Holiday Spotlight: Holiday House 2022

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we’re lucky to work with so many different lists. This holiday season, we’ll be highlighting each one with a dedicated post to help you find the perfect gift (or your next read). Today’s post is all about Holiday House.

A Seed Grows
By Antoinette Portis
40 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823448920 | Neal Porter Books
To understand how a seed becomes a sunflower, you have to peek beneath the soil and wait patiently as winding roots grow, a stalk inches out of the earth, and new seeds emerge among blooming petals. Leading up to a striking fold-out spread of a full-grown sunflower, the lively, bold illustrations in A Seed Grows offer a close-up view of each step of the growth cycle. Additional material in the back of the book explains the science of plant life cycles, and goes into more detail on the ways in which flowers and seeds depend on other creatures.

Aces Wild: A Heist
By Amanda DeWitt
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682634660 | Peachtree Teen
Some people join chess club, some people play football. Jack Shannon runs a secret blackjack ring in his private school’s basement. What else is the son of a Las Vegas casino mogul supposed to do? Everything starts falling apart when Jack’s mom is arrested for their family’s ties to organized crime. His sister Beth thinks this is the Shannon family’s chance to finally go straight, but Jack knows that something’s not right. His mom was sold out, and he knows by who. Peter Carlevaro: rival casino owner and jilted lover. Gross. Jack hatches a plan to find out what Carlevaro’s holding over his mom’s head, but he can’t do it alone. He recruits his closest friends – the asexual support group he met through fandom forums. Now all he has to do is infiltrate a high-stakes gambling club and dodge dark family secrets, while hopelessly navigating what it means to be in love while asexual. Easy, right? A wild romp told in a can’t-look-away-from voice, Aces Wild is packed with internet friend hijinks and ace representation galore!

Fire on Headless Mountain
by Iain Lawrence
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446544 | Margaret Ferguson Books
Virgil is making his older siblings trek to a mountain lake on a trip unlike any they’ve taken before. They carry precious cargo: the ashes of their beloved mother, who asked that her remains be scattered at her favorite spot. Then a forest fire is sparked by a bolt of lightning at the exact moment when their van breaks down, and the journey quickly turns to disaster. Virgil finds himself separated from his brother and sister. With the fire moving closer and closer, he isn’t sure he can make it alone in the wilderness. But with the memory of his late mother, a science teacher, and all her lessons about the ecosystem and fire safety to guide him, he quickly learns that survival starts with letting go of your fears and taking action. Fire on Headless Mountain is a thrilling adventure tale that showcases not only the overwhelming beauty and terrifying power of nature, but also the gift of memory when facing great emotional and physical trials.

Flipping Forward Twisting Backward
by Alma Fullerton
144 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682633663 | Peachtree
The gym is where Claire shines and she’s on her way to qualifying for the state championships. But at school, she’s known as a troublemaker – which is fine with her since it helps her hide her reading problem. Claire has never been able to make sense of the wobbling jumble of letters on a page.
When a sympathetic principal wonders if she’s acting out because she may have dyslexia, she’s stunned. Claire has always assumed she’s dumb, so she’s eager to get evaluated. But her mother balks. Afraid Claire will be labeled “stupid,” she refuses testing. Can Claire take on both her reading challenges and her mother’s denial? Is it worth jeopardizing her dream of the state championships? Told in clear and poignant verse and featuring black and white illustrations, Claire’s struggle with something that seems to come easily to everyone else will resonate with readers and have them cheering her on.

Hell Followed With Us
By Andrew Joseph White
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682633243 | Peachtree Teen
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him – the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with. But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all. Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms . . . until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.

Luli and the Language of Tea
By Andrea Wang
Illustrated by Hyewon Yum
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446148 | Neal Porter Books
When five-year-old Luli joins her new English as a Second Language class, the playroom is quiet. Luli can’t speak English, neither can anyone else. That’s when she has a brilliant idea to host a tea party and bring them all together. Luli removes her teapot, thermos, and teacups from her bag and calls out “Chá!” in her native Chinese. One by one, her classmates pipe up in recognition: in Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili. Tea is a tasty language they all know well, and it gives them a chance to share and enjoy each other’s company. When all the tea is gone and it’s time for dessert, Luli gets to use her favorite English word, cookie! After that, the playroom isn’t so quiet. Informed by her own experience as the child of Chinese immigrant parents, Andrea Wang makes the point that when you’re looking to communicate with people, you look for a common bond.

No Filters and Other Lies
By Crystal Maldonado
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447183 | Holiday House
Golden-haired Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and tons of followers. Her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable. Except it’s all fake. “Max” is actually Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic 17-year-old living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous about her existence – just bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with best friend Hari’s unrequited love. But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with fans, even finding a real friend (or more? – Is Kat into girls!?) in a gorgeous Fat follower named Elena. But the closer Elena and “Max” get, the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade. “Max” is the first time people have really listened to what Kat has to say – and after a lifetime of invisibility (including ice-cold indifference from her parents) can she really give that up? But when one of Kat’s posts goes viral and gets back to the girl she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake – comes crashing down around her. Can she escape the web of lies she’s woven without hurting the people she loves?

One Million Trees: A True Story
By Kristen Balouch
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823448609 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Kristen Balouch was 10 years old, her parents made a surprising announcement: their whole family was going on a trip to plant trees! Kristen, her sisters, and her mom and dad – and their pet, Wonder Dog! – flew from their California home to a logging site in British Columbia. There, they joined a crew working to replant the trees that had been cut down. In One Million Trees, Kristen reflects on the forty days they spent living in a tent, covered in mud and bug bites, working hard every day to plant a new forest. Young readers will learn a little French, practice some math skills, and learn all about how to plant a tree the right way! The kid-friendly, engaging text is paired with bold illustrations, full of fun details and bright colors. The story ends with a modern-day look at what Kristen’s family helped accomplish: a stand of huge trees growing on what used to be an empty, muddy patch of bare stumps. An author’s note shares more information on deforestation, sustainable logging practices, and the irreplaceable environmental benefit of old growth forests. . . . Plus, the amazing things even a small group of people can do when they work together.

The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey
By Jason Chin
40 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823450701 | Neal Porter Books
In Your Place in the Universe, Jason Chin zoomed outward, from our planet, solar system, and galaxy to the outer reaches of the observable universe. Now, Chin reverses course, zooming in past our skin to our cells, molecules, and atoms, all the way down to particles so small we can’t yet even measure them.
Like its companion, The Universe in You is a mind-boggling adventure that makes complex science accessible and enjoyable to readers of any age. Impeccably researched, wholly engrossing, and with extensive backmatter for additional learning, The Universe in You is another knockout from the award-winning creator of Redwoods, Grand Canyon, and other distinguished works of nonfiction for young readers

The Vermilion Emporium
by Jamie Pacton
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682634882 | Peachtree Teen
On the morning Twain, a lonely boy with a knack for danger, discovers a strand of starlight on the cliffs outside of Severon, a mysterious curiosity shop appears in town. Meanwhile, Quinta, the ordinary daughter of an extraordinary circus performer, chases rumors of the shop, the Vermilion Emporium, desperate for a way to live up to her mother’s magical legacy. When Quinta meets Twain outside of the Emporium, two things happen: One, Quinta is sure she’s infatuated with this starlight boy, who uses his charm to hide his scars. Two, they enter the store and discover a book that teaches them how to weave starlight into lace. Soon, their lace catches the eye of the Casorina, the ruler of Severon. She commissions Quinta and Twain to make her a starlight dress and will reward them handsomely enough to make their dreams come true. However, they can’t sew a dress without more material, and the secret to starlight’s origins has been lost for decades. As Quinta and Twain search the Emporium for answers, though, they discover the secret might not have actually been lost – but destroyed. And likely, for good reason. A powerful and romantic adventure set in a whimsically magical world. The Vermilion Emporium shines a light into the darkest spaces. It’s about healing in a world shrouded with despair and discovering a spark of magic when you need it most.

Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month

Latinx Heritage Month is observed between September 15 and October 15 in the US and through the month of October in Canada, and honors the anniversary of independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Here’s a list of some of our new teen faves by Latinx and Hispanic authors!

Azar On Fire
By Olivia Abtahi
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593109458 | Nancy Paulsen Books
Fourteen-year-old Azar Rossi’s first year of high school has mostly been silent, and intentionally so. After a bad case of colic as a baby, Azar’s vocal folds are shredded – full of nodules that give her a rasp the envy of a chain-smoking bullfrog. Her classmates might just think she’s quiet, but Azar is saving her voice for when it really counts and talking to her classmates is not medically advisable or even high on her list. When she hears about a local Battle of the Bands contest, it’s something she can’t resist. Azar loves music, loves songwriting, but with her vocal folds the way they are, there’s no way she can sing her songs on stage. Then she hears lacrosse hottie, Ebenezer Lloyd Hollins the Fifth, aka Eben, singing from the locker room. She’s transfixed. He’s just the person she needs. His voice + her lyrics = Battle of the Bands magic. But getting a band together means Azar has a lot of talking to do and new friends to make. For the chance to stand on stage with Eben it might all just be worth it.

Bad at Love
By Gabriela Martins
240 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593483442 | Underlined
Ever since Daniel moved to L.A. from Brazil to join the band Mischief & Mayhem, he’s become the tabloids’ bad boy. Paparazzi follow him and girls swoon over him . . . except for Sasha, who hates bad boys. When a chance encounter brings them together, Sasha sees an opportunity to get close to Daniel and write a story that will make a name for herself at the celebrity gossip magazine where she interns. But Daniel is surprisingly sweet and extremely cute – could she be falling for him? The truth is: Daniel is hiding something. When Sasha discovers his secret, will she follow her heart or deliver the hottest story of the summer?

Chasing After Knight
By Heather Buchta
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593384961 | Penguin Workshop
High school senior Alexa Brooks had it all figured out. Study hard, nail the extracurriculars, stay focused, and life would follow the carefully crafted plan. The problem is this plan was designed for one thing: making her forget all about her once-best-friend, former-potential-boyfriend, Carson Knight. Four years ago, he was the boy who always made her laugh, the boy she loved, and the boy she mistakenly and very publicly betrayed. Oh, and he was also the boy who grew up to become a heartthrob A-list actor, named Cayden McKnight. An innocent-enough school assignment suddenly brings Cayden to the forefront of Alexa’s mind, and her celebrity-crazed best friend Lindsey discovers the old connection. Convinced that his Hollywood bad boy image is the direct result of Alexa and Carson’s fallout, Lindsey convinces Alexa to find Carson and reconcile, but reaching an A-list movie star is not as easy as it used to be when he was the kid Alexa called every night before bed. Unable to apologize in person but determined to somehow right her wrongs, Alexa goes on a quest to remake Cayden’s image, doing good deeds in his name. But nothing is as it seems in Hollywood, and even when she’s able to finally face Cayden McKnight in person, Alexa can’t break through to the Carson she once knew. Is it really too late to make amends?

Does My Body Offend You?
By Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593425855 | Knopf Books For Young Readers
Malena Rosario is starting to believe that catastrophes come in threes. First, Hurricane María destroyed her home, taking her unbreakable spirit with it. Second, she and her mother are now stuck in Florida, which is nothing like her beloved Puerto Rico. And third, when she goes to school bra-less after a bad sunburn and is humiliated by the school administration into covering up, she feels like she has no choice but to comply. Ruby McAllister has a reputation as her school’s outspoken feminist rebel. But back in Seattle, she lived under her sister’s shadow. Now her sister is teaching in underprivileged communities, and she’s in a Florida high school, unsure of what to do with her future, or if she’s even capable making a difference in the world. So when Ruby notices the new girl is being forced to cover up her chest, she is not willing to keep quiet about it. Neither Malena nor Ruby expected to be the leaders of the school’s dress code rebellion. But the girls will have to face their own insecurities, biases, and privileges, and the ups and downs in their newfound friendship, if they want to stand up for their ideals and – ultimately – for themselves.

Flirting with Fate
By J. C. Cervantes
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593404454 | Razorbill
Ava Granados will never forgive herself for being late to her beloved nana’s deathbed. But due to a flash flood that left Ava in a fender bender with a mysterious boy, she missed her grandmother’s mystical blessing – one that has been passed between the women of her family upon death for generations. Then Nana’s ghost appears with a challenge from beyond the grave. As it turns out, Nana did give Ava a blessing, but it missed its target, landing with the boy from the night of the storm instead. Was it fate? Ava refuses to believe so. With the help of her sisters and Nana’s rather bumbling spiritual guide, she’s determined to reclaim her share of the family magic and set Nana free. For guarded Ava, befriending some random boy is the last thing she wants to do. She’s gotten along just fine protecting her heart – keeping people at a distance is a great way to ensure no one ever hurts you. But as Ava embarks on her mission to retrieve the lost blessing, she starts to wonder if getting close to thunderstorm boy is worth the risk.

It Sounds Like This
By Anna Meriano
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593116906 | Viking Books For Young Readers
Yasmín Treviño didn’t have much of a freshman year thanks to Hurricane Humphrey, but she’s ready to take sophomore year by storm. That means mastering the marching side of marching band – fast! – so she can outshine her BFF Sofia as top of the flute section, earn first chair, and impress both her future college admission boards and her comfortably unattainable drum major crush Gilberto Reyes. But Yasmín steps off on the wrong foot when she reports an anonymous gossip Instagram account harassing new band members and accidentally gets the entire low brass section suspended from extracurriculars. With no low brass section, the band is doomed, so Yasmín decides to take things into her own hands, learn to play the tuba, and lead a gaggle of rowdy freshman boys who are just as green to marching and playing as she is. She’ll happily wrestle an ancient school tuba if it means fixing the mess she might have caused. But when the secret gossip Instagram escalates their campaign of harassment and Yasmín’s friendship with Sofia deteriorates, things at school might be too hard to bear. Luckily, the support of Yasmín’s new section – especially introverted section leader Bloom, a sweet ace and aro-spectrum boy – might just turn things around.

No Filter and Other Lies
By Crystal Maldonado
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447183 | Holiday House
Golden-haired Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and tons of followers. Her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable. Except it’s all fake. “Max” is actually Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic 17-year-old living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous about her existence – just bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with best friend Hari’s unrequited love. But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with fans, even finding a real friend (or more? – Is Kat into girls!?) in a gorgeous Fat follower named Elena. But the closer Elena and “Max” get, the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade. “Max” is the first time people have really listened to what Kat has to say—and after a lifetime of invisibility (including ice-cold indifference from her parents) can she really give that up? But when one of Kat’s posts goes viral and gets back to the girl she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake – comes crashing down around her. Can she escape the web of lies she’s woven without hurting the people she loves?

The Turning Pointe
By Vanessa L. Torres
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593426135 | Knopf BFYR
Release Date: February 22, 2022
When sixteen-year-old Rosa Dominguez pirouettes, she is poetry in pointe shoes. And as the daughter of a tyrant ballet Master, Rosa seems destined to become the star principal dancer of her studio. But Rosa would do anything for one hour in the dance studio upstairs where Prince, the Purple One himself, is in the house. After her father announces their upcoming auditions for a concert with Prince, Rosa is more determined than ever to succeed. Then Nikki – the cross-dressing, funky boy who works in the dance shop – leaps into her life. Weighed down by family expectations, Rosa is at a crossroads, desperate to escape so she can show everyone what she can do when freed of her pointe shoes. Now is her chance to break away from a life in tulle, grooving to that unmistakable Minneapolis sound reverberating through every bone in her body.

Want more suggestions? Check out last year’s list!

Staff Picks: Favorite Teen Books from 2021

2021 was . . . a year, but at least we got some great reading done! After a lot of thought, we came up with our top two favorite books of the year (and it was very hard!).

Dark and Shallow Lies
By Ginny Myers Sain
432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593403969 | Razorbill
La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide. This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World – and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier. Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something – her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave. When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou – a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history – Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent – and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

Hunting by Stars
By Cherie Dimaline
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735269651 | Penguin Teen Canada
Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up – or are re-opened – across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams. Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is – and what it will take to escape. Meanwhile, out in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers – school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go – and how many loved ones is he willing to betray – in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

From Little Tokyo, With Love
By Sarah Kuhn
432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593327487 | Viking BFYR
If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale – being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business – she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills, and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold. All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America’s reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness – searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo’s hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe . . . finally finding a sense of belonging. But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn’t so kind. Rika knows she’s setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don’t happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?

Prom House
By Chelsea Mueller
256 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593180051 | Underlined
Release Date: May 4, 2021
What happens when the best night of your life turns into the worst? Full of menace and suspense, this is an unputdownable thriller – and a trade paperback original! Ten people share a prom house at the Jersey Shore for the weekend. Every one of them has a secret . . . and when they begin to die one by one, panic ensues. Could somebody’s prom date also be . . . a killer?

Walking in Two Worlds
By Wab Kinew
296 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269002 | Penguin Teen Canada
Bugz is caught between two worlds. In the real world, she’s a shy and self-conscious Indigenous teen who faces the stresses of teenage angst and life on the Rez. But in the virtual world, her alter ego is not just confident but dominant in a massively multiplayer video game universe. Feng is a teen boy who has been sent from China to live with his aunt, a doctor on the Rez, after his online activity suggests he may be developing extremist sympathies. Meeting each other in real life, as well as in the virtual world, Bugz and Feng immediately relate to each other as outsiders and as avid gamers. And as their connection is strengthened through their virtual adventures, they find that they have much in common in the real world, too: both must decide what to do in the face of temptations and pitfalls, and both must grapple with the impacts of family challenges and community trauma. But betrayal threatens everything Bugz has built in the virtual world, as well as her relationships in the real world, and it will take all her newfound strength to restore her friendship with Feng and reconcile the parallel aspects of her life: the traditional and the mainstream, the east and the west, the real and the virtual.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
By Crystal Maldonado
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447176 | Holiday House
Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing – he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? Because it’s time people did.

The Gilded Ones
By Namina Forna
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848697 | Delacorte BFYR
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity – and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki – near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be – not even Deka herself.

Holiday Spotlight: Holiday House 2021

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we’re lucky to work with so many different publisher lists. This holiday season, we’ll be highlighting each one with a dedicated post to help you find the perfect gift (or your next read). Today’s post is all about Holiday House.

Amira’s Picture Day
By Reem Faruqi
Illustrated by Fahmida Azim
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823440191 | Holiday House
Just the thought of Eid makes Amira warm and tingly inside. From wearing new clothes to handing out goody bags at the mosque, Amira can’t wait for the festivities to begin. But when a flier on the fridge catches her eye, Amira’s stomach goes cold. Not only is it Eid, it’s also school picture day. If she’s not in her class picture, how will her classmates remember her? Won’t her teacher wonder where she is? Though the day’s celebrations at the mosque are everything Amira was dreaming of, her absence at picture day weighs on her. A last-minute idea on the car ride home might just provide the solution to everything in this delightful story from acclaimed author Reem Faruqi, illustrated with vibrant color by Fahmida Azim.

Bear Outside
By Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jen Corace
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446131 | Neal Porter Books
In this imaginative picture book by Jane Yolen, acclaimed author of many distinguished children’s books including Owl Moon and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, a girl explores the many ways she expresses herself by imagining that she wears a bear as her personal protective shell. They go everywhere and do everything together. The Bear is like a suit of armor and a partner all in one, protecting her from bullies and giving her strength to be bold when she needs it. In turn, she listens to and takes care of the Bear.

Bright Star
By Yuyi Morales
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443284 | Neal Porter Books
Told with a combination of powerful, spare language and sumptuous and complex imagery that is typical of Yuyi Morales’s work, this is the story of a fawn making her way through a border landscape teaming with flora and fauna native to the region. A gentle but empowering voice encourages her to face her fears when she comes across an obstacle in the form of an insurmountable barrier. Yuyi Morales’ first book since her New York Times bestseller  Dreamers is a book for very young children looking for their place in a world full of uncertainty. It is a book with resonance for all children, especially those whose safety is threatened due to the immigration crisis in the US.

Cardboardia 1: The Other Side of the Box
By Lucy Campagnolo
Illustrated by Richard Fairgray
112 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781645950998 | Pixel+Ink
When Mac, Masie, and Bird find mysterious tokens in their cereal boxes, they’re transported to Cardboardia, a magical land made of paper and cardboard. In this parallel universe to ours, creativity thrives: Every time a box of anything is created in our world, a replica appears there, bringing residents art supplies, food, books, and more. But an evil presence is slowly moving in, threatening to wipe all art and beauty from this paper paradise. It’s no mistake that the three friends have been transported through their cardboard portals. Each has a special talent they never knew existed. And only when they figure out to harness them together will they be able to stop the destruction.

Deadman’s Castle
By Iain Lawrence
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446551 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime – and ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They’ve lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can’t even remember his real name. But now he’s twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He’s even starting to wonder – what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father’s frightened mind? Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he’s lived by all his life – making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he’s allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them – is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all?

Dear Beast
By Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Kevan Atteberry
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823448432 | Holiday House
Simon has taken care of his owner, Andy, for many years. He’s a good cat. Clean, responsible, and loyal. What more could a boy want? Even when Andy’s dad moves out, Simon is certain that Andy doesn’t need another pet. So why would Andy’s dad adopt a DOG?! To make matters worse, the animal is a rude, rowdy troublemaker. Simon’s job is clear: the beast has got to go. He decides to write him a letter. Strongly worded, of course. But when the dog’s response sets off an unexpected correspondence, Simon realizes the beast may be here to stay. Can he make room for another pet in Andy’s life?

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
By Crystal Maldonado
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447176 | Holiday House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing – he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? Because it’s time people did.

Let Me Fix You a Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens
By Elizabeth Lilly
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443253 | Neal Porter Books
First my family drives through the mountains to stop at Mamaw and Papaw’s house in rural West Virginia. We share blueberry jam and toast for breakfast the next morning, then munch cookies and cut bananas to make banana pudding with Mamaw. After the last bite of pudding, we get ready for the next part of the journey, down to Florida to visit Abuela and Abuelo for crispy tostones, fresh squeezed juice, and arepas with queso blanco. This celebration of family and our diverse, delicious traditions is sure to leave readers hungry for more! Elizabeth Lilly’s tale of a joyous road trip, drawn from her own experience, is illustrated with quirky charm that captures all the warmth and love of her family’s two distinct cultures.

Salt Magic
By Hope Larson
Illustrated by Rebecca Mock
240 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780823450503 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Vonceil’s older brother, Elber, comes home to their family’s Oklahoma farm after serving on the front lines of World War I, things aren’t what she expects. His experiences have changed him into a serious and responsible man who doesn’t have time for Vonceil anymore. He even marries the girl he had left behind. Then a mysterious and captivating woman shows up at the farm and confronts Elber for leaving her in France. When he refuses to leave his wife, she puts a curse on the family well, turning the entire town’s water supply into saltwater. Who is this lady dressed all in white, what has she done to the farm, and what does Vonceil’s old uncle Dell know about her? To find out, Vonceil will have to strike out on her own and delve deep into the world of witchcraft, confronting dangerous relatives, shapeshifting animals, a capricious Sugar Witch, and the Lady in White herself – the foreboding Salt Witch. The journey will change Vonceil, but along the way she’ll learn a lot about love and what it means to grow up.

Song for Jimi: The Story of Guitar Legend Jimi Hendrix
By Charles R. Smith Jr.
Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez
56 Pages | Ages 7+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823443338 | Neal Porter Books
From his turbulent childhood through his epical appearance at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals, Charles R. Smith Jr. covers it all in this rich and rhythmic account of a singular life, accompanied by the psychedelic splendor of Edel Rodriguez’s acid-tinged artwork. Written as a series of verses beginning with intro and ending with outro, this unique mix of rhythm and rhyme captures the essence of rock icon Jimi Hendrix and his struggle to live life on his own terms.

The Bear House
By Meaghan McIsaac
368 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446605 | Holiday House
Moody Aster and her spoiled sister Ursula are the daughters of Jasper Lourdes, Major of Bears and lord of all the realm. Rivals, both girls dream of becoming the Bear queen someday, although neither really deserve to, having no particular talent in . . . well, anything. But when their Uncle Bram murders their father in a bid for the crown, the girls are forced onto the run, along with lowly Dev the Bearkeeper and the Lourdes’s half-grown grizzly Alcor, symbol of their house. As a bitter struggle for the throne consumes the kingdom in civil war, the sisters must rely on Dev, the bear cub, and each other to survive – and find wells of courage, cunning, and skill they never knew they had.

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess
By Tom Gauld
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446988 | Neal Porter Books
For years, the king and queen tried desperately to have a baby. Their wish was twice granted when an engineer and a witch gave them a little wooden robot and an enchanted log princess. There’s just one catch, every night when the log princess sleeps, she transforms back into an ordinary log. She can only be woken with the magic words “Awake, little log, awake.” The two are inseparable until one day when the sleeping log princess is accidentally carted off to parts unknown. Now it’s up to her devoted brother to find her and return her safely to the kingdom. They need to take turns to get each other home, and on the way, they face a host of adventures involving the Queen of Mushrooms, a magic pudding, a baby in a rosebush, and an old lady in a bottle.

Toasty
By Sarah Hwang
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447077 | Margaret Ferguson Books
Toasty loves dogs – so much so that he’d like to be one. He knows there are some differences – most dogs have four legs, but Toasty has two arms and two legs. Some dogs sleep in dog houses, but Toasty sleeps in a toaster. All dogs have hair and fur, but Toasty has neither because he’s made of bread. In spite of these differences, he decides to go to the park to play with the dogs but runs into trouble when they want to eat him. Lucky for Toasty, he is rescued by a little girl who has always wanted a dog but can’t have one because she is allergic. Toasty is the perfect dog for her.

Watercress
By Andrea Wang
Illustrated by Jason Chin
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446247 | Neal Porter Books
Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl’s parents stop suddenly when they spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road. Grabbing an old paper bag and some rusty scissors, the whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the muddy, snail covered watercress as they can. At first, she’s embarrassed. Why can’t her family get food from the grocery store? But when her mother shares a story of her family’s time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Together, they make a new memory of watercress. Andrea Wang tells a moving autobiographical story of a child of immigrants discovering and connecting with her heritage, illustrated by award winning author and artist Jason Chin, working in an entirely new style, inspired by Chinese painting techniques. An author’s note in the back shares Andrea’s childhood experience with her parents.

The Great Peach Experiment 1: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie
By Erin Soderberg Downing
256 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781645950349 | Pixel+Ink
After a tough year, Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach are ready for vacation. Lucy wants to read all of the books on the summer reading list. Freddy wants to work on his art projects (when he isn’t stuck in summer school). Herb wants to swim every day. Then their dad makes a big announcement: one of the inventions their mom came up with before she passed away has sold, and now they’re millionaires! But Dad has bigger plans than blowing the cash on fun stuff or investing it. He’s bought a used food truck. The Peaches are going to spend the summer traveling the country selling pies. It will be the Great Peach Experiment – a summer of bonding while living out one of Mom’s dreams. Summer plans, sunk. And there’s one more issue Dad’s neglected: none of them knows how to bake . . . . A perfect blend of humor, heart, and family antics, When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie is a delectable treat to be gobbled down or savored slowly. (Slice of pie on the side, optional, but highly recommended.)

Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month

Latinx Heritage Month is observed between September 15 and October 15 and honors the anniversary of independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Here’s a list of some of our new teen faves by Latinx and Hispanic authors!

Fat Angie: Homecoming
By e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536208399 | Candlewick
After hitting the road with her friends last summer and taking the stage to sing her heart out in Columbus, Angie finally feels like she’s figuring things out. And her next move? Finally asking Jamboree Memphis Jordan to be her girlfriend. Angie’s got her speech ready on a set of flash cards, but her plans are complicated when her first love, KC Romance, comes cruising back into town. And when a video of Angie’s Columbus performance goes viral, everything gets even more confusing. Kids at school are treating her with respect, she’s being recognized in public, and her couldn’t-be-bothered mother is . . . well, bothered is an understatement. When she learns of an online music competition, Angie decides to start a band. With the help of her brother, Jamboree, and her town’s resident washed-up rock star, Angie puts together a group and gets busy writing songs, because the competition deadline is only two weeks away. Between sorting out her feelings for Jamboree and KC, dealing with her newfound fame, and dodging an increasingly violent and volatile mother, singing seems like the only thing that Angie’s really good at. Can her band of girl rockers actually win? More importantly, can Angie get it together before she loses all sense of herself yet again?

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
By Crystal Maldonado
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447176 | Holiday House
Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing – he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? Because it’s time people did.

Food-Related Stories
By Gaby Melian
Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593223499 | Penguin Workshop
“Food rescued me so many other times – not only because I sold food to survive. I cook to entertain; I cook to be liked; I cook to be loved.” In this installment, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her personal journey with food – from growing up in Argentina to her time as a Jersey City street vendor and later, as Bon Appetit‘s test kitchen manager. Powerful and full of heart, here, Melian explores how we can develop a relationship with food that’s healthy, sustainable, and thoughtful.

It’s All Love: Reflections for Your Heart and Soul
By Jenna Ortega
240 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593174562 | Random House BFYR
This collection from actress Jenna Ortega is filled with Jenna’s own original quotes and affirmations, alongside intimate, personal stories about growing up Latina in Hollywood, working through depression, falling in – and out of – love, losing close family members, and so much more. Jenna has had to balance her acting career, her private life, and public expectations from a young age, and she’s learned that the only way to get through it all is to wake up every morning and affirm her commitment to herself, her faith, her mental health, and her family. In this honest and moving debut, she shares openly and intimately what it means to live this life of self-appreciation. Jenna’s vulnerability will remind readers that there’s power within us all and we are not alone in our struggles.

Like a Love Song
By Gabriela Martins
304 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593382073 | Underlined
Natalie is living her dream: topping the charts and setting records as a Brazilian pop star . . . until she’s dumped spectacularly on live television. Not only is it humiliating – it could end her career. Her PR team’s desperate plan? A gorgeous yet oh-so-fake boyfriend. Nati reluctantly agrees, but William is not what she expected. She was hoping for a fierce bad boy – not a soft-hearted British indie film star. While she fights her way back to the top with a sweet and surprisingly swoon-worthy boy on her arm, she starts to fall for William – and realizes that maybe she’s the biggest fake of them all. Can she reclaim her voice and her heart?

Living Beyond Borders: Growing up Mexican in America
Edited by Margarita Longoria
224 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593204979 | Philomel BFYR
In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican Americans. Living Beyond Borders is at once an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful love letter from the Mexican American community to today’s young readers. With works by Francisco X. Stork, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, David Bowles, Rubén Degollado, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Diana López, Xavier Garza, Trinidad Gonzales, Alex Temblador, Aida Salazar, Guadalupe Ruiz-Flores, Sylvia Sánchez Garza, Dominic Carrillo, Angela Cervantes, Carolyn Dee Flores, René Saldaña Jr., Justine Narro, Daniel García Ordáz, and Anna Meriano.

Perfectly Parvin
By Olivia Abtahi
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593109427 | Putnam BFYR
Parvin Mohammadi has just been dumped – only days after receiving official girlfriend status. Not only is she heartbroken, she’s humiliated. Enter high school heartthrob Matty Fumero, who just might be the smoking-hot cure to all her boy problems. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to Homecoming, she’s positive it will prove to herself and her ex that she’s girlfriend material after all. There’s just one problem: Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself hasn’t worked for her in the past (see aforementioned dumping), she decides to start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those women aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk. But Parvin discovers that being a rom-com dream girl is much harder than it looks. Also hard? The parent-mandated Farsi lessons. A confusing friendship with a boy who’s definitely not supposed to like her. And hardest of all, the ramifications of the Muslim ban on her family in Iran. Suddenly, being herself has never been more important. Olivia Abtahi’s debut is as hilarious as it is heartfelt–a delightful tale where, amid the turmoil of high school friendships and crushes, being yourself is always the perfect way to be.

Small Town Monsters
By Diana Rodriguez Wallach
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593427514 | Underlined
Vera Martinez wants nothing more than to escape Roaring Creek and her parents’ reputation as demonologists. Not to mention she’s the family outcast, lacking her parents’ innate abilities, and is terrified of the occult things lurking in their basement. Maxwell Oliver is supposed to be enjoying the summer before his senior year, spending his days thinking about parties and friends. Instead he’s taking care of his little sister while his mom slowly becomes someone he doesn’t recognize. Soon he suspects that what he thought was grief over his father’s death might be something more . . . sinister. When Maxwell and Vera join forces, they come face to face with deeply disturbing true stories of cults, death worship, and the very nature that drives people to evil.

Summer in the City of Roses
By Michelle Ruiz Keil
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781641291712 | Soho Teen
All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it’s time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When their father brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away against his will. Furious at her father’s betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she tracks down Orr. Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex-work activism – and find each other before a fantastical transformation fractures their family forever. Told through a lens of magical realism and steeped in myth, Summer in the City of Roses is a dazzling tale about the pain and beauty of growing up.

This Is How We Fly
By Anna Meriano
480 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593116876 | Philomel BFYR
17-year-old vegan feminist Ellen Lopez-Rourke has one muggy Houston summer left before college. She plans to spend every last moment with her two best friends before they go off to the opposite ends of Texas for school. But when Ellen is grounded for the entire summer by her (sometimes) evil stepmother, all her plans are thrown out the window. Determined to do something with her time, Ellen (with the help of BFF Melissa) convinces her parents to let her join the local muggle Quidditch team. An all-gender, full-contact game, Quidditch isn’t quite what Ellen expects. There’s no flying, no magic, just a bunch of scrappy players holding PVC pipe between their legs and throwing dodgeballs. Suddenly Ellen is thrown into the very different world of sports: her life is all practices, training, and running with a group of Harry Potter fans. Even as Melissa pulls away to pursue new relationships and their other BFF Xiumiao seems more interested in moving on from high school (and from Ellen), Ellen is steadily finding a place among her teammates. Maybe Quidditch is where she belongs. But with her home life and friend troubles quickly spinning out of control – Ellen must fight for the future that she wants, now she’s playing for keeps.

When We Make It
By Elisabet Velasquez
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593324486 | Dial BFYR
Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied. When We Make It is a love letter to girls who were taught to believe they would not make it at all. The verse is evocative and insightful, and readers are sure to be swept into Sarai’s world and rooting for her long after they close the book.

Want more suggestions? Check out last year’s list!