Tundra Top Ten: February 2021

Want to know what everyone else has been reading and loving lately? Every month we will share our list of top ten kids’ books that we publish into North America. Here are the Tundra and Puffin Canada titles for the month of February 2021 – how many have you read?

narwhal unincorn of the sea1. Narwhal and Jelly Series
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

By Ben Clanton
64 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918265 | Tundra Books
Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together. A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever – even though it doesn’t have any words . . . or pictures!

The Barnabus Project2. The Barnabus Project
By The Fan Brothers
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. This suspenseful, poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.

The Barren Grounds3. The Barren Grounds
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.

4. If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Colin Jack
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495685 | Tundra Books
If you happen to have a dinosaur, lying around your living room, and you don’t know what to do with it . . . why don’t you use it as a can opener? It will make a terrific nutcracker too! There are oodles of uses for a dinosaur – from a fine umbrella to an excellent kite and a dandy pillow, not to mention a reliable burglar alarm and the perfect excuse to forget your homework. This delightfully absurd exploration of the domestic uses of dinosaurs – and the things dinos just aren’t good for at all – is guaranteed to tickle funny bones and spark imaginations. If you read carefully, you’ll learn how to make your dinosaur last a very long time.

5. This Is Sadie
By Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495326 | Tundra Books
Sadie is a little girl with a big imagination. She has been a girl who lived under the sea and a boy raised by wolves. She has had adventures in wonderland and visited the world of fairytales. She whispers to the dresses in her closet and talks to birds in the treetops. She has wings that take her anywhere she wants to go, but that always bring her home again. She likes to make things – boats out of boxes and castles out of cushions. But more than anything Sadie likes stories, because you can make them from nothing at all. For Sadie, the world is so full of wonderful possibilities . . . This is Sadie, and this is her story.

6. Carson Crosses Canada
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
36 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918838 | Tundra Books
Feisty Annie Magruder and her dog, Carson, live in British Columbia, Canada, and they’re setting out to visit her sister, Elsie, in Newfoundland. In their little rattlebang car, packed with Carson’s favorite toy, Squeaky Chicken, and plenty of baloney sandwiches, Annie and Carson hit the road! They travel province by province, taking in each unique landscape and experiencing something special to that particular part of this vast, grand country. For example, they marvel at the beauty of the big, open sky – and grasshoppers! – in Saskatchewan and discover the gorgeous red earth and delicious lobster rolls in PEI, before finally being greeted by Elsie – and a surprise for Carson!

7. The Darkest Dark
By Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion
Illustrated by The Fan Brothers
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918623 | Tundra Books
Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem – at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is – and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company. Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield and brought to life by Terry and Eric Fan’s lush, evocative illustrations, The Darkest Dark will encourage readers to dream the impossible.

8. 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.

9. Shattered
By Eric Walters
216 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780143187790 | Razorbill Canada
Fifteen-year-old Ian must complete community volunteer service to pass social studies. Choosing to work at “The Club” sounds like fun, until he arrives at what turns out to be a soup kitchen for the homeless. It is here that he meets Sarge, the pipe-wielding homeless man who saved Ian from a near-mugging. His real name is Jacques, and he was a soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces. His last tour of duty was as a peacekeeper stationed in Rwanda, an African nation Ian knows little about. What he learns will change Ian’s view of the world – and may just help Jacques, too. With a Foreword by Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (Ret’d), force commander for the United Nations Mission to Rwanda, Shattered is an unforgettable story, one that asks what one person can do to make a difference.

10. Underground to Canada
By Barbara Smucker
216 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780143187899 | Puffin Canada
There’s a place the slaves been whisperin’ around called Canada. The law don’t allow no slavery there. They say you follow the North Star, and when you step onto this land you are free. . . . Taken away from her mother by a ruthless slave trader, all Julilly has left is the dream of freedom. Every day that she spends huddled in the slaver trader’s wagon travelling south or working on the brutal new plantation, she thinks about the land where it is possible to be free, a land she and her friend Liza may reach someday. So when workers from the Underground Railroad offer to help the two girls escape, they are ready. But the slave catchers and their dogs will soon be after them. . . .

Art Unframed

March is Youth Art Month so we’re celebrating by highlighting some of our beautiful art-inspired picture books. Follow along on Instagram using the hashtag #ArtUnframed for some arty bookish images and share your own!

Anonymouse
By Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Anna Pirolli
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263949 | Tundra Books
Art for the birds.
Art for the ants.
Art for the dogs, cats and raccoons.
Art to make them laugh, make them think, make them feel at home.
But who is creating it?
Only Anonymouse knows for sure . . .
This clever tale mixes street art, animals and gorgeous illustrations to create a meditation on how art can uplift any creature’s spirit – human or animal – when it speaks directly to them. Every page of Anna Pirolli’s stunning artwork is its own masterpiece with its bold pops of color and sly humor, elevating Vikki VanSickle’s subtle but evocative text.

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

Outside Art
By Madeline Kloepper
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264199 | Tundra Books
Pine Marten loves watching Human doing peculiar things in its log nest in the woods. One day, she notices Human putting colors on a board using a furry stick. Pine Marten learns from Chickadee that Human is actually “an artist” and is busy “making art.” But what is art? Soon all of the animals in the forest are wondering: why is Human doing this? Is it a warning? Is it looking for a mate? Is there any meaning at all? And if Human can make “art,” why can’t the animals do it too? Outside Art is a gorgeous and gently humorous exploration of art, creativity and nature by up-and-coming author-illustrator Madeline Kloepper.

Studio: A Place for Art to Start
By Emily Arrow
Illustrated by The Little Friends of Printmaking
32 Pages | 40 Pages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264854 | Tundra Books
A young bunny makes the rounds of a studio building, taking in all the different artists in their habitats. Making, thinking, sharing, performing . . . but can our bunny find the perfect space to let imagination shine? In this charming ode to creativity, noted children’s singer and entertainer Emily Arrow introduces readers to the concept of the studio: a place for painters, dancers, singers, actors, sculptors, printmakers . . . and you! Whether it’s a purpose-made space with big windows, a room filled with equipment, or the corner of a bedroom, your studio can be anywhere – you just have to find it!

When Emily Was SmallWhen Emily Was Small
By Lauren Soloy
44 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266063 | Tundra Books
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. When Emily Was Small is at once a celebration of freedom, a playful romp through the garden and a contemplation of the mysteries of nature.

Holiday Spotlight: Penguin Young Readers

Here at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, we’re lucky to work with so many different 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 Penguin Young Readers.

Antiracist Baby
By Ibram X. Kendi
Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
32 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593110508 | Kokila
From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist comes a new 9×9 picture book that empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves, now with added discussion prompts to help readers recognize and reflect on bias in their daily lives. With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.

Before the Ever After
By Jacqueline Woodson
176 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399545436 | Nancy Paulsen Books
For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ’s house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that–but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?

Bunheads
By Misty Copeland
Illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey
32 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399547645 | Putnam BFYR
From prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland comes the story of a young Misty, who discovers her love of dance through the ballet Coppélia–a story about a toymaker who devises a villainous plan to bring a doll to life. Misty is so captivated by the tale and its heroine, Swanilda, she decides to audition for the role. But she’s never danced ballet before; in fact, this is the very first day of her very first dance class! Though Misty is excited, she’s also nervous. But as she learns from her fellow bunheads, she makes wonderful friends who encourage her to do her very best. Misty’s nerves quickly fall away, and with a little teamwork, the bunheads put on a show to remember. Featuring the stunning artwork of newcomer Setor Fiadzigbey, Bunheads is an inspiring tale for anyone looking for the courage to try something new.

Girl on a Motorcycle
By Amy Novesky
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593116296 | Viking BFYR
One day, a girl gets on her motorcycle and rides away. She wants to wander the world. To go . . . elsewhere. This is the true story of the first woman to ride a motorcycle around the world alone. Each place has something to teach her. Each place is beautiful. And despite many flat tires and falls, she learns to always get back up and keep riding. Award-winning author Amy Novesky and Governor General’s Award-winning illustrator Julie Morstad have teamed up for a spectacular celebration of girl power and resilience.

The Last Kids on Earth and the Skeleton Road
By Max Brallier
Illustrated by Douglas Holgate
320 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984835345 | Viking BFYR
Now wielding the Midnight Blade, Jack Sullivan and the gang are furiously searching for the villainous Thrull and his skeleton army. The clock is ticking: the enemy has begun constructing the Tower–a portal with the power to bring Rezzoch the Ancient, Destructor of Worlds, to our dimension. Equipped with a crucial clue discovered by June on her Wild Flight, the group does the once-unthinkable: they leave Wakefield behind and embark on an . . . EPIC ROAD TRIP! That means music blasting, kitschy roadside attractions, snacks snacks snacks, dangerous detours, and a slew of skeletons and monsters at every turn. But this is no ordinary post-apocalyptic joyride. Because soon, they are pursued by a new threat: the return of a monster they thought long dead, who has taken on a terrifying new form. Jack, June, Quint, and Dirk will be lucky to make it far enough to find the answers they seek. But when the future of the world depends on it, these heroes don’t pump the brakes–they go full throttle.

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer
By Gillian Goerz
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525552857 | Dial BFYR
Jamila Waheed is staring down a lonely summer in a new neighborhood – until she meets Shirley Bones. Sure, Shirley’s a little strange, but both girls need a new plan for the summer, and they might as well become friends.  Then this kid Oliver shows up begging for Shirley’s help. His pet gecko has disappeared, and he’s sure it was stolen! That’s when Jamila discovers Shirley’s secret: She’s the neighborhood’s best kid detective, and she’s on the case. When Jamila discovers she’s got some detective skills of her own, a crime-solving partnership is born. The mystery of the missing gecko turns Shirley and Jamila’s summer upside down. And when their partnership hits a rough patch, they have to work together to solve the greatest mystery of all: What it means to be a friend.

Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
By Jessica Kim
320 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525554974 | Kokila
On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage. Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura–and Yumi doesn’t correct them. As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.

Super Fake Love Song
By David Yoon
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984812230 | Putnam BFYR
When Sunny Dae–self-proclaimed total nerd–meets Cirrus Soh, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom–with its electric guitars and rock posters–for Sunny’s own, he sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band. Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He ropes his best friends into his scheme, begging them to form a fake band with him, and starts wearing Gray’s rock-and-roll castoffs. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right? Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp. Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it. But it’s only a matter of time before Sunny’s house of cards starts tumbling down. As his lies begin to catch up with him, Sunny Dae is forced to wonder whether it was all worth it–and if it’s possible to ever truly change.

The Kingdom of Back
By Marie Lu
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524739010 | Putnam BFYR
Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish–to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age--her tyrannical father has made that much clear. And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true–but his help may cost her everything.

The Little Engine That Could: 90th Anniversary Edition
By Watty Piper
Illustrated by Dan Santat
Introduction by Dolly Parton
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593094396 | Grosset & Dunlap
The kindness and determination of the Little Blue Engine have inspired millions of children around the world since the story was first published in 1930. Cherished by readers for ninety years, The Little Engine That Could is a classic tale of a little engine that, despite her size, triumphantly pulls a train full of wonderful things to the children waiting on the other side of a mountain. This anniversary edition features the original text, all-new reimagined artwork and an introduction from Caldecott Medal-winner Dan Santat, and a special letter from Dolly Parton, award-winning singer-songwriter and founder of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The 2021 OLA Forest of Reading® Nominees

The Forest of Reading® is Canada’s largest recreational reading program. This initiative of the Ontario Library Association offers seven reading programs to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages. The Forest helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors, and illustrators. Here at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, we’d like to congratulate our nominated authors and illustrators.

2021 Blue Spruce Award™ Nominees

Bad Dog
By Mike Boldt
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984847973 | Doubleday BFYR
“Look what I got for my birthday! A pet dog!” says a little girl holding a . . . cat? Rocky doesn’t listen or obey like all the other dogs. (Because Rocky is a cat.) And Rocky hates her leash and doesn’t seem to like other dogs. (Probably because Rocky is a cat.) And rather than play fetch, Rocky prefers to . . . lick between her toes? Ew. Rocky is a bad “dog”! BUT Rocky doesn’t bark, and is so cute when she sleeps in sunny spots. Maybe Rocky IS a good dog? (Or, you know, maybe Rocky is a cat.) Cat lovers and dog lovers alike will howl with laughter at this little girl’s willful insistence that her cat is a dog. The hilarious ways in which cats and dogs are different are brilliantly illuminated with each turn of the page and will leave young readers and their grown-ups giggling.

2021 Silver Birch Express Award® Fiction Nominees

Terry Fox and MeTerry Fox and Me
By Mary Beth Leatherdale
Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267688 | Tundra Books
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope, this picture book biography tells the story of a friendship defined by strength and love. Before Terry Fox become a national hero and icon, he was just a regular kid. But even then, his characteristic strength, determination and loyalty were apparent and were the foundation for his friendship with Doug. The two first met at basketball tryouts in grammar school. Terry was the smallest – and worst – basketball player on the court. But that didn’t stop him. With Doug’s help, Terry practiced and practiced until he earned a spot on the team. As they grew up, the best friends supported each other, challenged each other, helped each other become better athletes and better people. Doug was by Terry’s side every step of the way: when Terry received a diagnosis of cancer in his leg, when he was learning to walk – then run – with a prosthetic leg and while he was training for the race of his life, his Marathon of Hope. Written from Doug’s perspective, this story shows that Terry Fox’s legacy goes beyond the physical and individual accomplishments of a disabled athlete and honors the true value of friendship.

2021 Yellow Cedar Award® Fiction Nominees

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

2021 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Nominees

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer
By Gillian Goerz
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525552857 | Dial BFYR
Jamila Waheed is staring down a lonely summer in a new neighborhood – until she meets Shirley Bones. Sure, Shirley’s a little strange, but both girls need a new plan for the summer, and they might as well become friends.  Then this kid Oliver shows up begging for Shirley’s help. His pet gecko has disappeared, and he’s sure it was stolen! That’s when Jamila discovers Shirley’s secret: She’s the neighborhood’s best kid detective, and she’s on the case. When Jamila discovers she’s got some detective skills of her own, a crime-solving partnership is born. The mystery of the missing gecko turns Shirley and Jamila’s summer upside down. And when their partnership hits a rough patch, they have to work together to solve the greatest mystery of all: What it means to be a friend.

The Barren GroundsThe Barren Grounds
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.

2021 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Nominees

Broken Strings
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266247 | Puffing Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — 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.

2021 White Pine Award™ Nominees

He Must Like You
By Danielle Younge-Ullman
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265691 | Penguin Teen Canada
Libby’s having a rough senior year. Her older brother absconded with his college money and is bartending on a Greek island. Her dad just told her she’s got to pay for college herself, and he’s evicting her when she graduates so he can AirBnB her room. A drunken hook-up with her coworker Kyle has left her upset and confused. So when Perry Ackerman, serial harasser and the most handsy customer at The Goat where she waitresses, pushes her over the edge, she can hardly be blamed for dumping a pitcher of sangria on his head. Unfortunately, Perry is a local industry hero, the restaurant’s most important customer and Libby’s mom’s boss. Now Libby has to navigate the fallout of her outburst, find an apartment and deal with her increasing rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life – and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. As timely as it is timeless, He Must Like You is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people.

By Tanaz Bhathena
384 Pages | Ages 12+| Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267022 | Penguin Teen Canada
Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge. Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl—Gul—in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance—and discovers a magic he never expected to find. Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.
The Starlight Claim
By Tim Wynne-Jones
240 Pages | Ages 14+| Hardcover
ISBN 9781536202649 | Candlewick
Four months after his best friend, Dodge, disappeared near their families’ camp in a boat accident, Nate is still haunted by nightmares. He’d been planning to make the treacherous trek to the remote campsite with a friend — his first time in winter without his survival-savvy father. But when his friend gets grounded, Nate secretly decides to brave the trip solo in a journey that’s half pilgrimage, half desperate hope he will find his missing friend when no one else could. What he doesn’t expect to find is the door to the cabin flung open and the camp occupied by strangers: three men he’s horrified to realize have escaped from a maximum-security prison. Snowed in by a blizzard and with no cell signal, Nate is confronted with troubling memories of Dodge and a stunning family secret, and realizes that his survival now depends on his wits as much as his wilderness skills. As things spiral out of control, Nate finds himself dealing with questions even bigger than who gets to leave the camp alive.

Alcuin Society’s Best-Designed Canadian Books of 2019

Since 1981, the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada recognizes and celebrates fine book design in Canada, and promotes the appreciation of beautifully produced books. We would like to congratulate our designers (who are also authors!) Kelly Hill and John Martz on their awards.

First Prize (tie)

Anne’s Alphabet
By Kelly Hill
Designed by Kelly Hill
28 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735262867 | Tundra Books
Iconic moments from the beloved L.M. Montgomery classic are celebrated in this adorable concept book. Artist Kelly Hill creates vignettes of the most recognizable moments from Anne of Green Gables, including nosy neighbors, freckles, kindred spirits and imagination. Each letter of the alphabet is brought to life through a memorable Anne scene, with simple text and tactile, gorgeous works of art created from cut fabric and embroidery.

Second Prize (tie)

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Designed by John Martz
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918593 | Tundra Books
Gyo Fujikawa’s iconic children’s books are beloved all over the world. Now it’s time for Gyo’s story to be told – a story of artistic talent that refused to be constrained by rules or expectations. Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. 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.

Third Prize (tie)

King Mouse
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
Designed by John Martz
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264045 | Tundra Books
A sweet, thoughtful tale of friendship, sharing and play, King Mouse begins when a mouse comes upon a tiny crown in the grass. The mouse puts the crown on his head, and when a bear subsequently comes upon him and asks if he’s king, the mouse responds “Yes.” This diminutive monarch settles into his new role very comfortably . . . until a snake comes upon a crown and claims she is queen. The mouse is not amused, especially when one by one the other animals find crowns and claim they are kings too. But when the bear can’t find a crown, King Mouse makes a most surprising decision. This inspired collaboration between an award-winning author and debut picture book illustrator Dena Seiferling is quietly profound in its simplicity and has the feeling of a modern classic.

Honourable Mentions

Alma and the BeastAlma and the Beast
By Esmé Shapiro
Designed by John Martz
44 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263963 | Tundra Books
Alma lives happily in her hairy world, where she can braid the trees, comb the grass, pet the roof and feed her plumpooshkie butterfly. Until one day . . . a hairless, button-nosed beast appears in the garden! At first Alma is scared, but when she realizes the beast is lost and misses her hairless home, Alma offers to help her find her way back. As the two take a fantastical journey through the red-headed woods and the bearded mushroom glen to the beast’s bald abode, they discover that they are much more alike than different. This quirky and charming story about friendship, empathy and perspective invites readers into a surreal, fantastical world that evokes Alice in WonderlandWhere the Wild Things Are and The Lorax.

Your First Day of Circus SchoolYour First Day of Circus School
By Tara Lazar
Illustrated by Melissa Crowton
Designed by John Martz
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263710 | Tundra Books
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages! It’s the most amazing day on earth: the first day of school! It can be a daunting prospect, but don’t worry – your big brother can show you the ropes. Join a nervous boy and his enthusiastic older brother as they navigate the highs and lows of a first day at school . . . except this school is a big top, the teacher is named Miss Stupendous, and the cafeteria can be a zoo, literally! It turns out, school isn’t so scary when you can let off steam during recess (on a steam train) and walk on stilts to all of your classes. With a bit of help from family and some new friends, you’ll make it to the top of the class in no time! This charming take on school readiness will delight new school-goers and take a bit of the fear out of those first-day jitters.