Tundra Telegram: Books You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we talk about the thing haunting readers’ minds and riling up their blood, and stake out some books that have bite.

We hope you made last weekend a vampire one, as the long-awaited television adaptation of Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy hit streaming services across North America. It’s been eight years since the unsuccessful movie (at least in terms of ticket sales; I think it resulted in at least one good cover of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” which makes it a success in my books). The YA novels have rebooted into a new television series about St. Vladimir’s Academy on NBC Peacock in the U.S. and W / StackTV here in Canada, which premiered this past week.

If binging the series hasn’t drained you (get it?) of all vampire interest, we’ve listed some fang-tastic vampire books for all age categories below. Read on for some great kids’ books and YA that grab you by the throat!

PICTURE BOOKS

When the gang at St. Vladimir’s finish their exams, you know they look forward to a Vampire Vacation, which happens to be the title of our first recommendation in picture books. The book by Laura Lavoie and Micah Player, is about a young vampire (Fang) who is sick of trips to Transylvania and coffin museums, and longs for the sand and surf of a beach vacation. If you know a little about vampires, you can imagine why Fang’s parents refuse – until he convinces them a beach vacation can even be fun for a family of vampires.

For recreation that’s more in line with the typical vampire’s temperature, there’s Glory on Ice: A Vampire Hockey Story by Maureen Fergus and Mark Fearing (great last name, IMHO). Vlad is a centuries-old vampire who decides to dominate peewee hockey, until he realizes his supernatural powers don’t mean much until he gets the fundamentals down. The perfect book for anyone starting hockey – undead or not.

Vlad the Rad (no relation) by Brigette Barrager, is similar in that its titular radical vampire is not interested in anything spooky – unless you consider a sick kickflip or primo slide spooky. Through this high-energy picture book, Vlad learns to combine his passion for skateboarding with his schoolwork, and young readers will learn a way to combine their studies with the things that they find rad.

Vampires aren’t the only spooky creatures covered in Cale Atkinson’s Monsters 101, but readers learn a lot about them – and not just from Professor Batula McFang, one of the guides (along with Professors Blobblins, Howlsworth, and Tina, the zombie lab assistant) who sets the record straight on the fact and fiction about all things ghoulish. You’ll learn so much, it’s kind of like a vampire academy (in book form).

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

What if you love vampires, but Charlotte’s Web is also your favorite book of all time? Let me tell you about the graphic novel series Ham Helsing: Vampire Hunter by Rich Moyer. A reference to famous vampire Van Helsing, this series features the young descendant in a family of fearless vampire hunters who has always preferred a pen (for writing poems) to a stake or sword. But when he sets out in the family biz, he discovers he doesn’t need to do it all on his own, and soon assembles a crew of buddies to help “save his bacon.”

If kids and YA books have taught us anything, it’s that vampires love schools. And there may not really be any vampires in Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories by Mary Amato, but Mrs. Penrose’s class all thinks there are – and isn’t that what matters? Alexander H. Gory thinks his teacher is a vampire, and so he passes around his notebook, detailing the proof. Gossip and fear spreads (not unlike in Vampire Academy), but their teacher’s real secret is both more mundane and more earth-shattering!

Not to be confused with Vampire Vacation (see earlier), Kiersten White’s Vampiric Vacation is the second in her gothic and charming Sinister Summer series, which are kind of like Addams Family travelogues. This book follows the Sinister-Winterbottom twins as they travel not to the beach, but the Sanguine Spa in the “little Transylvania Mountains” overseen by the mysterious count. It’s all fun and games (scavenger hunts, mostly) until boy twin Wil begins to show symptoms of vampirism!

Speaking of schools, the series Middle School Bites by Steven Banks and illustrated by Mark Fearing (that guy must love vampires!) is all about the hijinks that ensue when a boy, Tom Marks, is bitten by a vampire (as well as a werewolf . . . and a zombie) and returns to his middle school. As the first Vam-Wolf-Zom, he has to contend with the monsters that made him who he is, as well as deal with music class and the occasional bully in this very funny series from one of the head writers of SpongeBob SquarePants.

YOUNG ADULT

Of course, if you’ve watched the Vampire Academy series and read the books, our first recommendation is visiting Richelle Mead’s associated Bloodlines series. The six-book saga focuses on Sydney Sage, the alchemist in Vampire Academy who aids Rose later in the books (but has not yet appeared on the show). Alchemists are a group of humans who dabble in magic and connect the worlds of humans and vampires. In Bloodlines, Sydney, in hiding, is sent to a human private school in Palm Springs, California, where she must shield a Moroi princess from assassins who want her dead.

And if vampire romance is your thing, you’ll also want to read Renée Ahdieh’s The Beautiful Quartet. The four-part series takes a page from the book of Anne Rice, set in a sultry and sexy 19th Century New Orleans, chock-full of vampires, and is electrified by the romantic tension between Sebastien Saint Germain, central figure in the city’s macabre nightlife, and dressmaker Celine Rousseau, who has been taken in by a convent.

The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling puts a playful queer twist on vampire romance, as a teenage psychic who can foresee the death of every person she touches falls in love with a vampire (who is already dead – but you knew that). Claire, the vampire, is tasked with teaching Elise, the precognitive, how to master her death prediction powers, and the two soon find themselves trying to solve the future murder of one of Elise’s teacher . . . and solve the mystery of why they’re so dang attracted to each other.

The brand-new Go Hunt Me by Kelly Devos has connections to both the vampires at the academy and the fans (and makers!) of the show. Seven teen amateur teen horror filmmakers go on a trip to shoot a Dracula short on location at a remote Romanian castle. But the setting proves to be scarier than they thought, as the crew goes missing one-by-one in the foreboding building that may have inspired a horror classic.

And we have to mention two forthcoming vampire titles to keep on your radar in 2023:

In Nightfall by Suzanne Young chronicles the story of siblings Theo and Marco as they move to live with their grandmother in the beachside town of Nightfall, Oregon. A town, not unlike the one in classic 80s vampire movie Lost Boys, where a gang of teen girls who may or may not be “nightwalkers” rule the streets at night.

And Deke Moulton’s forthcoming spooky and funny middle-grade novel Don’t Want To Be Your Monster is about two vampire brothers with very different feelings on the ethics of drinking people’s blood who set aside their differences in their Pacific Northwest town.

So long, and fangs for reading!

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!

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

New in Paperback:

Fairy ScienceFairy Science
By Ashley Spires
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735264618 | Tundra Books
Esther the fairy doesn’t believe in magic. But fairies are all about magic, despite Esther’s best efforts to reveal the science of their world. No matter how she and her bird, Albert, explain that rainbows are refracted light rather than a path to gold, or that mist is water evaporating rather than an evil omen, or the importance of the scientific method, her fairymates would rather just do magic. So when the other fairies’ solution to helping a dying tree is to do a mystical moonlight dance, Esther decides to take it upon herself to resuscitate the tree . . . with the scientific method, some hypothesizing, a few experiments and the heady conclusion that trees need sunlight to live! But while Esther manages to save the tree, she can’t quite change the minds of her misguided fairymates . . . or can she?

If I Had a Gryphon
By Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Cale Atkinson
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880913 | Tundra Books
Sam just got a hamster for a pet. But the hamster is kind of boring . . . he just eats and sleeps and gets his shavings wet. Inspired by her book of mythological creatures, Sam longs for a more exciting pet. But she soon realizes that taking care of these magical beasts might not be as wonderful as she thought. Sasquatches are messy, unicorns are shy, hippogriffs scare the dogs at the dog park, and having a fire extinguisher handy at all times makes dragons seem like an awful lot of work. In the end, Sam realizes that her hamster is a pretty sweet and safe pet . . . or is he? If I Had a Gryphon is a raucous rhyming read-aloud about fantastical beasts in everyday situations – and the increasingly beleaguered heroine who has to deal with them.

The Fabled Stables: Trouble with Tattle-Tails
By Jonathan Auxier
Illustrated by Olga Demidova
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735267770 | Puffin Canada
Auggie was just like most other boys, except in one way. Auggie had a job. Auggie worked in the Fabled Stables – a magical place full of one-of-a-kind creatures. Sometimes the Fabled Stables changes to make room for a new beast. The whole place would shake, and then Auggie would find a new stall that led to a beast somewhere in the Wide World. It was Auggie’s job to go out and rescue that beast from danger. In this second installment, a new stall appears with a sign: Tattle-Tail. Although this doesn’t sound like a very friendly thing, Auggie knows it’s his job to help. Peering in the new stall, he can see a little village with a tall tower in the middle. The Tattle-Tail is somewhere in that village. Together with Willa the Wisp and Fen, the stick-in-the-mud, Auggie makes his way to the village, where he’s surprised to discover not one, but many Tattle-Tails – all of the villagers have a talking tail attached to them, tails that tattle on their humans, blabbing all their secrets out loud. Auggie and Willa try everything they can to get the tails off the villagers, but all they manage to do is get tails of their own!

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.

Tundra Telegram: Books That Really Slay

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we talk about the subjects hoarding all our attention, and recommend some books that we think are straight fire.

This past weekend, HBO premiered House of the Dragon, the prequel series to their popular Game of Thrones show, based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Viewers were keen to return to Westeros and learn about how the House of Targaryen fell – so keen, in fact, that streaming services HBO Max and Crave (in Canada) reportedly crashed for many users.

What better time to recommend some books for children and teens about dragons – books that are too hot, they’d make a dragon want to retire (from appearing in dragon-related books, I assume)? So, let’s not drag on any further (get it?) and jump into this week’s fiery recommendations.

PICTURE BOOKS

What we’re looking for is books with dragons in them, so there’s no better way to start our picture book recommendations than with There’s a Dragon in Your Book by Tom Fletcher and Greg Abbott. But not just any dragon – a cute baby dragon that hatches in your book (as if it were Drogo’s funeral pyre) and young readers must stamp, blow, and flap their arms to save the book from bursting into flame when this baby dragon sneezes!

One thing you don’t see a lot of in Game of Thrones is something you see a lot of in this book: underwear. Attack of the Underwear Dragon, written by Scott Rothman and Pete Oswald, follows Cole, the brave assistant to the great knight Sir Percival, who must face a terrifying Underwear Dragon on his own. The sequel, Return of the Underwear Dragon, reveals Cole and the Dragon’s conflict in the first book resulted from – spoiler alert – the Dragon’s inability to read signs. So this book chronicles young Cole’s attempt to teach his scaly friend to read – even resorting to alphabet-themed undies.

Okay, so the “dragons” in Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor aren’t the kind that fly and breathe fire. But this book by Patricia Valdez and Felicita Scala is about a pioneering female scientist who loved reptiles – especially komodo dragons. Procter became the Curator of Reptiles at the British Museum, designed the Reptile House at the London Zoo, and hosted children’s tea parties with her komodo dragon as a guest of honor (!).

Ellie’s Dragon by Bob Graham is sort of a modern twist on the “Puff the Magic Dragon” song, as it tells of the friendship of small, shy Ellie, and the newborn dragon she finds at the grocery store, Scratch, who may or may not be real.

Though it could have been written by a Targaryen, How to Light Your Dragon is actually written by Fred Benaglia and Didier Levy, and hilariously walks readers through the steps to help a dragon rediscover its fire-breathing abilities. While there are certain handy tricks (surprising your dragon with a cake and unlit birthday candles), readers learn the key is loving your dragon unconditionally.

And though a dragon is just one of the mythical creatures our heroine considers for a pet in Vikki VanSickle and Cale Atkinson’s If I Had a Gryphon – among unicorns, manticores, and, yes, gryphons – it’s among the ones that cause the most property damage, as it comically torches our poor pet lover’s house with a sneeze.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

When you hear “dragon,” you probably think of castles and knights in shining armor. Well, throw that out the window (like it were Bran Stark), because you need to read Canadian Zetta Elliott’s Dragons in a Bag series. The acclaimed middle-grade series takes place in modern-day Brooklyn, where young Jaxon and friends Kenny, Kavita and Vikram help his mother’s Ma deliver some baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. Book Two, The Dragon Thief, outlines what happens when Kavita steals a dragon’s egg. And The Witch’s Apprentice shows Jax learning a little magic for himself!

The Dragon Storm series, written by Alistair Chisholm and illustrated by Eric Deschamps, is a series of books, each about a youth brought to a secret league of dragonseers, The Guild, where they train to bond with their dragons and summon their power. Whether it’s Tom and Ironskin, Cara and Silverthief, or Ellis and Pathseeker – each kid and their dragon have a rousing adventure story to tell.

A Dragon Used to Live Here, or so the story goes by Annette LeBlanc Cate – or rather, that’s the story that Meg, a cranky scribe in the castle basement, tells to restless noble children Thomas and Emily. Meg tells them fantastical and funny stories of their mother’s (and the castle’s) past that they frankly cannot believe – kidnappings, loyal elves, true love, archery practice gone amiss, and, of course, a ferocious dragon.

Rowan has had to face all sorts of monsters throughout Kelley Armstrong’s Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series: gryphons, colocolos, and dropbears. And in the fourth and final installment, The Final Trial, she, her twin brother Rhydd, friends Dain and Alianor, and an ever-growing group of monstrous companions, must protect the dragon living in their homeland and prove to all the kingdoms that people and monsters can peacefully coexist.

Likewise, The Unicorn Rescue Society, a series of books by Adam Gidwitz and Hatem Aly, has featured rescues of everything from sasquatches to chupacabras by Elliot, Uchenna, and mentor Professor Fauna. But in Book 2: The Basque Dragon (co-authored by Jesse Casey) they must solve the kidnapping of a fire-breathing dragon in the mountains of Europe’s Basque County.

Including The Dragon Turn, the fifth case of The Boy Sherlock Holmes by Canadian author Shane Peacock, in this list is maybe unfair. But the mystery that teen Sherlock and Irene Doyle attempt to solve is connected to illusionist Alistair Hemsworth, who makes a very real and – for his rival magicians – very deadly dragon appear before audiences’ very eyes (just like those talented visual effects people at HBO).

YOUNG ADULT

If you’re talking YA and dragons, then you have to mention Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. (After all, don’t you have to trust a fantasy writer who has a broadsword?) First written when Paolini was just a teen himself, the books follow poor farm boy Eragon who stumbles upon a dragon egg and – as often happens in these situations – is soon swept into a world of magic, battle, and story. The latest book set in the world of Eragon is The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, three original stories that interlock with Eragon’s epic, featuring a wanderer and a cursed child, spells and magic – and dragons, obvi.

Not to be outdone in the dragon department is Vancouver’s Rachel Hartman, who first introduced readers to the kingdom of Goredd, in which dragons can take human form and coexist in an uneasy peace with humans in the New York Times bestselling novel Seraphina and its sequel, Shadow Scale. She’s since continued her explorations of social justice and feminist in the realm of Goredd with Tess of the Road and its follow-up, In the Serpent’s Wake. Both books feature Tess and her old dragon friend, as they traverse the lands and seas.

If you like your dragons with a dose of post-revolutionary action, you want Fireborne by Rosaria Munda, a book that comes highly recommended by dragon expert Rachel Hartman. In it, Annie and Lee, just children when a brutal revolution changed their world and gave a chance to potentially enter into the governing class of dragonriders. Seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet (even though Annie’s family was executed by dragonfire years ago!). And if you like those dragonriding politics, you’ll love Flamefall and Furysong, the other books in the Aurelian Cycle.

And lest you get the impression that European fantasy has the copyright on dragon stuff, we recommend Elizabeth Lim’s The Dragon’s Promise, and not just as a reminder of the importance dragons have to Asian legend. The next adventure after Six Crimson Cranes (which also famously features a dragon!) sees the sorceress Princess Shiori trying to make good on a deathbed promise to return the dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner. Unfortunately, that involves journeying to the kingdom of dragons, filled with almost as many dangers as the pearl itself!

Happy reading, friends!

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!

New in Paperback:

How to Make Friends with a Ghost
By Rebecca Green
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880401 | Tundra Books
What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some of its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no one mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren’t looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you’ll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you. A whimsical story about ghost care, Rebecca Green’s debut picture book is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and the timeless theme of friendship.

Sir Simon: Super Scarer
By Cale Atkinson
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880395 | Tundra Books
Meet Sir Simon, Super Scarer. He’s a professional ghost who has been transferred to his first house. And to top it off, this house is occupied by an old lady — they’re the easiest to haunt! But things don’t go as planned when it turns out a KID comes with this old lady. Chester spots Simon immediately and peppers him with questions. Simon is exasperated. . . until he realizes he can trick Chester into doing his ghost chores. After a long night of haunting, it seems that maybe Chester isn’t cut out to be a ghost, so Simon decides to help with Chester’s human chores. Turns out Simon isn’t cut out for human chores either. But maybe they’re both cut out to be friends . . .

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.

Camp Penguin: Kids’ Comic Strips

Earlier this month, we held a special Camp Penguin virtual event for kids on creating comics with Canadian comics creators Cale Atkinson (Simon and Chester: Super Detectives) and Jade Armstrong (Scout Is Not a Band Kid) and hosted by our own senior marketing and publicity associate, Sam Devotta.

If you didn’t have the chance to experience it live, you can watch the recording (minus the chat) here. The comics workshop, which received glowing reviews from young comic makers, ended with a collaborative comic from Cale and Jade. They each drew one panel of a camp-related comic strip and invited attendees to finish by writing and drawing a third panel.

Two strips were selected as winners and the young creators – Allison S. and Ellie K. – will be sent special graphic novel prize packs. But a number of attendees granted us permission to share their incredible (and often quite funny) creations on the Tundra blog, so we’ve posted them here for all of you to enjoy!

*WINNER 1* ALLISON S.

*WINNER 2*: ELLIE K.

And a number of honorable mentions …

ELIZABETH W.

ASHLEY C.

HENRY B.

CORA V.

JACK B.

SARAH

SOMA L.

PIETER H.