Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we sense topics ascending in popularity and exalt a constellation of star titles that are definitely worth a read.
One of the biggest films opening in theatres this weekend is Knights of the Zodiac, a live-action epic based on a popular anime that stars Famke Janssen, Sean Bean, and many others. When a goddess of war reincarnates into the body of a young girl, a street orphan named Seiya discovers that he is destined to protect her and – naturally – save the world. But he can only do that if he can face down his past demons and become a Knight … of the Zodiac.
We’ll be honest, we don’t know that much about Knights of the Zodiac (though we wish it only the best), but it seemed like as good an opportunity as any to recommend some books for young readers – one for each sign of the traditional western horoscope. This way, your reading nights (and days) can be filled with the zodiac.
Before recommending books for the various astrological signs, we want to note there’s no better time to read about astrology than immediately after birth. That’s why the Baby Astrology series by Roxy Marj is so perfect. No matter whether you were born March 21 to April 19, or October 23 to November 21, there is a board book that shares gentle thoughts about the characteristics of a child born under each star sign.
Capricorn: For this sign, we have to recommend the G.O.A.T. of goat books: Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War by Mireille Messier and Kass Reich. This is the true story of a goat adopted from the prairies by a World War I platoon – a goat who persevered, Capricorn-style, to become a bonafide war hero.
Aries: Speaking of hoofed mammals, Not All Sheep Are Boring by Bobby Moynihan and Julie Rowan-Zoch is a great pairing for Aries, the ram. A comedic book that fights back against the idea sheep will put you to sleep, it showcases a zany cast of the weirdest sheep you’ll ever see, riding jetpacks and prancing on the moon. (Since Aries are competitive, you know they want to stand out from the crowd!) This rollicking read is the antithesis of a bedtime book.
Taurus: As you might imagine from the title, Petal the Angry Cow by Maureen Evans and Olga Demidova features a cow (not a bull), but we’re no chauvinists here at Tundra Books. And while Taurus is often associated with calm and serenity, this bovine has a short temper, blowing up at the other barnyard animals for the slightest provocations. She has to learn a few unusual lessons from a swan (who sadly has no associated zodiac sign) to manage her rage.
Cancer: Crustaceans can rejoice at this interactive picture book intro to the hard-shelled arthropods, This Is Crab by Harriet Evans and Jacqui Lee. Like many Cancers, Crab is a shy creature, but with a little encouragement he takes readers on a journey through his underwater home, complete with flaps to lift and pieces to move.
CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE
Gemini: Jose Pimienta’s Twin Cities, about twins growing up on the Mexico-U.S. border, is a wonderful pick for Gemini readers. Luis Fernando and twin sister Luisa Teresa have been close their entire lives, but when Luis goes to middle school in Mexico andLuisa crosses the border every day so she can go to a private school in California, their relationship gets messy (just like Geminis, am I right?).
Scorpio: The quantity of actual scorpions in Scorpion Mountain, the fifth book in the fantasy adventures The Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan, is minimal, but the image of the scorpion looms large. Ranger Gillan is given a mission: protect the princess Cassandra, prone to assassination attempts, since a deadly sect known as the Scorpion Cult (see?) wants her dead. Luckily, the Brotherband crew has his back – which is more than we can say for most Scorpios.
Leo: There are a lot of books for young readers about lions, but we’re going to do the unexpected and recommend The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm. A slice-of-life science fiction story, it follows Bell, a curious, cat-loving eleven-year-old who just happens to live in the Martian settlements when a strange virus breaks out. (Bell’s favorite animals are lions because the settlers’ small township reminds him of a lion’s pride – classic overly dramatic Leo in action.)
Libra: Likewise, there are a bunch of middle-grade novels about choosing that show the balance Libra represents, but we’re picking Flipping Forward Twisting Backward by Alma Fullerton. Not only must Claire find equilibrium between the demands of gymnastics, family life, and her difficulties at school with a new dyslexia diagnosis, she must also find literal equilibrium on balance beams and stuff like that.
Aquarius: Not only does Natasha Bowen’s Skin of the Sea feature an aquatic setting and mermaid (or, more accurately, Mami Wata) heroine, that heroine – Simi – demonstrates the most admirable humanitarian qualities of Aquarius, saving the life of a boy thrown overboard, and going against the laws of her people for the greater good. (And yes, we know Aquarius is an “air sign,” but it has “aqua” in its name!)
Sagittarius: You can probably think of a blockbuster YA series that would be a good fit with the archer sign, but we don’t publish those books. So instead, we recommend No Good Deed by Kara Connolly, a modern reimagining of the Robin Hood legend. Ellie Hudson is an Olympic archer hopeful who takes a wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle and ends up – in true adventurous Sagittarian fashion – in Medieval England.
Pisces: Intuitive and sensitive describes Tiến in graphic novel The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen to a “T.” Typical of a Pisces, he keeps a secret from his immigrant Vietnamese family to protect them: he’s gay. And though he’s unable to find the words to speak to his parents, he navigates his troubles through the fairytales, largely fish-based ones, that his mother tells him.
Virgo: We recommend The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund as a Virgo pick, because (a) it’s a sex-positive story about a high school virgin determined to lose that virginity, and (b) like any good Virgo, main character Keeley Collins takes on the task practically and systematically.
Happy reading, friends!