Tundra Telegram: Books That Reach for Disguise

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we check out the things that are posing particular problems for social media users and recommend some verified great reads.  

One thing that came up often on Twitter this past weekend, with the implementation of the new blue check mark system: impersonation! The new CEO is very concerned with users pretending to be someone they are not – in particular, pretending to be someone who just purchased Twitter for $44 billion. The new management was adamant they would condone no impersonation of famous billionaires, no matter how amusing it might be.

In honor of the good times that were had pretending to be a thin-skinned plutocrat, we’ve assembled the best children’s book featuring impersonation, impostors, and mistaken identities. These aren’t your grandaddy’s Prince and the Pauper!

PICTURE BOOKS

Ooko, the title character of Esmé Shapiro’s Ooko, is a fox who can’t really be said to be impersonating a dog as he really thinks he is one. Or rather, the thinks dogs are foxes, and can’t understand why the other foxes (including the fur-less two-legged foxes) don’t want him around. Ooko tries to make himself look like the other foxes (or dogs), but learns that being yourself is the best policy in this adorable book of inadvertent identity theft.

It’s one thing to impersonate a look, but what about a sound? In the new book Little Echo by Al Rodin, Little Echo lives alone in a cave and mimics the noises all around her, repeating only what she hears. But when a boy named Max enters the cave, she follows him and discovers she might have a voice of her own. Little Echo is a book about mimicry that suggests intense shyness and loneliness is often the cause of that impersonation.

Lookalike cats who live in adjacent apartment buildings wind up with the wrong owners in a comic story of mistaken cat identities Niblet & Ralph by Zachariah OHora. But though the two cats look similar, their tastes are very different. (Ralph loves listening to his tunes. Niblet loves his potato chips.) And they struggle to let their not-very-observant owners know they’re in the wrong household.

This next entry kind of gives the ending of the book away, so skip ahead one title if you don’t like your picture books spoiled. Great Dog by Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco follows a pup and his dog father as they stroll past portraits of great dogs in their family and discuss what the pup might grow up to be: an astronaut? A marathon runner? But the book reveals that all those great dogs were actually not great at all! And even the pup at the center of the story may, in fact, be a cat.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

The titular Yumi Chung allows one of her favorite YouTube stars and the campers at a comedy camp for kids believe she is a girl named “Kay Nakamura” for the majority of Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim. Yumi wants her parents to think she has a future career as a comedian, but they want her to pass a scholarship exam so she can attend an exclusive private school. But when she stumbles into a comedy camp led by her idol Jasmine Jasper and is mistaken for another camper, her quite funny double life begins!

Speaking of funny kids, Jake in Jake the Fake Keeps It Real by Craig Robinson (!) and Adam Mansbach (and illustrated by Keith Knight) is hilarious. But he also fakes his way into a prestigious music and art academy by auditioning with the only song he knows how to play on piano. Feeling like a real impostor and surrounded by young geniuses and artists, Jake will have to fake it until he makes it, or else the last laugh will be on him.

YOUNG ADULT

As the title of Genuine Fraud by E.We Were LiarsLockhart might suggest, this is a book about an impostor. Imogen is an orphaned heiress, and Julie is her closest friend. But months later, Julie is posing as Imogen, living at the fabulous Playa Grande Resort in Cabo San Lucas. What happened to Imogen and why is Julie pretending to be her? (Especially since Julie has not tagged herself as a parody account.)

It seems like it would be easy (and almost expected) for twins to impersonate one another, but thriller The Twin by Natasha Preston takes it to extremely creepy levels. Ivy and Iris are twins who haven’t lived together for years after their parents have a nasty divorce. But when their mom dies in an accident, Iris moves in with Ivy and her dad. Soon after, the Single White Female treatment begins, with Iris quickly taking over her sister’s entire identity.

In an impersonation feat, two girls pose as one in the romance We Are the Perfect Girl by Ariel Kalpan. An outgoing girl with an immense body dysphoria, Aphra, poses as her deeply shy but conventionally beautiful friend Bethany on a dating app. And together, with Cyrano-like precision, they win over Bethany’s hunky crush, Greg D’Agostino. How long can the dating duo keep D’Agostino in the dark – and can the two girls remain friends when their deception is inevitably revealed?

David Yoon’s Super Fake Love Song follows roleplaying nerd Sunny Dae, who pretends he’s the front man of a rock band to impress the girl of his dreams – going to all lengths to not reveal the lie. He should have called that band The Pretenders (but it was already taken), so he called his imaginary band The Mortals – don’t even get me started on The Mortal’s instruments. (Rimshot!)

And Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim is an epic fantasy about fashion and tailoring magic dresses. But Maia Tamarin, our heroine and daughter of a renowned tailor, must pretend she is her own brother to enter a cutthroat competition to prepare three magic gowns for the emperor’s bride-to-be – so we’re counting her as an impostor, too!

Teen Top Ten: October 2022

Wanna know what everyone else has been reading and loving lately? Every month we’ll post our list of top ten bestselling YA books that we publish and sell in Canada. Here are the Teen Top Ten titles for the month of October 2022 – how many have you read?

1. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
By Holly Jackson
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984896391 | Ember
Everyone in Fairview knows the story. Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town. But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer? Now a senior herself, Pip decides to re-examine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

2. Good Girl, Bad Blood
By Holly Jackson
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984896438 | Ember
Pip is not a detective anymore. With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh. The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way . . . and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

3. Girl in Pieces
By Kathleen Glasgow
448 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781101934746 | Ember
Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you. Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge. A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

4. Walking in Two Worlds
By Wab Kinew
296 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735269026 | Tundra Books
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.

5. As Good As Dead
By Holly Jackson
464 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379851 | Delacorte Press
Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars. Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself – or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . . and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . . . .

6. One of Us Is Lying
By Karen M. McManus
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524714680 | Delacorte Press
Pay close attention and you might solve this. On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who is still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

7. We Were Liars
By E. Lockhart
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385741279 | Ember
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends – the Liars – whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

8. 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.

9. The Outsiders
By S. E. Hinton
224 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780140385724 | Viking BFYR
The 45th anniversary of a landmark work of teen fiction. Ponyboy can count on his brothers and his friends, but not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids who get away with everything, including beating up greasers like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect – until the night someone takes things too far. Written forty-five years ago, S. E. Hinton’s classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was written.

10. Nothing More to Tell
By Karen M. McManus
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593175903 | Delacorte Press
Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher – a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened. The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex–best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder – but instead, thanks to Tripp, they’re now at the top of the Saint Ambrose social pyramid. Tripp’s friends have never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day, and neither has he. Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie. Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and when Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she uncovers secrets that might change everything – about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot. Four years ago someone got away with murder. More terrifying is that they might be closer than anyone thinks.

Teen Top Ten: September 2022

Wanna know what everyone else has been reading and loving lately? Every month we’ll post our list of top ten bestselling YA books that we publish and sell in Canada. Here are the Teen Top Ten titles for the month of September 2022 – how many have you read?

1. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
By Holly Jackson
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984896391 | Ember
Everyone in Fairview knows the story. Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town. But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer? Now a senior herself, Pip decides to re-examine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

2. Girl in Pieces
By Kathleen Glasgow
448 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781101934746 | Ember
Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you. Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge. A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

3. Good Girl, Bad Blood
By Holly Jackson
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984896438 | Ember
Pip is not a detective anymore. With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh. The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way . . . and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

4. Nothing More to Tell
By Karen M. McManus
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593175903 | Delacorte Press
Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher – a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened. The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex–best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder – but instead, thanks to Tripp, they’re now at the top of the Saint Ambrose social pyramid. Tripp’s friends have never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day, and neither has he. Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie. Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and when Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she uncovers secrets that might change everything – about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot. Four years ago someone got away with murder. More terrifying is that they might be closer than anyone thinks.

5. The Outsiders
By S. E. Hinton
224 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780140385724 | Viking BFYR
The 45th anniversary of a landmark work of teen fiction. Ponyboy can count on his brothers and his friends, but not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids who get away with everything, including beating up greasers like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect – until the night someone takes things too far. Written forty-five years ago, S. E. Hinton’s classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was written.

6. One of Us Is Lying
By Karen M. McManus
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524714680 | Delacorte Press
Pay close attention and you might solve this. On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who is still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

7. We Were Liars
By E. Lockhart
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385741279 | Ember
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends – the Liars – whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

8. As Good As Dead
By Holly Jackson
464 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379851 | Delacorte Press
Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars. Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself – or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . . and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . . . .

9. Family of Liars
By E. Lockhart
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593485859 | Delacorte Press
The thrilling prequel to the TikTok phenomenon and New York Times bestseller We Were Liars takes readers back to the story of another summer, another generation, and the secrets that will haunt them for decades to come.
A windswept private island off the coast of Massachusetts.
A hungry ocean, churning with secrets and sorrow.
A fiery, addicted heiress. An irresistible, unpredictable boy.
A summer of unforgivable betrayal and terrible mistakes.
Welcome back to the Sinclair family.
They were always liars . . . .

10. The Dragon’s Promise
By Elizabeth Lim
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593300954 | Knopf BFYR
Princess Shiori made a deathbed promise to return the dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner, but keeping that promise is more dangerous than she ever imagined. She must journey to the kingdom of dragons, navigate political intrigue among humans and dragons alike, fend off thieves who covet the pearl for themselves and will go to any lengths to get it, all while cultivating the appearance of a perfect princess to dissuade those who would see her burned at the stake for the magic that runs in her blood. The pearl itself is no ordinary cargo; it thrums with malevolent power, jumping to Shiori’s aid one minute, and betraying her the next – threatening to shatter her family and sever the thread of fate that binds her to her true love. It will take every ounce of strength Shiori can muster to defend the life and the love she’s fought so hard to win.

Teen Top Ten: August 2022

Wanna know what everyone else has been reading and loving lately? Every month we’ll post our list of top ten bestselling YA books that we publish and sell in Canada. Here are the Teen Top Ten titles for the month of August 2022 – how many have you read?

1. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
By Holly Jackson
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984896391 | Delacorte Press
Everyone in Fairview knows the story. Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town. But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer? Now a senior herself, Pip decides to re-examine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

2. Girl in Pieces
By Kathleen Glasgow
448 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781101934746 | Delacorte Press
Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you. Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge. A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

3. Good Girl, Bad Blood
By Holly Jackson
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984896438 | Delacorte Press
Pip is not a detective anymore. With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh. The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way . . . and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

4. We Were Liars
By E. Lockhart
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385741279 | Delacorte Press
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends – the Liars – whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

5. One of Us Is Lying
By Karen M. McManus
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524714680 | Delacorte Press
Pay close attention and you might solve this. On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who is still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

6. As Good As Dead
By Holly Jackson
464 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379851 | Delacorte Press
Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars. Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself – or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . . and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . . . .

7. Family of Liars
By E. Lockhart
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593485859 | Delacorte Press
The thrilling prequel to the TikTok phenomenon and New York Times bestseller We Were Liars takes readers back to the story of another summer, another generation, and the secrets that will haunt them for decades to come.
A windswept private island off the coast of Massachusetts.
A hungry ocean, churning with secrets and sorrow.
A fiery, addicted heiress. An irresistible, unpredictable boy.
A summer of unforgivable betrayal and terrible mistakes.
Welcome back to the Sinclair family.
They were always liars . . . .

8. The Outsiders
By S. E. Hinton
224 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780140385724 | Viking BFYR
The 45th anniversary of a landmark work of teen fiction. Ponyboy can count on his brothers and his friends, but not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids who get away with everything, including beating up greasers like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect – until the night someone takes things too far. Written forty-five years ago, S. E. Hinton’s classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was written.

9. All the Bright Places
By Jennifer Niven
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385755917 | Knopf BFYR
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for – and manages to find – something to keep him here, and alive, and awake. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school – six stories above the ground – it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

10. 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.

Tundra Telegram: Books That Deserve a Red Carpet

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we pull focus on a few subjects that have everyone reeling, and recommend some books worthy of two thumbs up (or ‘fresh’ certification, depending on your internet age).

Not only did this past weekend see more movie drama at the Venice Film Festival than the Billy Wilder classic Sunset Boulevard, today marks the start of the closer-to-home Toronto International Film Festival, which returns in a big way this year, with massive gala events and screenings across the city’s downtown.

So we’re shining the spotlight on ten films that will screen at the 2022 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival and recommending books you or your young reader might enjoy if you don’t happen to snag tickets at the box-office. Lights . . . camera . . . action!

PICTURE BOOKS

One of the most anticipated world premieres at TIFF is Devotion, a war film about the American Navy’s first Black aviator and his friendship with his white wingman that stars Jonathan Majors (who we all loved in Lovecraft Country, even though it scared us). But if you can’t make it to the movie, you can read Sprouting Wings by Louisa Jaggar, Shari Becker, and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. The book tells the story of another Black aviation pioneer, James Herman Banning, the first African American to fly across the country in 1932, over 20 years before the events of the film.

The festival’s closing night film is Dalíland, a biopic about the surrealist Spanish painter Salvador Dalí (played by Ben Kingsley) and his wife Gala, directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho). If you can’t be at the gala, you can always check out Just Being Dalí by Amy Guglielmo and Brett Helquist, a picture book that celebrates the artist’s individuality, from his melting clocks, his lobster phone, and his pet ocelot Babou. (No word yet on who plays Babou in the film!)

Music fans are losing it over TIFF’s opening night film for the Midnight Madness program, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. This embellished account of the rise of everyone’s favorite parody songwriter promises to be a good time. And while no one has written a picture book about Al yet, Rosemary Mosco and Jacob Souva created Flowers Are Pretty … Weird!, which not only shares a similar title, but also shares a love of the strange, the funny, and the floral (be it real plants or Hawaiian shirts).

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Though it’s not premiering at TIFF, Martin McDonagh’s new film The Banshees of Inisherin, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, has been generating a lot of buzz on the festival circuit. Set on a remote Irish island, it illustrates what happens when one friend decides to abruptly end a longtime relationship. It’s not a perfect pairing, but the story reminds us a bit of the depiction of friendship in Wolfie and Fly by Cary Fagan and Zoe Si. Renata Wolfman (‘Wolfie’) doesn’t see much point to friends. But friendship finds her in the form of Livingston Flott (‘Fly’), a weird and loquacious boy Wolfie doesn’t like much at first, but then finds it hard to live without.

Another world premiere at TIFF is The Menu, a satire about high-end cuisine from one of the creators of Succession and starring Anya Taylor-Joy. While it’s not quite a satire, Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster by Rachelle Delaney, is a comical book set in the world of food, as Alice must work with her culinary historian father to compete in a cooking reality show – while simultaneously solving a delicious behind-the-scenes mystery!

We’ll never say ‘no’ to a new Nicolas Cage film. And Butcher’s Crossing, a Western in which he plays a buffalo hunter in the 1870s who convinces an Ivy league grad to join him in a dangerous expedition, is on our “must-see list.” But if we can’t get a ticket, we’ll read R. J. Palacio’s similarly ambitious middle-grade Western, Pony. Though twelve-year-old Silas is no Ivy league student, he is drawn out on a dangerous journey – to find his kidnapped father, rather than hunt bison.

TIFF will also host the world premiere of Wendell & Wild, an animated collaboration between Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas), in which demon brothers team with a goth teen to defeat their demonic dad. All these Satanic high school hijinks make us think of The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel by Ryan North and Derek Charm. The book is a middle-grade take on the comic book occult detective, in which Salem tweens John and Anna (with some help from a friendly demon Etrigan) use their occult powers to uncover if his homeroom teacher is really a witch. And, like the film, destined to be a goth teen cultural touchstone.

YOUNG ADULT

Another premiere at TIFF is Bros, written by and starring Billy Eichner, one of the first big-budget queer Hollywood rom-coms. Bobby is a cynical podcaster who writes off boring (but good-looking) Aaron, until they find something special blossoms in this movie that plays with the tropes of rom-coms. If the idea of unexpected romance and play with rom-com conventions through a queer lens is your thing, you’ll want to read Kevin Van Whye’s Nate Plus One, a friends-to-lovers story that takes place in the lead-up to a Johannesburg wedding.

Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is back in Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which has its premiere at TIFF. The Southern detective has a new case and a new cast of suspects, all hiding their own mysteries, but this time they’re on a remote Greek island. Want a twisty mystery that’s also the second in a series AND set on an island? How about Family of Liars by E. Lockhart, in which readers return to the Sinclair family’s private island (made so popular in We Were Liars) and uncover the secrets of a previous generation. (If only there had been teen Benoit Blanc on hand to sort things out!)

Finally, we can’t believe we’ve waited this long to gush about The Woman King, the new film by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball) and starring Viola Davis. Davis stars as Nansica in this true story of the Agojie, an all-female military regiment charged with protecting the African Kingdom of Dahomey (in what is now known as Benin). The warrior women in Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones may be fictional (and have certain magical powers), but the alaki in this fantasy novel share a few commonalities with the subject of this highly anticipated film, and were based somewhat on the stories Forna learned growing up in nearby Sierra Leone.

See you at the movies – AND the bookstore!