Cover Reveal: Viewfinder

Tundra is very excited to be publishing Viewfinder on February 13, 2024! Illustrated by Christine D.U. Chung and Salwa Majoka, Viewfinder is a wordless graphic novel that follows a young space traveler who happens upon Earth in the future.

Scroll down for the full cover plus a Q&A with Christine D.U. Chung and Salwa Majoka!

Cover Art: Christine D.U. Chung and Salwa Majoka
Cover Design: John Martz and Gigi Lau

By Christine D.U. Chung and Salwa Majoka
144 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268753 | Tundra Books
Release Date: February 13, 2024
A young space traveler visits Earth on a whim and finds a planet empty of people. She happens upon a strange contraption that contains images of what the planet used to be like, and using this viewfinder, she sees Earth as it was, juxtaposed against Earth as it is: abandoned, but still full of amazing things.

Her adventure takes her to a museum full of hints about the planet’s past and the strange glowing mushrooms that grow everywhere, a library that has become home to a variety of zoo animals, and a beautiful but crumbling space station from which she makes a daring escape. As she wanders, though, she sees signs that perhaps there is still someone here. A time capsule, a friendly cat and a makeshift railcar all add to the mystery . . . is she really alone?

The lush and captivating art and subtle nod to stewardship in this wordless graphic novel will draw readers in and leave them with a renewed sense of wonder for the resilient and extraordinary place we call home.

Q&A with Christine D.U. Chung and Salwa Majoka

Where did the initial inspiration for Viewfinder come from?

Both: Having known each other since middle school and having had a shared love for art, we first started working together on some short, animated film projects in high school. When we entered post-secondary, though, we were excited to try out a new medium with a book as our next collaborative project! The central theme of Viewfinder was something we settled on surprisingly quickly. At the time, we had been seeing many photographs of real-life abandoned places with buildings overgrown with amazing greenery and vegetation on social media. While some locations felt desolate, others were beautiful and mysterious, prompting questions about their past histories and when humans once occupied them. This was the seed that inspired us for Viewfinder’s premise; a desire to show a comparison of past and present, with an emphasis on how living things can occupy a place at different times and in different ways. Building around this central idea about who would explore these abandoned places and how they came about helped us round out the rest of the story.

Why did you choose to do a wordless graphic novel?

Both: When we had decided we wanted to work on a book together, we knew almost immediately (and even before thinking of the story) that we wanted it to be wordless. We had both been such fans of The Arrival by Shaun Tan while we were growing up, with its timeless, gorgeous, and endlessly enchanting illustrations that narrated a powerful story of hope. We fell in love with the wordless format, in how quiet, yet whimsical it could be, and how there was always something new to find or notice even after multiple reads. Wordless pictures books/graphic novels have this quality of not only pulling audiences through the story with the sequential action of each panel, but by enticing readers to look closely at the details and let their eyes play across the page to form their own ideas. With Viewfinder, we wanted our locations to be the highlight of the book and the wordlessness sort of adds to the quiet beauty and vastness of them.

What do you hope readers take away from Viewfinder?

Salwa: I hope the reader can feel the same sense of wonder and curiosity that the little astronaut character feels as she’s exploring the beautiful and fascinating place that is planet Earth. In our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to forget that our world is abundant with marvels to admire and appreciate. Just take a look at the lovely colors of something as simple as a changing sky! We’re so lucky to call Earth our home, and I hope Viewfinder can be a reminder to not only take care of it but take the time to cherish all that it has to offer. After all, every home is special.

Christine: I hope Viewfinder nurtures a fascination with change and encourages a sense of agency to explore it; especially for the changes that may not seemingly be worth our curiosity. I’ve always hoped our book could be a timeless piece that would grow with its young readers and renew their sense of wonder with each revisit. The changes to our planet right now are scary and overwhelming; however, transformation itself is proof that nothing is in a fixed state. I have great optimism in that sense, and I would like for our readers to recognize hope there as well.

How many cover drafts did you have to do before this one was finalized?

Both: Coming up with the cover for Viewfinder was quite a challenge. The book features a lot of different locations, and we weren’t sure at first if we wanted to show any of them specifically on the cover or try to encompass the feeling of them through a different place entirely. We sent around 8 distinct cover ideas (not including additional variations of certain ones sometimes), but the amount of covers that we both brainstormed amongst ourselves before presenting them to the team goes far into the double digits!

How did you create the cover? What tools or programs do you use?

Both: We knew early on that we preferred the cover to have an element of “framing” around the title in some way, and we wanted to integrate some of the recurring aspects of our book, such as the bioluminescent mushrooms, optical toy, and animals, into all of our sketches. Our process involved us coming up with drawings individually first, chatting about them together, and then sharing the files with each other to tinker with. The sketches being digital meant it was easy to move and play around with the elements, so we often piggybacked off of each others’ initial ideas for further revisions and variations. When we both liked the outcomes of certain ones, we would then share them with our editor, Sam, to hear the team’s feedback. There was a lot of back and forth, brainstorming and revisiting to come up with the final, but we’re glad we got there in the end! The final cover was digitally drawn (by Christine) and painted (by Salwa) in Photoshop.

Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators?

Salwa: Illustrators that are starting out or are early into their careers may grapple with worries about having a notable “personal style” attached to their work (I definitely have), which can make the permanency of a project like a book feel daunting. I’ve personally always felt the desire to continuously learn more and develop myself further, until I’m “ready” to work on something, but that “readiness” is rarely found. Even while midway through an illustration or a bigger project (like a book), you might wonder how it may have looked if you had approached it differently. There are infinite possibilities of what it could have looked like, but you can really only see one of those possibilities through at the end of the day. There truly isn’t a right or wrong way to do it, so let it be what it is! Your style may naturally change and develop with time according to your perception and inclinations, but the important part is how you communicate with images and the story you want to tell with them. That’s the “you-ness” that will shine through in your work.

Christine: My advice isn’t limited to illustrators; more so, it’s general advice for any aspiring artist. Pay extra attention to what draws you in. To me, is more than just looking at art of your preferred field (though it is very important to know the artists and their pieces that you admire because it helps you set a “benchmark”). It’s more about making note of the small and big things that fuel your curiosity, provide joy, or spark new ideas. I think as artists, inspiration cycles through us and meets us through execution. The more we are aware of what is fueling us, the more we can better understand the storytellers we are. Don’t be afraid to dive into your work and play! Experiment lots! Don’t take it so seriously. Take charge, enrich your one life, and let your art be its witness.

What books have you been reading lately?

Salwa: It was very refreshing for me to read lots of other children’s books after working on Viewfinder. I loved going back and reading some titles I had missed out on in the past such as Hot Dog by Doug Salati. The illustrations are full of so much energy and everything is communicated so aptly with such few words. It’s such a fun read! I also enjoyed Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe. It’s equal parts lovely, humorous, and charming all wrapped into one book.

Christine: I’m so happy to be making the time to read again. Right now, I’m enjoying this book called El Anatsui: Life and Art by Susan Vogel. Anatsui is a Ghanaian sculptor who works on huge installation pieces that appear like shiny drapery at first, but on closer inspection, are made of used bottle caps. Another book I’ve been enjoying is Stages of Rot by Linnea Sterte. It’s a beautiful graphic novel that is reminiscent of the late artist Moebius. The story is centered around a dying whale and highlights the life that grows from the aftermath. I find myself revisiting this comic a lot.

Cover Reveal: The Gulf

Tundra is very excited to be publishing The Gulf on March 5, 2024! Written and illustrated by Adam de Souza, The Gulf is a graphic novel for YA readers that follows a group of friends in their final days of high school who run away from home in order to join a commune.

Scroll down for the full cover plus a Q&A with Adam de Souza!

Cover Art: Adam de Souza
Cover Design: John Martz

The Gulf
By Adam de Souza
240 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover and Paperback
ISBN 9781774880739 | Tundra Books
Release Date: March 5, 2024
Ever since Oli found a pamphlet for a remote island commune as a kid, it’s all she can think about. Now that she’s nearing the end of high school, feeling frustrated with the mounting pressure to choose a career and follow a path she has no interest in, the desire to escape it all has been steadily increasing.

Everything comes to a head when Oli’s relationship with her best friend goes south and she claps back at a school bully with more than just words. Oli flees to find the commune on a Gulf Island off the coast of Vancouver, taking with her Milo, who can’t help but hide his feelings behind the safety of a video camera, and Alvin, a shy teen who sees more than he lets on. Behind them trails Liam, Oli’s ex-best-friend and sometimes love interest, who wants to apologize for the way things went down. All four are grappling with a world that cannot be changed . . . and simply trying to find their place in it.

This YA anti-coming-of-age road trip adventure, by talented up-and-coming comic artist Adam de Souza, captures at once the angst and humor of being a teen during a time of great transition.

Q&A with Adam de Souza

Where did the initial inspiration for The Gulf come from?

The story came from reflecting on my own aimlessness during the final years of high school, as well as my interest in alternative lifestyles. A decade removed from high school while writing this story, I felt I could finally put a name to what that aimless feeling was a symptom of, and that’s what I was inspired to write about.

Why did you choose the Gulf Islands as the main setting for this story?

I have spent a lot of time exploring the various Gulf Islands on the Salish Sea throughout my life and they’re among my favorite places to spend idle days. They’re wild in this unique and distinctly West Coast way and I hoped to capture that visually. Their seclusive nature seems to attract people that make a living in the precarious cracks of what we deem normal; the islands are places where I find it easy to imagine a different way of living.

What is one thing that makes Oli’s “coming-of-age” story unique?

I wanted to write a story about a character who reflected the experience I had when I “came-of-age.” You expect some grand epiphany or that the things that don’t make sense will snap into some understandable order, but that moment never came. Oli’s story is meant to be an anti-coming-of-age story that rallies against the notion that “it will all make sense when you’re older” because it’s okay if it doesn’t – and it frankly makes sense that it won’t – but at least we can try and untangle it together into something more equitable.

You are both the writer and illustrator; how did you go about creating the book? Does art or dialog come first to you?

The whole story of The Gulf came from a specific wordless sequence at the climax of the book. There were a few other scenes that I drew out after that, but generally it’s a bit of a push and pull between visuals and writing. After I draw out a key sequence, there’s a lot of scaffolding outward that has to happen via writing. While scripting, I try to make sure that I am writing around an absent image instead of leaning directly into prose.

Were you influenced/inspired by other media such as movies, books, art, etc.?

Most of my inspiration for writing comes from reading books and watching movies. Knowing how to express a lot of what The Gulf is on a thematic level came from reading about communes and what those societies were grounded in philosophically and politically.

How many cover drafts did you do before this one was finalized?

I submitted around ten different designs for the cover alongside what became the final design. Picturing the book sitting on a bookshelf in a store made it hard for me to choose so I was happy to defer to the team at Tundra.

How did you create the cover? What tools or programs do you use?

The covers started as small “thumbnails” in my sketchbook. I scan those drawings onto my computer and then I do a more solid sketch on my iPad in color. After a cover is chosen, I ink it on paper with a pen and I color most of my work digitally in Clip Studio, Procreate, or Photoshop.

How is working on this book different from your other projects, like your comic strip “Blind Alley”?

There’s a sort of laissez-faire quality to writing a comic strip that comes from the four-panel form; you can’t rush anything as you have only the smallest little bites of story. I have a plan for my comic strips, but there’s nothing formalized and no maximum page count. For better or worse, the weekly structure allows me to follow any whims that catch my fancy. I am definitely a writer who loves to chase down a tangent and I find those character, setting, or “vibe” building moments incredibly important.

Writing The Gulf was almost the opposite in terms of process. The story was outlined, scripted, and then drawn out before being committed to ink. It involved a lot of collaboration and was a rewarding process. By the time I actually started to ink the book, I felt like I knew the story and characters inside and out, which made me feel more confident in my decisions. The process of working this way has encouraged me not to shy away from actually spending time scripting.

What books have you been reading lately?

I have been reading The Half-Life by Jonathan Raymond as well as The Social Instinct by Nicola Raihani. I’ve also slowly been reading through the Moomin comics, which are delightful and always make me feel like drawing.

Cover Reveal: Catfish Rolling and Rebel Skies + Q&A

We are excited to reveal the covers for two enchanting and action-packed YA debuts coming soon from Tundra Book Group: Clara Kumagai’s Catfish Rolling and Ann Sei Lin’s Rebel Skies!

Keep scrolling for the covers and as an exclusive treat, the authors interviewed each other!

Cover Design: Deena Micah Fleming and Sophie Paas-Lang
Illustration: Andrew Davis

Catfish Rolling
By Clara Kumagai
352 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 strikingly weird and confident girl named Marina, the first other hafu (half-Japanese, half-non) Sora has ever met.
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 . . .

About the Author:
Clara Kumagai is from Canada, Japan and Ireland. Her fiction and non-fiction for children and adults has been published in The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Banshee, Room, The Kyoto Journal and Cicada, among others. She is a recipient of a We Need Diverse Books Mentorship, and was a finalist for the 2020 Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers Award. Catfish Rolling is her debut novel.

Ann interviews Clara

Ann: What inspired you to write Catfish Rolling?

Clara: The first inspiration is the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and its aftermath – I was drawn into thinking about what life might look like after such a catastrophe, on the personal level of individual characters but also to a landscape. Because of the nuclear disaster at the TEPCO power plant, there are still exclusion areas in Tohoku where people can’t return to, and those deserted places were the inspiration not just for setting but for the time zones in the novel.

Ann: Where did you get the idea for fractured time and what inspired you to blend sci-fi with Japanese mythology?

Clara: The idea of time breakage came when I learned that the 2011 earthquake was so big that it shifted the earth on its axis – it actually began to spin faster – and as a result our day is a tiny bit shorter. (1.8 microseconds, to be precise.) It also caused Honshu, the main island of Japan, to move more than 6ft east. This seemed like science fiction to me when I learned it because it was pretty mind-boggling. So my idea of time breaking came from there, and on a bigger level it also fit in with being caught in the past or painful events. Trauma, grief and loss can catch and hold people in the past or in certain memories, and I wanted to explore how I could create a physical setting that conveyed that. The Japanese myth of the catfish is an old explanation for the cause of earthquakes, so as I researched I came upon the story and it just made sense to me. I’ve always loved myth and folklore, and they can simultaneously function as both entertaining stories and serious metaphors.

Ann: How did you first create Sora and is she your favorite character?

Clara: A lot of my writing is led by voice, and Sora’s voice just emerged as I began to write this story. I enjoy writing dialogue, and find it’s a good way to build a character, as well as exploring relationships and dynamics with other characters in a story. Once I have a feel for a character’s voice, I build up other elements like background, habits, actions . . . those details that make a character full and real. I don’t know if Sora is my favorite character (though I do love her!). My favorite may be Naomi because she is so smart and intimidating!

Illustration: Amir Zand

Rebel Skies
By Ann Sei Lin
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774883983 | Tundra Books
Release Date: February 13, 2024
Kurara has never known any other life than being a servant onboard the Midori, a flying ship serving the military elite of the Mikoshiman Empire, a vast realm of floating cities. Kurara also has a secret – she can make folded paper figures come to life with a flick of her finger. But when the Midori is attacked and Kurara’s secret turns out to be a power treasured across the empire, a gut-wrenching escape leads her to the gruff Himura, who takes her under his wing. Under Himura’s tutelage, and with the grudging support and friendship of his crew, Kurara learns to hunt shikigami – wild paper spirits sought after by the Princess of Mikoshima. But what does the princess really want with the shikigami? Are they merely enchanted figures without will or thought, or are they beings with souls and minds of their own? As fractures begin to appear both across the empire and within Kurara’s understanding of herself, Kurara will have to decide who she can trust. Her fate, and the fate of her friends – and even the world – may rest on her choice. And time is running out.

About the author:
Ann Sei Lin is an author and librarian with a love for all things fantasy. Although London is now her home, she spent several years living and working in China, Japan, and is originally from Singapore. She received an undergraduate degree in Japanese Literature and completed an M.A. in Creative Writing, for which she was awarded a Distinction. When not writing, she is studying, gaming or doing origami.

Clara interviews Ann

Clara: What inspired you to use origami as the basis of a magic system?

Ann: I love origami (although I’m not great at it myself!) and so I wanted to make a world that revolved around paper craft. I think it’s quite interesting to turn something usually seen as fragile and weak into an instrument of power.

Clara: Were you influenced/inspired by other media such as movies, books, art, etc.?

Ann: I was really inspired by Ghibli movies, particularly Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke. I think there might be a touch of Howl’s Moving Castle in the design of some cities too!

Clara: The sky cities and origami are so visually striking – do you make maps or draw while you’re world building?

Ann: I did! Actually, the maps and insets in the books are based on my own sketches, which were then passed onto my illustrator to make them look a lot better. I like to draw and initially I did sketches of the characters and places, as well as commissioned some artwork as well. I think my favorite is a commissioned piece of the Orihime!

Clara: Names are significant (especially in Rebel Fire) and I was wondering how you chose Kurara as the main character’s name? (Asking this because my first name in Japanese is basically the same, though written in katakana only: クララ!)

Ann: I can’t remember who said ‘your name is your parent’s hopes for you,’ but I thought it was a beautiful sentiment. During the Meiji era, we were just starting to see girl’s names written with kanji, so in my mind Kurara’s name would be 苦楽楽 which includes the character for suffering and the character for comfort. It’s a bit of a weird reading, I know, but even though Kurara was going to suffer through this series, I wanted her to come out of things alright in the end. I suppose her name represented my wishes for her!

The Good Little Mermaid’s Guide to Bedtime: Cover Reveal and Q&A with Eija Sumner

July 24th marks the start of Shark Week! To celebrate, we are excited to reveal the cover of The Good Little Mermaid’s Guide to Bedtime by Eija Sumner and illustrated by Nici Gregory, publishing with Tundra Books on March 5, 2024!

Keep scrolling for the exclusive cover reveal and a Q&A with author Eija!

The Good Little Mermaid’s Guide to Bedtime
By Eija Sumner
Illustrated by Nici Gregory
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267893 | Tundra Books
Release Date: March 5, 2024
This little mermaid is too FIERCE and SCARY and FEROCIOUS to follow The Good Little Mermaid’s Guide to Bedtime . . . well, except the part about snuggling her shark stuffie. A hilarious picture book for kids ages 3 to 7 who are experts at resisting sleep.
Once upon an evening, a good little mermaid begins to get ready for bed.
Once upon? No. Not once upon. I know what that means. And I’m NOT a good little mermaid. I am a PREDATOR!
Thus begins our story of a little mermaid who is anything but good.
Sleep? Sleep is for guppies! This little mermaid is a TERROR of the DEEP.
Cleaning up and putting toys away? This little mermaid doesn’t need TOYS. The ocean is her playground, and everything in it is afraid of HER.
Brushing her teeth and flossing? Never! Well . . . maybe a little bit so they gleam like RAZOR-SHARP BLADES.
Cleverly told through a back and forth between The Good Little Mermaid’s Guide to Bedtime and a mermaid who is resisting bedtime at every turn, this story will delight readers with its hilarious illustrations and adorable but VERY SCARY main character. Will she ever go to sleep? Read on to find out.

Q&A with Eija Sumner

Where did the initial inspiration for the book come from?

The initial inspiration for TGLMGTB came from brainstorming a different mermaid idea for older readers, and exploring darker aspects of mermaid and siren mythology, where sirens are more monster-like and predatory. My very first draft was a really voicey first-person point-of-view narration of a baby mermaid-siren trying to lure the reader into the sea. It was a lot of fun to write, but too extreme for a picture book. I really wanted to have a character that embodied some of the more confident, aggressive, and action-like imaginary play that I loved reading as a kid in Calvin & Hobbes.

My agent at the time suggested looking at The Monster at the End of this Book for inspiration and how to handle the monster-like character reacting to the words on the page to help create some of that distance I needed. Adding the book within a book about etiquette and bedtime routines was a nice way to pay homage to the history of children’s book origins while also moving the main character’s attention away from the reader and toward something a child might relate to, like bedtime routines. 

Mermaids are very much in the zeitgeist right now. How is the main character in The Good Little Mermaid’s Guide to Bedtime different?

The main character in The Good Little Mermaid’s Guide to Bedtime is very cute but also aggressive, animalistic, and very sure of herself and her capabilities as a predator and protector of the ocean. In some ways, she’s just as rebellious as Ariel in the mermaid zeitgeist, but she’s rebelling in her own way about how mermaids are perceived, how they behave, and the expectations that society or culture may have for little girls – I mean mermaids. 

How was it working with the illustrator Nici Gregory? What was it like when you first saw her illustrations of the mermaid you wrote?

Nici Gregory’s work is incredible; I was absolutely blown away by her illustrations of this feisty little mermaid. It was very hard not to send a page full of exclamation marks back to Sam, my editor, once I saw the initial sketches of The Good Little Mermaid’s Guide to Bedtime. There are many wonderful and hilarious details; the characters are so expressive, and every page is packed with tons of personality and voice. The mermaid is a loud, extreme character, and Nici nailed that and more with her illustrations. I’m proud of the story and writing on this project, but Nici’s artwork elevated this book in ways I could not have imagined. She did an amazing job. 

There are a lot of bedtime books out there for young readers. What inspired you to take bedtime underwater? And to give it a sort of meta feel?

The very first drafts of this story felt like a scary story you might hear at a sleepover. With the main character building herself up and taunting the reader like, I’m not too scared to go to bed because I don’t sleep, because I’m a scary mermaid.

This notion of the book ending with bedtime was already there from the beginning, and I was having fun exploring the voice and writing, but needed a way to preserve this very big voice and aggressive character without turning that aggression onto the reader.

So rather than have my rebellious character interacting with the reader, I had her interacting with an etiquette guide focused on bedtime routines and self-care. The meta guide to bedtime provided some structure to lead the character towards the end goal – bedtime – while also giving the mermaid plenty of fodder to react to the guide and how she felt about the guidelines. But she could also embrace some of the bedtime routine rules when they reinforced her identity as a scary mermaid.

Has anyone ever given you a piece of advice for writing children’s books that you’ve taken?

Author Marsha Wilson Chall (Pick a Pup, A Secret Keeps) gave me the advice that humor in children’s books should not come at the expense of the child, and that’s something I always try to keep in mind. 

Your previous book, Crocodile Hungry, was also about a creature upending expectations. What draws you to these kinds of stories that play on the usual perceptions?

It’s fun to play with expectations! It’s a great way to hook your reader to explore the familiar in a new or different way. There’s a lot of room to play when expectations and perceptions get upended. 

What books have you been reading lately?

I’ve been reading a lot of new adult fiction lately like Luis Alberto Urrea’s Good Night, Irene and R.F. Kuang’s Yellowface. Children’s books that I’ve read recently are Karuna Riazi’s A Bit of Earth and Lauren Soloy’s The Hidden World of Gnomes.

Also by Eija Sumner:

Crocodile Hungry
By Eija Sumner
Illustrated by John Martz
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267879 | Tundra Books
Crocodile hungry.
What can crocodile eat?
Canned ham? Too hard to open.
Beef jerky? Gets stuck in teeth.
Eggs? Bite shell, get toothache.
Crocodile must find food. But where?
Though Crocodile is surrounded by food, he doesn’t know it. He’s used to food coming in packages and boxes and in handy tins. Will the hungry crocodile figure it out? Readers big and little will laugh out loud at the simple but hysterical text and illustrations by debut author Eija Sumner and cartoonist (and now resident crocodile expert) John Martz.

Emily Posts: Cover Reveal and Q&A with Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Ericka Lugo

Tundra is excited to be publishing Emily Posts on February 6, 2024! We hope you enjoy this exclusive cover reveal, and keep scrolling to read our Q&As with author Tanya Lloyd Kyi and cover illustrator Ericka Lugo!

Cover Illustrator: Ericka Lugo

Emily Posts
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774882047 | Tundra Books
Release Date: February 6, 2024
Emily is the ringleader for her school podcast, Cedarview Speaks — Sponsored by CoastFresh! But her plans for middle-school fame and social media influence are derailed when Amelie joins her eighth-grade class. The new arrival has a seemingly endless supply of confidence and a gift for leading people. Or leading them astray, as far as Emily’s concerned. Emily puts her old-fashioned sense of etiquette into practice. Rather than confronting Amelie, she focuses her energy on creating a podcast story about an upcoming climate march. But her story is censored by the school principal. When she protests, Emily gets cut from the podcast crew . . . and Amelie takes her place! Can Emily use her influence to spread the news of the climate march, reclaim her place on the podcast team and expose the flaws of CoastFresh? Can she balance her impeccable manners with twenty-first century activism? And how will she ever manage to work alongside Amelie? With a light touch and plenty of humor, Emily Posts explores issues of social media, influence, corporate sponsorship . . . and the fraught waters of middle-school friendship.

Q&A with Tanya Lloyd Kyi

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I read a news story about a high school journalist whose story about a protest march was censored. The principal said her piece didn’t represent the views of all students within the school. This raised an assortment of questions for me – about why a principal might really censor a student journalist, about how many viewpoints you need to represent in order for a story to be valid, and about the slightly fuzzy position of students in the world of journalism. (They don’t always get much control over their work.) But all of that makes it sound like this is a super-serious book, and it’s definitely not. I had a lot of fun exploring these issues through the slightly skewed (and maybe a teensy bit self-centered?) worldview of my main character. 

Without spoiling anything, what was your favorite moment to write in Emily Posts?

One of my favourite characters is Emily’s pseudo-brother, Ocean. As soon as he appears in any scene, chaos follows. At one point, Emily finds Ocean with licorice stuffed up his nose. He and his best friend are surrounded by a sea of candy, and she tries to decide whether she could be held in any way responsible for the mess. Then she finds out they didn’t exactly buy the candy with their own money…

Which character is the most like you or the most like someone you know?

Emily spends much of this book trying to juggle varying responsibilities. Some of them, like running her school podcast, are legitimate. Others, like arranging the social connections of the entire eighth grade, are really none of her business. I have been accused of being controlling when I’m stressed, although – like Emily – I’m quite sure this is an exaggeration and my organizational talents are entirely necessary.  

What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?

I hope Emily inspires readers to raise their voices when they see injustices. And maybe to raise their voices in creative, unexpected ways. 

What have you been reading lately?

I’ve been rereading Judy Blume, of course, along with the rest of the world! I’ve also been reading the latest in Michael Hutchinson’s Mighty Muskrat series (I’m a fan), and Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster by Rachelle Delaney. Oh, and I’ve recently discovered the wonderfully weird books of British author Frances Hardinge. Hmmm… apparently I’ve been reading a bit of everything!

Q&A with Ericka Lugo

Did you read Emily Posts before starting on the cover? If so, what stuck out to you the most?

I sadly didn’t get to read the book before I started working on the cover but the art director did a great job at providing me with the tools I needed to work on it confidently.

Were you given any guidance from the author/editor?

Yes! Art director Gigi Lau sent me a very detailed brief with lots of info like the book description, synopsis, character details and key words to describe the feel the cover should have. She also sent thumbnails and rough sketches of what she had in mind, alongside a description and passages from the book that inspired that idea. 

How did you create the cover? What tools or programs did you use?

I started with a rough sketch, then created separate layers on top of that, with the lineart and colors. I worked from start to finish in the Procreate app on iPad using custom-made brushes. 

How many drafts/designs did you go through before you got to the final version?

I did quite a bit! I focused on making rough sketches of the main four cover ideas that were proposed first. Then, once the team decided which of those ideas they wanted to go with, I made a separate round of sketches with different variations of the same cover. Little changes can sometimes make a big difference in the feeling of the cover so I wanted to give them as many options as possible.

What are some other book covers you’ve worked on? Do you have any coming up?

Some of the covers I have worked on include Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado, Barely Floating by Lilliam Rivera and the upcoming middle grade novel North of Supernova by Lindsey Leavitt, which comes out this summer!