Intern Introductions: Meet Shannon!

Hi everyone! I’m Shannon Swift, I use she/her pronouns, and I am the new Editorial Intern at Tundra Books. I have a degree in Classical Studies and Gender Studies from Queen’s University, and I recently completed an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Publishing at Centennial College. I live in Courtice, Ontario, just outside of Oshawa.

When I’m not working, you can find me on my front porch with my dogs and a cup of tea, either reading or crocheting. I also love spending time with friends and going to the movies. I’m currently on a bit of an Alice Oseman kick (I love all things Heartstopper), but my go-to genre to read will always be a good horror/sci-fi thriller.

5 Random Facts About Me

  1. I have two dogs, Stella and Luna, named for the children’s book Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. 
  2. I have an older sister, who I am very close with. 
  3. I love to crochet.
  4. I went on an archaeological dig in university.
  5. I play a pretty decent game of Settlers of Catan.

Favorite Penguin Random House Titles

Rodney Was a Tortoise
By Nan Forler
Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266629 | Tundra Books
Bernadette and Rodney are the best of friends. Rodney’s not so good at playing cards, but he’s great at staring contests. His favorite food is lettuce, though he eats it VERRRRRRY SLOOOOOWLY. And he’s such a joker! When Bernadette goes to sleep at night, Rodney is always there, watching over her from his tank.  As the seasons pass, Rodney moves slower and slower, until one day he stops moving at all. Without Rodney, Bernadette feels all alone. She can’t stop thinking about him, but none of her friends seem to notice. Except for Amar. Rodney Was a Tortoise is a moving story about friendship and loss. It shows the importance of expressing kindness and empathy, especially in life’s most difficult moments.

Evie and the Truth About Witches
By John Martz
64 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271005 | Tundra Books
Evie wants to be scared, and the usual scary stories just aren’t doing it for her anymore. When she stumbles across a different sort of book, The Truth about Witches, she hopes she’s found something thrilling . . . but she’s forbidden by a kindly shopkeeper from reading the last page out loud! Naturally, her curiosity gets the better of her, and upon reading the last page out loud – a real summoning spell – Evie is spirited off to a strange land of magic, weird creatures, feasts, and actual witches! They’re not as scary as they seem, until Evie asks to join their ranks . . . and only once she does is her quest for true scariness satisfied . . .

Petal the Angry Cow
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Olga Demidova
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264687 | Tundra Books
Petal is everything you could want in a cow. She is kind, thoughtful, a great baker and a wonderful artist. She also has a temper. A very big, out-of-control temper. And it doesn’t help that her barnyard pals like to push her buttons . . . On the day the farmer announces a fabulous trip to a water park, the horse steps on Petal’s foot and she has her biggest tantrum yet. The farmer tells Petal if she doesn’t get her temper under control, she won’t be able to go to the water park! What else can she do but stomp away in a huff? Petal meets a swan who shows her a thing or two about behaving. And not in the way you’d expect . . . This laugh-out-loud story will tickle even the surliest reader, and Petal’s outsized tantrums will feel very familiar to parents and kids alike. But like Petal, this story also has a heart of gold and a core of pure warmth.

A Garden of Creatures
By Sheila Heti
Illustrated by Esmé Shapiro
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268814 | Tundra Books
Two bunnies and a cat live happily together in a beautiful garden. But when the big bunny passes away, the little bunny is unsure how to fill the void she left behind. A strange dream prompts her to begin asking questions: Why do the creatures we love have to die, and where do we go when we die? How come life works this way? With the wisdom of the cat to guide her, the little bunny learns that missing someone is a way of keeping them close. And together they discover that the big bunny is a part of everything around them – the grass, the air, the leaves – for the world is a garden of creatures. With its meditative text, endearing illustrations and life-affirming message, A Garden of Creatures reveals how the interconnectedness of nature and the sweetness of friendship can be a warm embrace even in the darkest times.

By Margaret Atwood
216 pages | Adult Fiction | Paperback
ISBN 9780676974256  | Vintage Canada
In Homer’s account in The Odyssey, Penelope – wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy – is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan war after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumours, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously. When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters and sleeping with goddesses, he kills her suitors and – curiously – twelve of her maids. In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her twelve hanged Maids, asking: “What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?” In Atwood’s dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it is haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing. With wit and verve, drawing on the storytelling and poetic talent for which she herself is renowned, she gives Penelope new life and reality – and sets out to provide an answer to an ancient mystery.

Favorite Non Penguin Random House Titles

Anticipated Penguin Random House Titles


Follow Shannon: instagram

Intern Introductions: Meet Stephanie!

Hi everyone, my name is Stephanie and I’m the new Kids Marketing & Publicity Intern at Tundra Books. I’m from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and love everything YA.

I’ve been a lover of young adult novels since I was 12 and discovered Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Since then, books have consumed my life and my bookshelves ( I never have enough shelves).

If you want to follow along with what I’m currently reading, check out my GoodReads page.

5 Random Facts About Me

  1. My family goes all out for Halloween every year. It’s also my favorite holiday.
  2. I’ve been obsessed with Greek Mythology ever since I read Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. I even have a Greek myth inspired tattoo.
  3. I have a big love of all things paranormal, including vampires, mermaids, and witches.
  4. I have an 76% escape rate for Escape Rooms (with the help of my team).
  5. Halsey and Bastille are my favorite artists, with “929” and “Those Nights” being my favorite songs, respectively.

Favorite Penguin Random House Titles

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
By Nathan Page
Illustrated by Drew Shannon
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525646761 | Knopf BFYR
Pete and Alastair Montague are just a couple of mystery-solving twins, living an ordinary life. Or so they thought. After a strange storm erupts on a visit to the beach, they discover there is more to their detective skills than they had thought. Their guardian, David Faber, a once prominent professor, has been keeping secrets about their parents and what the boys are truly capable of. At the same time, three girls go missing after casting a mysterious spell, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes their small town down an unexpected path. With the help of David’s daughter, Charlie, they discover there are forces at work that they never could have imagined, which will impact their lives forever. An exciting new graphic novel from innovative creators Nathan Page and Drew Shannon that is at once timely and thrilling.

An Ember in the Ashes
By Sabaa Tahir
480 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781595148049 | Razorbill
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear. It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier – and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined – and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Aurora Rising
By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781524720995 | Ember
The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch:
A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm.
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates.
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder.
An alien warrior with anger-management issues.
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering.
And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem – that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy. NOBODY PANIC.

Vampire Academy
By Richelle Mead
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781595141743 | Razorbill
Love and loyalty run deeper than blood. St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school – it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s – the very place where they’re most in danger . . . Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi – the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires – make Lissa one of them forever.

Favorite Non Penguin Random House Titles

Anticipated Penguin Random House Titles


Follow Stephanie: website | twitter | instagram

Guest Post: Please, sir, I want some more YA

Hello! We’re so happy to have Sarah Essak here at Tundra. She’s been working behind the scenes in editorial with us. You’ll find her reading manuscripts, writing reports, and lending a helping hand with a smile. We wouldn’t have had such a smooth sales conference this week without her. Some of her out-of-the-ordinary tasks included making newspaper hats and filling tubs with cotton candy for our reps to enjoy. We thought you’d like to hear from her today!
TundraYASarah Essak: About a month ago, I ran into a fellow intern in the shared kitchen. I told her I needed to take a brief break because the manuscript I was reading was getting too intense. She looked at me strangely and said “but you work at Tundra.” It took me a moment to work out what she meant. Oh. Right. YA books aren’t meant to affect you the same way as high literature. My friend is by no means the first person to think that. I myself have been guilty of judging readers based on what is in their hands. But after working at Tundra for three months, I’ve read multiple manuscripts that will stay with me for a long time to come. And these are manuscripts. I can’t wait to see what the editors here will do for the books that left me heartbroken, laughing out loud, and drooling for more in their roughest form.

In literary circles and in the eyes of the general public, there is this pervasive thought that YA books are not worth the time and attention of mature readers. In fact, YA as a genre is often scoffed at, and those who advocate for it open themselves up to mockery. Have we forgotten about coming-of-age novels such as Great Expectations, The Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Oliver Twist? And what is YA if not stories about coming of age? There are stories to be told, for what time in our lives is more earth-shatteringly complex than when we are teenagers, learning who we are and what the world is like?

Perhaps we are in a time where YA novels have hit a trend that some find “fluffy,” but much of adult literature is in the same situation. That is not to say it is bad, but it is to say that there is a wide variety of work out there. So, I’d like to piggyback on a well-known proverb and say, don’t judge a book by its genre. In the words of the almighty Atwood: “There is good and mediocre writing within every genre.” Pick up a YA book; you might just be surprised by what you find.

Guest Post: Searching for Extraordinary Manuscripts

Hello! We’re so happy to have Esme Shapiro here with us at Tundra. You might have already seen some of her illustrations pop up on instagram. She’s not only a talented illustrator, but with her keen sense of art, she’s been helping us search for illustrators for newly acquired manuscripts and giving us valuable input on cover comps. So we hope you enjoy her insights on children’s book publishing and we hope that she’ll write (or draw) many more guest posts!

Esme Shapiro Tundra illustration

Hello there! I am Esme Shapiro, Tundra’s summer 2013 intern.

I have been working here for about a month now, and there is never a dull moment! It has been a very eye opening experience to be a part of this wonderful, creative publishing team. The Tundra team really seems more like a family that all share the same goal: the desire to create amazing stories for children and young adults that expose children to quality illustrators that can stimulate their imaginations. As an aspiring children’s book illustrator, it’s very exciting to see the long and thorough process a book has to go through to finally arrive on the shelves of book stores and libraries. One of my favorite things to do to help out is to read the manuscripts coming in. There are so many great ones, written by so many authors from all over the place, it’s truly inspiring!

So with all these amazing manuscripts coming in, how does one sniff out the extra special ones? As an intern, it took me a while to figure out how to tell a wonderful manuscript from an extraordinary manuscript. There really are so many amazing stories written by talented authors out there, so sometimes it was hard to pick the extra special ones out. I didn’t have the essential critical eye quite just yet. Eventually, after talking with the members of the Tundra Team and listening closely during editorial meetings, I have discovered that an extraordinary manuscript should be a unique experience all on it own. I have put together a list of the sensations you go through when you are reading that extraordinary manuscript.

First, the extraordinary manuscript should reel you in; they don’t call it a hook for nothing. Within the first few pages, you should be so involved that you have the desire to bury your face in the papers- you want to jump right in. Your belly should delightfully rumble with curiosity and your toes should tingle with anticipation.

Then, you should expect a few surprises. You should leave your chair to travel into the world that the author is describing. You should start imagining what that world would taste, look, feel, and smell like. You should begin to really connect to the characters. At this point, the rumble in your tummy should move from your belly to your smile, and a big grin should appear (with perhaps a few giggles or tears).

By the end, the rumble in your tummy and the tingle in your toes should turn into little tiny blue birds that fill you up from your head to your toes. The extraordinary manuscript should tie up all the loose ends like a brilliant seamstress. There should be a lesson you have learned and absorbed all throughout your being. When you are done reading it, you should want to put down the pages and touch them as if it were made out of the most precious of fabric. Flowers should blossom behind your eyes when you recall the book, and the words should echo in your head long after your done reading.

So that is what it feels like to read an extraordinary manuscript – and that’s not even including watching the illustrations bring the story to life!  That’s a whole other story. What a magical experience.

In my month here, I have learned that Tundra Book’s has a special ability to sniff out the extra special books. They give these stories a chance to breathe life into library and book store shelves everywhere.  I’m so honored to have been given the chance to see the inner workings of a company the produces such quality books for children and young adults.