Tundra Telegram: Books for Your To-Be-Dread Pile

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we look at the things currently haunting readers, and recommend some petrifying publications in which to bury themselves (figuratively speaking, of course).

My fellow creatures of the night know that Halloween is just around the corner: the time to embrace all things spooky and eerie. In many parts of the world, this is the first year in a while that the young and ghoulish are able to gather at costume parties or take in a scary movie at the theatre or even trick-or-treat door-to-door. So, we’re a little more hyped for Halloween than usual.

Luckily, we’ve been able to scare up scads of scary, blood-curdling books, from those from the youngest readers to YA that might make Stephen King blanche. Read on – if you dare!

PICTURE BOOKS

Ghosts – they’re a classic Halloween costume. All you need is a sheet and two eyeholes. They’re also a classic element of many a Halloween book, and that includes some picture books featuring entirely friendly ghosts. There are few friendlier ghosts than Cale Atkinson’s Simon, who first rose to prominence with the picture book Sir Simon: Super Scarer. Simon is given his first house-haunting assignment, but it doesn’t go well because the kid who lives in the house, Chester, isn’t afraid and can think of nothing more fun than spending time with a real, undead ghost! And for the true horror fans, there are dozens of horror-movie Easter eggs throughout the book’s illustrations.

In other tales of failed ghosts, No Such Thing by Ella Bailey features a poltergeist who can’t seem to spook a clever, skeptical girl named Georgia. No matter what the ghost does, Georgia has an explanation! This picture book is a perfectly not-too-spooky blend of supernatural and STEM.

And Riel Nason and Byron Eggenschweiler’s The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt is a ghost who demonstrates that being different is great, even if it makes being a ghost a little harder than he’d like. The book also makes for a great homemade Halloween costume that’s a level-up from the traditional sheet.

Lest we forget Gustavo: The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago, about a ghost who would love to make some friends – if only he could work up the courage. Technically a Day of the Dead book (rather than a Halloween one) – but that’s just a couple days after Halloween – Gustavo is a sweet story about introverted ghosts and companionship.

If these ghosts sound pretty cool and you need a few tips on how to make a ghost friend of your own, you need to read How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green. It whimsically provides tips for ghost care so you’ll make a spectral friend for life, including how to read your ghost spooky stories, and what snacks ghosts prefer.

Not to be outshone by ghosts, witches are also a time-honored Halloween favorite, and the perfect place to start, book-wise, is Leila: The Perfect Witch, by Flavia Z. Drago. From the creator who brought us Gustavo comes this other spooky picture book, featuring a witch who excels at nearly everything she does: flying, conjuring, shape-shifting. There’s only one thing she can’t do: cook. She tries to learn from her witchy sisters, but instead learns the value of trying your best, even if it’ll never win you any awards.

Witches are usually associated with Halloween, but what about Christmas? That’s where The Legend of the Christmas Witch by Aubrey Plaza (April Ludgate herself), Dan Murphy, and Julie Iredale comes in. The Christmas Witch is Santa Claus’s misunderstood twin sister, separated from the big elf at a young age, in a picture book that rethinks everything we know about witches and the holidays!

If you want to get a sense of the kinds of things witches get up to outside of the major holidays, Little Witch Hazel by Phoebe Wahl is for you. In four stories (one for each season), a tiny witch gets into adventures in the forest, be they rescuing an orphaned egg, investigating the howls of a ghost (this story is the spookiest), or lazing on a summer’s day.

But then, there are many other monsters to consider at Halloween, as well. Best to start with the guidebook, Monsters 101 by Cale Atkinson (man, he loves Halloween). Professors Vampire, Blob and Werewolf, along with their trusty lab assistant – a zombie named Tina – reveal some ridiculous and fang-in-cheek monster facts about creepy favorites from swamp creatures to demons.

And if you like monsters, you’ll want to read the story of the woman who created one of the granddaddies (if not the entire genre of horror): Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey and Júlia Sardà. This is the picture book biography of the girl behind one of the greatest novels and monsters of all time: Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein. The book is also a wonderful exploration of creativity and where stories come from, complete with spine-chilling and gothic illustrations.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Once again, we start with ghosts, this time with beloved Canadian writing legend Kenneth Oppel giving us chills with Ghostlight. It’s a fun (though sometimes terrifying) horror story in which young Gabe’s summer job scaring tourists with ghost stories turns real when he accidentally summons the spirit of a dead girl – and must join forces with her to protect the world of the living. As a bonus, it’s partially based on a real ghost story about Toronto’s Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.

Like ghosts by the water? Well, Double O Stephen and the Ghostly Realm by Angela Ahn features ghost pirates. A kid who loves pirates, Stephen Oh-O’Driscoll, comes face-to-pale-face with the ghost of pirate Captain Sapperton, who needs his help to cross over to the titular ghostly realm.

Karma Moon: Ghosthunter by Melissa Savage looks at the intersection of the supernatural and the reality-television in the story of a girl whose father is a TV ghost-hunter! Karma stays in a haunted Colorado hotel and must face her own anxiety and help her dad’s flailing TV series in this spooky book that’s part Veronica Mars, part The Shining.

Ghosts and spooky dolls? Sign us up for The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story by Canadian master of the middle-grade macabre Charis Cotter. When Alice and her mom head to some small town where Alice’s mom has been hired as the new live-in nurse to a rich elderly lady, Alice finds a dollhouse in an attic that’s an exact replica of the house she’s in. Then she wakes up to find a girl who look a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse – let the creeping dread begin!

And Sir Simon returns – this time in comic form, with the Simon & Chester graphic novel series (again by Mr. Halloween, Cale Atkinson). In the three books that exist so far, the ghost and human friends solve mysteries (Super Detectives), stay up late (Super Sleepover), and visit the waterpark and a ghost conference (Super Family). Who says it’s all hauntings and eerie moans?

But we have witchcraft for early readers and middle-grade lovers, as well! Evie and the Truth about Witches by John Martz is about a girl who wants to be scared, and the usual horror stories aren’t doing it for her anymore (we’ve all been there). When she stumbles across a different sort of book, The Truth about Witches, she hopes she’s found a new scare, but she’s forbidden by a kindly shopkeeper from reading the last page out loud! Find out why in this graphic novel that is honestly quite unsettling!

Escape to Witch City by E. Latimer explores an alternate Victorian London where a sentence of witchcraft comes with dire consequences. Here, all children are tested at age thirteen to ensure they have no witch blood. So, Emmaline Black must attempt to stamp out her power before her own test comes. But the more she researches, the more she begins to suspect that her radically anti-witch aunt and mother are hiding something.

Speaking of witches and cities . . . readers so often encounter witches in the woods, standing over a bubbling cauldron. But what about urban witches? Crimson Twill: Witch in the City by Kallie George and Birgitta Sif features a little witch who loves bright colors as she ventures out on a big-city shopping adventure (think the Shopaholic series meets Bewitched). The book is also up for the Silver Birch Express Award, which makes us think there may be a few covens hidden amongst the Ontario Library Association.

And the city witches keep coming with Sophie Escabasse’s Witches of Brooklyn graphic novel series. Life in Brooklyn takes a strange turn when Effie discovers magic runs in the family when she starts to live with her weird aunts – and weird in the Macbeth version of the term.

Ghosts and witches are fine, but what about the scary stuff out there. You know, the creepy things from outer space that Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully protected us from? Then you need The Area 51 Files from Julie Buxbaum and illustrator Lavanya Naidu. When Sky Patel-Baum is sent to live with her mysterious uncle, she didn’t imagine she’d end up at Area 51, a top-secret military base that just so happens to be full of aliens.

And Natasha Deen’s Spooky Sleuths series, illustrated by Lissy Marlin, follows kids Asim and Rokshar as they uncover paranormal mysteries in their town. Whether it’s ghostly trees or teachers who glow in the moon or mermaids, the creepy supernatural encounters our heroes have are all based on ghost stories and folklore from Guyana!

Halloween in summer? It’s possible with New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White’s Sinister Summer books. In each, the Sinister-Winterbottom twins solve mysteries at increasingly bizarre (and creepy) summer vacation spots. The books begin with an amusement park that’s seemingly cursed (Wretched Waterpark), then travel to a suspicious spa in the Transylvanian mountains (Vampiric Vacation).

And from the creator of Séance Tea Party (which is also a good Halloween read), Remeina Yee, comes the uncategorizable creatures of the graphic novel My Aunt Is a Monster. Safia thought that being blind meant she would only get to go on adventures through her audiobooks. This all changes when she goes to live with her distant and mysterious aunt, Lady Whimsy (who may be – okay, definitely is – a monster).

YOUNG ADULT

Now, do you want to be scared, or have a good horror-adjacent time? Because we have YA for both moods. In the realm of real scares is How to Survive your Murder by Danielle Valentine, that comes recommended by Mr. Goosebumps R. L. Stine himself! Kind of like a more murdery Back to the Future, the book concerns Alice, a teen about to testify in her sister Claire’s murder trial. But as she approaches the courtroom, she’s knocked out cold. When she awakes, it is Halloween night (see?) a year earlier, the same day Claire was murdered. Alice has until midnight to save her sister and find the real killer in this inventive slasher.

Speaking of slashers, let’s talk Stephanie Perkins and There’s Someone Inside Your House. The thriller works like a classic slasher, with students at Makani Young’s high school dropping like flies to a grotesque series of murders. Makani tries to sort out the rhyme and reason as the body count increases. Read it, then check out the Netflix adaptation (don’t watch this trailer unless you’re not easily spooked!) and see which you prefer.

And the slasher gets witchy with Coven by Jennifer Dugan and Kit Seaton, a queer, paranormal YA graphic novel featuring a young witch racing to solve a series grisly supernatural murders of her coven members in upstate New York before the killer strikes again.

Like your spooky stories with a healthy heaping of Cronenberg-esque body horror? You need to be reading Rory Power. Her debut novel Wilder Girls starred three best friends living in quarantine at their island boarding school where a disturbing infection, the Tox, has started seeping into everything – and everyone. She then followed that up with Burn Our Bodies Down a creepy yarn about weird and dark secrets in a teen girl’s mom’s hometown, for fans of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and people frightened by corn mazes.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass gives sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston the ability to see dead people everywhere. But for him, watching the last moments of dead people is easy compared to the racism he faces as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Just when a little romance enters his life, he encounters a dangerous ghost: Sawyer Doon, a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Jake finds his supernatural abilities bring him into contact with some very dark forces.

If you like the trappings and style of horror, but a little less distress, we have YA novels for you, too. Case in point: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. In it, teenage Wiccan Mila Flores investigates the murders of three classmates (including one friend), but accidentally ends up bringing them back to life to form a hilariously unlikely – and mostly unwilling – vigilante girl gang. Sounds rad, right?

What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat isn’t all fun-and-games – in fact, it’s a folk horror about an idyllic small town being devoured by a mysterious blight called Quicksilver – but it certainly has some funny moments. And when Wren finds herself one of the last in her town unaffected by the blight, she turns to her ex, Derek, and the two have to uncover the weird and disturbing secrets that kept their town’s crops so plentiful.

Jessica Lewis’s Bad Witch Burning is a witchy story full of Black girl (occult) magic. Katrell’s ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, as she figures it could help out at home, where her mother is unemployed and her dad avoids paying child support. So she doesn’t listen to the ghosts and takes her summoning a little too far, with very dark consequences.

Finally, The Babysitters Coven by Kate M. Williams is a funny, action-packed series about a coven of witchy babysitters who protect the innocent and save the world from evil. The series follows the indoctrination of seventeen-year-old babysitter Esme Pearl’s to this heroic lineage when she meets Cassandra Heaven, a force of nature who – for some reason – wants to join her babysitters club. And the sequel, For Better or Cursed, takes readers to the Summit of the Synod, the governing group of the Sitterhood – a sort of work conference for super-powered demon-fighting babysitters. Spells Like Teen Spirit wraps up the trilogy.

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


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Books About Adoption

We love celebrating families of all kinds and one thing that a lot of books have tackled recently is adoption. Here are some of our recent titles that talk about growing families through fostering or adopting.

Anne Arrives: Inspired by Anne of Green Gables
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Abigail Halpin
72 Pages | Ages 6-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9781770499300 | Tundra Books
Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert need help on their farm, so they’ve adopted what they hope will be a sturdy, helpful boy. Instead, Matthew finds Anne awaiting him at the train station – imaginative, brash, redheaded Anne-with-an-e. With her place at the Cuthberts’ at risk – particularly if nosy neighbor Mrs. Lynde has anything to say about it – Anne will have to learn patience, understanding and what it takes to make Green Gables her true home.

Burt’s Way Home
By John Martz
60 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271029 | Tundra Books
Burt is an alien from a distant galaxy with advanced technology, but an accident has made his parents disappear and trapped him on Earth. And no matter what he does, he can’t seem to get lowly Earth technology to work well enough to get him home. That’s his story, anyway. From the perspective of his foster mother, Lydia, Burt is a confused and lonely little boy who’s difficult to understand and lives in his own world. But she’s less focused on understanding him than she is on taking care of and supporting him. Burt struggles to adjust to his new home, and Lydia tries her best. But when Burt embarks on a plan to teleport home once and for all and ventures into the cold all alone, Lydia will have to find a way to bridge the gulf between them.

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 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.

The Language of Flowers
By Dena Seiferling
56 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270534 | Tundra Books
Deep within a magical meadow, some lonely flowers receive a very special gift: a baby bumblebee in need. The flowers name her Beatrice, they care for her and help her find her wings. And as she grows older, Beatrice learns the language of her floral family – messages of kindness and appreciation that she delivers between them. With each sweet word, the flowers bloom until the meadow becomes so big that Beatrice needs help delivering her messages and decides to set out in search of her own kind. But this little bee’s quest takes her beyond the safety of the meadow and into the dangerous swamp the flowers have warned her about, a swamp inhabited by strange plants with snapping jaws and terrible teeth . . . will these prickly plants let her pass? Could they just be in need of a little sweetness themselves? A gently fanciful tale of the miracle of pollination and the important relationship between flowers and bees, this sweetly affirming story, inspired by the Victorian practice of floriography, suggests the secret to flourishing is kindness and appreciation.

We Adopted a Baby Chick
By Lori Joy Smith
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266551 | Tundra Books
Albert the sheep is the only one unhappy about the new addition to the family. Tina is a tiny, fluffy baby chick – and she gets all the attention. Albert is big and loud, and he can’t resist Mom’s vegetables (“Get out of the garden, Albert!”). Sprout the dog doesn’t have time for Albert anymore. The cats only have eyes for Tina. And though he tries his hardest, Albert’s gifts to the family aren’t as welcome as Tina’s eggs. Then one day, Tina faces a danger and only Albert can save her. Will Albert be able to put his feelings aside and truly welcome Tina into his flock?

Tundra Telegram: Books that Got Game

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we dig into the topics readers are talking about and recommend some recent great books to continue the process.

Last week – Thursday, June 16, to be precise – the 2022 NBA Finals were decided, as the Golden State Warriors beat the Boston Celtics in the sixth game of the series. Immediately, the Pistons in our mind started firing, and just like Magic – and in the Knick of time – we had an idea. Spurred by the NBA championships, we’re thinking basketball.

So, spend some (hang) time with us as we recommend basketball books for yourself or the young ballers in your life. These are books with moves so smooth they’d make the Harlem Globetrotters shout “Sweet Georgia Brown!” And you can find most of them with nothin’ but ‘Net (the Internet, that is – you can find them in bookstores, too). Best of all, there’s not a single brick among them.

PICTURE BOOKS

What better book to start your reading with than one by the actual 2022 NBA Finals MVP (and pride of Akron, Ohio), Stephen Curry? I Have a Superpower, illustrated by Geneva Bowers, fictionalizes Curry’s own journey to the NBA to inspire the next generation of go-getters and big dreamers. The book teaches kids you don’t have to be the strongest, fastest, or even tallest kid out on the court – any goal is achievable through hard work. heart, and determination. No capes required!

If you want to get a kid who loves b-ball into phonics, Actiphons: Billy Basketball is the book for you. Actiphons is a series of stories that help the youngest readers practice 70 letter sounds – each with its own fun character and action. And the hero of this book, Billy Basketball, is not feeling well – on the injury roster – but he would rather not rest and play basketball outside. Don’t overdo it, Billy!

Like to learn a little history with your literature? You might like Basketball Belles: How Stanford, Cal, and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map by Sue Macy and Matt Collins. The book depicts the birth of women’s basketball by telling the story of Agnes Morley and the first ever inter-collegiate women’s basketball game in April 1896 (University of California at Berkeley vs. Stanford), an event that garnered national attention and put women’s basketball on the map.

Canadian hero Terry Fox may be known for long-distance running, but – as Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Milan Pavlovic reveals – Fox had a lifelong love of basketball. He was reportedly a terribly player at first, but met childhood friend Doug, who noticed Fox’s his characteristic strength, determination, and loyalty – even at a young age. Doug helped Terry practice his hoops until he earned a spot on the team. And the rest is history . . . just not basketball history.

A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories by John Martz may not have a lot of basketball content, but in one of the wordless stories, Tim does try his paw at basketball. Let’s just say he’s no Air Bud.

CHAPTER BOOKS

If you’re into basketball, you’re going to want to learn about the giants of the NBA, so you should start with Kirsten Anderson and Dede Putra’s Who Is Michael Jordan? to learn about the legendary Chicago Bull who changed the game. And follow that up with Ellen Labrecque and Gregory Copeland’s Who Was Kobe Bryant? to read about the career and legacy of the iconic Los Angeles Laker.

MIDDLE GRADE

Ben Hardy is new in school and thinks he can make an impression with the cool kids with a harmless prank in the very funny My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner. Only problem is, his prank ends up causing the school’s mascot to break their ankle! And so Ben, in some cruel and unusual punishment, is sentenced to serve as the mascot – a giant potato – during the school’s final basketball games. Can Ben hide the fact he’s under the big potato skin and maintain his cred?

Combining the fast-paced action of the NBA playoffs with dynamic photos and poetry? It’s not Kurtis Blow‘s “Basketball,” but Hoop Kings 2: New Royalty. Poet Charles R. Smith has written a dozen poetic odes to the superstars of the NBA like Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin, filled with more wordplay than a Kevin Harlan broadcast. Want to read some verse extolling the virtues of The Beard, James Harden. Of course you do!

And few children’s authors write sports like Mike Lupica, who turns his attentions to the court with No Slam Dunk. Wes is a player who tries to live by his father’s words and be a good teammate, sharing the ball and the spotlight. But his team’s new point guard, all-star Danilo “Dinero” Rey has different ideas. He always the ball and the attention, even if it costs his team the game. Wes will need to figure out a way for them to work together to emerge victorious.

YOUNG ADULT

Tons of Toronto teens have hoop dreams, and that’s true of fifteen-year-old Regent Park native Fawad Chaudhry in H. N. Khan’s YA novel Wrong Side of the Court. He wants to be the first Pakistani to be drafted into the NBA. He just needs to get over his father’s death, avoid an arranged marriage to his cousin, dodge his bully Omar, and reconnect with his grieving friend Yousuf first. Oh, and make the school team, too!

Maybe Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson’s fun and pulpy teen murder mystery The Agathas doesn’t scream basketball to you. But the prime suspect in the case of a girl’s disappearance is Steve, the school’s basketball star and – coincidentally . . . or not? – ex of heroine (and one of the “Agathas” who uses the works of Agatha Christie to solve the mystery) Alice Ogilvie. We’re not going to pretend you’ll read about anyone putting three in the key in this book, but it’s basketball adjacent!

And just because this year’s champions were the Golden State Warriors, we had to mention Namina Forna’s blockbuster The Gilded Ones. Not a single bounce pass is made in Forna’s epic fantasy, but the book’s protagonist, Deka, does join an army of girls whose blood runs gold during their culture’s blood ceremony. They sound like Warriors fans to us!

Canadian Children’s Book Week 2022

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre Book Week 2022 will take place virtually May 1-7, 2022. Established in 1977, Book Week gives Canadian authors, illustrators, and storytellers the chance to share their love of reading with young people in schools, libraries, and home all across the country.

This year’s theme is Sail into Stories and we’re thrilled that so many of our authors are participating, we know kids will love to see them!

Charis Cotter

The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story
By Charis Cotter
360 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269064 | Tundra Books
Alice’s world is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, and they’ve cancelled their yearly cottage trip – the one thing that gets Alice through the school year. Instead, Alice and her mom are heading to some small town where Alice’s mom will be a live-in nurse to a rich elderly lady. The house is huge, imposing, and spooky, and everything inside is meticulously kept and perfect – not a fun place to spend the summer. Things start to get weird when Alice finds a dollhouse in the attic that’s an exact replica of the house she’s living in. Then she wakes up to find a girl asleep next to her in her bed – a girl who looks a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse. . . . When the dollhouse starts to change when Alice isn’t looking, she knows she has to solve the mystery. Who are the girls in the dollhouse? What happened to them? And what is their connection to the mean and mysterious woman who owns the house?

Eric Walters

Broken Strings
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735266261 | Puffin Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers, Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner – strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

Gillian Sze

My Love for You is Always
By Gillian Sze
Illustrated by Michelle Lee
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593203071 | Philomel Books
What is love? a child wonders. What does it feel like, smell like, taste like? How does it move? How long does it last? And as she prepares a traditional Chinese meal for her family, the child’s mother replies: her love for him is rosy as wolfberries, warm like tea, sweeter than the red dates she puts in his soup. It shines through the water like its own brilliant sun. It goes round and round with no beginning and no end. Because a mother’s love for a child is always there, warm and soft, broad and tender. In this tender story that pairs beautifully poetic words with brilliantly stunning art, a mother’s love comes alive on the page and wraps readers in its warm embrace.

John Martz

A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories
By John Martz
60 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270985 | Tundra Books
In Tim’s world, cats can paint on the ceiling and a cheerful porcine couple can wait months for the bus. A duck and a mouse can fly . . . a plane, of course. In “Doug & Mouse,” the first of four stories, a plucky duck and mouse pair embark on a globe-spanning journey by plane, jungle vine, horse, skis, skates, paraglider, boat, and submarine, but they’re sure to make it home in time for pizza and tunes. In “Tim,” the titular cat lives his nine lives to the fullest – he’s a basketball star (sort of), a scientist (but not a very good one), a painter (very lifelike), and an all-terrain golfer. In “Connie,” a plucky rabbit follows her line of inquiry wherever it leads. And in the final story, “Mr. and Mrs. Hamhock,” an amiable pig couple wait months and months for the bus, only to realize that they’ve forgotten something important behind at home.

Burt’s Way Home
By John Martz
60 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271029 | Tundra Books
Burt is an alien from a distant galaxy with advanced technology, but an accident has made his parents disappear and trapped him on Earth. And no matter what he does, he can’t seem to get lowly Earth technology to work well enough to get him home. That’s his story, anyway. From the perspective of his foster mother, Lydia, Burt is a confused and lonely little boy who’s difficult to understand and lives in his own world. But she’s less focused on understanding him than she is on taking care of and supporting him. Burt struggles to adjust to his new home, and Lydia tries her best. But when Burt embarks on a plan to teleport home once and for all and ventures into the cold all alone, Lydia will have to find a way to bridge the gulf between them.

Crocodile Hungry
By Eija Sumner
Illustrated by John Martz
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267879 | Tundra Books
Crocodile hungry.
What can crocodile eat?
Canned ham? Too hard to open.
Beef jerky? Gets stuck in teeth.
Eggs? Bite shell, get toothache.
Crocodile must find food. But where?
Though Crocodile is surrounded by food, he doesn’t know it. He’s used to food coming in packages and boxes and in handy tins. Will the hungry crocodile figure it out? Readers big and little will laugh out loud at the simple but hysterical text and illustrations by debut author Eija Sumner and cartoonist (and now resident crocodile expert) John Martz.

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 . . .

Kallie George

Anne’s Tragical Tea Party
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Abigail Halpin
72 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267220 | Tundra Books
Anne loves having pretend tea parties by herself. She even decorates her room with branches and colorful leaves for the occasion. Marilla Cuthbert, who adopted Anne in the last year, wishes Anne would act a little more sensibly. One day, Marilla comes up with a plan to keep Anne out of mischief – Anne can host her very own tea party and invite her kindred spirit, Diana Barry! Anne is thrilled, and sets out to host the most lovely and grown-uppish tea party she can muster. But when she makes Diana sick by accidentally giving her the wrong drink, Diana’s mother is furious. Can Anne be forgiven? Will she ever be allowed to play with Diana again?

Crimson Twill: Witch in the City
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Brigitta Sif
64 Pages | Ages 7-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536214635 | Candlewick
Crimson Twill is a little witch, but you might not know it. She lives in the country and loves polka dots and puppies instead of pointy shoes and black dresses. She even wears a big bow on her hat – which is crimson, just like her name. Tonight, for the very first time, Crimson is riding on her mother’s broom all the way to New Wart City to go shopping at Broomingdale’s! The huge department store has everything a witch could itch for. For Crimson, each floor (hats! cats! brooms!) is a new adventure. But is Broomingdale’s ready for a witch as unique as Crimson? A rich and playful new world comes to life in the first book of this charming series.

Our Playground Rules!
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Jay Fleck
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593378748 | Rodale Kids
This young picture book plays with the double meaning of “rules” to explore how following a few simple rules of kindness can make playtime more fun for everyone! Featuring simple text and engaging illustrations that embrace the varying needs and capabilities of the adorable cast of animal characters, Our Playground Rules! is the perfect tool to help small children feel seen and better empathize with others.

Raziel Reid

Followers
By Raziel Reid
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263802 | Penguin Teen Canada
After a disastrous date results in her arrest, sixteen-year-old Lily Rhode is horrified to discover her mugshot is leaked on a gossip website. Lily is the niece of Whitney Paley, a Hollywood housewife and star of reality show Platinum Triangle, a soap-opera-style docu-series in the vein of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Hills, revolving around several glamorous families living in the Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills neighborhoods of Los Angeles. When Lily’s mom kicks her out of their trailer home in the Valley, Whitney (Lily’s mom’s estranged sister) invites her to live with her, her movie-star husband, Patrick, and their daughter, Hailey. Lily is set up in the pool house and thrust into the company of reality-star offspring – kids who are born with silver spoon emojis on their feed. Lily’s cousin Hailey and the other teens have lived their entire lives on camera and are masters of deception, with Hailey leading the pack. As Lily learns from the Paleys how to navigate her newfound fame, she finds herself ensnared in the unfolding storylines. What Lily doesn’t know is that she’s just a pawn being used on the show to make the Paleys look sympathetic to viewers while distracting from on-set sexual misconduct rumors surrounding super hero dad Patrick Paley . . . Is Lily safe under Patrick’s roof? Or will Lily be Patrick’s downfall? If she isn’t destroyed by Hailey first. When Lily catches the eye of Hailey’s designated leading man Joel Strom – it’s war!

Kens
By Raziel Reid
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263796 | Penguin Teen Canada
Every high school has the archetypical Queen B and her minions. In Kens, the high school hierarchy has been reimagined. Willows High is led by Ken Hilton, and he makes Regina George from Mean Girls look like a saint. Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson, standing next to his throne. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences in each edition, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan’s doll factory. Soul sold separately. Tommy Rawlins can’t help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection that glide through the halls. He’s desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens? Tommy has high hopes for their future together, but when their shared desire to overthrow Ken Hilton takes a shocking turn, Tommy must decide how willing he is to reinvent himself – inside and out. Is this new version of Tommy everything he’s always wanted to be, or has he become an unknowing and submissive puppet in a sadistic plan?