Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. These titles are now available in stores and online!
Champions of the Fox: Thieves of Shadow #3 By Kevin Sands 464 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781774882405 | Puffin Canada “Follow my instructions, and when our task is done, I will release you.” Commanded by the magical artifact known as the Dragon’s Eye, junior con artist Callan and his friends are eagerly reaching the end of the epic quest that will finally free him from the Eye’s sinister hold. But their final task is their most ambitious: sneaking into the emperor’s private island prison and rescuing a man from a jail cell that has been locked tight for nearly a century. This impossible heist will strain the gang’s unique abilities to thieve and deceive everyone from the guards, the city elite, the warden, and even the nefarious local crime boss who warns them to stay away. As the friends plan out their last and most difficult con job, Callan begins to question what they’re helping the Eye to achieve. Aided by magical hints and fitful dreams, Callan slowly uncovers the Eye’s true desires. To his horror, he realizes that he may be the one being conned all this time . . . and his mistake could cost the world’s entire existence.
Champions of the Fox is also available today in Audiobook!
Murtagh By Christopher Paolini 656 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781774882962 | Penguin Teen Canada The world is no longer safe for the Dragon Rider Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn. An evil king has been toppled, and they are left to face the consequences of the reluctant role they played in his reign of terror. Now they are hated and alone, exiled to the outskirts of society. Throughout the land, hushed voices whisper of brittle ground and a faint scent of brimstone in the air – and Murtagh senses that something wicked lurks in the shadows of Alagaësia. So begins an epic journey into lands both familiar and untraveled, where Murtagh and Thorn must use every weapon in their arsenal, from brains to brawn, to find and outwit a mysterious witch. A witch who is much more than she seems. In this gripping novel starring one of the most popular characters from Christopher Paolini’s blockbuster Inheritance Cycle, a Dragon Rider must discover what he stands for in a world that has abandoned him. Murtagh is the perfect book to enter the World of Eragon for the first time . . . or to joyfully return.
New in Paperback:
Green Mountain Academy By Frances Greenslade 240 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback ISBN 9780735267862 | Tundra Books After a family trip turned disastrous when their truck broke down in the middle of an old logging road in Oregon, Francie is now back in British Columbia. People try to make things as “normal” as possible for her, but they don’t understand that trying to be normal in your old life that’s exploded is the worst feeling in the world. Luckily for Francie, the wilderness is still soothing, and an opportunity to attend the Green Mountain Academy, a tiny boarding school perched on the side of a mountain, seems perfect. It’s a new start, with new friends and a chance at a new family. But when a winter storm hits, knocking out all the power, news that a small plane has gone missing unsettles Francie. Knowing that the chance of survival in the middle of a wild nighttime snowstorm diminishes over time, Francie is compelled to leave the cozy school and set out into the icy cold, swirling snowstorm.
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.
On June 1, 2023, we hosted our annual #PenguinTeenSocial where we talked about staff picks for summer, revealed our #Penguin10 of 2023 – the top ten books you need to read this fall, and introduced the #MiddleGrade5 – similar to the #Penguin10, but with middle-grade novels. Here are all 15 titles . . . sorry in advance for how long your TBR is about to get!
Rosie Frost and the Falcon Queen By Geri Halliwell-Horner 464 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593623343 | Philomel Books Release Date: October 3, 2023 It’s time to find your power. Suddenly orphaned and alone, Rosie Frost is sent to the mysterious Bloodstone Island – home not only to a school for extraordinary teens, but also a sanctuary for endangered species. There, Rosie confronts a menacing deputy headmaster, a group of mean girls intent on destroying her, and shocking family secrets. She also discovers that history can come to life in ways she never could have imagined. When the island itself comes under threat, Rosie knows she must enter and win the Falcon Queen Games in a desperate bid to save it. But Rosie can’t do it alone. She finds that believing in herself – and her friends – is the first step to finding the power she never knew she had.
The Portal Keeper: The Misewa Saga #4 By David A. Robertson 256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781774880258 | Tundra Books Release Date: October 10, 2023 Eli and Morgan experience life-changing revelations in this new adventure in the award-winning, Narnia-inspired Indigenous middle-grade fantasy series. While exploring World’s End, an area in Aski they’ve just discovered, Morgan and Emily delight in their developing relationship, while Eli struggles to understand his new-found power: the ability to locate a portal. A shocking turn of events leads them to a new village, Ministik, where the animal beings who live there are going missing. Horrified to discover who is responsible, the children vow to help and turn to friends, old and new. But it’s getting harder and harder to keep the two worlds separate, especially when details of a traditional legend change everything. Forever.
Project F By Jeanne DuPrau 224 Pages | Ages 8–12 | Hardcover ISBN 9780593643808 | Random House Books for Young Readers Release Date: October 10, 2023 WELCOME TO THE FUTURE. There are no cars, planes, television, or smart phones. Climate change wreaked havoc on Earth hundreds of years ago, and now people live a simpler life. Then thirteen-year-old Keith uncovers a secret. It’s a mysterious mission known only as Project F. It’s advanced, it’s scientific, and it’s going to change the world. It’s exactly the kind of adventure Keith has always longed to be a part of. And what is adventure without a little danger, right? But how much danger is Keith willing to risk? For himself? For his family? For his community? For the entire world…? Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember was an instant hit when it arrived on bookshelves. It has become a modern classic beloved by readers selling hundreds of thousands of copies a year! In her latest novel, she explores timely questions about the Earth and our use of its resources. A bold novel, Project F asks how much you are willing to risk to save the future.
Like a Charm By Elle McNicoll 320 Pages | Ages 8 – 12 | Hardcover ISBN 9780593649138 | Random House Books for Young Readers Release Date: October 10, 2023 After the death of her grandfather, neurodivergent tween Ramya uncovers a world of mystery and magic—and she’s the only one who can see it! From the award-winning author of A Kind of Spark.“Ramya, you have something this city needs. And it’s something that’s going to change everything.” Ramya Knox always knew she was different. Her dyspraxia makes her clumsy and prone to attracting the disapproval of her teachers. Ramya didn’t know she can see magic! But when a dog statue comes to life, Ramya follows the pup and discovers a world she thought existed only in fairy tales. Trolls, witches, kelpies, vampires, and more lurk in the shadows of Edinburgh, hiding from the most dangerous creature of all: sirens. These beautiful monsters use their persuasive voice to convince those around them to do their bidding—for better or worse. As the sirens rise in power, it’s up to Ramya to save the day—or the Hidden and mortal worlds might both be at risk.
Billy and the Giant Adventure By Jamie Oliver Illustrated by Mónica Armiño 336 Pages | Ages 8 – 12 | Hardcover ISBN 9781774884140 | Tundra Books Release Date: November 14, 2023 One pinch of adventure, a dash of friendship, a sprinkle of mystery and a HUGE spoonful of magic . . . Jamie Oliver, bestselling author and internationally renowned chef, delivers the perfect recipe for a page-turning children’s fiction debut! Billy and his friends know that Waterfall Woods is out of bounds; strange things are rumored to have happened there and no one in their village has ventured past its walls for decades . . . But when they discover a secret way in, Billy and his best friends, Anna, Jimmy and Andy, can’t resist the temptation to explore! Only to quickly discover that the woods are brimming with magic and inhabited by all sorts of unusual creatures, including a whole community of sprites who need the children’s help! With magical battles, a long-lost mythical city, fantastical flying machines, epic feasts and one GIANT rescue — not to mention some mouth-watering recipes at the back — get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget!
House of Marionne By J. Elle 432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593527702 | Razorbill Release Date: August 29, 2023 BURY YOUR SECRET OR DIE FOR IT. 17 year-old Quell has lived her entire life on the run. She and her mother have fled from city to city, in order to hide the deadly magic that flows through Quell’s veins. Until someone discovers her dark secret. To hide from the assassin hunting her, and keep her mother out of harm’s way, Quell reluctantly inducts into a debutante society of magical social elites called the Order that she never knew existed. If she can pass their three rites of membership, mastering their proper form of magic, she’ll be able to secretly bury her forbidden magic forever. If caught, she will be killed. But becoming the perfect debutante is a lot harder than Quell imagined, especially when there’s more than tutoring happening with Jordan, her brooding mentor and— assassin in training. When Quell uncovers the deadly lengths the Order will go to defend its wealth and power, she’s forced to choose: embrace the dark magic she’s been running from her entire life or risk losing everything, and everyone, she’s grown to love. Still, she fears the most formidable monster she’ll have to face is the one inside.
The Spirit Bares Its Teeth By Andrew Joseph White 400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593527702 | Peachtree Teen Release Date: September 5, 2023 Mors vincit omnia. Death conquers all. London, 1883. The Veil between the living and dead has thinned. Violet-eyed mediums commune with spirits under the watchful eye of the Royal Speaker Society, and sixteen-year-old Silas Bell would rather rip out his violet eyes than become an obedient Speaker wife. According to Mother, he’ll be married by the end of the year. It doesn’t matter that he’s needed a decade of tutors to hide his autism; that he practices surgery on slaughtered pigs; that he is a boy, not the girl the world insists on seeing. After a failed attempt to escape an arranged marriage, Silas is diagnosed with Veil sickness—a mysterious disease sending violet-eyed women into madness—and shipped away to Braxton’s Finishing School and Sanitorium. The facility is cold, the instructors merciless, and the students either bloom into eligible wives or disappear. When the ghosts of missing students start begging Silas for help, he decides to reach into Braxton’s innards and expose its guts to the world—if the school doesn’t break him first. Featuring an autistic trans protagonist in a historical setting, Andrew Joseph White’s much-anticipated sophomore novel does not back down from exposing the violence of the patriarchy and the harm inflicted on trans youth who are forced into conformity.
House of Ash and Bone By Joel A. Sutherland 336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781774880968 | Tundra Books Release Date: September 5, 2023 Seventeen-year-old Josephine Jagger is a talented writer with special abilities she doesn’t fully understand. Over the years she has developed methods to cope with the voices she hears in her head, but the old house her family has inherited in Vermont makes Josephine question what’s real and what’s not more than anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s filled with shadows, and whispers, and the unshakable feeling of being watched. Josephine then catches her first glimpse of a shadowy woman with long hair, pale skin, an impossibly wide smile and hollow pits for eyes. Her name is Dorcas, the ghost of a witch who died three hundred years ago. She has summoned the family to Vermont to ensnare them — then consume them — in order to rise from the grave and live again . . .
Goddess Crown By Shade Lapite 288 Pages | Ages 13–17 | Hardcover ISBN 9781536226522 | Walker Books US Release Date: September 12, 2023 Kalothia has grown up in the shadows of her kingdom, hidden away in the forested East after her parents were outed as enemies of the king. Raised in a woodland idyll by a few kindly adult caretakers, Kalothia can hunt and fish and fend for herself but knows little of the outside world. When assassins attack her home on her sixteenth birthday, she must flee to the king’s court in the West—a beautiful but lethal nest of poison, plots, and danger, overseen by an entrenched patriarchy. Guided by the Goddess herself, can Kalothia navigate this most worldly of places to find her own role? What if she must choose between her country and her heart? Excitement, romance, and a charismatic heroine shine in this first book set in the unforgettable kingdom of Galla.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods By Rick Riordan 288 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781368098175 | Disney Hyperion Release Date: September 26, 2023 After saving the world multiple times, Percy Jackson is hoping to have a normal senior year. Unfortunately, the gods aren’t quite done with him. Percy will have to fulfill three quests in order to get the necessary three letters of recommendation from Mount Olympus for college. The first quest is to help Zeus’s cup-bearer retrieve his goblet before it falls into the wrong hands. Can Percy, Grover, and Annabeth find it in time? Readers new to Percy Jackson and fans who have been awaiting this reunion for more than a decade will delight equally in this latest hilarious take on Greek mythology.
Catfish Rolling By Clara Kumagai 432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781774882764 | Penguin Teen Canada Release Date: October 3, 2023 There’s a catfish under Japan, and when it rolls, the land rises and falls. At least, that’s what Sora was told after she lost her mother to an earthquake so powerful that it cracked time itself. Sora and her father are some of the few who still live near the most powerful of these “zones” – the places where time has been irrevocably sped up, or slowed down. When high school ends, and her best friend leaves for university, Sora finds herself stuck and increasingly alone. She begins secretly conducting her own research, tracking down a time expert in Tokyo. She also feels increasingly conflicted in her quasi-romantic feelings for her best friend – and for the time expert’s assistant, a striking and confident girl named Maya, another hafu (half-Japanese, half-non) girl with whom Sora forms an instant bond. But when Sora’s father disappears, she has no choice but to return home and venture deep into the abandoned time zones to find him, and perhaps the catfish itself . . .
The Spells We Cast By Jason June 352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781368089234 | Melissa de la Cruz Studio Release Date: October 3, 2023 Nigel Barrett has spent his whole life preparing for the Culling, a spell-casting competition that determines which of the world’s teenage magicians will be stripped of their powers to preserve magical balance. But nothing could have prepared him to face Ori Olson, a broody rival whose caustic wit cloaks a painful past. From the moment Nigel and Ori meet, sparks fly. Their powers are stronger, more thrilling, the closer they get—not that they can risk becoming attached. Because as the field narrows and the Culling grows more dangerous, Nigel and Ori realize there’s more at stake than just their powers. The greatest threat to magic, their future, and all of humanity might be the connection growing between them. . . .
Sinner’s Isle By Angela Montoya 384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593643334 | Joy Revolution Release Date: October 31, 2023 Rosalinda is trapped on Sinner’s Isle, an island filled with young women like her—Majestics, beautiful witches loathed by society for their dangerous magic yet revered by powerful men who want to use them. For years, she has been kept under the watchful, calculating eye of Doña Lucia. Now eighteen, Rosa will be the prized commodity at this year’s Offering, a fiesta for the wealthy to engage in drink, damsels, and debauchery. That is why she must flee—before someone forces the vicious phantoms within her to destroy everything she touches. Handsome, swashbuckling Mariano has long sailed the high seas as the Prince of Pirates. Then the king’s fleet attacks his father’s infamous ship, leaving him marooned on Sinner’s Isle with only an enchanted chain meant to lead him to his heart’s desire. Instead, he falls into the hands of a brazen (although) bewitching headache—Rosa.
Check & Mate By Ali Hazelwood 368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback ISBN 9780593619919 | G.P. Putnam’s Sons Release Date: November 7, 2023 Mallory Greenleaf is done with chess. Every move counts nowadays; after the sport led to the destruction of her family four years earlier, Mallory’s focus is on her mom, her sisters, and the dead-end job that keeps the lights on. That is, until she begrudgingly agrees to play in one last charity tournament and inadvertently wipes the board with notorious “Kingkiller” Nolan Sawyer: current world champion and reigning Bad Boy of chess. Nolan’s loss to an unknown rook-ie shocks everyone. What’s even more confusing? His desire to cross pawns again. What kind of gambit is Nolan playing? The smart move would be to walk away. Resign. Game over. But Mallory’s victory opens the door to sorely needed cash-prizes and despite everything, she can’t help feeling drawn to the enigmatic strategist…. As she rockets up the ranks, Mallory struggles to keep her family safely separated from the game that wrecked it in the first place. And as her love for the sport she so desperately wanted to hate begins to rekindle, Mallory quickly realizes that the games aren’t only on the board, the spotlight is brighter than she imagined, and the competition can be fierce (-ly attractive. And intelligent…and infuriating…)
Murtagh By Christopher Paolini 656 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781774882962 | Penguin Teen Canada Release Date: November 7, 2023 The world is no longer safe for the Dragon Rider Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn. An evil king has been toppled, and they are left to face the consequences of the reluctant role they played in his reign of terror. Now they are hated and alone, exiled to the outskirts of society. Throughout the land, hushed voices whisper of brittle ground and a faint scent of brimstone in the air—and Murtagh senses that something wicked lurks in the shadows of Alagaësia. So begins an epic journey into lands both familiar and untraveled, where Murtagh and Thorn must use every weapon in their arsenal, from brains to brawn, to find and outwit a mysterious witch. A witch who is much more than she seems. In this gripping novel starring one of the most popular characters from Christopher Paolini’s blockbuster Inheritance Cycle, a Dragon Rider must discover what he stands for in a world that has abandoned him. Murtagh is the perfect book to enter the World of Eragon for the first time . . . or to joyfully return.
Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we divine the subjects bom-barding readers, then spell out some lawfully good books to read.
Tomorrow, the long-anticipated movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves will grace screens across North America. Starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page (from Bridgerton!) and Hugh Grant, the movie has it all: magic, adventure, an Owlbear! And fans of the iconic roleplaying game have high hopes – or at least hopes this film will be a better viewing experience than the 2000 film starring Jeremy Irons, Thora Birch, and Marlon Wayans!
To celebrate, we’re recommending picture books, middle grade titles, and YA that are the closest possible things to Dungeons & Dragons (without actually being official Dungeons & Dragons books). What does that mean? Elements of medieval fantasy are a must. And some dragons and/or dungeons would certainly help. But any group of adventurers on a fantasy quest sounds good to us! Get ready to roll the twenty-sided dice and try something new with one of our book recommendations!
Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm’s The Evil Princess vs. The Brave Knight has a title that’s essentially a campaign. As an added bonus, it plays against type as it asks questions like: is the evil princess, who casts devilish spells, really that bad? Is the knight who valiantly battles dragons and rescues cats as chivalrous as they seem? And D&D is all about playing different roles!
The books Journey, Quest, andReturnby Aaron Becker are great picture book accompaniments to Dungeons & Dragons, as well. Journey tells the story of a lonely girl who draws a door on her bedroom wall that takes her to a magical world where wonder and danger abound. Quest follows two kids who follow a misplaced king through an enchanted door into a fantastical adventure, and Return sends that girl back to a magic realm one final time. The three books are completely wordless, which fits well, as D&D encourages you to choose your own adventure.
You don’t need a Monster Manual to tell you that Dungeons & Dragons features a whole host of mythical creatures. That’s why If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle and Cale Atkinson is a perfect recommendation, as it features everything from unicorns to hippogriffs and kelpies and the very funny and unforeseen drawbacks of having magical animals as a pet.
Forget Dungeons & Dragons; how about Jockeys & Dragons? 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. The second book chronicles young Cole’s attempt to teach his scaly friend to read – just like in D&D, the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE
One of the closest analogs to Dungeons & Dragons is Heroes of Havensong: Dragonboy by Megan Reyes. Four unlikely heroes – a boy-turned-dragon, his reluctant dragon rider, a runaway witch, and a young soldier – must save their world, and magic itself, from being destroyed? With Reyes as our DM, it sounds like a good time, with more campaigns adventures to come.
While the fantasy realms in D&D tend toward the European-inspired, Christina Soontornvat’s Thai-inspired The Last Mapmaker would make a perfect campaign. Sai is the young apprentice to a celebrated mapmaker who’s not who she pretends to be. (Must have incredible charisma stats!) Before long, she sets off on a sea voyage to the fabled Sunderlands – a land of dragons, dangers (maybe dungeons?), and riches beyond imagining.
Speaking of mapmakers, you may also want to seek out the graphic novel Mapmakers and the Lost Magic by Cameron Chittock and Amanda Castillo. A group of magical protectors long thought lost is rediscovered when young Alidade finds a secret door that leads to Blue, a magical creature called a memri who may help her protect the Valley from the merciless Night Coats! The second book, out this April, Mapmakers and the Enchanted Mountain, features Alidade and her new allies ready to restore the lost magic to the rest of the world outside the Valley.
To capture the ragtag group of adventures on a mythical quest feel, you also need to investigate Kelley Armstrong’s A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying. Over four books, ambitious monster hunter Rowan, her twin brother Rhydd, and a growing number of friends and fantastical beasts, fight to protect their homeland – and sometimes monsters – from untold danger.
Similarly, the heavily illustrated Max & the Midknights series by Lincoln Peirce (of Big Nate fame) features a girl who dreams of being a knight. And joined by a band of brave companions, she rescues hostages, battles trolls, and even faces an evil twin in misadventures a bit more comical than the average D&D campaign.
Not a lot of dungeons to be found in modern-day Brooklyn, but there are plenty of winged serpents in Zetta Elliott’s winning Dragons in a Bag series. The four books follow young Jax and friends Vikram, Kavita, Kenny, and more as they discover dragons and magic are real, and travel back and forth between a magical realm and a slightly-less-magical borough of New York City.
Also heavy on the dragons and not so much the dungeons is the Dragon Storm series, written by Alistair Chisholm and illustrated by Eric Deschamps. Each book is about a youth inducted into a secret league of dragonseers, The Guild, where they train to bond with their dragons and summon their power. Just imagine the party if those dragonseers joined together in a quest!
The subtitle of the Dungeons & Dragons movie is Honor Among Thieves, and we can think of no better comparison than the thrilling Thieves of Shadow series by Kevin Sands. Starting with Children of the Fox, the books feature a motley band of five young thieves, each with their own special skill, hired to steal a guarded treasure from the most powerful sorcerer in the city. From that initial heist, the five criminal friends learn over and over again that you do not mess with magic!
A book series that reflect the fun of roleplaying with a bunch of your friends is Chad Sell’s The Cardboard Kingdom graphic novels. A bunch of neighborhood pals transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical homemade costumes and environments as they explore conflicts with friends, family, and more in their ongoing games of imagination (which are more like LARPing than D&D, granted). A third book, Snow and Sorcery, will be in stores this fall!
And if that’s not an adorable enough adventure for you, there’s Kitty Quest and Kitty Quest: Tentacle Trouble by Phil Corbett. Yes, it’s the fun, swashbuckling adventure filled with monsters and wizards you expect from a graphic novel fantasy, but our two adventurers – Woolfrik and Perigold – are two bumbling kittens who don’t know as much about monster hunting as they should!
If Dungeons & Dragons is about one thing, it’s about epic journeys where friends and allies are made along the way and in Rachel Hartman’s Tess of the Road (set in the same world as her Seraphina series), Tess – headed for a nunnery against her will – sets out on an uncertain journey across the Southlands, disguised as a boy. She runs into an old friend who is a quigutl – a subspecies of dragon – and they travel the road, making many memorable stops (and friends). The follow up, In the Serpent’s Wake, sees Tess on a similar quest on the sea, to find the last World Serpent.
The graphic novel Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky takes the D&D tropes of magic and journey, but with a focus centred on queer women. Lelek is a witch who kidnaps a peasant girl Sanja (who is quite good at swordfighting). The duo grow more entangled and friendly as they travel together on a hunt for the missing half of Lelek’s soul – the source of her true magical abilities.
But there are few YA series more about dragons than Christopher Paolini’s classic Inheritance Cycle series. First written when amateur swordsman Paolini was just a teen himself, the books follow poor farm boy Eragon who stumbles upon a dragon egg and – as you might expect – is soon swept into a world of magic, battle, and intrigue. And Paolini fans are in luck, as the author just announced a new book set in the world of Alagaësia, Murtagh, which sees the fan favorite dragon rider and his dragon Thorn in a quest to outwit a dangerous witch.
Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Realm series is great as each book is set in the same shared magical world, but only loosely connected – with some characters appearing in more than one book, but books also taking place in different eras. So, whether you start with the story of Fire, a princess with mind-control powers in a kingdom on the brink of war, or the recent Seasparrow, which follows the (much later) Queen Bitterblue’s sister and spy on a sea quest, you still get a satisfying, self-contained fantasy epic.
Over three pulse-pounding books, the Ash Princess series by Laura Sebastian chronicles the deposed princess Theodosia’s battle to raise an army and reclaim her kingdom from the murderous Kaiser (who killed her mother – this isn’t a spoiler; it’s literally on the jacket copy). Besides the trappings of medieval fantasy, what makes it a great D&D chaser is that Theodosia’s greatest weapon is – as it is with any D&D player – her mind.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also recommend what Buzzfeed called “one of the best fantasy series of the last decade”: Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes. In four titles, readers follow unlikely allies – rebel spy Laia and soldier for the Martial Empire Elias – as they gather allies in their fight against tyranny and encounter magical jinn and deadly warriors. (The book covers even look like D&D art!)
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.
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 Stormseries, 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).
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!