Tundra Telegram: Books That Aren’t Gonna’ Take It Anymore

Hello, and thanks again for reading the Tundra Telegram, the column where we dig into the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

And what is on many North Americans’ minds this week? The fight for abortion rights in the United States. No doubt, our readers have heard about the leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that indicated the court is set to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide. In the days and nights that followed, abortion rights protesters have rallied in cities around the United States (and sometimes outside Supreme Court Justices’ houses) to express their outrage and opposition.

While few picture books delve much into abortion or abortion rights, we have included a few YA titles that do in a frank manner. But our focus in this telegram is on books that demonstrate the power of protest and collective action to influence political decisions.

PICTURE BOOKS

To get your kids involved in activism early, start with an ABC book, like A Is for Activist, written and illustrated by Innosanto Nagara. Perfect for families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for, A Is for Activist will have your kids associating M with Megaphones and Marches over Moons and Monsters.

Inspired by the 5 million people (many of them children) in 82 countries who participated in the 2017 Women’s March, Andrew Joyner’s The Pink Hat follows the journey of a pink hat that is swiped out of a knitting basket by a pesky kitten, blown into a tree by a strong wind, and – after a series of misadventures – finally makes its way onto the head of a young girl marching for women’s equality.

Kids in protest march are also central to Lubaya’s Quiet Roar by Marilyn Nelson and Philomena Williamson, a book that shows the power of introverts in social justice movements. A reserved girl draws pictures on the back of her parents’ protest posters. So when the posters are needed again when Lubaya and her folks march in the streets, the girl’s artwork makes a massive visual statement and demonstrates how “a quiet roar can make history.”

Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress by Alicia D. Williams and April Harrison is not just a picture book biography, but the story of an activist turned political leader. Chisholm started as a kid who asked “too many questions,” soon became a young activist with the Harriet Tubman Society and Bedford-Stuyvesant Political League, and eventually became the first Black woman to run for Congress, as you’ll learn when you read this acclaimed picture book!

MIDDLE GRADE

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices is an anthology of poems, letters, personal essays, art, and other works by 50 diverse creators who lend voice to young activists, and edited by legendary writers and editors Wade and Cheryl Willis Hudson. From authors like Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, Ellen Oh, and others comes a book that, as Ashley Bryan says in the foreword, “just to touch this book … will lift your spirits.”

Grassroots organizing is highlighted in Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles. In it, Wes is more focused on his style and playing video games than the protests his parents keep dragging him to. But when a developer attempts to buy Kensington Oaks, the neighborhood where Wes has lived his entire life, he gets a hard lesson in gentrification and becomes a reluctant activist who learns the power of community.

It may not have the awesome power of a thousands-strong march, but Tanya Lloyd Kyi’s Banksy and Me features a street-art-style protest against cameras being brought into classrooms and unites a group of middle-grade students together against an unfair school policy.

And Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes celebrates a different kind of activism, when straitlaced student June Harper starts an underground reading movement in reaction to a massive book ban at her middle-school, showing you can make a difference by marching in the streets and by granting access to forbidden information!

YOUNG ADULT

Maybe she’s not fighting for reproductive rights, but young feminist Jemima Kincaid takes aim at her private school’s many problematic traditions in The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid by Kate Hattemer. When Jemima is named to student council’s Senior Triumvirate, she’s finally in a position to change things, but she may inadvertently end up reinforcing patriarchy instead of fighting it!

If that’s not angry enough for you, you’ll love Iron Widow, Xiran Jay Zhao’s “400 pages of female rage.” It’s like Pacific Rim mashed up with The Handmaid’s Tale and a heaping spoonful of Chinese history. As Julie C. Dao insists, “Zetian’s fight to shatter patriarchal definitions of power makes for a truly thrilling read.”

But if you’re looking for YA books that discuss abortion, you can’t go wrong with E. K. Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear, an unforgettable story about the aftermath of a cheerleader’s sexual assault, that refuses to play to stereotypes and focuses instead on the importance of creating strong community support systems. It’s no spoiler to say an abortion is pivotal in our heroine Hermione’s journey.

And an oldie-but-goodie on the topic of abortion is bestselling author Sarah Dessen’s Someone Like You, following teen best friends Scarlett and Halley as they encounter new understandings of love, sex, and responsibility – something highlighted when Scarlett finds herself pregnant two months after her boyfriend dies in a motorcycle accident. Could abortion be her answer? You’ll never know unless you read this classic from 1998!

Holiday Spotlight: Penguin Young Readers 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 Penguin Young Readers.

Aetherbound
By E. K. Johnston
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735231856 | Dutton BFYR
Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston’s latest is story of survival and self-determination. Pendt Harland’s family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation. But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive. During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for.

Beasts of Prey
By Ayana Gray
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593405680 | Putnam BFYR
There’s no such thing as magic in the broken city of Lkossa, especially for sixteen-year-old Koffi, who holds a power within her that could only be described as magic – a power that if discovered could cost her life. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, Koffi knows the fearsome creatures in her care and paying off her family’s debts to secure their eventual freedom can be her only focus. But the night those she loves are gravely threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi finally unleashes the power she doesn’t fully understand, upending her life completely. As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six – an elite warrior – and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, Ekon encounters not only the Shetani – a vicious monster that has plagued the city for nearly a century and stalks his nightmares, but Koffi who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior. Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani could also be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon form a tentative alliance and together enter the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild, frightening magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.

Call Us What We Carry
By Amanda Gorman
240 Pages | All Ages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593465066 | Viking Books
Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, these poems shine a light on a moment of reckoning and reveal that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem
By Amanda Gorman
Illustrated by Loren Long
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593203224 | Viking BFYR
In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes – big or small – in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves. With lyrical text and rhythmic illustrations that build to a dazzling crescendo by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long, Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference.

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.

Fatima’s Great Outdoors
By Ambreen Tariq
Illustrated by Stevie Lewis
40 Pages | Ages 4-8| Hardcover
ISBN 9781984816955 | Kokila
Fatima Khazi is excited for the weekend. Her family is headed to a local state park for their first camping trip! The school week might not have gone as planned, but outdoors, Fatima can achieve anything. She sets up a tent with her father, builds a fire with her mother, and survives an eight-legged mutant spider (a daddy longlegs with an impressive shadow) with her sister. At the end of an adventurous day, the family snuggles inside one big tent, serenaded by the sounds of the forest. The thought of leaving the magic of the outdoors tugs at Fatima’s heart, but her sister reminds her that they can keep the memory alive through stories – and they can always daydream about what their next camping trip will look like. Ambreen Tariq’s picture book debut, with cheerful illustrations by Stevie Lewis, is a rollicking family adventure, a love letter to the outdoors, and a reminder that public land belongs to all of us.

Hello (From Here)
By Chandler Baker and Wesley King
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326121 | Dial BFYR
Maxine and Jonah meet in the canned goods aisle just as California is going into lockdown. Max’s part-time job as a personal grocery shopper is about to transform into a hellish gauntlet. Jonah’s preexisting anxiety is about to become an epic daily struggle. As Max and Jonah get to know each other through FaceTime dates, socially distanced playground hangs, and the escalating heartbreaks of the pandemic, they’re pushed apart by what they don’t share and pulled closer by what they do. As thoughtful, probing, and informed as it is buoyant, romantic, and funny, Hello (From Here) cuts across differences in class, privilege, and mental health, all thrown into stark relief by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a novel that looks at the first two months of the quarantine, and adds falling in love to the mess.

Huda F Are You?
By Huda Fahmy
192 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593324318 | Dial BFYR
Huda and her family just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: She was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl. Huda is lost in a sea of hijabis, and she can’t rely on her hijab to define her anymore. She has to define herself. So she tries on a bunch of cliques, but she isn’t a hijabi fashionista or a hijabi athlete or a hijabi gamer. She’s not the one who knows everything about her religion or the one all the guys like. She’s miscellaneous, which makes her feel like no one at all. Until she realizes that it’ll take finding out who she isn’t to figure out who she is.

I Don’t Want to Read This Book
By Max Greenfield
Illustrated by Mike Lowery
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326060 | Putnam BFYR
Words, sentences, and even worse, paragraphs fill up books. Ugh! So what’s a reluctant reader to do? Actor Max Greenfield (New Girl) and New York Times bestselling illustrator Mike Lowery bring the energy and laugh-out-loud fun out for every child (and parent) who thinks they don’t want to read a book. Joining the ranks of favorites like The Book With No Pictures and The Serious Goose, this clever and playful read-aloud breaks the fourth wall and will have all readers coming back for laughs again and again!

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom
By Sangu Mandanna
352 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593206973 | Viking BFYR
Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mom is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki’s sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years. One day, her sketchbook’s calming effect is broken when her mythological characters begin springing to life right out of its pages. Kiki ends up falling into the mystical world she drew, which includes a lot of wonderful discoveries like the band of rebel kids who protect the kingdom, as well as not-so-great ones like the ancient deity bent on total destruction. As the one responsible for creating the evil god, Kiki must overcome her fear and anxiety to save both worlds – the real and the imagined – from his wrath. But how can a girl armed with only a pencil defeat something so powerful?

The Last Kids on Earth and the Doomsday Race
By Max Brallier
Illustrated by Douglas Holgate
320 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984835376 | Viking BFYR
With his zombie-controlling powers growing stronger, Jack Sullivan and his buddies are road-tripping toward the mysterious Tower, where they must once and for all stop Rezzoch the Ancient, Destructor of Worlds, from descending upon our dimension. But their journey is sidetracked when they are swept up by the Mallusk, an enormous centipede monster carrying the world’s largest shopping mall on its back. On board, the kids discover a thriving monster society: Mallusk City! There, they encounter old allies – as well as old foes, who are ruling over Mallusk City with an iron fist. Beating these bad guys in battle is not an option, but beating them in an election is . . . so Jack runs for mayor of Mallusk City! At first, proving his leadership skills just means shaking monster hands, kissing monster babies, and promising to fill the water fountains with strawberry Nesquik. But when the Mallusk falls under attack, Jack must learn how to be a true leader – before it’s too late.

Laxmi’s Mooch
By Shelly Anand
Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984815651 | Kokila
Laxmi never paid much attention to the tiny hairs above her lip. But one day while playing farm animals at recess, her friends point out that her whiskers would make her the perfect cat. She starts to notice body hair all over – on her arms, legs, and even between her eyebrows. With her parents’ help, Laxmi learns that hair isn’t just for heads, but that it grows everywhere, regardless of gender. Featuring affirming text by Shelly Anand and exuberant, endearing illustrations by Nabi H. Ali, Laxmi’s Mooch is a celebration of our bodies and our body hair, in whichever way they grow.

The Legend of Auntie Po
By Shing Yin Khor
304 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525554882 | Kokila
Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman’s daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan – reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch. Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth, and about immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in America.

The Legend of the Christmas Witch
By Dan Murphy and Aubrey Plaza
Illustrated by Julia Iredale
56 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593350805 | Viking BFYR
Gather ‘round the fire to hear a Christmas legend that has never been told before . . . until now. Each year a mysterious figure sweeps into town, leaving behind strange gifts in the night. No, not Santa Claus, but his sister . . . The Christmas Witch. Her story begins many, many years ago when her brother was torn away from her as a child. Raised alone by a witch of the woods, Kristtōrn’s powers of magic grew, as did her temper. Determined to find her long lost twin, she set out on a perilous journey across oceans to find him. But what she found instead was a deep-seated fear of her powers and a confrontation that would leave the fate of Christmas hanging in the balance.

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.

Summer Reading 2021

Summer is here and we’re ready to soak up some sun . . . and books! During our Penguin Teen Social in May, we listed the ten books we’re definitely reading this summer – how many of these are on your TBR?

A Lesson in Vengeance
By Victoria Lee
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593305829 | Delacorte Press
Felicity Morrow is back at the Dalloway School to finish her senior year after the tragic death of her girlfriend. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students – girls some say were witches. Felicity was once drawn to the dark legacy of witchcraft. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; but it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget it. It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway – and in herself.

Aetherbound
By E. K. Johnston
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735231856 | Dutton BFYR
Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston’s latest is story of survival and self-determination. Pendt Harland’s family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation. But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive. During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for.

All Our Hidden Gifts
By Caroline O’Donoghue
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536213942 | Walker Books US
After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school. But when Maeve’s ex–best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn’t at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace. Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily’s gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find – even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself. Set in an Irish town where the church’s tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root, this sharply contemporary story is witty, gripping, and tinged with mysticism.

Instructions for Dancing
By Nicola Yoon
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271234 | Penguin Teen Canada
Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually. As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything – including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met. Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance
By Nisha Sharma
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780553523294 | Crown BFYR
Radha is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest kathak dancers in the world . . . until a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. Now she has left her Chicago home behind to follow her stage mom to New Jersey. At the Princeton Academy of the Arts, Radha is determined to leave performing in her past and reinvent herself from scratch. Jai is captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, ranked first in his class, and is an overachiever with no college plans. Tight family funds means medical school is a pipe dream, which is why he wants to make the most out of high school. When Radha enters his life, he realizes she’s the exact ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year. With careful choreography, both Radha and Jai will need to face their fears (and their families) if they want a taste of a happily ever after.

Rising Like a Storm
By Tanaz Bhathena
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267053 | Penguin Teen Canada
With King Lohar dead and a usurper queen in power, Gul and Cavas face a new tyrannical government that is bent on killing them both. Their roles in King Lohar’s death have not gone unnoticed, and the new queen is out for blood. What she doesn’t know is that Gul and Cavas have a connection that runs deeper than romance, and together, they just might have the strength and magic to end her reign for good. Then a grave mistake ends with Cavas being taken prisoner. Gul is left to train an army of warriors alone. With alliances shifting and the thirst for vengeance growing, the fate of Ambar seems ever more uncertain. It will take every ounce of strength, love, and sacrifice for Gul and Cavas to reach their final goal – and build a more just world than they’ve ever known.

Six Crimson Cranes
By Elizabeth Lim
464 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593300916 | Knopf BFYR
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother. A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die. Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear – no matter what the cost.

Tell Me When You Feel Something
By Vicki Grant
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270091 | Penguin Teen Canada
It seemed like a cool part-time program – being a “simulated” patient for med school students to practice on. But now vivacious, charismatic Viv lies in a very real coma. Cellphone footage just leads to more questions. What really happened? Other kids suspect it was not an intentional overdose – but each has a reason why they can’t tell the truth. Through intertwining and conflicting narratives, a twisted story unfolds of trust betrayed as we sift through the seemingly innocent events leading up to the tragic night. Perhaps simulated patients aren’t the only people pretending to be something they’re not. . . . The perfect after-school job turns deadly in this contemporary YA thriller that exposes the dark reality of #MeToo in the world of medicine, for fans of Karen McManus and Holly Jackson.

The Great Godden
By Meg Rosoff
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735268319 | Penguin Teen Canada
This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer. . . . In a holiday house by the sea, our watchful narrator sees everything, including many things they shouldn’t, as their brother and sisters, parents, and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter two brothers: irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise – and the consequences will be devastating.

Tremendous Things
By Susin Nielsen
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271203 | Penguin Teen Canada
We all have moments that define us. For the comically clueless Wilbur, his moment happened on the first day of middle school, when someone shared his private letter with the entire student body. It revealed some of Wilbur’s innermost embarrassing thoughts that no one else should ever know. Now it’s the start of ninth grade and Wilbur hasn’t been able to escape that major humiliation. His good friend Alex stuck by him, but Alex doesn’t have as much time since he started dating Fabrizio. Luckily, Wil can confide in his best friend: his elderly neighbor Sal. Also, Wil’s in the school band, where he plays the triangle. They’re doing an exchange program with students from Paris, and Wilbur’s billet, Charlie, a tall, chic young woman who plays the ukulele and burps with abandon, captures his heart. Charlie likes him, but only as a friend. So Alex, Fabrizio, and Sal host a Queer Eye-style intervention to get Wil in shape and to build his confidence so he can impress Charlie when their band visits Paris, and just maybe replace humiliation with true romance in the City of Love.

CTV Your Morning Kids’ Book Segment on Quarantine Reads and Virtual Storytimes

Your Morning VVOur Marketing & Publicity Associate Director, Vikki VanSickle, was on CTV’s Your Morning today to talk about books to read while in quarantine and virtual events to keep kids occupied. Check out our titles from her recommended list below and don’t forget to watch her segment!

AGES 3-7

Studio: A Place for Art to Start
By Emily Arrow
Illustrated by The Little Friends of Printmaking
ISBN 9780735264854 | Hardcover
40 Pages | Tundra Books
In this charming ode to creativity, noted children’s singer and entertainer Emily Arrow introduces readers to the concept of the studio: a place for painters, dancers, singers, actors, sculptors, printmakers . . . and you! Whether it’s a purpose-made space with big windows, a room filled with equipment, or the corner of a bedroom, your studio can be anywhere–you just have to find it! Check out At Home with Emily Arrow on YouTube!

Alma and the Beast
By Esme Shapiro
ISBN 9780735263963 | Hardcover
44 Pages | Tundra Books
Alma lives happily in her hairy world, where she can braid the trees, comb the grass, pet the roof and feed her plumpooshkie butterfly. Until one day . . . a hairless, button-nosed beast appears in the garden!

If I Had a Gryphon
By Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Cale Atkinson
ISBN 9781770498099 | Hardcover
32 Pages | Tundra Books
If I Had a Gryphon is a raucous rhyming read-aloud about fantastical beasts in everyday situations–and the increasingly beleaguered heroine who has to deal with them. Keep up with all our virtual story times and events using this handy schedule!

AGES 6-9

Megabat
By Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
ISBN 9780735266957 | Paperback
192 Pages | Tundra Books
The first installment of a sweet and hilarious chapter book series about a boy and a bat, two unlikely friends who bond over loneliness, jellyrolls and Darth Vader.

AGES 8-12

The Last Kids on Earth
By Max Brallier
Illustrated by Douglas Holgate
ISBN 9780670016617 | Hardcover
240 Pages | Viking Books For Young Readers
Told in a mixture of text and black-and-white illustration, this is the perfect book for any kid who’s ever dreamed of starring in his or her own comic book or video game. And then grab the rest of the series, now a New York Times bestseller!

The first season of The Last Kids on Earth is available on Netflix now!

AGES 12+

The Blue Castle
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
ISBN 9780735265233 | Paperback
288 Pages | Tundra Books
At twenty-nine, Valancy has never been in love, and it seems romance has passed her by. Then a letter arrives from Dr. Trent–and Valancy decides to throw caution to the winds. For the first time in her life Valancy does and says exactly what she wants. Soon she discovers a surprising new world, full of love and adventures far beyond her most secret dreams. Listen to Rachel McAdams narrating Anne of Green Gables for free on Audible.ca!

The Story of Owen
By E.K. Johnston
ISBN 9780823445028 | Paperback
320 Pages | Holiday House
Dragons. In modern day North America. How can sixteen-year-old Owen fight back when he can barely pass algebra? It takes a village to train a dragon slayer, and Owen needs all the help he can get.

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Pride Reads 2019

Pride month might be almost over but that doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating! We’ve made a list of some of our recent titles featuring LGBTQ+ characters – check them out below and let us know which ones you’ve read!

BONUS: We put together a #pridemonth playlist for your listening pleasure – we recommend putting it on shuffle and reading (or, let’s be real, dancing) the night away.