Holiday Spotlight: Random House Children’s Books 2022

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we’re lucky to work with so many different publisher lists. This holiday season, we’ll be highlighting each one with a dedicated post to help you find the perfect gift (or your next read). Today’s post is all about Random House Children’s Books.

All Are Neighbors
By Alexandra Penfold
Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
44 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593429983 | Alfred A. Knopf BFYR
Let’s go walking down our street.
Friends and neighbors here to greet.
There are oh so many folks to meet.
We all are neighbors here.
Moving to a new place can be hard, but when your neighbors welcome you with open arms, there are so many things to discover and celebrate. Come along with the kids from the bestsellers of All Are Welcome and Big Feelings as they introduce the new kid to a community where everyone has a place and is loved and appreciated – no matter what.

Five Survive
By Holly Jackson
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593374160| Delacorte Press
Red Kenny is on a road trip for spring break with five friends: her best friend and her older brother, his perfect girlfriend, a friend from school, and the guy Red wishes was more than a friend. But they won’t make it to their destination. When their RV breaks down in the middle of nowhere, with no cell service, they realize this is no accident. They have been trapped out there in the dark, by someone who wants them dead. With eight hours until dawn, the six friends must escape, or figure out which one of them is the target. But is there a liar among them? Buried secrets will be brought to light, and tensions inside the RV will reach deadly levels. Not all of them will survive the night . . . .

His Dark Materials: The Collectors
By Philip Pullman
Illustrated by Tom Duxbury
80 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593378342 | Alfred A. Knopf BFYR
In this darkly delicious tale, internationally acclaimed author Philip Pullman invites readers to meet the mysterious girl who will one day become the sinister Mrs. Coulter. On a cold winter’s night, two art collectors are settled before a fire in the senior common room of a college in Oxford, discussing two new unusual pieces – a portrait of a striking young woman and a bronze sculpture of a fearsome monkey. How could they imagine that they are about to be caught in the cross-fire of a story that has traveled across time and worlds . . . .

Memories and Life Lessons from the Magic Tree House
By Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrated by Sal Murdocca
144 Pages | Ages 7+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593484548 | Random House BFYR
Celebrate the 30th anniversary of the #1 New York Times bestselling series with heartfelt advice from Mary Pope Osborne’s own life and her magical adventures with Jack and Annie – perfect for Magic Tree House fans of all ages! Look for heroes, far and near. Give your gifts to the world. Have compassion for all creatures. These are just a few of the lessons that Magic Tree House fans will learn on their magical journey through this book. With quotes from the series and classic art by Sal Murdocca, Mary Pope Osborne, beloved author of the #1 bestselling Magic Tree House series, shares the wisdom she’s gained from her own childhood and thirty years of whisking Jack and Annie away in the magic tree house

Nubia: The Awakening
By Omar Epps and Clarence A. Haynes
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593428641 | Delacorte Press
For Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho, Nubia is a mystery. Before they were born, a massive storm destroyed their ancestral homeland, forcing their families to flee across the ocean to New York City. Nubia, a utopic island nation off the coast of West Africa, was no more, and their parents’ sorrow was too deep for them to share much of their history beyond the folklore. But New York, ravaged by climate change and class division, is far from a safe haven for refugees, and Nubians live as outcasts, struggling to survive in the constantly flooding lower half of Manhattan, while the rich thrive in the tech-driven sky city known as the Up High. To many, being Nubian means you’re fated for a life plagued by difficulties and disrespect. But Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho are beginning to feel there might be more. Something within them is changing, giving each of them extraordinary powers. Extraordinary and terrifying powers that seem to be tied to the secrets their parents have kept from them. And there are people Up High watching, eager to do anything they can to become even more powerful than they already are. Now Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho will be faced with the choice – do they use their inheritance to lift their people, or to leave them behind. The fate of their city, and their people, hangs in the balance.

Soul of the Deep
By Natasha Bowen
304 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593120989 | Random House BFYR
To save those closest to her, Simi traded away everything: her freedom, her family, and the boy she loves. Now she is sworn to serve a new god, watching over the Land of the Dead at the bottom of the ocean. But when signs of demons begin to appear, it’s clear there are deeper consequences of Simi’s trade. These demons spell the world’s ruin . . . and because of Simi, they now have a way into the human realm. With the fate of the world at stake, Simi must break her promise and team up with a scheming trickster of a god. And if they succeed, perhaps Simi can also unbreak her heart along the way, and find herself again.

Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends
By Francine Pascal
Illustrated by Claudia Aguirre
Adapted by Nicole Andelfinger
224 Pages | Ages 8–12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593376461 | Random House Graphic
Jessica and Elizabeth have always been inseparable twins, but starting middle school means a chance for new beginnings! Elizabeth is excited to organize a school newspaper, but Jessica is more interested in joining the exclusive Unicorn Club. What will happen when the twins realize they might not be as alike as they thought? Middle school is hard enough, but with these twins each dealing with becoming their own person – will they be able to stay friends at the same time? Francine Pascal’s beloved Sweet Valley Twins comes to life in a brand-new graphic novel that will have old and new fans delighted as they meet Jessica and Elizabeth in graphic novel form. With the lively artwork of Claudia Aguirre, Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends is a contemporary middle-grade graphic novel filled with heart, laughter, and lots of twins.

The Area 51 Files
By Julie Buxbaum
Illustrated by Lavanya Naidu
304 Pages | Ages 8–12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593429464 | Delacorte Press
When Sky Patel-Baum is sent to live with her mysterious uncle, she didn’t imagine she’d end up here: Area 51. A top-secret military base with a bajillion rules and so classified not even the president knows its secrets. Also, it turns out the place is full of aliens. Lots and lots of aliens. But they prefer to be called Break Throughs, thank you very much. As Sky sets out to explore her extraordinary new home with her pizza-obsessed pet hedgehog Spike, she meets her otherworldly next-door neighbor Elvis and his fluffy pup, Pickles. But something mysterious is afoot in Area 51. Some of the Break Throughs have gone missing . . . at the exact same time Sky arrived. Where could they be? How can Sky and her uncle convince everyone they had nothing to do with the disappearance? And why does the macaroni and cheese at Area 51 Middle have eyeballs in it? New best friends Sky, Elvis, Spike, and Pickles try to crack the case, but the clock is ticking . . . .

The Little Book of Joy
By His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Illustrated by Rafael López
40 Pages | Ages 3–7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593484234 | Crown BFYR
In their only collaboration for children, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu use their childhood stories to show young people how to find joy even in hard times and why sharing joy with others makes it grow. The two spiritual masters tell a simple story, vibrantly brought to life by bestselling illustrator Rafael López, of how every child has joy inside them, even when it sometimes hides, and how we can find it, keep it close, and grow it by sharing it with the world. Sprung from the friendship, humor, and deep affection between these holy men, the book is a perfectly timed and important gift from two revered spiritual leaders to children. It is a reminder that joy is abundant – no matter what challenges we face – and has the power to transform the world around us even in the darkest of times.

Well, That Was Unexpected
Jesse Q. Sutanto
353 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593433973 | Delacorte Press
After Sharlot Citra’s mother catches her in a compromising position, she finds herself whisked away from LA to her mother’s native Indonesia. It’ll be exactly what they both need. Or so her mother thinks. When George Clooney Tanuwijaya’s father (who is obsessed with American celebrities) fears he no longer understands how to get through to his son, he decides to take matters into his own hands. To ensure that their children find the right kind of romantic partner, Sharlot’s mother and George’s father do what any “good” parent would do: they strike up a conversation online, pretending to be their children. When the kids find out about their parents’ actions, they’re horrified. Not even a trip to one of the most romantic places on earth could possibly make Sharlot and George fall for each other. But as the layers peel back and the person they thought they knew from online is revealed, the truth becomes more complicated. As unlikely as it may seem, did their parents manage to find their true match after all?

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’ll Make You Sweat

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we simmer on topics that we’re all stewing on, and recommend some scalding stories to generate further discussion.

Much of Europe and North America and several provinces in China are in the middle of a massive heat wave. And while that sounds like fun and a good excuse to get ice cream, this is not the fun kind of heat. This is catastrophic heat that’s breaking records, cancelling rail travel, killing people, and contributing to massive wildfires in what some are calling a “heat apocalypse.”

The best course of action, should you be in the middle of a heat wave (and many of you reading this are), is to stay hydrated, limit your exertion, and – if needed (and possible) – get to a local cooling station. But if you want to read some books that are just as sweltering as the weather (the same kind of rationale as drinking coffee in the heat), get ready to sizzle – we’ve got hot books, books about how the earth is heating up, and books with the hottest summers ever recorded – so far.

PICTURE BOOKS

If you think you’re hot, imagine what it would be like in this heat as a long-haired dachshund! That’s the predicament the hero of Hot Dog by Doug Salati faces: this is a wiener pup who is overheated and overwhelmed. He’s had enough of a sizzling city summer, so his owner hails a cab and finds them so relief on the beach!

A book of value to anyone in a heat wave is Too Hot? Too Cold?: Keeping Body Temperature Just Right by Caroline Arnold and Annie Patterson. In easy-to-understand writing, young readers will discover the many different ways humans and animals adapt to heat and cold. Have you ever wondered why you sweat when you’re hot? Or why dogs pant in the heat? These burning questions and more are answered within.

How can young readers prevent this summer’s heat wave from being the first of regular occurrences? Climate Action: The Future Is in Our Hands by Georgina Stevens and Katie Rewse has a few ideas! Not only does this book outline for young readers the causes of climate change and how it is affecting our world, it provides some innovative ideas for tackling climate breakdown, inspired by the positive stories from young people effecting change all around the (currently very hot) globe.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

If you’re looking for books about the causes of the incredible heat and how climate change contributes to it, but for a slightly older reading level, there are several great books to choose from. What Is Climate Change? by Gail Herman and John Hinderliter presents all sides of the climate change argument in this fact-based, fair-minded, and well-researched book that looks at the subject from many perspectives, including scientific, social, and political. And it has a polar bear on the cover, who we currently envy (even if its ice floe is looking mighty small!).

Once you’ve figured out what climate change is, and want to do something about it, you’ll want to read This Book Will (Help) Cool the Climate by Isabel Thomas and Alex Paterson, which offers 50 different ways to “cut pollution, speak up, and protect the planet” from bartering to assigning school some eco-homework. (No word on if anything will immediately turn the temperature down, but every bit helps!)

Want more ammunition on cooling the climate? Naomi Klein and Rebecca Stefoff’s How to Change Everything has what you need. As the book notes, temperatures are rising all over the world, leading to wildfires, droughts, animal extinctions and ferocious storms (and that’s just this week). Using examples of change and protest from young activists around the world, Klein shows we can help make things better – if we’re willing to change everything.

For something (mostly) fictional in the same vein, try Carrie Firestone’s The First Rule of Climate Club, in which eighth grader Mary Kate Murphy starts a podcast on climate activism and rallies her friends to create lasting change in their small suburban town. (It’s like the kids in this book read How to Change Everything!)

You may identify with the protagonist of our next book: Penelope March Is Melting by Jeffrey Michael Ruby. Set in a frozen town, Glacier Cove, that sits atop a literal iceberg, it seems like the book’s resident bookworm Penelope March need not worry about heat waves. But when the iceberg begins to melt, Penelope and her friend Miles must set out on an adventure.

And it wouldn’t be a heat wave without deadly forest fires. Cue Canadian Iain Lawrence and his forthcoming novel, Fire on Headless Mountain, in which eleven-year-old Virgil is separated from his siblings in the midst of a disastrous forest conflagration, and must use his wits and mother’s lessons to survive on his own.

YOUNG ADULT

Moving from forest fires to another kind of heat, Kasie West’s YA romance Sunkissed finds Avery spending a hot summer at a family resort, with – surprise, surprise – an even hotter resort staff member, Brooks. This swoony love story won’t give you heat exhaustion, but it will make you sweat.

And Say Yes Summer by Lindsey Roth Culli emanates a similar heat, as Rachel Walls spends a sweltering summer saying “yes,” to everything – yes to new experiences, yes to spontaneous road trips with crushes. Let’s just hope she also says “yes” to drinking plenty of fluids and finding shade.

Summer Fires by Giulia Sagramola is a graphic novel that depicts summer heat so well in its color palette and its characters languid movements, you’d think you’ve been transported to southern Italy. The book, translated from the Italian, follows two sisters faced with impossible choices of teenaged life, which mirror the massive forest fires (again!) in the surrounding hillsides of the town. Turn on the ceiling fan and dive in!

Speaking of forest fires, Julie Buxbaum’s Year on Fire uses fire season in Wood Valley as a backdrop for changing friendships as a single kiss with new boy Rohan shakes the foundation of the connection among twins Arch and Immie and their best friend, Paige. There’s even an arson in the school bathroom, if you need more heat!

There are few things better to beat the heat than ice cream. Melt with You by Jennifer Dugan is a funny and heartfelt queer YA rom-com about two girls on a summer road trip in an ice cream truck. Former best friends Fallon and Chloe haven’t talked since a fateful summer they hooked up. But a year later, a series of unfortunate events mean they’ll be working an ice cream truck together through a heated road trip. Not since the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” music video has an ice cream truck been filled with such angst!

As Bruno Mars noted in “Uptown Funk,” there’s not much hotter than a dragon’s breath – at least we think that’s what he’s talking about when he croons, “Too hot. Make a dragon wanna’ retire, man.” E.K. Johnston agrees, as her book The Story of Owen: The Dragon Slayer of Trondheim combines the heat of dragon fire with the heat of climate change. See, sixteen-year-old Owen is training to be a dragon-slayer in modern-day Canada, so he (and his friend and bard Siobhan) can protect his rural town from dragons who feed on fossil fuels. Yes, in this world dragons feed on carbon emissions (!).

Sure it’s hot now, but is it horses-combusting-into-flame hot? Then you need to read Ashlords by  Scott Reintgen, an epic fantasy story about three “phoenix riders” who compete in a multi-day horse race in which the horses, made of ash and alchemy, are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. (Kentucky Derby, time to up your game.)

Stay cool, stay hydrated, and enjoy some hot reads!