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!

Tundra Top Ten: September

Want to know what everyone else has been reading and loving lately? Every month we will share our list of top ten bestselling kids’ books that we publish into North America. Here are the Tundra and Puffin Canada titles for the month of September 2022 – how many have you read?

1. Narwhal and Jelly Series
By Ben Clanton
Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271364 | Tundra Books
Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do both love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together. A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series with each volume featuring three stories. The series celebrates the value of positivity and creativity.

2. Night Lunch
By Eric Fan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270572 | Tundra Books
Noses sniff the air as mouthwatering smells waft down city streets, luring growling bellies to the Night Owl. Inside this elegant, horse-drawn establishment, a feathery cook works the grill, serving up tasty dishes for shift-workers and operagoers alike: a mince pie for Fox, a ham sandwich for Badger and puddings for little Possums. Mouse, a poor street sweeper, watches as the line of customers swells, ever hopeful that someone will drop a morsel of food – but Owl’s cooking is far too delicious for more than a crumb to be found. As the evening’s service winds down, weary Owl spots trembling Mouse. Has he found his own night lunch, or will he invite this small sweeper inside for a midnight feast for two? From the imagination of two acclaimed picture book creators, together for the first time, this dreamlike picture book is a magical ode to Victorian lunch wagons. Evoking the sounds, sights, smells and tastes of the city at night, Night Lunch reveals how empathy and kindness as well as dignity and gratitude can be found – and savored – in the most unexpected places.

3. The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga #1
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything – including them.

4. The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt
By Riel Nason
Illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264472 | Tundra Books
Ghosts are supposed to be sheets, light as air and able to whirl and twirl and float and soar. But the little ghost who is a quilt can’t whirl or twirl at all, and when he flies, he gets very hot. He doesn’t know why he’s a quilt. His parents are both sheets, and so are all of his friends. (His great-grandmother was a lace curtain, but that doesn’t really help cheer him up.) He feels sad and left out when his friends are zooming around and he can’t keep up. But one Halloween, everything changes. The little ghost who was a quilt has an experience that no other ghost could have, an experience that only happens because he’s a quilt . . . and he realizes that it’s OK to be different.

5. Ghostlight
By Kenneth Oppel
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272330 | Puffin Canada
The story of the tragic death of sixteen-year-old Rebecca Strand and her lighthouse keeper father is just an elaborate tale Gabe tells tourists for his summer job on the Toronto Island. Or so he thought. When his ghost tours awaken Rebecca’s spirit, Gabe is drawn into a world far darker than any ghost story he’s ever heard. Rebecca reveals that she and her father were connected to The Order, a secret society devoted to protecting the world from “the wakeful and wicked dead”—malevolent spirits like Viker, the ghost responsible for their deaths. But now the Order has disappeared and Viker is growing even stronger, and he’ll stop at nothing to wreak chaos and destruction on the living. Gabe and his friends – both living and dead – must find a way to stop Viker before they all become lost souls.

6. How to Teach Your Cat a Trick in Five Easy Steps
By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by Zoe Si
52 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270619 | Tundra Books
Step one: Decide on a trick
Step two: Get some treats ready
Step three: Hold the treat in your hand and ask your cat to do the trick
Step four: Watch your cat do exactly what you asked him to do
Step five: Reward your cat for doing the trick
Simple, right? This spoof on an instruction manual features an increasingly bewildered human, a nonchalant cat, a very good dog and a know-it-all narrator . . . who really doesn’t know it all. How DO you teach a cat a trick? Read on to find out!

7. 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.

8. My Self, Your Self
By Esmé Shapiro
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880234 | Tundra Books
From the way you button your coat to the way you tap your toes, from the top of your head to your adorable tummy, there are so many reasons to love your self, and so many reasons to be loved. Join a group of endearing forest creatures as they bake and eat cranberry-butter-pie muffins, sing silly songs at bath time and stop to smell the chestnut-nettle roses, all the while exploring their individuality. This joyously affirming picture book from the inimitable Esmé Shapiro encourages the youngest readers to get to know and love and be kind to their wonderful selves and the equally wonderful selves around them.

9. How to Make Friends with a Ghost
By Rebecca Green
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880401 | Tundra Books
What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some of its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no one mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren’t looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you’ll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you. A whimsical story about ghost care, Rebecca Green’s debut picture book is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and the timeless theme of friendship.

10. Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf: A Counting Story
By Davide Cali
Illustrated by Marianna Balducci
36 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269910 | Tundra Books
In this clever counting book, the big bad wolf doesn’t want to tell a long story. He wants to get to the eating part. But the reader has other ideas. From a pig soccer team to a pig for every letter of the alphabet to 101 pigs in an animated movie, the stories get more and more fantastical . . . but they’re always too short and they ALL end the same way. Using an abacus as the basis for her illustrations, Marianna creates beguiling little pigs and a menacing but slightly bored wolf that perfectly complement the inventive story by Davide Cali. Come for the counting, stay for the storytelling! This book has it all.

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. The following titles are now available in stores and online!

Green Mountain Academy
By Frances Greenslade
240 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267848 | Tundra Books
After a family trip turned disastrous when their truck broke down in the middle of an old logging road in Oregon, Francie is now back in British Columbia. People try to make things as “normal” as possible for her, but they don’t understand that trying to be normal in your old life that’s exploded is the worst feeling in the world. Luckily for Francie, the wilderness is still soothing, and an opportunity to attend the Green Mountain Academy, a tiny boarding school perched on the side of a mountain, seems perfect. It’s a new start, with new friends and a chance at a new family. But when a winter storm hits, knocking out all the power, news that a small plane has gone missing unsettles Francie. Knowing that the chance of survival in the middle of a wild nighttime snowstorm diminishes over time, Francie is compelled to leave the cozy school and set out into the icy cold, swirling snowstorm.

How to Teach Your Cat a Trick in Five Easy Steps
By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by Zoe Si
52 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270619 | Tundra Books
Step one: Decide on a trick
Step two: Get some treats ready
Step three: Hold the treat in your hand and ask your cat to do the trick
Step four: Watch your cat do exactly what you asked him to do
Step five: Reward your cat for doing the trick
Simple, right? This spoof on an instruction manual features an increasingly bewildered human, a nonchalant cat, a very good dog and a know-it-all narrator . . . who really doesn’t know it all. How DO you teach a cat a trick? Read on to find out!

My Self, Your Self
By Esmé Shapiro
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880234 | Tundra Books
From the way you button your coat to the way you tap your toes, from the top of your head to your adorable tummy, there are so many reasons to love your self, and so many reasons to be loved. Join a group of endearing forest creatures as they bake and eat cranberry-butter-pie muffins, sing silly songs at bath time and stop to smell the chestnut-nettle roses, all the while exploring their individuality. This joyously affirming picture book from the inimitable Esmé Shapiro encourages the youngest readers to get to know and love and be kind to their wonderful selves and the equally wonderful selves around them.

Night Lunch
By Eric Fan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270572 | Tundra Books
Noses sniff the air as mouthwatering smells waft down city streets, luring growling bellies to the Night Owl. Inside this elegant, horse-drawn establishment, a feathery cook works the grill, serving up tasty dishes for shift-workers and operagoers alike: a mince pie for Fox, a ham sandwich for Badger and puddings for little Possums. Mouse, a poor street sweeper, watches as the line of customers swells, ever hopeful that someone will drop a morsel of food – but Owl’s cooking is far too delicious for more than a crumb to be found. As the evening’s service winds down, weary Owl spots trembling Mouse. Has he found his own night lunch, or will he invite this small sweeper inside for a midnight feast for two? From the imagination of two acclaimed picture book creators, together for the first time, this dreamlike picture book is a magical ode to Victorian lunch wagons. Evoking the sounds, sights, smells and tastes of the city at night, Night Lunch reveals how empathy and kindness as well as dignity and gratitude can be found – and savored – in the most unexpected places.

Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf: A Counting Story
By Davide Cali
Illustrated by Marianna Balducci
36 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269910 | Tundra Books
In this clever counting book, the big bad wolf doesn’t want to tell a long story. He wants to get to the eating part. But the reader has other ideas. From a pig soccer team to a pig for every letter of the alphabet to 101 pigs in an animated movie, the stories get more and more fantastical . . . but they’re always too short and they ALL end the same way. Using an abacus as the basis for her illustrations, Marianna creates beguiling little pigs and a menacing but slightly bored wolf that perfectly complement the inventive story by Davide Cali. Come for the counting, stay for the storytelling! This book has it all.

New in Audio:

Journal of a Travelling Girl
By Nadine Neema
Read by Nadine Neema
Ages 10-14 | Audiobook
ISBN 9781774882924 | Tundra Books
Eleven-year-old Julia has lived in Wekweètì, NWT, since she was five. Although the people of Wekweètì have always treated her as one of their own, Julia sometimes feels like an outsider, disconnected from the traditions and ancestral roots that are so central to the local culture. When Julia sets off on the canoe trip she is happy her best friends, Layla and Alice, will also be there. However, the trip is nothing like she expected. She is afraid of falling off the boat, of bears, and of storms. Layla’s grandparents (who Julia calls Grandma and Grandpa) put her to work but won’t let her paddle the canoe. While on land Julia would rather goof around with her friends than do chores. Gradually, Grandma and Grandpa show her how to survive on the land and pull her own weight, and share their traditional stories with her. Julia learns to gather wood, cook, clean, and paddle the canoe, becoming more mature and responsible each day. The journey ends at Behchoko, where the historic Tłı̨chǫ Agreement of 2005 is signed, and the Tłı̨chǫ People celebrate their hard-won right to self-government. Julia is there to witness history. Inspired by true events, this story was written at the request of John B. Zoe, Chief Negotiator of the Tłı̨chǫ Agreement, as a way of teaching the Tłı̨chǫ youth about that landmark achievement. Journal of a Travelling Girl has been read and endorsed by several Wekweètì community members and Elders. The book will appeal to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children for its relatable themes of family, loss, coming-of-age, and the struggle to connect with tradition and culture.

We can’t wait to see you reading these titles! If you share these books online, remember to use #ReadTundra in your hashtags so that we can re-post.

Our New Publishing Assistant: Meet Katie!

Hi! My name is Katie, and I am the new Publishing Assistant at Tundra. I am originally from Scotland, but I moved to Canada three years ago to do a Master’s in English Literature at Queen’s University. Throughout my degree I took every available opportunity to specialize in children’s literature, especially YA Fantasy. I am slowly working my way through the Toronto Metropolitan University’s certificate in publishing and them I will be done studying . . . probably.

When I am not at work, I love to experiment with new recipes. I have recently decided to go vegetarian, so I have been turning all our family favorites meat-free. My other hobbies include barre exercise classes, falling asleep watching murder mystery shows, and buying more books than I have time to read.

5 Random Facts About Me

  1. I was on the United Kingdom’s U17 fencing team and represented the country at competitions domestically and abroad.
  2. I was born on the same day Harry Potter took the Hogwarts Express for the first time.
  3. I have been skydiving.
  4. I was one of the first members of the Glasgow University Tea Society.
  5. I have a small scar on my ankle from crashing an electric scooter in Calgary.

Favorite Penguin Random House Titles

How to Promenade with a Python (and Not Get Eaten)
By Rachel Poliquin
Illustrated by Kathryn Durst
84 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266582 | Tundra Books
Celeste is a cockroach, and everyone knows that cockroaches are survivors, so who better to give advice on surviving an encounter with a polite predator? Everyone also knows that taking a moonlit promenade with a deadly reticulated python (named Frank) is a very bad idea. But Celeste loves very bad ideas, and she is willing to put your life on the line to prove herself right! Need to stop a python from swallowing you head-first? Wear a lamp shade as a hat! Want to speed up a three-hundred-pound snake? Try roller skates! What’s the perfect light snack for a python? A chicken! Using her superior pythonine knowledge, Celeste comes up with various strategies and solutions – many dangerous, most absurd, but all based on the biology of pythons. Meanwhile, Frank is hatching his own plans.

The Barnabus ProjectThe Barnabus Project
By The Fan Brothers
72 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263260 | Tundra Books
Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets, where children can buy genetically engineered “perfect” creatures, there is a secret lab. Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them is perfect. They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars. But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn’t want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it’s time for he and the others to escape. With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom – and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are. This suspenseful, poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.

How to Make Friends with a Ghost
By Rebecca Green
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880401 | Tundra Books
What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some of its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no one mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren’t looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you’ll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you. A whimsical story about ghost care, Rebecca Green’s debut picture book is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and the timeless theme of friendship.

Ooko
By Esmé Shapiro
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918449 | Tundra Books
Ooko has everything a fox could want: a stick, a leaf and a rock. Well, almost everything . . . Ooko wants someone to play with too! The foxes in town always seem to be playing with their two-legged friends, the Debbies. Maybe if he tries to look like the other foxes, one of the Debbies will play with him too. But when Ooko finally finds his very own Debbie, things don’t turn out quite as he had expected! A quirky, funny, charmingly illustrated story about finding friendship and being true to yourself.

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen The Body Under the PianoAggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
336 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265486 | Tundra Books
Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative, but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal – including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends – to solve the case before Aggie’s beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn’t commit. Filled with mystery, adventure, an unforgettable heroine and several helpings of tea and sweets, The Body Under the Piano is the clever debut of a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere, from a Governor General’s Award-nominated author of historical fiction for children.

Favorite Non Penguin Random House Titles

Anticipated Penguin Random House Titles

Tundra Telegram: Books That You Should Never Ever Put Down

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we talk about things that are our current mood, and recommend some sick books you might low-key love.

We’re cheating a little this week by talking about yet another Netflix television series, but the entire Tundra team was just too excited for the return of one of the funniest teen comedy-dramas in some time, Never Have I Ever, to avoid it. And as star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan hails from Mississauga, Ontario, our Canadian pride was just too strong to resist. Plus, there are so few children’s books about heads of state taking classified documents.

Resultingly, this week we’re recommending picture books, middle-grade titles and – perhaps most fittingly – YA that connect, in one way or another, to the popular teen comedy series chronicling the victories and embarrassments of Sherman Oaks high school student Devi Vishwakumar. Read on, fellow Coyote Girls and Boys.

PICTURE BOOKS

We’re sure that Devi (and the actor who plays her, Maitreyi) can relate to Mirha, the protagonist of picture book That’s Not My Name!, written and illustrated by Torontonian Anoosha Syed. Mirha’s classmates mispronounce her name, she can’t find a monogrammed keychain at the gas station, and begins to wonder if she should find a new one until Mama helps her see how special her name is.

Whether it’s grief that causes temporary paralysis or a volcanic anger that leads to verbal altercations with her mother and declaring nuclear war at model U.N., one thing Devi has is Big Feelings, which is also the name of a picture book by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman. The book, much like Devi’s therapist Jamie Ryan, helps children’ navigate life when they feel mad, frustrated, or overwhelmed.

This isn’t a spoiler, as Never Have I Ever essentially opens with the death of Devi’s father, Mohan, but a lot of the emotional challenges Devi faces are traced back to the loss of a parent. Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing by Kenesha Sneed uses ceramics to tell the story of a mother and son (Eisha), coping with a lost father. Eisha learns to live with the sense of loss and of the joyful power of making something new out of what is left behind (even if it’s just a single voice mail).

More than a few times Devi’s father’s death has manifested itself in her dreams, which reminds us of another wonderful book about grief for young readers, A Garden of Creatures by Sheila Heti and Esmé Shapiro. After a bunny and cat lose their fellow garden friend, the big bunny, a strange dream prompts the smaller bunny to begin asking questions big questions about death. Along those same lines, Lost in the Clouds by Tom Tinn-Disbury, part of the new series, Difficult Conversations for Children, acts as a guide to talking to young kids about grief, as it follows Billy and his father while they navigate the loss of Billy’s mother

Never Have I Ever also makes us happy as it features a main character who is the romantic interest of several appealing suitors – and she has body hair. It reminds us of Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand and Nabi H. Ali, in which young Indian-American girl Laxmi falls in love with the hair on her upper lip, her arms, legs, and between her eyebrows!

The show wouldn’t be the same without the incredible narration from tennis star John McEnroe. Not only do McEnroe and Devi share a reputation for hot tempers, Devi’s story has sentimental connections to the tennis star. For a picture book that combines tennis greatness, temporary debilitating injuries, and social-emotional learning, you have to check out former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu’s Bibi’s Got Game, co-written by Mary Beth Leatherdale and illustrated by Chelsea O’Byrne.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

One element we haven’t dwelled on much yet is how uproariously funny Never Have I Ever is. Need another hit of humor? Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. has got you covered. Edited by Betsy Bird and featuring hilarious stories by Cece Bell, Libba Bray, Raina Telgemeier, and many more – all featuring funny girl friends (not unlike Devi, Eleanor, and Fabiola).

For a book that more precisely marries comedy with the challenges of being a second-generation teenager in America, try Jessica Kim’s beloved Stand Up, Yumi Chung! Yumi, a shy outsider whose parents run a Korean barbecue restaurant, plots to become a stand-up comedian (under a false identity) while she’s supposed to be studying for a private school scholarship. Like Never Have I Ever, it’s a charming story with bighearted characters.

In The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller, Natalie and her friends’ interest in science may be more of a Fabiola thing than a Devi one . But it’s a funny story about three friends who hope to use science to win an egg-drop contest in order to get Natalie’s mom out of a depression funk. And, like much of the show, it’s all about a kid learning their mother is a real person, too!

And though the protagonist of The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan by Salma Hussain is a first-generation immigrant (from Dubai), and lives about 30 years before Devi’s story, we think there are definitely similarities. It features a headstrong young girl who falls in love and deflects from big problems with humor: “We didn’t even get any days off school!” she notes, when talking about the first Persian Gulf War.

YOUNG ADULT

Debate club? Witty banter? A headstrong brown girl fighting back against some anti-Indian online memes. High school romance? While those sound like the ingredients of an episode of Never Have I Ever, they also describe the new YA novel TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Canadian Jesmeen Kaur Deo, in which a pretty, popular debater, TJ, sets out to demonstrate she can let her body hair grow naturally and still be beautiful.

Academic high-achieving rivals to lovers – shades of Devi and Ben Gross – Kavya and Ian anchor Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale. Kavya has always been told she’s a little too ambitious, a little too mouthy, and a little too much – or besharam (remind you of any TV characters?). But when she’s cast as Ariel in a job that supplies Disney princesses to children’s birthday parties, and her academic rival Ian is cast as Prince Eric? You know what happens next!

With a teen romance in the robotics club, My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth falls more into the Fabiola territory. But like Devi, protagonist Bel has no interest in robotics or engineering (even if she’s good at it), until handsome Mateo Luna (the book’s Paxton Hall-Yoshida), captain of the robotics club, insists they need her talent.

While there’s a conspicuous lack of Bollywood content on Never Have I Ever, we still feel Nisha Sharma’s very funny romance My So-Called Bollywood Life should be included with our recommendations. Sure, Winnie Mehta is obsessed with Bollywood films and Devi shows no interest in them, but they both experience romantic disaster with comic results and are feisty, second-generation heroines readers will root for.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon is the story of Frank Li, who – like Devi – is a teenager living in Southern California and is torn between the more traditional expectations of his family (who sacrificed a lot to raise him in the U.S.A.) and his strong desire to live the life of a “regular American teen” – and that includes dating a white girl. Plus, like Devi’s cousin Kamala, he winds up in a fake relationship within his culture that turns out to be something more.

And Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi, follows Parvin Mohammadi, a bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Iranian-American who’s just been very publicly dumped. But she’s got a scheme to solve all her problems with dating the hottest boy in school, Matty Fumero. She just has to study rom-coms and be the perfect dream girl. But over the course of the book she learns, as Devi so often does, that to get the boy, you just have to be yourself.

Happy reading, friends!