Our Stars of 2019

At Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, we think all our books are brilliant, and it’s nice when others think so too! Congratulations to our authors and illustrators, these are our starred books of 2019!

FOUR STARS:

It Began With a PageIt Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Hardcover | ISBN 9781101918593
Ages 5-9 | Tundra Books
“A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Maclear and Morstad’s biography conveys with quiet power how recently segregation reached into every aspect of American life, and how one woman did her part to defeat it.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“Maclear and Morstad pack a lot of information into a few pages. This exemplary biography of a pioneer in multicultural children’s books deserves a place in most collections.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“This beautiful biography offers a fitting tribute to an artist with a lasting legacy in American picture books.” – Starred Review, Booklist

TWO STARS:

The Royal Guide to Monster SlayingA Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
By Kelley Armstrong
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735265356
Ages 10-14 | Puffin Canada
“. . . [A] fast and fun read, a great read-a-like for Tamora Pierce’s ‘Tortall’ series.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“A fresh take on familiar fantasy creatures and situations.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

Alma and the BeastAlma and the Beast
By Esme Shapiro
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735263963
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
“With lessons on friendship, culture, and helping others, and language and art reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this endearing picture book is richly rewarding.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“It’s a sweetly psychedelic mix of Tove Jansson, Van Gogh, and what is now recognizably trademark Shapiro. . . . [her] tale is a gentle charmer, plain and simple.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Broken StringsBroken Strings
By Kathy Kacer and Eric Walters
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735266247
Ages 10-14 | Puffin Canada
“Shirli’s voice is true and strong as she narrates her own tale of rehearsals, her very ethnically diverse friendships, her deep distress as she witnesses Zayde’s pain, and her joy as he reconnects with his music. A beautiful, painful, heartfelt reminder that the past is with us still.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Walters and Kacer pull of this impressive feat of complex storytelling and make it look easy . . . . [It is an] honest, open and unflinching [story] about some of the more dark and traumatic aspects of history.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

King MouseKing Mouse
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735264045
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
“Graceful and perceptive in both illustration and text, the timeless theme is particularly pertinent today.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Each page is riotous and breathtaking.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Rayne and Delilah's Midnite MatineeRayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee
By Jeff Zentner
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735263048
Ages 14+ | Penguin Teen Canada
“Zentner’s quick-witted, charming characters tackle real-life issues with snappy dialogue and engaging levity.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“As in his award-winning The Serpent King (2016), Zentner packs a poignantly satisfying blend of wit and pathos, with lovable and unpredictable characters. . . . Readers looking for an unforgettable slice of small-town angst will love this one.” – Starred Review, Booklist

We Contain MultitudesWe Contain Multitudes
By Sarah Henstra
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735264212
Ages 14+ | Penguin Teen Canada
“This is an absolutely extraordinary work of fiction that proves the epistolary novel is an art form. Kurl and Jo are characters to die for, emotionally compelling and empathetic…. [This novel] is not to be missed.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“A love story, a therapy session, a reason to read Whitman-the sweetness of unexpected amour is here, as is the saline of sadness…Your reason to root for love-and the power of the pen.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

ONE STAR:

great job, dadGreat Job, Dad! and Great Job, Mom!
By Holman Wang
Hardcover | Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
ISBN 9780735264106 | ISBN 9780735264083
“The artwork in this tongue-in-cheek look at the many roles [dads] play in family life is certain to have readers poring over the pages.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Ho onaniHo’onani: Hula Warrior
By Heather Gale
Illustrated by Mika Song
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735264496
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
“Boldly outlined watercolor and ink artwork . . . convey visual information with strength that suggests Ho‘onani’s own. And Gale grounds the child’s experience, based on a true story, in Hawaiian traditions, modeling showing ‘every person the same unconditional acceptance and respect’.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

how to give your cat a bathHow to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps
By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by John Martz
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735263543
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
“This laugh-out-loud picture book can serve as a beginning reader. . . . The inevitable ending will delight both children and adults and this title will be requested over and over.” – Starred Review, Booklist

princess puffybottom and darrylPrincess Puffybottom . . . and Darryl
By Susin Nielsen
Illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller
Hardcover | ISBN 9781101919255
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
“Nielsen’s tale and Mueller’s digitally created pooch and puss pair perfectly. . . . Princess and Darryl need a sequel.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

NYPL’s Best Books of 2019

Every year, librarians who work for the New York Public Library read thousands of new releases and make a list of their favorite titles to recommend. Each book on their Best Books for Kids list features compelling characters and inspiring ideas and we’re thrilled that several of our titles were included this year! Congratulations to our creators!

The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster
By Cary Fagan
ISBN 9780735266216 | Hardcover
Ages 10-14 | Tundra Books

Hartley Staples, near-graduate of middle school, is grappling with the fact that his older brother has run away from home, when he finds a handmade postcard that fascinates him. And soon he spots another. Who is G.O. and why are they scattering cards about the town?

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior
By Heather Gale
Illustrated by Mika Song
ISBN 9780735264496 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books

Based on a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a celebration of Hawaiian culture and an empowering story of a girl who learns to lead and learns to accept who she really is – and in doing so, gains the respect of all those around her.

King Mouse
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
ISBN 9780735264045 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books

A sweet, thoughtful tale of friendship, sharing and play, King Mouse begins when a mouse comes upon a tiny crown in the grass. The mouse puts the crown on his head, and when a bear subsequently comes upon him and asks if he’s king, the mouse responds “Yes.”

The Not-So Great Outdoors
By Madeline Kloepper
ISBN 9780735264175 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books

A reluctant camper discovers that the (not-so) great outdoors can be just as exciting as screens and skyscrapers in this playful picture book celebration of the pleasures of unplugging and embracing nature.

These Books Are Based on a True Story

Ho onaniHo’onani:
Hula Warrior

By Heather Gale
Illustrated by Mika Song
ISBN 9780735264496 | Tundra Books
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 |  Hardcover
Ho’onani feels in-between. She doesn’t see herself as wahine (girl) OR kane (boy). She’s happy to be in the middle. But not everyone sees it that way. When Ho’onani finds out that there will be a school performance of a traditional kane hula chant, she wants to be part of it. But can a girl really lead the all-male troupe? Ho’onani has to try . . . Based on a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a celebration of Hawaiian culture and an empowering story of a girl who learns to lead and learns to accept who she really is–and in doing so, gains the respect of all those around her. Ho’onani’s story first appeared in the documentary A Place in the Middle by filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson.

Sergeant BillySergeant Billy: 
The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War
By Mireille Messier
Illustrated by Kass Reich
ISBN 9780735264427 | Tundra Books
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 |  Hardcover
During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort. This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration. This unforgettable goat and the platoon that loved him will capture your heart!

It Began With a PageIt Began with a Page:
How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way

by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
ISBN 9781101918593 | Tundra Books
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. But while Gyo’s career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family’s internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting — for herself, her vision, her family and her readers — and later wrote and illustrated the first children’s book to feature children of different races interacting together. This luminous new book beautifully and openly touches on Gyo’s difficult experiences and growth. Through Julie Morstad’s exquisite illustrations, alternating between striking black-and-white linework and lush colour, and Kyo Maclear’s artful and accessible writing, the story of this cherished figure is told at last.

EncounterEncounter
By Brittany Luby
Illustrated by Michaela Goade
ISBN 9780735265813 | Tundra Books
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
Based on an actual journal entry by French explorer Jacques Cartier from his first expedition to North America in July 1534, this story imagines the first encounter between a European sailor and a Stadaconan fisher. As the two navigate their differences (language, dress, food) with curiosity, the natural world around them notes their similarities. The seagull observes their like shadows, the mosquito notes their equally appealing blood, the mouse enjoys the crumbs both people leave behind. This story explores how encounters can create community and celebrates varying perspectives and the natural world. It is at once specific and universal. It’s a story based on a primary document and historical research, but it is in equal measure beautifully imagined. It makes room for us to recognize our differences while celebrating our shared humanity. Debut author Brittany Luby’s background in social justice and history brings a breathtaking depth of insight and understanding to this story and Michaela Goade’s expressive art brings equal life to the creatures and landscapes. An author’s note outlines the historical context as well as situates the story in the present day.

Based on a True Story Contest for Kids

We’re holding a non-fiction writing contest for kids ages 8−12. Non-fiction stories must be in English and between 800−2,000 words in length and contain at least one historical/current public figure (athlete, scientist, artist, writer, politician, etc.). Kids are encouraged to write about a moment in the public figure’s childhood. They will be judged on originality and readability by an expert panel, including Encounter author Brittany Luby and Sergeant Billy author Mireille Messier, as well as an editor and a marketing professional from Tundra Books.

The winning story will be posted on the Talking with Tundra blog on November 12th, 2019. The winner will also receive a signed copy of Sergeant Billy, Encounter and $50 worth of PRH Canada Young Readers books.

The Contest begins at 12:01 AM (Eastern Time) on August 12, 2019, and ends at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on October 12, 2019.

To enter, please see full rules here.