in the here-and-now, but they are inspired by Sherlock Holmes in Cale Atkinson’s graphic novel Simon & Chester: Super Detectives! In the duo’s first comic-book adventure, Simon is busy writing a mystery (a regular Arthur Conan Doyle!) when Chester discovers a detective costume, complete with deerstalker. The two quickly decide to start solving mysteries themselves – starting with how a strange (yet adorable) dog wound up inside their house! (Perhaps a far cry from The Hound of the Baskervilles.)

Though their adventures take place decades before the first Holmes story, Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley make for effective tween alternatives to Holmes and Watson in Jordan Stratford’s The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series, illustrated by Kelly Murphy. The girls who grow up to become the first computer programmer and Frankenstein writer join forces to make a secret detective agency dedicated to unlocking only the most puzzling mysteries, whether those involve missing wills, counterfeit dinosaur bones, or coded messages from princesses.

And while Marthe Jocelyn’s beloved Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen series very explicitly takes inspiration from Agatha Christie and her fictional detectives (rather than Arthur Conan Doyle’s), there’s no denying these mysteries, inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot, have a touch of Sherlock in them. At the very least, they occupy the same era of British mystery – and now you can burn though all four books in the series (mysteries from fall through summer) in one handsome ebook bundle.

YOUNG ADULT

If you need a YA fix for your Sherlock jones, look no further than the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer. Now a series of motion pictures starring Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Superman (Henry Cavill), the books star the teenaged sister of Sherlock Holmes, who finds herself investigating missing mothers, missing ladies of wealth, and even missing landladies (sometimes with the help of her talented older brothers, and sometimes while evading them!) And, like the Aggie Morton series, they are also available in one digital collection.

Equally intriguing is Shane Peacock’s The Boy Sherlock Holmes series. From The Eye of the Crow, the first book in the saga, to Becoming Holmes, the sixth and final book, Peacock reimagines Holmes as a teen social misfit with an aristocrat mother and poor Jewish father whose wits are his only defense – and an incredible asset when solving baffling murders in Victorian London. (Additionally, the books feature no nightmarish food sequences like that Young Sherlock Holmes film!)

Though Sherlock Holmes is not referenced, Singaporean-Canadian Y. S. Lee’s four-book series, The Agency, features secret assignments undertaken by heroines in a Victorian atmosphere. Mary Quinn, an orphan, is brought to Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls, which is a front for an all-female investigative unit who use disguises and wits to infiltrate everything from high society to damp cargo ships to solve the era’s most dastardly mysteries.

What if Sherlock Holmes had to solve the mystery of his own death? Well, Lemony Snicket is no Sherlock Holmes. But he has been poisoned in the book Poison for Breakfast (you can probably guess when the poisoning happens), and it’s up to the author to follow a winding trail of clues to solve the mystery of his own murder plot – with more than a few diversions along the way in this archly comic novel.

Our Stars of 2022

At Tundra Book Group (Tundra Books, Puffin Canada, and Penguin Teen Canada), we think all our books are brilliant, and it’s nice when others think so too! Congratulations to our authors and illustrators; these are our starred books of 2022!

THREE STARS:

Night Lunch
By Eric Fan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270572 | Tundra Books
“Via the glow of streetlamps, the luminous moon, and the cart’s twinkling light, Seiferling (The Language of Flowers) theatrically illuminates the nighttime action,” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“It’s difficult to create stories that plug directly into the looping logic of the minds of very young children that are also smart and engaging enough for adults in charge of bedtime reading.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire
“An inspired inversion of the sleep-pushing picture book.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

The Puffin Keeper
By Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by Benji Davies
112 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271807 | Puffin Canada
“A memorable story of the healing powers of art, nature, and human kindness.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Morpurgo’s spare, deeply felt prose, with undercurrents of the otherworldly, creates an irresistible momentum for this elegant story of the sea and a destiny fulfilled.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“Whether on land or at sea, this tale of lasting friendship delivers adventure and charm in spades. A welcome addition to most collections.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

TWO STARS:

My Self, Your Self
By Esmé Shapiro
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880234 | Tundra Books
“A sublime joy” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Shapiro envelops big ideas within this whimsically affirming exploration of individuality and selfhood.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Rodney Was a Tortoise
By Nan Forler
Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266629 | Tundra Books
“Wry, observational writing by Forler and loose, frequently funny vignettes by Ling Kang give this tale of loss its own distinctive, endearing resonance.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“This tender story about losing a friend and making room for a new one ends on a realistically hopeful note.” – Starred Review, The Horn Book

ONE STAR:

A Garden of Creatures
By Sheila Heti
Illustrated by Esmé Shapiro
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268814 | Tundra Books
“The discussions are thoughtful but direct, with no euphemisms or straightforward answers . . . . A beautiful and unconventional meditation on loss and love.” – Starred Review, Booklist

Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
56 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269255 | Tundra Books
“Bailey, the author of Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, writes with a sure sense of her audience . . . . Follath’s droll illustrations capture the look of the Victorian era, the drama of Doyle’s imagination, and the dry wit of Bailey’s text. A lively, memorable biography.” – Starred Review, Booklist

Baby Squeaks
By Anne Hunter
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269095 | Tundra Books
“The gift of gab proves deeply funny in Hunter’s (Where’s Baby?) earnest portrait of early language acquisition.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly 

Fight Like a Girl
By Sheena Kamal
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265578 | Penguin Teen Canada
“Kamal’s raw novel about a young fighter from a working-class background fittingly pulls no punches when it comes to examining the lasting impact of familial trauma. Trisha’s search for the truth will stay with readers, as will the satisfying feeling that they have finished reading a truly complex page-turner.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Flowers Are Pretty . . . Weird!
By Rosemary Mosco
Illustrated by Jacob Souva
36 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265943 | Tundra Books
“Using wordplay (“Bee honest” and “bee-lieving”) and puns galore, a bee explains how flowers are both wonderful and weird.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Kumo: The Bashful Cloud
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Nathalie Dion
64  Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267282 | Tundra Books
“Sprinkled with Japanese vocabulary, Kumo will impart a new appreciation for clouds and show readers how it can sometimes be frightening to step into the world, then reassuring them that others are willing to help when we overcome our bashfulness.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Midnight and Moon
By Kelly Cooper
Illustrated by Daniel Miyares
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266308 | Tundra Books
“The story’s gentle drama and quiet heroics of two characters with disabilities make this a wonderful read that also affirms being introverted, nonverbal, or shy.” – Starred Review, Booklist

Super Family: Simon and Chester #3
By Cale Atkinson
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272439 | Tundra Books
“Atkinson’s mastery of facial expressions is unmatched in comics today, and the combination of visual and written humor with genuinely sweet revelations about the nature of familial love is so perfectly balanced it’s simply superb.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Grave Thief
By Dee Hahn
344 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269439 | Puffin Canada
“Fast-paced and full of magic, this debut is sure to be a smash hit with fantasy and adventure lovers. Readers should come prepared with a box of tissues, however, as there are some tearjerker moments. Recommended first purchase.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf: A Counting Story
By Davide Cali
Illustrated by Marianna Balducci
36 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269910 | Tundra Books
“[A] a clever take on metafiction . . . Creative visuals and storytelling make for an absorbing read and a great bridge for both math and writing activities.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Wrong Side of the Court
By H. N. Khan
312 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270879 | Penguin Teen Canada
“H.N. Khan’s Wrong Side of the Court is finely crafted and well paced, it’s hard to believe it’s his literary debut. Toronto’s infamous Regent Park is brought vividly to life in the novel, and Khan creates relatable, true-to-life characters. He also portrays the multiculturalism of Toronto well, gradually immersing the reader in Fawad’s South Asian culture.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra

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

Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
56 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269255 | Tundra Books
What if you wrote a story about a detective, and he became the most famous detective ever? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Or . . . would it? Arthur has always loved stories. Even as he grew up poor, endured hardships at school and experienced danger on the high seas, Arthur was always thrilled and inspired by stories. Eventually, he writes his own, and after many years of struggle as a writer, he finally finds success with a series of mystery stories starring his genius detective, Sherlock Holmes. But is it possible for a character to become too successful? Too popular? And if that happens to Arthur, will he really throw his greatest literary creation . . . over a cliff?!

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.

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.

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.

New in Paperback:

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Dead Man in the Garden
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735270787 | Tundra Books
Aspiring writer Aggie Morton is ready to enjoy an invigorating trip to a Yorkshire spa, where her widowed mother can take the waters and recover from a long mourning period. Having solved yet another murder and faced extreme peril with her best friend Hector over Christmas, Aggie’s Morbid Preoccupation is on alert when rumors abound about the spa’s recently deceased former patient . . . and then another body appears under mysterious circumstances. Together with Grannie Jane, and often in the company of George, a young patient at the spa, Aggie and Hector take a closer look at the guests and staff of the Wellspring Hotel, and venture into the intriguing world of the local undertaker. Has there been a murder – or even two? As Aggie and Hector ignite their deductive skills, their restful trip takes a sudden, dangerous turn.

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

Congratulations to our illustrators in The Original Art Show 2022

The Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators is proud to present The Original Art, an annual exhibit celebrating the fine art of children’s book illustration – we would like to congratulate all of our illustrators who have been selected.

The Original Art show will take place at the Society of Illustrators’ gallery space in New York from October 26, 2022 to January 7, 2023, with an opening reception and awards ceremony scheduled for November 10, 2022.

In 1990, The Original Art found a permanent home at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. It also became a juried event, with a committee of children’s book artists, art directors, editors, and publishers selecting the best books from among hundreds of submissions and awarding Gold and Silver medals to the top pieces.

Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf: A Counting Story
By Davide Cali
Illustrated by Marianna Balducci
36 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269910 | Tundra Books
In this clever counting book, the big bad wolf doesn’t want to tell a long story. He wants to get to the eating part. But the reader has other ideas. From a pig soccer team to a pig for every letter of the alphabet to 101 pigs in an animated movie, the stories get more and more fantastical . . . but they’re always too short and they ALL end the same way. Using an abacus as the basis for her illustrations, Marianna creates beguiling little pigs and a menacing but slightly bored wolf that perfectly complement the inventive story by Davide Cali. Come for the counting, stay for the storytelling! This book has it all.

Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
56 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269255 | Tundra Books
What if you wrote a story about a detective, and he became the most famous detective ever? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Or . . . would it? Arthur has always loved stories. Even as he grew up poor, endured hardships at school and experienced danger on the high seas, Arthur was always thrilled and inspired by stories. Eventually, he writes his own, and after many years of struggle as a writer, he finally finds success with a series of mystery stories starring his genius detective, Sherlock Holmes. But is it possible for a character to become too successful? Too popular? And if that happens to Arthur, will he really throw his greatest literary creation . . . over a cliff?!

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.

In the Clouds 
By Elly MacKay
44 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266964 | Tundra Books
A bored and curious little girl wishes for a bit of sunshine on a cloudy day. But a friendly bird soon whisks her off for an adventure in the sky, where she can contemplate questions both scientific and philosophical in nature: how do clouds float? Or carry the rain? Where do they go when they disappear? Are there clouds on other planets? Do they have memories? Have they ever seen a girl like her? This dreamy picture book from the inimitable Elly MacKay features her trademark stunning, light-infused spreads that beautifully capture the wondrousness of clouds and the power of nature to inspire and stimulate imaginations.

Wheels, No Wheels
By Shannon McNeill
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270374 | Tundra Books
A llama has no wheels.
A turtle has no wheels.
A cat has no wheels.
Not to worry! A skateboard has wheels, a tractor has wheels and a bike has wheels.
Some wily farm animals decide to go for a ride, leaving the farmer without her wheels. After the animals go and go and go and go, chaos ensues . . . but luckily there are some truck driving chicks to save the day.

Midnight and Moon
By Kelly Cooper
Illustrated by Daniel Miyares
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266308 | Tundra Books
Moon cannot see but he hears sounds that other horses ignore: the eggshell crack of a meadow lark hatching. The glide of a salamander into the pond. Clara does not speak but she hears sounds that other children ignore: the hum of the oven when her mother bakes muffins. The sound of the cat’s paws on the kitchen floor. Both the foal and the little girl live with challenges. Both also have special qualities, which are recognized by friends who are open to seeing them. Midnight and Moon is about the rare and wonderful friendship that can form between opposites, a friendship that enriches both. This story shows us that our differences are positives, that the world needs both Claras and Jacks, Midnights and Moons.

Night Lunch
By Eric Fan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270572 | Tundra Books
Noses sniff the air as mouthwatering smells waft down city streets, luring growling bellies to the Night Owl. Inside this elegant, horse-drawn establishment, a feathery cook works the grill, serving up tasty dishes for shift-workers and operagoers alike: a mince pie for Fox, a ham sandwich for Badger and puddings for little Possums. Mouse, a poor street sweeper, watches as the line of customers swells, ever hopeful that someone will drop a morsel of food — but Owl’s cooking is far too delicious for more than a crumb to be found. As the evening’s service winds down, weary Owl spots trembling Mouse. Has he found his own night lunch, or will he invite this small sweeper inside for a midnight feast for two? 

The Language of Flowers
By Dena Seiferling
56 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270534 | Tundra Books
Deep within a magical meadow, some lonely flowers receive a very special gift: a baby bumblebee in need. The flowers name her Beatrice, they care for her and help her find her wings. And as she grows older, Beatrice learns the language of her floral family – messages of kindness and appreciation that she delivers between them. With each sweet word, the flowers bloom until the meadow becomes so big that Beatrice needs help delivering her messages and decides to set out in search of her own kind. But this little bee’s quest takes her beyond the safety of the meadow and into the dangerous swamp the flowers have warned her about, a swamp inhabited by strange plants with snapping jaws and terrible teeth . . . will these prickly plants let her pass? Could they just be in need of a little sweetness themselves? A gently fanciful tale of the miracle of pollination and the important relationship between flowers and bees, this sweetly affirming story, inspired by the Victorian practice of floriography, suggests the secret to flourishing is kindness and appreciation.

Butterflies Are Pretty . . . Gross!
By Rosemary Mosco
Illustrated by Jacob Souva
36 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265929 | Tundra Books
Butterflies are beautiful and quiet and gentle and sparkly . . . but that’s not the whole truth. Butterflies can be GROSS. And one butterfly in particular is here to let everyone know! Talking directly to the reader, a monarch butterfly reveals how its kind is so much more than what we think. Did you know some butterflies enjoy feasting on dead animals, rotten fruit, tears, and even poop? Some butterflies are loud, like the Cracker butterfly. Some are stinky – the smell scares predators away. Butterflies can be sneaky, like the ones who pretend to be ants to get free babysitting. This hilarious and refreshing book with silly and sweet illustrations explores the science of butterflies and shows that these insects are not the stereotypically cutesy critters we often think they are – they are fascinating, disgusting, complicated, and amazing creatures.