Tundra Telegram: Books That Killed the Radio Star

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we plug into the subjects we like all too well, and recommend some truly g-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s books.

This past Sunday, social media platforms lit up like starships in reaction to the highs and lows of the 2022 edition of a video music award ceremony. Though the namesake of the awards no longer plays music videos – we note, curmudgeonly – all that Sunday night and the following Monday morning, everyone online was talking about new music, be it BLACKPINK, Lizzo, or the surprise Taylor Swift album announcement.

In honour of this celebration of music, we’re doing something a little different this week: we’ve recommended books – three in each of our usual categories – connected to the winners, performers, and moments from this past Weeknd’s music video awards. So read on, because the music revolution will be televised!  

PICTURE BOOKS

Taylor Swift broke a record for most video of the year wins with her 2022 win for her epic “All Too Well: The Short Film.” And as we all remember, the song chronicles the rise and breakup of a romance, in which the imagery of a scarf (which may or may not be in the possession of Jake Gyllenhaal, and which The Verge has described as “the green dock light of our time”) takes centre stage. We can’t help but be reminded of the new seasonal classic Mistletoe by Tad Hills, in which winter-weather-loving mouse tries in vain to connect to her elephant friend who only wants to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy. Of course, the titular mouse knits a perfect holiday gift for her elephant friend. And you know that elephant would never forget it at his sister’s house.

Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican trap and reggaeton artist and sometime wrestler (!), also made history becoming the first non-English-language act to win artist of the year. Whether it’s his international smash hits or unwavering support for the Latin LGBTQ community, there’s not much bad about Bad Bunny. But the same cannot be said for Richard Scarry’s Naughty Bunny, who scares his mother by blaring the TV too loudly, scribbles all over the walls, and kicks up a fuss when he should be napping. (Actually, he doesn’t sound that bad either.) But though he’s a naughty rabbit, he still manages to be loveable, like Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio – as both male and female backup dancers can attest!

Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow took home a few awards for their blockbuster video of “Industry Baby,” which sees the two rappers breaking out of a very special prison. The perfect picture book pairing would be Milo Imagines the World by Matt De La Peña and Christian Robinson, which follows Milo and his older sister on a long subway ride, during which Milo imagines and draws pictures of the lives of the other riders. Not only does it match the video’s creativity, but the subway ride Milo and his sister make is a weekend journey to visit their incarcerated mother.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Jack Harlow also took home the trophy for “song of the summer,” and had one of the biggest performances of the night with his song “First Class.” And while the video may more be about a moneyed lifestyle than anything academic, there’s no first class more appealing than that in Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness by Ben Clanton. The graphic novel sees beloved sea buds Narwhal and Jelly becoming substitute teachers for the first time for a school of fish. Their education methods are unconventional, but full of fun and positivity. Jack Harlow may have his first class up in the sky, but does he have wafflematics class under the sea?

One of the most notable couples on the red carpet this past weekend was goofy rapper Yung Gravy and TikTok star Addison Raes mother (Sheri Nicole Easterling). We know one person who likes Gravy more than any Tiktokkers’ mothers, and that’s food-obsessed dachshund Weenie in Mad About Meatloaf, the first book in the Weenie featuring Frank and Beans graphic novels by Maureen Fergus and Alexandra Bye. After all, what is a gravy, but meatloaf sauce? And no one loves meatloaf more than Weenie, who hilariously conscripts his fellow pets Frank (a cat) and Beans (a hamster) on a convoluted quest to get some.

Singer and flautist Lizzo gave one of the night’s standout performances and won the award for “video for good” for her new hit “About Damn Time,” an uplifting jam that celebrates survival through hardships. A book that is also about time is Jen Calonita’s The Retake, a time-travelling middle-grade novel about a girl, Zoe, who downloads a magical app on her phone that allows her to travel back in time to moments where she and her best friend Laura started to drift apart. Not only that, it looks at themes of social media pressures and bullying, something Lizzo knows a thing or two about, as well.

YOUNG ADULT

Few musical moments have made this writer feel older than the performance of Eminem and Snoop Dogg of their “From the D 2 to the LBC.” The two hip-hop artists performed as their Bored Ape avatars in the metaverse in a dystopian confluence of advertising for NFTs and Facebook products before they took the stage for real. If you like virtual worlds and avatars but are looking for a little more adventure and social commentary, you should check out Wab Kinew’s Walking in Two Worlds. In it, a shy Indigenous teen on the Rez, Bugz, dominates in a multiplayer video game world called the Floraverse, but finds herself caught between her two realities.

A less bizarre but no less memorable stage performance came from K-Pop group BLACKPINK of their song, “Pink Venom.” And to match the sweet-but-deadly vibe of the song (and the group), we’re going with Danielle Vega’s The Merciless. A group of popular girls with perfect hair perform brutal exorcisms on their classmates. Queen bees meet torture scenes – and with a pink cover, to boot! “Straight to ya’ dome” will have a completely different (and gruesome) meaning after reading.

Finally, Thai K-Pop rapper Lisa (one-fourth of BLACKPINK) won in the “Best K-Pop” category for “Lalisa.” Lisa’s youth, training with YG Entertainment, is not unlike that depicted in the YA novel Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young. In the book, Alice Choy is discovered by the fictional Top10 Entertainment and struggles to stay true to herself and overcome the haters in this insiders’ look at a K-Pop Academy, the kind at which Lisa herself became the first non-ethnically Korean trainee.

Happy reading, friends!

Tundra Telegram: Books to Break Your Souls

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we listen in on topics that are currently running the (social media) world, and count down some books we think are irreplaceable.

You don’t need to be a member of the BeyHive to know that after nearly a decade of surprise drops and visual albums, Beyoncé’s seventh full-length album, Renaissance, was unveiled this past Friday. The immediate response has been overwhelmingly positive for this massive sixteen-track opus that manages to both honor Black musical artists throughout history and contain enough dance-floor bangers destined to instill a wild rumpus in the club. We thought we’d use it – or rather its title – to create this week’s reading list.

So, take that plastic off the sofa and get cozy. Don’t get heated, because we’re about to get all up in your mind and recommend some books for young readers – both about the European Renaissance (of the 15th and 16th centuries) and the later Harlem Renaissance (of the early 20th century) – that might impel you to move your self to the closest bookstore.

PICTURE BOOKS

Langston Hughes was an author who was also one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. That Is My Dream! is a picture book in which illustrator Daniel Miyares adapts his poem, “Dream Variation,” in which a young Black boy in confronted by the harsh reality of segregation and racism over this day, but he dreams of a different life – one full of freedom, hope, and so many possibilities!

Harlem’s Little Blackbird is a picture book biography by Renee Watson and Christian Robinson about Florence Mills, one of the most popular Black performers of the Jazz Age. The book tells her rise to fame on the stages of 1920s Broadway, and how she dedicated herself to supporting and promoting works by fellow Black performers – not unlike Beyoncé herself!

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford and Eric Velasquez tells the story of an Afro-Puerto Rican law clerk who collected letters, music, and art from Africa and Black American creators. When his collection began to overtake his house, he brought it to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection now known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, one of the greatest primary source repositories of the output of the Harlem Renaissance! The book is also available en español.

Bonnie Christensen lets Galileo Galilei tell his side of the story in I, Galileo. Galileo’s contributions to science and the Renaissance were numerous and his ideas world-changing, but in his own time he was branded a heretic and put under house arrest. This is a great kids’ introduction to possibly the most important scientist of the Renaissance!

Few artists had a bigger impact on the Renaissance than Michelangelo, and Stone Giant: Michelangelo’s David and How He Came to Be by Jane Sutcliffe and John Shelley, describes how the artist turned a neglected hunk of marble into one of the world’s most famous hunk sculptures.

And while Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum, illustrated by Andrew Joyner, doesn’t focus only on the Renaissance (and, in fact, explores different methods and movements of visual art through depictions of horses), it does include Renaissance artist Raphael’s Saint George Fighting the Dragon, and the accompanying horse.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

To get started in this age range, it’s best to begin with What Was the Harlem Renaissance? by Sherrie L. Smith and Tim Foley to get some background. Young readers learn how the vibrant Black neighborhood in upper Manhattan became home to the leading Black writers, artists, and musicians of the 1920s and 1930s – including profiles of Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Augusta Savage, and Zora Neale Hurston.

Did someone say “Zora Neale Hurston”? The influential Black author of Their Eyes Were Watching God is the protagonist of the Zora and Me trilogy by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon, which fictionalize the youth of Zora Neale Hurston, and look at systemic racism and the power of storytelling in a Black community in the American south at the turn of the century. They serve as coming-of-age tales and great introductions to Hurston as an author.

Though the Magic Treehouse siblings never travelled through time to the Harlem Renaissance (hmmm), Jack and Annie did go back to encounter the artist, inventor, and visionary, Leonardo Da Vinci in Magic Treehouse: Monday with a Mad Genius by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca. And, as we know, Bey and Jay are fans of Leo’s work.

Need a little more Da Vinci? The graphic novel The History of Western Art in Comics, Part Two by Marion Augustin and Bruno Heitz begins in the Renaissance, and two kids and their grandpa continue their guided tour of art kicking off with such hits as The Last Supper, The Mona Lisa, and the Sistine Chapel. The book only covers up to Modern Art, so the Lemonade visual album doesn’t make an appearance.

And while historians disagree on if we should categorize ol’ William Shakespeare in the Renaissance, we’re going to include him here. Tales from Shakespeare is an excellent introduction for young readers to Shakespeare’s greatest plays, as siblings Charles and Mary Lamb vividly bring to life Hamlet, Othello, As You Like It, Pericles, and more, but modified and retold in a manner sensitive to the needs of young children, without resorting to any actual censoring. Makes sense, as many have argued Beyoncé is our Shakespeare.

YOUNG ADULT

Inspired by their class unit on the Harlem Renaissance, Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes (who was born in Harlem herself) follows the eighteen students of a Mr. Ward’s eleventh grade English class who begin having weekly poetry sharing sessions, revealing their most intimate thoughts about themselves and each another.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough takes readers to Rome in 1610 and introduces them to seventeen-year-old nun Artemisia Gentileschi, the real-life painter who also participated in one of the world’s first high-profile trials of sexual assault. The book looks both at the highs of creative inspiration and the devastating lows of a system rigged against women. (Technically, she was a Baroque painter, not a Renaissance painter, but are you here for book recommendations or art history lessons?)

The European Renaissance is usually associated with cities in what is now known as Italy, but several historical websites claim the reign of Henry VIII marked the real beginning of the Renaissance in England. So, we can also recommend Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All, a collaborative work by seven authors (M.T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, and Deborah Hopkinson), each telling the story of one of the king’s six wives – and Henry himself, who liked it, and put a ring on it a full six times.

Now let’s get back to business.

Tundra Telegram: Books that Spill the Majes(tea)

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we dig into the topics buried in our readers’ psyches and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

The top of everyone’s mind this past weekend: what is a Platinum Jubilee?! Royal watchers don’t need an explainer, but if you’re an anti-monarchist like your humble author, you may have wondered what exactly was all the highborn hubbub. Well, the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II was celebrated from June 3 to 6 in the United Kingdom and the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations (though in some former colonies, markedly less so!) to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne (way back in 1952).

And what a celebration it was, with commemorative coins being minted, Prime Ministers being booed (a substantial amount), Corgi drone lightshows, and – of course – the Queen meeting Paddington Bear. But whether you are as jazzed for the Jubilee as viral cyclist Steve, or as royally ticked off as four-year-old Prince Louis, we’ve got some Platinum-Jubilee-appropriate reading for you.

PICTURE BOOKS

Without a doubt, the most fitting picture book is one that isn’t out until July 12: Queen Elizabeth: A Platinum Jubilee Celebration. This is an official, real-deal Platinum Jubilee souvenir. An illustrated history book for children, you will find everything from the Crown to the Corgis detailed here, as well as a poster, a Royal Family tree, four UK nation timelines and more!

A flap book fit for royalty, Nosy Crow’s Where’s the Queen?, illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius, features illustrated spreads set in England that include a police officer (bobby), a bus (or lorry) driver, and the Queen herself all hiding behind bright felt flap! And when the Jubilee goers were watching a hologram of Elizabeth II this past weekend, they were probably looking under every felt flap for the genuine article!

Less about the British royals and more an insight into their personalities, His Royal Highness, King Baby by Sally Lloyd-Jones and David Roberts tell a story of sibling rivalry, as an older sister (“the most beautifulest, cleverest, ever so kindest Princess”) deals with her family fawning over her burping, crying new brother, whom she has dubbed His Royal Highness, King Baby.

If the Platinum Jubilee is one thing, it’s overwhelmingly white. But your own Platinum Jubilee reading celebrations need not be. Check out Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s The Queen of Kindergarten, in which MJ prepares for her first day of kindergarten, with her hair freshly braided and her mom’s special tiara on her head. She knows she’s going to rock kindergarten, and your young readers will finish the book with that same confidence.

One of our favourite illustrators, Júlia Sardà (Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein) both writes and draws The Queen in the Cave, which is not a Paw Patrol episode featuring Her Majesty, but rather a story in which a young girl dreams about a queen who lives in a dark cave, deep in the forest. She and her younger sisters venture into the forest to see if her dreams are true, and must face dangers and fears along the way. And what they find in the cave is more unexpected than the Queen being projected on Stonehenge.

Though the queen in Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox and Brian Floca may share a name with the British monarch, there is something different about this Liz. She’s an elephant seal who decides to make her home in Christchurch, New Zealand (insert colonialism joke here) and – no matter how far away at sea the locals take her – won’t leave the water bodies of Christchurch.

And though we know she’s no longer performing royal duties, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include the picture book by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex on this list. The Bench, illustrated by Christian Robinson, is not only a beautiful book about the special relationship between father and son (perfect for Father’s Day), it’s also a great place to sit and watch a Platinum Jubilee parade.

MIDDLE GRADE

Readers who want to know the real story that led up to this year’s Platinum Jubilee should read Who Is Queen Elizabeth II? by Megan Stine and Laurie A. Conley, part of the Who Was? Series. The biography tells how a little girl who loved horses (though I think there’s more involved than that – so many horse girls were passed over the crown) become the longest reigning monarch in England’s history.

And in Megan McDonald‘s Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, Grandma Lou and Judy dig up some proof that some old-timey Moodys lived in merry olde England – and Judy might even be related to the Queen herself! Move over, William and Harry; Judy Moody is taking her place in the peerage!

If that doesn’t sound wacky enough a take on the Queen for you, maybe Royal Family Mad Libs by Stacey Wasserman is up your alley. You’ll just need to write in the missing words on each page to create your own hilariously funny stories all about the royal family – it’s basically what the journalists do at The Daily Mirror!

Technically this book is probably better for fans of Jeopardy! Champion Mattea Roach than Queen Elizabeth II, but Her Majesty is often the subject of trivia questions herself (like, who are the six people mentioned in Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” who are still alive?). Donna Gephart’s Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen follows Olivia as she tries to become a contestant during the game show’s kids’ week – not only to prove her trivia knowledge, but to see her day, who left two years ago and lives nearby in California with his new family.

The delightful graphic novel Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis is not about the Queen of England, but the exiled Queen of Albion (which is kind of the same thing) and her friendship with orphan girl Margaret, who both find themselves on a tiny island of nuns, with a secret purpose that will (honestly) blow your mind.

And for a very different kind of queen, pick up Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk! by Greg Howard. Twelve-year-old Mikey Pruitt, budding entrepreneur, starts a junior talent agency and hires a thirteen-year-old aspiring drag queen, Coco Caliente, as his first client. HRH could never!

YOUNG ADULT

If you found yourself reading about the Diamond Jubilee and wondered what it would be like if America had a royal family, you need to check out Katharine McGee’s YA novel American Royals, in which George Washington was crowned king after the Revolutionary War, and readers follow Princesses Beatrice and Samantha as they both vie for the crown, plus handsome Prince Jefferson as he is pursued by various female suitors. To continue the story, check out Majesty and Rivals, and the prequel novella, Inheritance.

In the same vein, you’ll love the “Royals” duology of Prince Charming and Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins. Daisy Winters is a sixteen-year-old Floridian with a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Relentless tabloid attention forces her join her sister at the Prince’s secluded castle where a young man named Miles has been assigned to My Fair Lady her, while the Prince’s younger brother tries to start a scandal with her. Regally romantic sparks fly!

And in a YA novel ripped from historic royal headlines comes My Name Is Victoria by Lucy Worsley. The protagonist is Miss V. Conroy, who is sent to Kensington Palace to become the companion to (then) Princess Victoria. If you’ve ever wondered what the (before Elizabeth II) longest reigning Queen of England was like as a teenager, crack this one open!

In Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin, one girl must make a name for herself in this royal fantasy where an unknown peasant becomes the ultimate ruler (over the king’s own daughter)! You’d never catch that happening in the United Kingdom! But how long can she keep the crown if everyone wants her dead?

Speaking of regicide, you’ve got options if that’s your thing (we’ll keep this conversation between us). Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte is a twisty murder mystery fantasy about the four queens of Quadara being murdered – and the talented pickpocket, Keralie, who discovers a video of the murder. And Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne follows Cecelia Ellis as she tries to solve the copycat murders, decades apart, of the homecoming queens at Seaview High.

No doubt there have been a few times when Elizabeth II has wished she had her own hit squad, so she’d probably enjoy The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa De La Cruz. In it, Caledon Holt, the kingdom’s deadliest weapon must join forces with Shadow of the Honey Glade, who is expected to serve as a lady of the court, but is training to be an assassin like Cal. Chase that one with the follow-up, The Queen’s Secret (I guess the assassin isn’t the secret).

Finally, Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn may not feature any royalty by blood, but Amandla, who is a Black South African, digs into the history of her mysterious mother, who is white (and has prophetic visions), taking along her friends. And what they uncover involves more complex investigations of race, family, friendship, belonging, poverty, and love than four seasons of The Crown!

Father’s Day 2022

Father’s Day is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate the dads (and dad-like figures!) in your life than with a book?

A Beach Tail
By Karen Lynn Williams
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
32 Pages | Ages 4-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781635925531 | Astra Young Readers
When Gregory draws a lion in the sand at the beach, his Dad warns him not to wander too far. But the sandy lion grows a tail that gets longer and longer, and soon Gregory is lost. How will Gregory find his way back to Dad? This wonderful read-aloud book brings to life a summer experience that is all too familiar for young children. Rhythmic text and brilliant illustrations reveal the trip down the beach entirely from a child’s point of view, and a gentle father-son bond reassures young readers as they share in Gregory’s brief moment of worry at thinking himself lost and alone.

Bea and Mr. Jones: 40th Anniversary Edition
By Amy Schwartz
40 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593519998 | Rise X Penguin Workshop
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Amy Schwartz’s classic picture book with this stunning reissue that will empower readers to never underestimate themselves!
It’s been forty years since Bea and her father first swapped places – Bea trading her lunchbox for a briefcase and Mr. Jones leaving his corporate job for a spot in the kindergarten classroom. This New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year and Reading Rainbow featured title holds up as a beautifully matter-of-fact story showcasing hugely relevant early childhood themes of empowerment, capability, and importance. Young children today deserve this reading experience, with a five-year-old main character who is never, for a second, underestimated.

Daddy
By Leslie Patricelli
26 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9781536203820 | Candlewick
Baby’s daddy is big and strong, and his legs are so, so long. He plays horsey, he sings, he cooks, he cleans – this daddy can do anything! In a sweet, simple board book threaded with signature humor, Leslie Patricelli pays tribute to the bond between a little one and a doting daddy.

Daddy Speaks Love
By Leah Henderson
Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593354360 | Nancy Paulsen Books
What does a daddy do? From day one, this daddy speaks love to his little one. And along with that love, his words and actions speak many other things, too: like truth, joy, comfort, and pride. Like many dads, he answers a million questions and tries to make sure that days are full of fun adventures, giggles, and hugs. Dads are good at scaring away imaginary monsters, and honest about how to confront the real ones too. They set an example for the future, speaking out for equality and justice, while sharing lessons from the past. But most of all, daddies encourage their young ones to fight for a better world, with the comfort of knowing their dads are right beside them. Daddy Speaks Love speaks to that everlasting bond between children and their fathers and is a perfect gift for special occasions including Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, baby showers, and more!

Great Job, Dad!
By Holman Wang
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264106 | Tundra Books
This unique picture book for very young readers celebrates the many jobs being a parent encompasses: A receptionist scheduling important meetings (for playdates), an architect designing buildings (or pillow forts), an inspector (of diapers!) . . . When Dad gets home from his day job at the office, he never knows which job will be waiting for him, but he knows it’ll be fun! Each rhyming spread features intimate, familiar, comforting and humorous depictions of family life through a wholly original – and amazing! – needle-felted lens.

It’s Great Being a Dad
By Dan Bar-el
Illustrated by Gina Perry
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770496057 | Tundra Books
A gang of mythical creatures is roaming around a magical land having a great time, until Bigfoot gets his foot stuck in a tree trunk and Unicorn gets her horn impaled on a table and Robot’s saw-arm gets rusted into position. But have no fear! Dad is there to fix things – even when a Sneaky Flying Alligator Pirate steals the Fairy Queen Ballerina Doctor’s wand. A hilarious story about imagination, play and the best parts about being a dad.

My Daddy Can Fly!
By Thomas Forster and Shari Siadat
Illustrated by Jami Gigot
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593180976 | Random House Studio
Ben and his friends are playing in their favorite part of the classroom – the dress-up corner! They are talking about what they want to be when they grow up. Rachel wants to be a tae kwon do master, Dixie wants to be a doctor like her auntie, and John wants to be a teacher just like their teacher, Mr. Underwood. But when Ben says he wants to fly just like his daddy, his friends are sure his daddy must be a pilot. Ben tells his friends that they aren’t even close, but he offers a few more clues. His daddy is strong, gentle, fierce, and fast. His friends have lots of guesses, but no one lands on the right one until Ben gives them the biggest clue of all. Written by a dad who is also a professional ballet dancer, this story will appeal to all ballet dancing children and their loved ones.

My Hero
By Brian Biggs
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525553380 | Dial Books
Awesome Girl heroically saves her daddy from danger in this adorable and funny book, perfect for Father’s Day and beyond. Quicker than lightning, stronger than steel, disguised as an ordinary kid, Awesome Girl is here to save the day! That is, until her dad says it’s time to come in for a bath. Abigail is tired of her dad not believing in her true superhero powers . . . until she finally gets the chance to show him what she can do by saving him from the tentacles of a supervillain.

Ready! Said Rabbit
By Marjoke Henrichs
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682634585 | Peachtree
It’s a lovely day to visit the park and play outside, but will Rabbit and Dad ever be ready to leave the house? Rabbit could take his ball to the park or his bear and truck. But his favorite elephant would be just perfect, too, if he could find it. Oh, but here’s an interesting book to read . . . and a lovely picture to paint! It’s getting late with all this fussing about, but uh-oh! Now Dad needs his jacket . . . and his glasses. And wherever did his keys go? Simple lines and gouache washes smoothly accentuate a tale of patience to share between a dad and child; readers will laugh along with playful jibes at relatable, dawdling behaviors. An excellent read aloud pick for dads and their little loved ones to celebrate each other, charming flaws and all.

Somewhere
By Robie H. Harris
Illustrated by Armando Mariño
40 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536207354 | Candlewick
A young girl and her father walk through familiar streets on a brilliant, sun-drenched day. When they reach a park, the girl lets go of her father’s hand. It is time for her to journey out on her own. As her father keeps watch, she finds an unfamiliar place – an extraordinary forest that blooms around her, lush and larger than life. She plays among gigantic leaves, discovers treasures, and thinks of how her father would love this place, too. She retraces her steps to a happy reunion with her father and a recounting of her exploration. Brought to life in soft, vibrant watercolors by renowned Cuban artist Armando Mariño, this lyrical story by Robie H. Harris captures the magic of a child finding her inner strength and curiosity – and discovering somewhere new all on her own.

The Bench
By Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272163 | Tundra Books
In The Bench, Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between father and son and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family. Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Duchess’s debut children’s book gives us a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons – moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and comfort and nurture. Working in watercolor for the first time, Caldecott-winning, bestselling illustrator Christian Robinson expands on his signature style to bring joy and softness to the pages, reflecting the beauty of a father’s love through a mother’s eyes. With a universal message, this thoughtful and heartwarming read-aloud is destined to be treasured by families for generations to come.

The Blur
By Minh Lê
Illustrated by Dan Santat
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593377468 | Knopf BFYR
From the very beginning, there was something different about this child . . . An ultrasonic voice. Fantastically elastic limbs. Super-magnetic powers. But it wasn’t until the child took her first steps that she became: THE BLUR! Nothing can stand in her way as she takes the world by storm: always on the move and darting into danger! All too soon, she is zipping through the days, and zooming over the years . . . . Framed as an origin story, here is a fun superhero romp for kids, filled with bold and bright illustrations, that will pull at the heartstrings of every parent.

The Family Tree
By Sean Dixon
Illustrated by Lily Snowden-Fine
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267664 | Tundra Books
When her teacher gives her class a simple family tree assignment, Ada is stumped. How can she make her family fit into this simple template? Ada is adopted. She can see where to put her parents on the tree, but what about her birth mom? Ada has a biological sister, but her sister has different adoptive parents – where do they go on the tree? But with the help of her friends and family, Ada figures it out. She creates her family tree . . . and so much more. Loosely based on the author’s own experience, this moving story explores the different ways families are created and how the modern family is more diverse and welcoming than ever before.

Waiting for Mama
By Gianna Marino
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780425290705 | Viking BFYR
It’s deep winter in the Antarctic and a little penguin baby waits in the cold and snow for its mama to return from her long journey to find food. But all the while, the baby is protected and kept warm by its papa, until Mama returns with food . . . and love. With stunning illustrations and a spare but powerful story, Gianna Marino captures the icy beauty of Antarctica and the wonders of a penguin family that thrives there.

Where’s Baby?
By Anne Hunter
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264984 | Tundra Books
In this clever introduction to prepositions, a near-sighted Papa is looking for his baby. Is Baby up in the tree? Is Baby under the log? Is Baby around the corner? Where could Baby be? Readers will delight in spotting the little fox on every page as Papa wanders the forest, encountering other animals all along the way, but never quite able to spot his own baby. Anne Hunter’s delicate and lovely illustrations with their limited palette highlight the humor of this adorable hide-and-seek tale.

Tundra Telegram: Books That Strike a Chord

Welcome to the first edition of Tundra Telegram, where we look at the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

This past Sunday, some very important recording awards were held, celebrating the best in the past year’s music. (For legal reasons, we are refraining from naming those awards on this site, but we all know what we’re talking about, right?) Jon Batiste and Olivia Rodrigo were among the big winners. If those music-minded awards put you in a musical mood, you may want to check out some of the following titles.

PICTURE BOOKS

Brother, Sister, Family is a children’s book by music legend (and winner of dozens of musical awards) Willie Nelson and his sister and bandmate Bobbie Nelson, and illustrated by Kyung Eun Han. It’s a moving tale about a family with little money but a lot of love – especially for music.

Darryl’s Dream is a picture book about a quiet, nerdy kid who gets the chance to show his creativity at a school talent show. It also happens to be written by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, a member of pioneering hip-hop group RUN-D.M.C. (who won a lifetime achievement award in 2016).

Why Not You? by performer Ciara and her Super Bowl champion husband Russell Wilson and illustrator Jessica Gibson is an inspiring picture book that encourages young readers to go after their biggest dreams – which may or may not include Song of the Year at an award show.

Paul McCartney, the author of Grandude’s Green Submarine (illustrated by Canadian artist Kathryn Durst) has been nominated for (and won) so many music awards, they probably take up several Wings (get it?) of his home.

And Nina, by Traci N. Todd and Christian Robinson is a lyrical picture book biography about Nina Simone who – improbably – was nominated, but never won an award of the kind they gave out last weekend. Can you believe that?!

MIDDLE GRADE

Jade Armstrong’s brand-new graphic novel Scout Is Not a Band Kid is a very funny story about a hapless girl who joins the school band for the trips (rather than an interest in music) – or one trip in particular (which will bring her closer to her favorite author). Trombone solos and hilarity ensues.

Celia C. Pérez’s The First Rule of Punk is a heartfelt exploration of friendship, being yourself, and rocking out. No one, not even the Posada Middle School’s anti-punk administration, will stop Malú from inciting a little anarchy in the USA.

This may be a bit more country than rock, hip-hop, or pop, but we’re sure Chris Stapleton would approve. In Kate O’Shaughnessy’s The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane, Maybelle is searching for her father. She soon discovers he’s a country radio DJ and will be judging a singing contest in Nashville. And you’d best believe she’s going to hop in an RV to Nashville to enter that contest!

Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer’s Broken Strings belongs more in awards for musical theatre, since it concerns a school production of Fiddler on the Roof that stirs up painful family secrets (as well as a little bit of romance), but given the Sondheim tribute at this year’s awards, we’re going to include it.

YOUNG ADULT

The boy band in Adib Khorram’s gay romance, Kiss & Tell is more 4*Town than BTS, but we’re sure they’d be up for Best Pop Duo / Group Performance.

David Yoon’s Super Fake Love Song follows Sunny Dae, who pretends he’s the front man of a rock band to impress the girl of his dreams – going to all lengths to not reveal the lie. (Fun fact: we’re pretty sure this is also how Imagine Dragons was formed.)

Jose Pimienta’s Suncatcher is a graphic novel about a girl whose grandfather’s soul is trapped in his guitar. All she has to do is play the perfect song and his soul will be freed. (Looks like a job for Swedish one-man hit factory Max Martin, am I right?)

The Montague Twins: The Devil’s Music, the new graphic novel by Nathan Page and Drew Shannon, looks at the dark side of rock music, as the twin teen detectives form a rock band with their friends, and soon encounter rock star Gideon, who may or may not have sinister hypnotic powers.

And fifteen YA authors and one bonafide rock star contribute to the short stories in Battle of the Bands. Edited by Lauren Gibaldi and Eric Smith, the stories by Preeti Chhibber, Ashley Woodfolk, Jeff Zentner, and Motion City Soundtrack‘s Justin Courtney Pierre present a  kaleidoscopic view of one transformative night of music (not unlike the award show itself).