Wordless Books

There aren’t enough words to describe these wonderful titles. Wordless books can be a huge asset for emerging readers and a great resource for parents and educators. Here are some we love:

Antonia: A Journey to a New Home
By Dipacho
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781662650451 | MineditionUS
Like so many people around the world facing difficult times, the little girl and her family in this eye-catching and emotionally satisfying picture book have had to leave their home. The girl has brought along her belongings and her friendly, curious dog, Antonia. While waiting for a boat to take them across a river, she plays with other children who’ve also brought pets – a duck and a bird. But on the other side of the river, Antonia goes missing in the brush. The girl is distraught, until a new friend releases his own pet bird from its cage in an extraordinary gesture of solidarity and freedom. With colorful, whimsical illustrations and an uplifting message of resilience, this US debut from a talented Colombian creator will leave readers with a full heart.

Dandelion’s Dream
By Yoko Tanaka
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536204537 | Candlewick
In a meadow filled with dandelion buds just about to flower, one dandelion blooms into a real lion. Roots and leaves unfurl into four tiny paws and a long tail with a fluffy yellow tuft. What a great, wide world there is to explore when you have paws instead of roots: there are fast trains to ride, regal ships to sail, and cities with lights as bright as Dandelion’s field in full bloom. But will a real lion ever be content to go back to being a rooted dandelion? Yoko Tanaka’s exquisite illustrations take us on an adventure where even the smallest seeds contain cosmic dreams.

Field Trip to the Ocean Deep
By John Hare
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446308 | Margaret Ferguson Books
Students dressed in deep sea helmets travel to the ocean deep in a yellow school-bus submarine. When they get there, they frolic with fish, chase luminescent squid, and discover an old shipwreck. But when it’s time to return to the submarine bus, one student lingers to take a photo of a treasure chest and falls into a deep ravine. Luckily, the child makes an unexpected friend – a maybe-not-so-extinct sea creature called a Pleiosaur – that’s happy to entertain the young explorer until the teacher returns.

Hike
By Pete Oswald
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201574 | Candlewick
In the cool and quiet early light of morning, a father and child wake up. Today they’re going on a hike. Follow the duo into the mountains as they witness the magic of the wilderness, overcome challenges, and play a small role in the survival of the forest. By the time they return home, they feel alive – and closer than ever – as they document their hike and take their place in family history. In detail-rich panels and textured panoramas, Pete Oswald perfectly paces this nearly wordless adventure, allowing readers to pause for subtle wonders and marvel at the views. A touching tribute to the bond between father and child, with resonant themes for Earth Day, Hike is a breath of fresh air.

How to Talk Monster
By Lynn Plourde
Illustrated by Mike Lowery
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525515807 | Putnam BFYR
A Little Boy is just trying to go to sleep when a Little Monster creeps up to his window and . . . says goop-zee-googy! Or, peek-a-boo!, in case you don’t speak Monster. Hilarity ensues as the Little Monster tries to play with the Little Boy despite the language barrier. While at first scared, the Little Boy comes to Little Monster’s rescue when he gets hurt and the two new friends are able to play together all night long. Complete with a glossary translating the monster language used throughout, this classic nighttime adventure story will have little readers wishing for a Little Monster to knock on their window at night.

I Walk with Vanessa: A Picture Book Story About a Simple Act of Kindness
By Kerascoët
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524769550 | Schwartz & Wade
Inspired by real events, I Walk with Vanessa explores the feelings of helplessness and anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly, and shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help. By choosing only pictures to tell their story, the creators underscore the idea that someone can be an ally without having to say a word. With themes of acceptance, kindness, and strength in numbers, this timeless and profound feel-good story will resonate with readers young and old.

Journey
By Aaron Becker
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763660536 | Candlewick
A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

La La La
By Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Jaime Kim
72 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763658335 | Candlewick
“La la la . . . la.” A little girl stands alone and sings, but hears no response. Gathering her courage and her curiosity, she skips farther out into the world, singing away to the trees and the pond and the reeds – but no song comes back to her. Day passes into night, and the girl dares to venture into the darkness toward the light of the moon, becoming more insistent in her singing, climbing as high as she can, but still there is silence in return. Dejected, she falls asleep on the ground, only to be awakened by an amazing sound. . . . She has been heard. At last. With the simplest of narratives and the near absence of words, Kate DiCamillo conveys a lonely child’s yearning for someone who understands. With a subtle palette and captivating expressiveness, Jaime Kim brings to life an endearing character and a transcendent landscape that invite readers along on an emotionally satisfying journey.

Over the Shop
By JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201475 | Candlewick
A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the quarters above their store will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the possibilities of the space – until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl’s big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways. In this bustling wordless picture book, JonArno Lawson’s touching story and Qin Leng’s gentle illustrations capture all angles of the building’s transformation, as well as the evolving perspectives of the girl and her grandparent. A warm and subtly nuanced tale, Over the Shop throws open the doors to what it means to accept people for who they are and to fill your home with love and joy.

Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home
By Guojing
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524771768 | Schwartz & Wade
In this heartwarming, wordless picture book that’s perfect for dog lovers, a woman visits a park and discovers a pup hiding under a bench – scruffy, scared, and alone. With gentle coaxing, the woman tries to befriend the animal, but the dog is too scared to let her near. Day after day, the woman tries – and day after day, the dog runs away. With perseverance and patience – and help from an enticing tennis ball – a tentative friendship begins. But it’s not until a raging storm forces the two together that a joyous and satisfying friendship takes hold. Guojing poignantly explores how trust doesn’t always come easily, but how, over time, and with kindness and determination, forever love can grow.

The Midnight Fair
By Gideon Sterer
Illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211153 | Candlewick
Far from the city, but not quite the countryside, lies a fairground. When night comes and the fair is empty, something unexpected happens. Wild animals emerge from the forest, a brave raccoon pulls a lever, and the roller coasters and rides explode back into bright, neon life. It’s time for the woodland creatures to head to the fair! In a gorgeous wordless picture book, author Gideon Sterer and illustrator Mariachiara Di Giorgio offer an exuberant take on what animals are up to when humans are asleep. Suffused with color and light, the panel illustrations celebrate the inherent humor and joy in deer flying by on chair-swings, a bear winning a stuffed bear, three weasels carrying a soft pretzel, and a badger driving a bumper car. With thrills both spectacular and subtle, Midnight Fair will have readers punching their tickets again and again to revel in this fantastic nocturnal world.

For ideas on how to use some of these titles, check out this activity kit.

Our Stars of 2020

At Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, we think all our books are brilliant, and it’s nice when others think so too! Congratulations to our authors and illustrators; these are our starred books of 2020!

FIVE STARS:

The Barnabus Project
By Terry Fan, Eric Fan, and Devin Fan
72 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263260 | Tundra Books
“More subtly incorporated is the idea that there’s nothing wrong with imperfection, nor does it mitigate one’s value or ability to succeed.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“A heartfelt, timely allegory celebrating diversity, bravery, and solidarity.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“A cinematic climax caps this romp as Terry and Eric Fan, collaborating with their brother Devin, step out from earlier, atmospheric works to produce an ambitious drama of rebellion, escape, and inclusivity rewarded.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“In the Fan brothers’ hands, the result feels like a happy amalgam of Jules Verne, Maurice Sendak, the Moomins, and Monsters, Inc.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire
“The three Fan brothers have created new characters who overcome seemingly impossible odds by being resilient, using teamwork, and not leaving anyone behind.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

The Blue House
By Phoebe Wahl
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984893390 | Tundra Books
“Refreshingly candid in portraying the intense feelings that sometimes accompany the experience of moving, the text shows how candor, camaraderie, and artistic expression can be helpful in coping with them.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“An absolute treasure for anyone who has ever moved.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Wahl makes both characters distinctive and sympathetic, and devotes loving attention to every spread.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“With loving details that radiate off the page, exquisite pacing, and a child’s perspective on the bad thing that is happening, this is recommended to share widely, and with anyone who has ever had to move.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“Wahl’s picture book tells an affecting story about loss and starting over.” – Starred Review, The Horn Book

THREE STARS:

Story Boat
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263598 | Tundra Books
“Luminous and thought-provoking, Story Boat contains deep layers of meaning that are sure to spark conversations from young readers.” – Starred Review, BookPage
“A timely and uplifting book about and for refugees.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Elegantly composed and beautifully depicted, Story Boat is the perfect vehicle to spark sensitive discussions and foster compassion for newcomers.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

The Enigma Game
By Elizabeth Wein
448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265288 | Penguin Teen Canada
“In many ways a small story about big things – fitting in a novel thematically focused on the ways individuals matter – this is historical fiction at its finest . . . Another soaring success.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“In sum, it is a rich work of historical fiction, wearing its period accuracy lightly . . . and offering an unusual perspective on the war.” – Starred Review, The Horn Book
“Wein’s story of unexpected friendship and empowerment during wartime is intelligent, compassionate and thrilling.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

TWO STARS:

Hunted by the Sky
By Tanaz Bhathena
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267022 | Penguin Teen Canada
“Bhathena takes her time unfolding the story . . . The result is an intoxicating novel that is at once leisurely and keenly enthralling.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire
“A breath of fresh air in the fantasy adventure genre . . . Readers will be mesmerized by Bhathena’s vivid storytelling and the deeply felt connection between the two main characters.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Maud and Grand-Maud
By Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Kenard Pak
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918692 | Tundra Books
“A quiet, understated gem among intergenerational picture books.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“O’Leary’s measured narration reflects a relationship and a rapport that is not only unconditionally loving, but also beautifully, profoundly respectful on both sides.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret
By Jess Keating
Illustrated by Katie Hickey
34 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265080 | Tundra Books
“Despite the short word count, this book is packed with information and effectively conveys the gravity and impact of Tharp’s work and the obstacles she faced.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
Ocean Speaks celebrates determination and ingenuity; it celebrates dreams and accomplishments; and most of all it celebrates a curious little girl who became a talented, resourceful woman, leaving a permanent impression on the scientific world.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

Ray
By Marianna Coppo
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265776 | Tundra Books
“Children will easily identify with Ray’s feelings of timidity when faced with a large, unfamiliar world, but they will also light up as he finds a way to connect with his new surroundings.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“Coppo has returned with another lovable new character in Ray, who reminds readers that all it takes is a little change in perspective to open up a whole new world.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

The Fabled Stables: Willa the Wisp
By Jonathan Auxier
Illustrated by Olga Demidova
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267725 | Puffin Canada
“Whimsical fantasy with the right amount of speed and cleverness for the audience.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Words and pictures partner to create a captivating, promising series starter that boasts quirky secondary characters and a sympathetic hero.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

ONE STAR:

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
336 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265462 | Tundra Books
“Heartfelt, funny and suspenseful, The Body Under the Piano is an excellent beginning to what is sure to be a pleasantly gruesome series.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

Me and Banksy
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
272 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266919 | Puffin Canada
“As incisive as it is funny, Me and Banksy offers strongly drawn characters and sharp insights about protest, victimization, and the precarious nature of surveillance.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Natsumi’s Song of Summer
By Robert Paul Weston
Illustrated by Misa Saburi
44 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265417 | Tundra Books
“Immersive illustrations and rich poetry urge young readers to slow down and appreciate nature.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Pine Island Home
By Polly Horvath
240 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268623 | Puffin Canada
“Horvath, ever respectful of the inner lives of children, has a way of incorporating moments of sweet hilarity into an account that makes the girls’ situation seem plausible . . . Delightful.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Red Fox Road
By Frances Greenslade
248 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267817 | Puffin Canada
“Resourceful, doggedly careful, courageous Francie brightens this often somber tale . . . Rendered with exquisite sensory detail, this hero’s journey is a resonant read for unsettling times.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga #1
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
“The shift into a contemporary Indigenous fantasy is seamless . . . This middle-grade fantasy deftly and compellingly centers Indigenous culture.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Bug Girl: A True Story
By Sophia Spencer and Margaret McNamara
Illustrated by Kerascoët
44 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267527 | Tundra Books
“McNamara’s skillful text centers Spencer’s voice, while Kerascoët’s loose ink, colored pencil, and watercolor illustrations render winning details with emotional sensitivity.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

The Gryphon’s Lair: Royal Guide to Monster Slaying #2
By Kelley Armstrong
352 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265387 | Puffin Canada
“Remarkably well-crafted . . . a memorable thrill filled with tough choices, hard-fought battles and unforgettable lessons.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

The Invisible Bear
By Cécile Metzger
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266872 | Tundra Books
“Gentle illustrations in soft hues effectively illustrate this subtle tale of depression, loss, and the healing power of affection . . . A beautiful yet subtle depiction of the restorative power of companionship.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

When Emily Was Small
By Lauren Soloy
44 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266063 | Tundra Books
“An altogether mystical yet accessibly grounded story . . . an [ . . . ] accomplished presentation.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Where’s Baby?
By Anne Hunter
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264984 | Tundra Books
“Hunter’s simple but lively pen and colored pencil drawings allow the deadpan humor to ring out . . . a winner for interactive reading.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

2020 Youth Nature Inspiration Award

The Nature Inspiration Awards, in conjunction with the Canadian Museum of Nature, recognize individuals and organizations whose specific projects encourage Canadians to take an interest in natural history, create links with nature and contribute to its preservation. We would like to congratulate Sophia Spencer, the Bug Girl herself, who won this year’s Youth Nature Inspiration Award!

The Bug GirlThe Bug Girl
By Sophia Spencer and Margaret McNamara
Illustrated by KERASCOET
44 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267527 | Tundra Books
Sophia Spencer has loved bugs ever since a butterfly landed on her shoulder–and wouldn’t leave! – at a butterfly conservancy when she was only two-and-a-half years old. In preschool and kindergarten, Sophia was thrilled to share what she knew about grasshoppers (her very favorite insects), as well as ants and fireflies . . . but by first grade, not everyone shared her enthusiasm. Some students bullied her, and Sophia stopped talking about bugs altogether. When Sophia’s mother wrote to an entomological society looking for a bug scientist to be a pen pal for her daughter, she and Sophie were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response – letters, photos and videos came flooding in. Using the hashtag #BugsR4Girls, scientists tweeted hundreds of times to tell Sophia to keep up her interest in bugs – and it worked!

“Sophia wrote her book to encourage children to discover the natural world around them, and to believe in yourself and never stop loving the things that bring you joy.” – The Nature Inspiration Awards

Tundra Bug Club

Tundra Bug Club Banner

Natsumis Song of SummerNatsumi’s Song of Summer
By Robert Paul Weston
Illustrated by Misa Saburi
40 Pages | Ages 3-7
ISBN 9780735265417 | Tundra Books

Natsumi’s nervousness about meeting her cousin from across the sea quickly disappears when she discovers that her cousin is a lot like her: they both love summertime’s hot sandy beaches, cool refreshing watermelon, festivals and fireworks. Then Jill asks Natsumi about the strange buzzing sound that comes from the nearby trees, and Natsumi is nervous once again. What if Jill is frightened of Natsumi’s cherished cicadas, the insects that sing the music of summertime? This sweet and gentle picture book celebrates summer in Japan, as one little girl shares her love for bugs with her cousin who is visiting from America.

The Bug GirlThe Bug Girl
By Sophia Spencer and Margaret McNamara
Illustrated by KERASCOET
44 Pages | Ages 4-8
ISBN 9780735267527 | Tundra Books

Sophia Spencer has loved bugs ever since a butterfly landed on her shoulder–and wouldn’t leave! – at a butterfly conservancy when she was only two-and-a-half years old. In preschool and kindergarten, Sophia was thrilled to share what she knew about grasshoppers (her very favorite insects), as well as ants and fireflies . . . but by first grade, not everyone shared her enthusiasm. Some students bullied her, and Sophia stopped talking about bugs altogether. When Sophia’s mother wrote to an entomological society looking for a bug scientist to be a pen pal for her daughter, she and Sophie were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response – letters, photos and videos came flooding in. Using the hashtag #BugsR4Girls, scientists tweeted hundreds of times to tell Sophia to keep up her interest in bugs – and it worked!

mosquitoThe Mosquito
By Elise Gravel
32 Pages | Ages 6-9
ISBN 9780735266452 | Tundra Books

The Mosquito covers habitat (mosquitos live everywhere except Antarctica and Iceland!), species (over 3,500!), history (the oldest recorded mosquito was 79 million years ago!) and much more. Although silly and off-the-wall, The Mosquito contains factual information that will both amuse and teach at the same time. Hilarious illustrated nonfiction about mosquitos perfect for beginning readers. Conversational text and silly illustrations will have you up all night reading about the most annoying bug on Earth!

The Bug Girl-spider

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