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.

Tundra Telegram: Books that Spill the Majes(tea)

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we dig into the topics buried in our readers’ psyches and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

The top of everyone’s mind this past weekend: what is a Platinum Jubilee?! Royal watchers don’t need an explainer, but if you’re an anti-monarchist like your humble author, you may have wondered what exactly was all the highborn hubbub. Well, the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II was celebrated from June 3 to 6 in the United Kingdom and the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations (though in some former colonies, markedly less so!) to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne (way back in 1952).

And what a celebration it was, with commemorative coins being minted, Prime Ministers being booed (a substantial amount), Corgi drone lightshows, and – of course – the Queen meeting Paddington Bear. But whether you are as jazzed for the Jubilee as viral cyclist Steve, or as royally ticked off as four-year-old Prince Louis, we’ve got some Platinum-Jubilee-appropriate reading for you.

PICTURE BOOKS

Without a doubt, the most fitting picture book is one that isn’t out until July 12: Queen Elizabeth: A Platinum Jubilee Celebration. This is an official, real-deal Platinum Jubilee souvenir. An illustrated history book for children, you will find everything from the Crown to the Corgis detailed here, as well as a poster, a Royal Family tree, four UK nation timelines and more!

A flap book fit for royalty, Nosy Crow’s Where’s the Queen?, illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius, features illustrated spreads set in England that include a police officer (bobby), a bus (or lorry) driver, and the Queen herself all hiding behind bright felt flap! And when the Jubilee goers were watching a hologram of Elizabeth II this past weekend, they were probably looking under every felt flap for the genuine article!

Less about the British royals and more an insight into their personalities, His Royal Highness, King Baby by Sally Lloyd-Jones and David Roberts tell a story of sibling rivalry, as an older sister (“the most beautifulest, cleverest, ever so kindest Princess”) deals with her family fawning over her burping, crying new brother, whom she has dubbed His Royal Highness, King Baby.

If the Platinum Jubilee is one thing, it’s overwhelmingly white. But your own Platinum Jubilee reading celebrations need not be. Check out Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s The Queen of Kindergarten, in which MJ prepares for her first day of kindergarten, with her hair freshly braided and her mom’s special tiara on her head. She knows she’s going to rock kindergarten, and your young readers will finish the book with that same confidence.

One of our favourite illustrators, Júlia Sardà (Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein) both writes and draws The Queen in the Cave, which is not a Paw Patrol episode featuring Her Majesty, but rather a story in which a young girl dreams about a queen who lives in a dark cave, deep in the forest. She and her younger sisters venture into the forest to see if her dreams are true, and must face dangers and fears along the way. And what they find in the cave is more unexpected than the Queen being projected on Stonehenge.

Though the queen in Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox and Brian Floca may share a name with the British monarch, there is something different about this Liz. She’s an elephant seal who decides to make her home in Christchurch, New Zealand (insert colonialism joke here) and – no matter how far away at sea the locals take her – won’t leave the water bodies of Christchurch.

And though we know she’s no longer performing royal duties, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include the picture book by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex on this list. The Bench, illustrated by Christian Robinson, is not only a beautiful book about the special relationship between father and son (perfect for Father’s Day), it’s also a great place to sit and watch a Platinum Jubilee parade.

MIDDLE GRADE

Readers who want to know the real story that led up to this year’s Platinum Jubilee should read Who Is Queen Elizabeth II? by Megan Stine and Laurie A. Conley, part of the Who Was? Series. The biography tells how a little girl who loved horses (though I think there’s more involved than that – so many horse girls were passed over the crown) become the longest reigning monarch in England’s history.

And in Megan McDonald‘s Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, Grandma Lou and Judy dig up some proof that some old-timey Moodys lived in merry olde England – and Judy might even be related to the Queen herself! Move over, William and Harry; Judy Moody is taking her place in the peerage!

If that doesn’t sound wacky enough a take on the Queen for you, maybe Royal Family Mad Libs by Stacey Wasserman is up your alley. You’ll just need to write in the missing words on each page to create your own hilariously funny stories all about the royal family – it’s basically what the journalists do at The Daily Mirror!

Technically this book is probably better for fans of Jeopardy! Champion Mattea Roach than Queen Elizabeth II, but Her Majesty is often the subject of trivia questions herself (like, who are the six people mentioned in Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” who are still alive?). Donna Gephart’s Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen follows Olivia as she tries to become a contestant during the game show’s kids’ week – not only to prove her trivia knowledge, but to see her day, who left two years ago and lives nearby in California with his new family.

The delightful graphic novel Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis is not about the Queen of England, but the exiled Queen of Albion (which is kind of the same thing) and her friendship with orphan girl Margaret, who both find themselves on a tiny island of nuns, with a secret purpose that will (honestly) blow your mind.

And for a very different kind of queen, pick up Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk! by Greg Howard. Twelve-year-old Mikey Pruitt, budding entrepreneur, starts a junior talent agency and hires a thirteen-year-old aspiring drag queen, Coco Caliente, as his first client. HRH could never!

YOUNG ADULT

If you found yourself reading about the Diamond Jubilee and wondered what it would be like if America had a royal family, you need to check out Katharine McGee’s YA novel American Royals, in which George Washington was crowned king after the Revolutionary War, and readers follow Princesses Beatrice and Samantha as they both vie for the crown, plus handsome Prince Jefferson as he is pursued by various female suitors. To continue the story, check out Majesty and Rivals, and the prequel novella, Inheritance.

In the same vein, you’ll love the “Royals” duology of Prince Charming and Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins. Daisy Winters is a sixteen-year-old Floridian with a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Relentless tabloid attention forces her join her sister at the Prince’s secluded castle where a young man named Miles has been assigned to My Fair Lady her, while the Prince’s younger brother tries to start a scandal with her. Regally romantic sparks fly!

And in a YA novel ripped from historic royal headlines comes My Name Is Victoria by Lucy Worsley. The protagonist is Miss V. Conroy, who is sent to Kensington Palace to become the companion to (then) Princess Victoria. If you’ve ever wondered what the (before Elizabeth II) longest reigning Queen of England was like as a teenager, crack this one open!

In Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin, one girl must make a name for herself in this royal fantasy where an unknown peasant becomes the ultimate ruler (over the king’s own daughter)! You’d never catch that happening in the United Kingdom! But how long can she keep the crown if everyone wants her dead?

Speaking of regicide, you’ve got options if that’s your thing (we’ll keep this conversation between us). Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte is a twisty murder mystery fantasy about the four queens of Quadara being murdered – and the talented pickpocket, Keralie, who discovers a video of the murder. And Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne follows Cecelia Ellis as she tries to solve the copycat murders, decades apart, of the homecoming queens at Seaview High.

No doubt there have been a few times when Elizabeth II has wished she had her own hit squad, so she’d probably enjoy The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa De La Cruz. In it, Caledon Holt, the kingdom’s deadliest weapon must join forces with Shadow of the Honey Glade, who is expected to serve as a lady of the court, but is training to be an assassin like Cal. Chase that one with the follow-up, The Queen’s Secret (I guess the assassin isn’t the secret).

Finally, Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn may not feature any royalty by blood, but Amandla, who is a Black South African, digs into the history of her mysterious mother, who is white (and has prophetic visions), taking along her friends. And what they uncover involves more complex investigations of race, family, friendship, belonging, poverty, and love than four seasons of The Crown!

Halloween Books: Get into the Spirit

The spooky season is almost upon us. Get into the Halloween spirit with these books for all ages!

Picture Books

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 . . .

How to Make Friends with a Ghost
By Rebecca Green
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919019 | 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.

Little Witch Hazel
By Phoebe Wahl
96 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264892 | Tundra Books
Little Witch Hazel is a tiny witch who lives in the forest, helping creatures big and small. She’s a midwife, an intrepid explorer, a hard worker and a kind friend. In this four-season volume, Little Witch Hazel rescues an orphaned egg, goes sailing on a raft, solves the mystery of a haunted stump and makes house calls to fellow forest dwellers. But when Little Witch Hazel needs help herself, will she get it in time? Little Witch Hazel is a beautiful ode to nature, friendship, wild things and the seasons that only Phoebe Wahl could create: an instant classic and a book that readers will pore over time and time again.

Mary Who Wrote FrankensteinMary Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Júlia Sardà
56 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495593 | Tundra Books
How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on the tombstone of her famous feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of sixteen runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. Two years later, they travel to Switzerland where they meet a famous poet, Lord Byron. On a stormy summer evening, with five young people gathered around a fire, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. Mary has a waking dream about a monster come to life. A year and a half later, Mary Shelley’s terrifying tale, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, is published – a novel that goes on to become the most enduring monster story ever and one of the most popular legends of all time.

Monsters 101Monsters 101
By Cale Atkinson
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267084 | Tundra Books
Readers who loved Unicorns 101 will love this laugh-out-loud picture book that finally sets the record straight about monsters! They’re so much more than just that scary thing under your bed. Join Professors Vampire, Blob and Werewolf, and their trusty lab assistant – a zombie named Tina – as they reveal eerie and frankly ridiculous monsters facts never uttered outside a crypt! Full of eye-popping illustrations and a story with nonstop sidesplitting laughs, plus a removable Professor of Monstrology diploma at the end of the book, Monsters 101 will have children – and adults – eager to enroll, time and time again!

Sir Simon: Super Scarer
By Cale Atkinson
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919095 | Tundra Books
Meet Sir Simon, Super Scarer. He’s a professional ghost who has been transferred to his first house. And to top it off, this house is occupied by an old lady – they’re the easiest to haunt! But things don’t go as planned when it turns out a KID comes with this old lady. Chester spots Simon immediately and peppers him with questions. Simon is exasperated . . . until he realizes he can trick Chester into doing his ghost chores. After a long night of haunting, it seems that maybe Chester isn’t cut out to be a ghost, so Simon decides to help with Chester’s human chores. Turns out Simon isn’t cut out for human chores either. But maybe they’re both cut out to be friends . . .

The Barnabus Project
By Terry Fan, Eric Fan, and Devin Fan
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.

The Little Ghost Who Was a QuiltThe 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.

Graphic Novels

Super Detectives: Simon and Chester #1
By Cale Atkinson
64 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267428 | Tundra Books
Welcome to the world of Simon and Chester, ghost and boy duo extraordinaire.
They like to kick butt and take names.
They don’t like chores.
They are best friends.
And they are about to solve the mystery of a lifetime.
(Oh, and eat some snacks probably.)
Join Simon and Chester in their first adventure, and fall in love with this hilarious odd couple by fan favorite author and illustrator Cale Atkinson.

Super Sleepover: Simon and Chester #2
By Cale Atkinson
88 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267442 | Tundra Books
Welcome to the world of Simon and Chester, ghost and boy duo extraordinaire.
They like to kick butt and take names.
They don’t like chores.
They are best friends.
And they are about to hit Chester’s VERY FIRST SLEEPOVER.
(Oh, and eat some snacks probably.)
Join Simon and Chester in their second adventure, and fall in love with this hilarious odd couple by fan favorite author and illustrator Cale Atkinson.

Middle Grade

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.

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Dead Man in the Garden
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270817 | Tundra Books
Aspiring writer Aggie Morton is ready to enjoy an invigorating trip to a Yorkshire spa, where her widowed mother can take the waters and recover from a long mourning period. Having solved yet another murder and faced extreme peril with her best friend Hector over Christmas, Aggie’s Morbid Preoccupation is on alert when rumors abound about the spa’s recently deceased former patient . . . and then another body appears under mysterious circumstances. Together with Grannie Jane, and often in the company of George, a young patient at the spa, Aggie and Hector take a closer look at the guests and staff of the Wellspring Hotel, and venture into the intriguing world of the local undertaker. Has there been a murder – or even two? As Aggie and Hector ignite their deductive skills, their restful trip takes a sudden, dangerous turn.

Escape to Witch City
By E. Latimer
312 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919316 | Tundra Books
Emmaline Black has a secret. She can hear the rhythm of heartbeats. Not just her own, but others’ too. It’s a rhythm she’s learned to control, and that can only mean one thing . . . Emma’s a witch. In a world where a sentence of witchcraft comes with dire consequences and all children who have reached the age of thirteen are tested to ensure they have no witch blood, Emma 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 – the truth about their sister, her Aunt Lenore, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances years ago. The day of the test comes, and Emma’s results not only pair her up with strange new friends, but set her on a course to challenge everything she’s ever been taught about magic, and reveal long-buried family secrets. It seems witches may not have been so easy to banish after all. Secret cities, untapped powers, missing family members – Emma is about to discover a whole new world.

Seven Dead Pirates
By Linda Bailey
304 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781770498167 | Tundra Books
Lewis Dearborn is a lonely, anxious, “terminally shy” boy of eleven when his great-grandfather passes away and leaves Lewis’s family with his decaying seaside mansion. Lewis is initially delighted with his new bedroom, a secluded tower in a remote part of the house. Then he discovers that it’s already occupied — by the ghosts of seven dead pirates. Worse, the ghosts expect him to help them re-take their ship, now restored and on display in a local museum, so they can make their way to Libertalia, a legendary pirate utopia. The only problem is that this motley crew hasn’t left the house in almost two hundred years and is terrified of going outside. As Lewis warily sets out to assist his new roommates — a raucous, unruly bunch who exhibit a strange delight in thrift-store fashions and a thirst for storybooks — he begins to open himself to the possibilities of friendship, passion and joie de vivre and finds the courage to speak up.

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?

Women You Should Know

Happy International Women’s Day! We’ve made a list of picture books featuring true stories of women from around the world.

When Emily Was Small
By Lauren Soloy
ISBN 9780735266063 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
A joyful frolic through the garden helps a little girl feel powerful in this beautiful picture book that celebrates nature, inspired by the writings of revered artist Emily Carr. Emily feels small. Small when her mother tells her not to get her dress dirty, small when she’s told to sit up straight, small when she has to sit still in school. But when she’s in the garden, she becomes Small: a wild, fearless, curious and passionate soul, communing with nature and feeling one with herself. She knows there are secrets to be unlocked in nature, and she yearns to discover the mysteries before she has to go back to being small . . . for now.

Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret
By Jess Keating
Illustrated by Katie Hickey
ISBN 9780735265080| Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
From a young age, Marie Tharp loved watching the world. She loved solving problems. And she loved pushing the limits of what girls and women were expected to do and be. In the mid-twentieth century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job in a laboratory at Cambridge University, New York. But then she faced another barrior: women were not allowed on the research ships (they were considered bad luck on boats). So instead, Marie stayed back and dove deep into the data her colleagues recorded. She mapped point after point and slowly revealed a deep rift valley in the ocean floor. At first the scientific community refused to believe her, but her evidence was irrefutable. She proved to the world that her research was correct. The mid-ocean ridge that Marie discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet, and she mapped it all from her small, cramped office.

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Julia Sarda
ISBN 9781770495593 | Hardcover
Ages 5-8 | Tundra Books
How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on the tombstone of her famous feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of sixteen runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. Two years later, they travel to Switzerland where they meet a famous poet, Lord Byron. On a stormy summer evening, with five young people gathered around a fire, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. Mary has a waking dream about a monster come to life. A year and a half later, Mary Shelley’s terrifying tale, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, is published — a novel that goes on to become the most enduring monster story ever and one of the most popular legends of all time.

Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America’s Children
By Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Julianna Swaney
ISBN 9781101917893 | Hardcover
Ages 5-8 | Tundra Books
Growing up in New York in the late 1800s was not easy. When she lost her brother and father to typhoid fever, Sara Josephine Baker became determined to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. When she graduated in 1898, Dr. Jo still faced prejudice against women in her field. Not many people were willing to be seen by a female doctor, and Dr. Jo’s waiting room remained mostly empty. She accepted a job in public health and was sent to Hell’s Kitchen, one of New York’s poorest neighborhoods where many immigrants lived. There, she was able to treat the most vulnerable patients: babies and children. She realized that the best treatment was to help babies get a stronger start in life. Babies need fresh air, clean and safe environments, and proper food. Dr. Jo’s successes, fueled by her determination, compassion and ingenuity, made her famous across the nation for saving the lives of 90,000 inner city infants and children.

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
ISBN 9781101918562 | Hardcover
Ages 5-9 | Tundra Books
Here is the life of iconic fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who as a little girl in Rome, was told by her own mamma that she was brutta. Ugly. So she decided to seek out beauty around her, and found it everywhere. What is beauty? Elsa wondered. She looked everywhere for beauty until something inside of Elsa blossomed, and she became an artist with an incredible imagination. Defining beauty on her own creative terms, Schiaparelli worked hard to develop her designs, and eventually bloomed into an extraordinary talent who dreamed up the most wonderful dresses, hats, shoes and jewelry. Why not a shoe for a hat? Why not a dress with drawers? And she invented a color: shocking pink! Her adventurous mind was the key to her happiness and success–and is still seen today in her legacy of wild imagination. Daring and different, Elsa Schiaparelli used art to make fashion, and it was quite marvelous.

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
ISBN 9781101918593 | Hardcover
Ages 5-9 | Tundra Books
Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo Fujikawa 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.

NYPL’s Best Books of 2018

The New York Public Library released their 2018 Best Books for Kids list today and we’re so excited to have four titles on the list. Congratulations to our hardworking authors and illustrators!

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
Written by Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Ages 5-9
ISBN: 9780735262928

“Lavish illustrations and uplifting verse celebrate the diversity of indigenous peoples and their contributions to North American culture.” – NYPL

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein
Written by Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Júlia Sardà
Hardcover | 56 Pages | Ages 5-8
ISBN: 9781770495593

“Moody and gothic illustrations bring to life the birth of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece.” – NYPL

Red Sky at Night
Written and illustrated by Elly MacKay
Hardcover | 40 Pages | Ages 3-7
ISBN: 9781101917831

“The origins of traditional sayings used to forecast the weather are accompanied by dreamy paper dioramas.” – NYPL

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Jonathan Auxier
Hardcover | 368 Pages | Ages 8-12
ISBN: 9780735264359

“Nan Sparrow, a chimneysweep in Victorian London, befriends a mysterious magical creature in this fairy tale of monsters and great escapes.” – NYPL