Tundra Telegram: Books That You’re Not Allowed To Read

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we wade into the fraught subjects and hot-button topics of the day, and weed out books that they don’t want you to know about!

Banned Books Week starts this Sunday, October 1. For the uninitiated, Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in libraries, bookstores, and schools. The annual event highlights the value of free and open access to information and brings together the entire book community. And – some bad news for those of you who haven’t been following the news – book bans unfortunately are on the rise.

Accordingly, we have selected some of the most banned books for young readers that we publish. These are titles most often forbidden from school (and sometimes public) libraries. Many of these books appear on conservative activist Moms for Liberty’s challenged book list, used in school boards and communities across North America to remove titles from shelves. We’ve listed some highlights below, and included (some highly editorialized) reasons often cited for their removal. And if you’d like to find out some of the things Penguin Random House is doing in response to the book bans, you can find out more here. So, do something subversive this week and read a book for the sake of freedom!

PICTURE BOOKS

One of the most challenged picture books is Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi and Ashley Lukashevsky, a book that introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, the book aims in several easy steps to build a more equitable world. One must presume the book is so often challenged as certain people would prefer their babies to be racist (?).

Bafflingly, the popular (and New York Times bestselling) picture book All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman is also often challenged by school boards. The book follows a group of diverse children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. It’s a school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions. So, you can see why it’s so dangerous in a society where all are (in fact) not welcome.

Likewise, The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated Nikkolas Smith, has been banned in communities across the United States (mainly), as it chronicles the history of slavery and Black resistance in America. And that makes some people feel bad about themselves. (Immediate ban!)

LGBTQ+ titles are among the most challenged and banned books in the current landscape, so you had better bet I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas gets banned all the time. The book is the real-life story of co-author Jazz Jennings, a transgender child who has become a spokesperson for trans kids everywhere.

As you can imagine, rainbows also find themselves under attack, so My Rainbow, by authors DeShanna and Trinity Neal, and illustrated by Art Twink, is usually in the book banners’ crosshairs. The book tells the story of transgender girl Trinity, who decides she needs long hair, so her dedicated mom creates her the perfect rainbow-colored wig. (Maybe the anti-wig lobby is behind this ban, as well.)

Closer to home, Canadian Elise Gravel has been subjected to bans and removals with her book Pink, Blue, and You!: Questions for Kids about Gender and Stereotypes, a collaboration with educator Mykaell Blais. Perhaps that’s because the book opens the door to conversations about gender stereotypes and everyone’s right to be their true selves, though some claim instead this is a book about “lies and false genders.”

The picture book biography of Gyo Fujikawa, It Began with a Page by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad, also found itself in a few school book bans (among a bunch of books included in a package that features stories of equity and healthy racial identity). The book spotlights the life of the groundbreaking illustrator, including her and her family’s internment during World War II, but some parent groups found the retelling of actual American history “divisive,” “racist,” and “socialist.”

How did an Eric Carle book end up on a most-banned book list? Well, his Draw Me a Star, a celebration of imagination that follows a young artist through life, beginning and ending with his drawing of a star, has been banned and challenged because it depicts a naked man and woman – even though his nude renditions of caterpillars have gone largely unchallenged.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

There’s no better reward for being the first Black child to desegregate your all-white elementary school in Louisiana than having the book about your experience banned from schools around the country. That’s what happened to Ruby Bridges and her book for kids, This Is Your Time, a book she wrote to inspire readers to continue the struggle for liberty and justice. (Obviously, certain folks dislike that kind of thing.)

Speaking of books that depict America’s historic racism, Jacqueline Woodson’s award-winning memoir in verse Brown Girl Dreaming also takes place during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s and 1970s in both South Carolina and New York. Accordingly, it has become one of the many books by Black authors banned in school systems that restrict the  discussion of systemic racism.

And teachers, parents, and young readers in Ontario’s Durham county probably remember when David A. Robertson’s novel The Great Bear, the second book in The Misewa Saga, was pulled from school board shelves. Despite being beloved by thousands of kids, this Narnia-inspired Indigenous fantasy series was allegedly removed from that district’s school libraries for contains too much “culture and ceremony.”

With a word like “sex” in the title, you just know some square is going to take issue. That’s how Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth’s highly acclaimed book of sex education, Sex Is a Funny Word, found itself the subject of many book challenges and bans. The book has been praised as a valuable resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for children ages 8 to 10 as well as their parents and caregivers, but it’s been banned because, to quote another Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth book … you know, sex.

The transgender ghost story Too Bright To See by Kyle Lukoff has also been banned in several school districts. In the book, best friends Moira and Bug spend the summer before middle school investigating a haunting in Bug’s eerie old house while Bug begins to realize they may be transgender. You will not be surprised to discover the ghosts are not the part of the story that fill certain adults with fear. “It will almost certainly be banned in many places,” The New York Times prophetically announced, “but your child almost certainly needs to read it.”

Include in the massive list of books by LGBTQ+ authors that are regularly banned Trung Le Nguyen’s massively acclaimed The Magic Fish, a queer coming of age comic that weaves an immigrant narrative through a fairy tale fabric. The ban seems to be entirely based on the fact that a gay main character exists, as the book doesn’t even feature a single kiss. As the author has noted himself, “It’s very strange and a little bit sad.”

YOUNG ADULT

What are the most banned YA books? Surprise, surprise: they’re usually written by authors who are not white. Case in point: This Is My America by Kim Johnson, a debut novel that looks at the history of racism in the American justice system through a girl with a father and brother who both have devastating encounters with the police. It’s a story ripped from the headlines, but book banners have decided there’s only one America. And this book is not it.

Johnson’s book is a bit newer, but Dear Martin, the 2017 novel from Nic Stone, has been around long enough to face a few years of bans and challenges. The book tells the story of Justyce, a good kid put in handcuffs without cause, who looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to see if they have any place in modern America. Opponents of the book cite what they see as “anti-police sentiment.”

Author Frederick Joseph was heartbroken to learn his book The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person was banned in Texas middle schools. The book is a conversation starter about things like cultural appropriation, power dynamics, white privilege, and “reverse racism” – ironic, as it was argued the book promoted racism against white people. (Or perhaps white people just thought the title was false; it wasn’t possible to be any better.)

People love to ban queer YA, as well. A book named Two Boys Kissing, like David Levithan’s, makes for an easy target. Even if it weren’t for the content – narration from a Greek Chorus of a generation of gay men lost to AIDS, two seventeen-year-olds attempting to set a new Guinness World Record with a kissing marathon – the cover features, well, two boys kissing, which was enough to not only drive some libraries to ban it, but religious activists to burn it live on Facebook (!).

This banning impulse also hit  Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club, which has been challenged and outright banned in schools in a number of states. A lesbian love story between a Chinese American and white American set in 1950s San Francisco, it won the National Book Award in 2021. During the acceptance speech, Lo talked about the “pressure to remove books about people of color, LGBTQ people, and especially transgender people from classrooms and libraries. I urge every one of you watching to educate yourselves . . . we need your support to keep our stories on the shelves. Don’t let them erase us.”

Canadian E.K. Johnston has also felt the sting of book challenges with her Exit, Pursued by a Bear, a powerful story about the aftermath of a cheerleader’s sexual assault. The novel has been challenged both on the basis of the assault itself, and its frank discussion of abortion.

There are few YA authors (or affordable drug activists) bigger than John Green. Yet his Looking for Alaska has been challenged and banned over the years for being “pornographic” and “vulgar,” which would explain why Hulu turned it into one of its original series.

Likewise, Breathless, the 2020 novel from Jennifer Niven (All the Bright Places) is regularly removed from library circulation across much of Utah because this YA romance features a teenager about to enter college, who – unlike the teenagers of Utah – thinks about sex a lot!

It’s objectively funny that S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, published in 1967, when the author was teenager herself – one of the most taught novels in schools across North America – has been challenged as recently as 2017 for featuring underage drinking and smoking, crass language, violence, and family dysfunction. (Don’t threaten us with a good time!) But we all know the real reason: the Socs out there were upset with how they were depicted.

Happy banned reading, friends!

Cloud Appreciation Day 2023

September 15th marked Cloud Appreciation Day, an internationally celebrated day where people are encouraged to spend a few moments with their heads in the clouds, so we’ve collected some books to help get you there.

Cloud Babies
By Eoin Colfer
Illustrated by Chris Judge
40 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536231076 | Candlewick
Six-year-old Erin’s favorite game is spotting animals in the clouds with her mom and dad – everything from fluffy foxes and polar bears to little rabbits. Even when Erin falls very ill and has to spend a long time in the hospital, she still manages to find joy in spying “cloud babies” through the window with her new hospital friends. When the doctor tells Erin she can go home, she is so excited! But being back at school is not at all what she expected – so much has changed, and Erin must reconcile the safe realm she’s just left with a world outside that has become unfamiliar. With Mom and Dad’s love and wisdom, however, and with the help of her teacher and friends, Erin comes to see that by sharing her experience she can find happiness again in just being herself. Sensitively told and vibrantly brought to life, Cloud Babies brings recognition and comfort to children facing illness or hardship, as well as guidance to those who wish to offer support but may not know where to start.

In the Clouds 
By Elly MacKay
44 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266964 | Tundra Books
A bored and curious little girl wishes for a bit of sunshine on a cloudy day. But a friendly bird soon whisks her off for an adventure in the sky, where she can contemplate questions both scientific and philosophical in nature: how do clouds float? Or carry the rain? Where do they go when they disappear? Are there clouds on other planets? Do they have memories? Have they ever seen a girl like her? This dreamy picture book from the inimitable Elly MacKay features her trademark stunning, light-infused spreads that beautifully capture the wondrousness of clouds and the power of nature to inspire and stimulate imaginations.

Kumo: The Bashful Cloud
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Nathalie Dion
64 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267282 | Tundra Books
Kumo is a cloud whose only wish is to float unseen. When she’s assigned cloud duty for the day, she feels overwhelmed by self-doubt and her fear of being noticed. But after learning that closing your eyes isn’t a good solution to your troubles, Kumo pulls her fluff together and does her duties – drifting, releasing rain and providing shelter – meeting some new friends along the way and inspiring the imagination (and capturing the heart) of a small daydreamer like her. Kyo Maclear’s sweetly humorous and lyrical parable about shyness, vividly brought to life by Nathalie Dion’s ethereal illustrations, is an affirmation of the pleasures of community and the confidence that can arise from friendship and visibility.

Little Cloud
By Eric Carle
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Paperback
ISBN 9780698118300 | World Of Eric Carle
The clouds drift across the bright blue sky – all except one. Little Cloud trails behind. He is busy changing shapes to become a fluffy sheep, a zooming airplane, and even a clown with a funny hat. Eric Carle’s trademark collages will make every reader want to run outside and discover their very own little cloud.

Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech
By Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek
Illustrated by Richard Jones
72 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536203035 | Candlewick
A freewheeling romp through the world of imagery and metaphor, this quietly startling collection of thirty poems, framed by the four elements, is about art and reality, fact and fancy. Look around: what do you see? A clown balancing a pie in a tree, or an empty nest perched on a leafless branch? As poet Connie Wanek alludes to in her afterword – a lively dialogue with former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser – sometimes the simplest sights and sounds “summon our imaginations” and cry out to be clothed in the alchemical language of poetry. This compendium of the fleeting and unexpected turns the everyday – turtles, trees, and tadpoles; cow pies, lazy afternoons, and pillowy white marshmallows – into poetic gold. A brilliant and timeless collaboration that evokes both the mystery and grandeur of the natural world and the cozy, mundane moments of daily life, this exquisitely illustrated collection is the go-to gift book of the season for poetry fans of all ages.

Misty the Cloud: A Very Stormy Day
By Dylan Dreyer
Illustrated by Rosie Butcher
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593180419 |  Dragonfly Books
When Misty the Cloud wakes up feeling stormy, nothing seems to make her day better! But with help from friends and family, Misty accepts that sometimes she’s just going to be a little stormy – and it will always pass. A perfect story for young children learning to understand their emotions. From award-winning meteorologist Dylan Dreyer, Misty the Cloud: A Very Stormy Day is the first book in a sky-high series about how to deal with good days, bad days, and everything in between. With extra content featuring science experiments for kids to do at home!

Ploof
By Ben Clanton and Andy Chou Musser
56 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774881927 | Tundra Books
Ploof is a puffy cloud who’s a little lonely – but now you’re here, and the fun can begin! Can you help Ploof overcome their shyness? Play pretend? Make Ploof laugh with your funny faces, find their hiding spot, give them a high five! Full of imaginative and interactive fun, each page of this perfect book for preschoolers offers a chance to play. By following cues to say hello, clap, blow, shake, wave or make a funny face, young readers will be delighted to see the effects of their actions on Ploof. They’ll learn social-emotional skills like empathy, encouragement and kindness through Ploof’s emotional journey – and, along the way, they’ll learn how to be a fantastic friend!

Tomie dePaola’s The Cloud Book
By Tomie dePaola
32 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823445486 | Holiday House
Tomie dePaola knows a lot about clouds. He also knows a lot about what people think of them. Some people see animals and pictures in clouds. The ancient Greeks believed that Hermes, the messenger of the gods, once stole the sun’s cattle, which were clouds. In this unique picture book, Tomie introduces some of the most common types of clouds, as well as the myths and legends inspired by their shapes. Simple, whimsical illustrations show the variations in shape and color that herald changes in the weather. This book will tell you many things about clouds we bet you didn’t know. Filled with his signature humor and gentle illustrations, Tomie dePaola’s approach to nonfiction is like no other.

When Cloud Became a Cloud
By Rob Hodgson
64 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593224915 | Rise x Penguin Workshop
The lifecycle of our protagonist, Cloud, is delightfully and sparsely narrated in nine short chapters that follow the stages of the water cycle. Young readers will immediately fall for this wide-eyed puff, and welcome facts along with humor and personality as they bask in the accomplishment of breezing through each chapter.

Who Owns the Clouds?
By Mario Brassard
Illustrated by Gérard DuBois
100 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880210 | Tundra Books
Even though Mila is no longer a child, she is overcome by memories – memories of a childhood halfway between reality and dreaming, and not knowing which is which. In her dreams, Mila and her family leave their bombed village to stand in line for weeks on end, suitcases in hand, hoping to move on to better lives. But the memories of her uncle’s disappearance, and the approach of looming clouds, keep blurring the lines between past and present, real and unreal. How can Mila move forward? Perhaps if the clouds can remind her of where she’s from, they can also show her where to go . . . Winner of a Governor General’s Award, Canada’s most prestigious literary prize, and the Bologna Ragazzi Award, this stunningly evocative book about experience, trauma and healing will stay with readers from beginning to end.

Father’s Day 2023

Father’s Day is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate the dads (and dad-like figures!) in your life than with a book?

A Bed of Stars
By Jessica Love
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536212396 | Candlewick
Going to bed each night can be dark and scary. The night sky stretches out endlessly, making one sensitive child feel small in comparison. So Dad comes up with a plan: a night of camping out in the desert. Together, the two load up Darlin’, the old pickup truck, and drive over the mountain with the radio on, stopping to shoot the breeze at a junkyard before setting up camp, jumping in sand dunes, and lying back to name all the birds they can see. After sunset, when the young thinker feels tiny against the vast sky, Dad knows just what to ask – and just what to say – to soothe away fears. Maybe this night spent under the stars (and a surprise from Mom and the baby later) are just what is needed to show that the universe is a friendly place. From acclaimed author-illustrator Jessica Love comes a story of small moments between father and child that affirms the comfort of finding one’s place in the world.

Banana
By Zoey Abbott
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271418 | Tundra Books
My dad is the best. We love hanging out together. Recently, he got this banana. At first, we had a great time with the banana — it does cool stuff and it’s really fun. But lately he’s spending too much time with the banana. He’s distracted, and he’s not enjoying the things he used to enjoy, like hanging out with me. I don’t think this banana is good for him. It’s time to take action. Zoey Abbott tackles parental distraction in a quirky and hilarious way in this parable about too much of a good thing. With her trademark wit and engaging illustrations, she introduces a very wise kid and a not-so-wise parent who eventually see eye to eye in a story that will delight readers of all ages.

Bluey: Father’s Day Fun
40 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593386873 | Penguin Young Readers Licenses
Celebrate Father’s Day with this fun craft activity book based on the wildly successful animated series Bluey, as seen on Disney+
Find the footy, play Rug Island, create some leaf art, and more with Bluey, Bingo, and their awesome Dad, Bandit!

Daddy
By Leslie Patricelli
26 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9781536203820 | Candlewick
Baby’s daddy is big and strong, and his legs are so, so long. He plays horsey, he sings, he cooks, he cleans – this daddy can do anything! In a sweet, simple board book threaded with signature humor, Leslie Patricelli pays tribute to the bond between a little one and a doting daddy.

Great Job, Dad!
By Holman Wang
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880371 | Tundra Books
This unique picture book for very young readers celebrates the many jobs being a parent encompasses: A receptionist scheduling important meetings (for playdates), an architect designing buildings (or pillow forts), an inspector (of diapers!) . . . When Dad gets home from his day job at the office, he never knows which job will be waiting for him, but he knows it’ll be fun! Each rhyming spread features intimate, familiar, comforting and humorous depictions of family life through a wholly original – and amazing! – needle-felted lens.

Guess How Much I Love You
By Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
40 Pages | All Ages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763674489 | Candlewick Press
Sometimes, when you love someone very, very much, you want to find a way of describing how much you treasure themBut, as Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare discover, love is not an easy thing to measure! For two decades, Sam McBratney’s timelessly endearing story, beautifully rendered in Anita Jeram’s exquisite watercolors, has captured the deep and tender bond between parent and child. Guess How Much I Love You is one of the world’s best-loved picture books. Download a pop-up Father’s Day card here.

Hair Love
By Matthew A. Cherry
Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525553366 | Kokila
Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her – and her hair – happy. Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair – and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere. 

How to Surprise a Dad
By Jean Reagan
Illustrated by Lee Wildish
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593301920 | Dragonfly Books
So you want to surprise your dad? You’re in luck! The pages of this book are full of tips on how to become a super dad surpriser, including tips for things you can make, do, or find—just for your dad.
Be sure to read up on:
·      Yummy treats and presents for a dad
·      What to do if he starts getting suspicious
·      How to prepare for the big moment (where to hide everyone, and how to practice whispering “Surprise!”)

I Love Dad with The Very Hungry Caterpillar
By Eric Carle
32 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524785895 | World of Eric Carle
Celebrate Dad’s special day by saying “I Love You”–with a little help from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This bright and colorful book is the ideal way to tell the person you call “Dad” how much you appreciate him.

I Love You, Daddy!
By Edie Evans
Illustrated by Melanie Demmer
16 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984892515 | Golden Books
Each page of this sweet rhyming Little Golden Book celebrates the love shared between dads and their young children. Spending time together camping, gardening, at the petting zoo, or even just hanging out at home is extra-special when Daddy is there! Filled with fun, colorful illustrations, this is a great gift for Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day – and a perfect read-aloud for any day!

It’s Great Being a Dad
By Dan Bar-el
Illustrated by Gina Perry
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770496057 | Tundra Books
A gang of mythical creatures is roaming around a magical land having a great time, until Bigfoot gets his foot stuck in a tree trunk and Unicorn gets her horn impaled on a table and Robot’s saw-arm gets rusted into position. But have no fear! Dad is there to fix things – even when a Sneaky Flying Alligator Pirate steals the Fairy Queen Ballerina Doctor’s wand. A hilarious story about imagination, play and the best parts about being a dad.

Just Me and My Dad
By Mercer Mayer
24 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780307118394 | Random House BFYR
Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter is going on a camping trip with his dad in this classic, funny, and heartwarming book. Whether he and his dad are canoeing, fishing, or building a campfire, parents and children alike will relate to this beloved story. A perfect gift for Father’s Day . . . or any day!

Leo Loves Daddy
By Anna McQuinn
Illustrated by Ruth Hearson
32 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9781623542412 | Charlesbridge
Perfect for Father’s Day or every day, this sweet companion to Leo Loves Mommy and spin-off of the best-selling Lola Reads series celebrates the love between young children and their dads. Leo and Daddy love to make pancakes for breakfast, dance to the beat, and go to the park together. When it’s time to sleep, Daddy’s hugs are the snuggliest.

My Dad Is Awesome by Bluey and Bingo
48 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593519653 | Penguin Young Readers Licenses
Bluey and Bingo share why their dad is awesome in this hilarious and heartwarming picture book, featuring everyone’s favorite Heelers. Based on the on the wildly successful animated series, Bluey, as seen on Disney+. Everyone loves Bandit, but especially Bluey and Bingo! He’s always making up funny games, playing Daddy Robot, and taking them on exciting adventures. This is the perfect book to celebrate your dad on Father’s Day, or any day, and share what makes him awesome!  

Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink
By Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison, with Randi Hampson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264496 | Tundra Books
What does “skinnamarink” mean? You may not find its definition in a dictionary, but the meaning is clear to the generations of children who sang along: friendship, happiness, sharing, community and, ultimately, love. This song has been sung in weddings and in classrooms. It can be fun and silly – especially with the accompanying actions! And it has a way of bringing people together. Based on the classic folk song made famous by a beloved trio of children’s entertainers, this picture book is best sung aloud! “Skinnamarink” is a timeless anthem of love and inclusion.

Tadpoles
By Matt James
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823450053 | Neal Porter Books
One rainy morning, a father and son bond over a walk through a field full of freshly formed ponds teeming with tadpoles. In this tender reflection on the fleeting rhythms of the natural world and the enduring love of family, a boy and his father spend a morning exploring an ephemeral pond, a delicate nursery formed by rainfall, perfect for sheltering tadpoles from predators as they grow. The boy’s father doesn’t live with him anymore, and the ponds may only be temporary, but together they make memories that just might last a lifetime. 

The Bench
By Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272163 | Tundra Books
In The Bench, Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between father and son and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family. Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Duchess’s debut children’s book gives us a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and comfort and nurture. Working in watercolor for the first time, Caldecott-winning, bestselling illustrator Christian Robinson expands on his signature style to bring joy and softness to the pages, reflecting the beauty of a father’s love through a mother’s eyes. With a universal message, this thoughtful and heartwarming read-aloud is destined to be treasured by families for generations to come.

The Family Tree
By Sean Dixon
Illustrated by Lily Snowden-Fine
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267664 | Tundra Books
When her teacher gives her class a simple family tree assignment, Ada is stumped. How can she make her family fit into this simple template? Ada is adopted. She can see where to put her parents on the tree, but what about her birth mom? Ada has a biological sister, but her sister has different adoptive parents – where do they go on the tree? But with the help of her friends and family, Ada figures it out. She creates her family tree . . . and so much more. Loosely based on the author’s own experience, this moving story explores the different ways families are created and how the modern family is more diverse and welcoming than ever before.

The Hockey Sweater
By Roch Carrier
Illustrated by Sheldon Cohen
Translated by Sheila Fischman
24 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735268685 | Tundra Books
In the days of Roch’s childhood, winters in the village of Ste. Justine were long. Life centered around school, church, and the hockey rink, and every boy’s hero was Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice Richard. Everyone wore Richard’s number 9. They laced their skates like Richard. They even wore their hair like Richard. When Roch outgrows his cherished Canadiens sweater, his mother writes away for a new one. Much to Roch’s horror, he is sent the blue and white sweater of the rival Toronto Maple Leafs, dreaded and hated foes to his beloved team. How can Roch face the other kids at the rink?

Where’s Baby?
By Anne Hunter
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264984 | Tundra Books
Papa Fox is looking for Baby Fox, who is just out of his sight . . . but not ours! In this clever introduction to prepositions, a near-sighted Papa is looking for his baby. Is Baby up in the tree? Is Baby under the log? Is Baby around the corner? Where could Baby be? Readers will delight in spotting the little fox on every page as Papa wanders the forest, encountering other animals all along the way, but never quite able to spot his own baby. Anne Hunter’s delicate and lovely illustrations with their limited palette highlight the humor of this adorable hide-and-seek tale.

Mother’s Day 2023

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate the moms (and mom-like figures!) in your life than with a book?

Baby Squeaks
By Anne Hunter
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269095 | Tundra Books
Baby mouse has learned to squeak. And now it’s squeak, squeak, squeak all day long. Baby chats with new friends and old friends, big friends and little friends, and sometimes just chats with no one at all. Poor Mama needs a break . . . but when Baby wanders off, Mama knows what to do: follow the squeaks! Little readers will love this chatty baby mouse, and big readers will find Mama’s reactions very familiar . . . Anne Hunter’s delicate and lovely illustrations highlight the humor in this delightfully funny tale.

Bluey: Mum School
By Penguin Young Readers Licenses
32 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593658413 | Penguin Young Readers Licenses
Bluey wants to play Mum School instead of taking her bath. But when Bluey’s balloon kids go out of control, Bluey doesn’t know what to do! Will Bluey figure out what they need before bathtime?

Granny and Bean
By Karen Hesse
Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536214048 | Candlewick
Their laughter rose; full of joy, it spilled
’cross sand, through mist, as the curlews trilled. Gray skies, foamy waves, and brisk wind await Granny and Bean when they head out for their day by the sea. But they are full of only wonder and delight at all the shore has to offer. They listen for the shrieks of the seabirds as they discover treasures hidden in the sand, greet dogs as they pass, leap over logs, and settle out of the wind for a cozy treat before tramping homeward again. Rendered in simple, lilting text by Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse and expressive, windswept art from acclaimed illustrator Charlotte Voake, Granny and Bean have an adventure to cherish until their next magical day at the shore.

Great Job, Mom!
By Holman Wang
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880364 | Tundra Books
Being a mom is eleven jobs in one! This unique picture book for very young readers celebrates the many jobs being a parent encompasses: A general who rallies the troops (or unruly kids), a curator of modern art (or finger paintings), an archeologist looking for buried treasures (or socks) . . . when Mom gets home from her day job as a carpenter, she never knows which job will be waiting for her, but she knows it’ll be fun! Each rhyming spread features intimate, familiar, comforting and humorous depictions of family life through a wholly original – and amazing! – needle-felted lens.

I Love Grandma with The Very Hungry Caterpillar
By Eric Carle
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593523155 | World of Eric Carle
Join The Very Hungry Caterpillar as he honors grandmas everywhere! With cheerful illustrations and sweet sentiments, this heartfelt keepsake will show Grandma just how much you care.

I’ll Go and Come Back
By Rajani LaRocca
Illustrated by Sara Palacios
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536207170 | Candlewick
When Jyoti visits her grandmother halfway around the world, she is overwhelmed by the differences between India and home. At first she feels lonely and out of place, but soon, despite a language barrier, she and Sita Pati are able to understand each other. They form a bond—looking at books together, making designs with colored sand, shopping at the market, playing games, eating chapatis, and sipping warm milk with saffron to bring sweet dreams. When it’s time to part, Jyoti doesn’t want to leave, but then she remembers that in Tamil, people don’t say goodbye, they say “I’ll go and come back.” Sure enough, the two reunite the next summer when Pati visits Jyoti in America, and it’s Jyoti’s turn to make her grandmother feel welcome. Can they create some special memories that will last until the next time they see each other?

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle
By Nina LaCour
Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211511 | Candlewick
For one little girl, there’s no place she’d rather be than sitting between Mama and Mommy. So when Mommy goes away on a work trip, it’s tricky to find a good place at the table. As the days go by, Mama brings her to the library, they watch movies, and all of them talk on the phone, but she still misses Mommy as deep as the ocean and as high as an astronaut up in the stars. As they pass by a beautiful garden, the girl gets an idea . . . but when Mommy finally comes home, it takes a minute to shake off the empty feeling she felt all week before leaning in for a kiss. Michael L. Printz Award winner Nina LaCour thoughtfully renders a familiar, touching story of a child who misses a parent, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, whose distinctive style brings charm and playfulness to this delightful family of three.

Maud and Grand-Maud
By Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Kenard Pak
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918692 | Tundra Books
Maud loves the weekends that she stays over at her grandma’s house. There’s always breakfast-for-supper, matching nightgown, black-and-white movies and best of all — having someone to listen to her dreams for when she grows up. But what makes the visit extra-special is what Grand-Maud has hidden in an old chest under her bed. Sometimes there are paint sets, toys, homemade cookies, handknit mittens or sweaters. But Maud finds a wonderful surprise when she finds a belonging from Grand-Maud’s childhood. When she grows up, Maud wants to be just like Grand-Maud. Maud and Grand-Maud is a sweet celebration of the unique bond between grandparents and grandchildren.

Mommy’s Hometown
By Hope Lim
Illustrated by Jaime Kim
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536213324 | Candlewick
This gentle, contemplative picture book about family origins invites us to ponder the meaning of home. A young boy loves listening to his mother describe the place where she grew up, a world of tall mountains and friends splashing together in the river. Mommy’s stories have let the boy visit her homeland in his thoughts and dreams, and now he’s old enough to travel with her to see it for himself. But when mother and son arrive, the town is not as he imagined. Skyscrapers block the mountains, and crowds hurry past. The boy feels like an outsider—until they visit the river where his mother used to play, and he sees that the spirit and happiness of those days remain. Sensitively pitched to a child’s-eye view, this vivid story honors the immigrant experience and the timeless bond between parent and child, past and present.

Mum, Me, and the Mulberry Tree
By Tanya Rosie
Illustrated by Chuck Groenink
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536220353 | Candlewick
As the sun starts to rise, a young girl and her mother set out on the bus, riding knee to knee to visit their mulberry tree in the English countryside. With buckets and tubs in hand for collecting berries, the two spend a day picnicking, waiting out a summer shower under their tree, and climbing as high as they can to pick the best mulberries, the ones that are tucked away from the world. When the sun starts to set, they head home to bake a delicious pie, all the while knowing they’ll be back next year to do it all again. Author Tanya Rosie makes her picture book debut with a heartfelt story honoring family traditions and time spent together with someone you love.

My Baba’s Garden
By Jordan Scott
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823450831 | Neal Porter Books
A young boy spends his mornings with his beloved Baba, his grandmother. She doesn’t speak much English, but they connect through gestures, gardening, eating, and walking to school together. Marked by memories of wartime scarcity, Baba cherishes food, and the boy learns to do the same. Eventually, Baba needs to move in with the boy and his parents, and he has the chance to care for her as she’s always cared for him. nspired by memories from poet Jordan Scott’s childhood, with beautiful, dreamlike illustrations by award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith, My Baba’s Garden is a deeply personal story that evokes universal emotions. Like Scott and Smith’s previous collaboration I Talk Like a River, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, My Baba’s Garden lends wistful appreciation to cherished time with family.

Nana, Nenek & Nina
By Liza Ferneyhough
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593353943 | Dial Books
Nina lives in San Francisco with her parents, and she loves visiting her two grandmas across the world. Follow Nina as her two trips unfold side by side: Young readers will love poring over the details of what is the same and what is different at Nana’s home in England and at Nenek’s home in Malaysia. In each place, Nina wears different clothes, plays different games, and eats different food. But so much about visiting Nana and Nenek is the same, from warm hugs at the airport to beach days and bedtime snuggles. Nina is equally at home across the world in Malaysia or England, and both of her grandmas love her to California and back.

Something About Grandma
By Tania de Regil
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201949 | Candlewick
At Grandma’s house, where Julia is staying without her parents for the first time, the breeze is sweet like jasmine. Mornings begin with sugared bread, and the most magnificent hot chocolate cures all homesickness. There’s something about this place . . . and about Grandma. Like how she can tell when Julia has been quietly picking limes from the garden. Or that she can see the future – and knows when Julia is about to fall off her bike. Or how she can journey back in time through the stories she tells. In the room where Julia’s mother grew up, her grandmother holds her in a warm embrace – an embrace that Julia will pass on to her family when her parents arrive with her new baby brother. With Tania de Regil’s heartfelt illustrations, incorporating poems by her great-grandfather that were handwritten by her grandmother, Something About Grandma offers a tender and playful exploration of the magic of intergenerational love and wisdom.

The Blur
By Minh Lê
Illustrated by Dan Santat
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593377468 | Knopf BFYR
From the very beginning, there was something different about this child… An ultrasonic voice. Fantastically elastic limbs. Super-magnetic powers. But it wasn’t until the child took her first steps that she became: THE BLUR! Nothing can stand in her way as she takes the world by storm: always on the move and darting into danger! All too soon, she is zipping through the days, and zooming over the years… Framed as an origin story, here is a fun superhero romp for kids, filled with bold and bright illustrations, that will pull at the heartstrings of every parent.

The Care and Keeping of Grandmas
By Jennifer Mook-Sang
Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271340 | Tundra Books
It can be discombobulating for all involved when a grandma moves in permanently. Fortunately, our narrator has gone through it and has LOTS of tips on how to make your grandma feel at home. In a story filled with humor, confusion and moments of sweetness, Jennifer Mook-Sang introduces us to a delightful family dynamic and a grandma who doesn’t really need the help settling in but appreciates it anyway. As Grandma goes about her days, her well-meaning granddaughter sees her caring for her plants, and makes sure that Grandma is getting the proper care too.

Together With You
By Patricia Toht
Illustrated by Jarvis
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536223514 | Candlewick
For one grandmother and grandchild, keeping dry in spring showers is easy when dashing through the drops side by side. In summer they stay cool with a squirt of the hose, then savor frozen treats in the shade. In autumn, snug in sweaters, they fly a kite while leaning into each other against the wind. And winter finds them nestling under blankets, sipping cocoa and watching the snow quietly fall. Narrated as a kind of love letter from a young child to a grandparent, this picture book pairs Patricia Toht’s safe, tender text with gentle art from Jarvis that meets it at every turn. An ideal gift from grandparent to grandchild (or the other way around), this charming story makes it clear that “no matter the weather, whatever we do, every day’s better together with you.”

Tough Like Mum
By Lana Button
Illustrated by Carmen Mok
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265981 | Tundra Books
Kim’s mum is tough. Everyone says so. She can deal with unruly customers at the Red Rooster with a snap of her fingers. Kim is tough, too. She doesn’t need to wear a hat to keep her ears warm. And she can make soup all by herself, even without the stove. Kim and her mum are tough. But Kim is learning that sometimes toughness doesn’t look like what you’d expect. In this tender exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, Kim and her mother learn that in order to support and truly take care of each other, they need to be tough — and that sometimes being tough means showing vulnerability and asking for help.

When I Talk to God, I Talk About You
By Chrissy Metz and Bradley Collins
Illustrated by Lisa Fields
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593525241 | Flamingo Books
When I talk to God, guess what I do? It’s really quite simple: I talk about you. From bears and otters to rabbits and raccoons, these animals describe the many things they pray to God for as their little ones grow right before their eyes. With stunning illustrations from Lisa Fields, this is a touching ode to unconditional love and the perfect book to help introduce little ones to prayer.

You Are My Favorite Color
By Gillian Sze
Illustrated by Nina Mata
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593203101 | Philomel Books
So begins a mother’s celebration of her children’s brown skin, told through warm and vivid poetry. With sweeping descriptions of what brown skin means—it is the brawny bear whose paws know the ground of its home, the sequoia tree that reaches up and touches the sun, the glossy shell of roasted chestnuts—this is a book that empowers as it embraces, and that reminds young readers that they have shades of color that only they can discover and express. With beautiful, lyrical text by powerhouse poet Gillian Sze and vibrant, engaging art by illustrator Nina Mata, the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of LeBron James’s I Promise, this is more than a story of love—it is a song that rings out for brown kids everywhere.

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Mama’s Sleeping Scarf
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writing as Nwa Grace-James
Illustrated by Joelle Avelino
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774882696 | Puffin Canada
Chino loves the scarf that her mama ties around her hair at night. But when Mama leaves for the day, what happens to her scarf? Chino takes it on endless adventures! Peeking through the colorful haze of the silky scarf, Chino and her toy bunny can look at her whole family as they go through their routines. With stunning illustrations from Joelle Avelino, Mama’s Sleeping Scarf is a celebration of family, and a touching story about the everyday objects that remind us of the ones we love.

Valentine’s Day Reading

This Valentine’s Day, spend some quality time with your littlest reader and a good book – here are some suggestions!

Bunny Roo and Duckling Too
By Melissa Marr
Illustrated by Teagan White
32 Pages | Ages 1-3 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525516040 | Nancy Paulsen Books
A loving mama has fun sharing the various animals her growing child resembles, in this delightful companion to Bunny Roo, I Love You. It’s hard to keep up with an energetic toddler, and as an adoring mom tries to, she describes all the frisky young animals her little one reminds her of – from a hopping frog and a squirming snake, to her adorable cuddly bunny.

Crocodiles Need Kisses Too
By Rebecca Colby
Illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan
40 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780451480071 | Viking BFYR
Fun-to-read-aloud, rhyming text describes prickly porcupines, roaring tigers, and slithery snakes – not the most cuddly creatures, but still worthy of hugs and snuggles from their mamas! With a luscious and colorful palette, Crocodiles Need Kisses Too shows that animals (and children) don’t have to be warm and fuzzy to be totally lovable.

Elmo Loves You
By Sarah Albee
Illustrated by Maggie Swanson
26 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Board
ISBN 9780399552182 | Golden Books
In this Sesame Street Little Golden Book, Elmo tells in a rollicking, rap-like rhyme how everybody has something special to care about. And Elmo reminds his readers that, yes, “Elmo loves you!” Though this humor-laced poem is a natural for Valentine’s Day, toddlers will love it year-round.

Guess How Much I Love You: Blush Sweetheart Edition
By Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536216806 | Candlewick
It’s a sentiment shared across the world – and a classic book treasured from one generation to the next. Now the droll tale of a big and little hare vying to love each other as high as they can hop, as far as they can reach, up to the sky and beyond, receives a captivating new treatment. With shiny rose-gold lettering, a pearlescent pale-pink cover frames Little Nutbrown Hare inside a cut-out heart – an endearing design sure to charm anyone who adores somebody more than they can measure.

Huggy Kissy
By Leslie Patricelli
26 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board
ISBN 9781536211351 | Candlewick
When you’re an adorable bald baby, your family finds lots of ways to show you how much they love you: Mommy lifts you uppy, Daddy kisses you on the tummy, and everyone wants to snuggle. What’s not to love? With comedy and warmth, Leslie Patricelli offers a universal tribute to love and affection in a board book full of instant appeal for little valentines everywhere.

I Love You to the Moon and Back
By Amelia Hepworth
Illustrated by Tim Warnes
28 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Board
ISBN 9781589255517 | Tiger Tales
The sun rises, and a bear and cub begin their day together. They splash in the water, climb mountains, watch the colorful lights in the shimmering sky, and play with friends. They show their love for each other by touching noses, chasing each other, and, of course, hugging and snuggling before bed. A sweet, gentle rhyme, perfect for sharing with a special little one that also includes a “To” and “From” personalization page in the front of the book, making this heartwarming book an ideal gift.

I Love You With All My Heart
By Jane Chapman
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781680101898 | Tiger Tales
With a wonderfully strong message of unconditional love, this book is perfect for little ones who need reassurance from time to time. Little Bear has broken Mommy’s favorite sunflower plant. What if her mom won’t love her anymore? Luckily, Mommy knows just what to do. . . . “Put your paw on your heart,” she smiles, “and you’ll feel my love going on and on forever!”

Love
By Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by Loren Long
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524740917 | Putnam BFYR
In this heartfelt celebration of love, Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

Love from the Crayons
By Drew Daywalt
Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
32 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524792688 | Penguin Workshop
Ring in Valentine’s Day – and love – with the New York Times Best-Selling Crayons! This charming new title featuring everyone’s favorite coloring crew is the perfect gift for that special someone on Valentine’s Day – or any day of the year. This special gift book, featuring all the The Crayons from The Day the Crayons Quit, explores the bright colors and subtle shades of love. This is a must-have for fans of The Crayons, and the perfect gift for that special someone.

Love from the Very Hungry Caterpillar
By Eric Carle
32 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780448489322 | World of Eric Carle
“You are the cherry on my cake; you make the sun shine brighter; you make my heart flutter.” Using a range of images from the World of Eric Carle, and featuring the Very Hungry Caterpillar, this special gift book gives all the reasons why someone special makes the world a better and brighter place. Perfect for that someone special any day of the year!

My Love Is All Around
By Danielle McLean
Illustrated by Sebastien Braun
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781680101942 | Tiger Tales
Mommy Bear shows Baby Bear how love is all around them no matter where they go and what they do! Join Mommy Bear and Baby Bear as they discover that love is all around them.

Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink
By Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison, with Randi Hampson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264069 | Tundra Books
What does “skinnamarink” mean? You may not find its definition in a dictionary, but the meaning is clear to the generations of children who sang along: friendship, happiness, sharing, community and, ultimately, love. This song has been sung in weddings and in classrooms. It can be fun and silly – especially with the accompanying actions! And it has a way of bringing people together. Through Qin Leng’s wonderfully imaginative illustrations, this delightful picture book tells the story of a community coming together. Young and old, from little mice to a big elephant, people and animals gather into a spontaneous parade as they follow the sound of music.

The Boy Who Loved Everyone
By Jane Porter
Illustrated by Maisie Paradise Shearring
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211238 | Candlewick
Dimitri may be small, but his heart is as big and as open as a cloudless blue sky. “I love you,” Dimitri tells his new classmates at preschool. “I love you,” Dimitri tells the class guinea pig and the ants on the ground. “I love you,” Dimitri tells the paintbrushes and the tree with heart-shaped leaves. So why doesn’t anyone say “I love you” back? Could love also be expressed in unspoken ways? In a familiar story of navigating the social cues of new friendship, author Jane Porter and illustrator Maisie Paradise Shearring offer a thoughtful tribute to the tender ones – those who spread kindness simply by being, and who love without bounds.

Vintage Valentines
By Golden Books
12 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780375875144 | Golden Books
This nostalgic Little Golden Book will conjure up memories of dollies, glitter, and shoeboxes full of homemade valentines! A very special collection of vintage-style press-out cards and envelopes with red flocking on the cover that will make consumers long for the simpler times when these cards were originally created.