Big Ideas for Little Readers

Here at Tundra Book Group we have many books to help start conversations about big thoughts and feelings your little readers may have. As part of #FindYourselfInABook this January, we have created a list of beautiful children’s books, plus educators’ guides and activity sheets, to explore those big ideas!

A Garden of Creatures
By Sheila Heti
Illustrated by Esmé Shapiro
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268814 | Tundra Books
Two bunnies and a cat live happily together in a beautiful garden. But when the big bunny passes away, the little bunny is unsure how to fill the void she left behind. A strange dream prompts her to begin asking questions: Why do the creatures we love have to die, and where do we go when we die? How come life works this way? With the wisdom of the cat to guide her, the little bunny learns that missing someone is a way of keeping them close. And together they discover that the big bunny is a part of everything around them – the grass, the air, the leaves – for the world is a garden of creatures. With its meditative text, endearing illustrations and life-affirming message, A Garden of Creatures reveals how the interconnectedness of nature and the sweetness of friendship can be a warm embrace even in the darkest times.

Bug in a Vacuum
By Mélanie Watt
Ages 5-9 | Tundra Books
ISBN 9781770496453 | Hardcover
A bug flies through an open door into a house, through a bathroom, across a kitchen and bedroom and into a living room . . . where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance – the five stages of grief – as it comes to terms with its fate. Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel?

Check out the educators’ guide and activity sheet.

Kumo: The Bashful Cloud
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Nathalie Dion
64  Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267282 | Tundra Books
Kumo is a cloud whose only wish is to float unseen. When she’s assigned cloud duty for the day, she feels overwhelmed by self-doubt and her fear of being noticed. But after learning that closing your eyes isn’t a good solution to your troubles, Kumo pulls her fluff together and does her duties – drifting, releasing rain and providing shelter – meeting some new friends along the way and inspiring the imagination (and capturing the heart) of a small daydreamer like her. Kyo Maclear’s sweetly humorous and lyrical parable about shyness, vividly brought to life by Nathalie Dion’s ethereal illustrations, is an affirmation of the pleasures of community and the confidence that can arise from friendship and visibility.

Little Echo
By Al Rodin
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880623 | Tundra Books
Have you ever heard an Echo?
They live in lakes and tunnels and caves.
But have you ever seen an Echo?
Little Echo lives alone in a cave. Shy, she hides away, echoing the noises around her. But Little Echo isn’t just shy – she’s lonely. And when Max comes to the cave one day, in search of treasure, Little Echo starts to discover that maybe she has a voice of her own.

My Self, Your Self
By Esmé Shapiro
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880234 | Tundra Books
From the way you button your coat to the way you tap your toes, from the top of your head to your adorable tummy, there are so many reasons to love your self, and so many reasons to be loved. Join a group of endearing forest creatures as they bake and eat cranberry-butter-pie muffins, sing silly songs at bath time and stop to smell the chestnut-nettle roses, all the while exploring their individuality. This joyously affirming picture book from the inimitable Esmé Shapiro encourages the youngest readers to get to know and love and be kind to their wonderful selves and the equally wonderful selves around them.

Check out the activity sheets.

Rodney Was a Tortoise
By Nan Forler
Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266629 | Tundra Books
Bernadette and Rodney are the best of friends. Rodney’s not so good at playing cards, but he’s great at staring contests. His favorite food is lettuce, though he eats it VERRRRRRY SLOOOOOWLY. And he’s such a joker! When Bernadette goes to sleep at night, Rodney is always there, watching over her from his tank.  As the seasons pass, Rodney moves slower and slower, until one day he stops moving at all. Without Rodney, Bernadette feels all alone. She can’t stop thinking about him, but none of her friends seem to notice. Except for Amar. Rodney Was a Tortoise is a moving story about friendship and loss. It shows the importance of expressing kindness and empathy, especially in life’s most difficult moments.

Check out the activity sheet.

The Invisible Bear
By Cecile Metzger
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266872 | Tundra Books
A bear sits in his quiet, colorless home in a forgotten place. He feels invisible; no one comes to see him, and he spends his days alone. Then someone moves in next door. Madame Odette is sound and sunshine, and at first, the bear isn’t sure about this colorful new neighbor. But through an act of kindness, the bear and the Madame Odette meet, and as time goes by, they become friends. And in the end, they are both forever changed by the gifts they bring each other. The first book from author-illustrator Cécile Metzger, The Invisible Bear is a powerful and beautiful meditation on the beauty of friendship and how two people can save each other just by being themselves.

The Unforgettable Party
By Noemi Vola
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270909 | Tundra Books
Caterpillar is SO bored. But everyone knows the best cure for boredom: a marvelous, super-long, super-fun, unforgettable party! He already has everything he needs: apple juice, confetti, decorations, party hats and star stickers to stick on your face. Everything is perfect, except for one missing ingredient: FRIENDS. Unfortunately, none of Caterpillar’s friends are available. Caterpillar is SO sad. But then he comes up with an ingenious solution: using a marker, he creates six new friends . . . on himself! After introducing themselves and shaking each others’ hands (or feet), it’s time for the party to begin. They dance, they play, they put on costumes and even eat seven feet of pizza. It’s a marvelous time! But what happens when the party is over? Will Caterpillar’s new friends leave him? Find out in this delightfully quirky picture book.

Thingamabob
By Marianna Coppo
44 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265790 | Tundra Books
What is a thingamabob? A thingamabob can be anything . . . and so can you! A sweet, empowering picture book about self-discovery from the acclaimed author-illustrator of Petra. In the beginning, the universe was one great big thing. Then that thing exploded into gobs and gobs of thingamabobs. All of the thingamabobs had a purpose . . . all except for one small, shapeless thingamabob. No one knew what it was for. It wasn’t this or that. It wasn’t here or there. What’s the use of this thingamabob? But everything changes for Thingamabob when it makes a friend in the park. And Thingamabob realizes that if you aren’t one thing . . . you can be everything!

Check out the activity sheet.

Time Is a Flower
By Julie Morstad
56 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267541 | Tundra Books
What is time? Is it the tick tick tock of a clock, numbers and words on a calendar? It’s that, but so much more. Time is a seed waiting to grow, a flower blooming, a sunbeam moving across a room. Time is slow like a spider spinning her web or fast like a wave at the beach. Time is a wiggly tooth, or waiting for the school bell to ring, or reading a story . . . or three! But time is also morning for some and night for others, a fading sunset and a memory captured in a photo taken long ago. In this magical meditation on the nature of time, Julie Morstad shines a joyful light on a difficult-to-grasp concept for young readers and reminds older readers to see the wonders of our world, including children themselves, through the lens of time.

Check out the activity sheet.

Find Yourself in a Book

Here at Tundra Book Group we have many books to help conversations around mental health for young readers. As January is self-love month, we have created a list of beautiful children’s books anyone can find themselves in, and to help celebrate who you are!

Celebrate yourself

My Lala
By Thomas King
Illustrated by Charlene Chua
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269347 | Tundra Books
Lala wakes up one morning and decides that she owns the world. Quick as a fox, she bounds to her box of treasures and finds her shiny red dots – to mark what is hers, because there’s nothing that’s not! Lala’s bear gets a dot, as does her blankie, boots, and even the markers she uses to make scrawls on her walls. When she finishes labeling everything in her room and goes to label her dad-daddy’s socks, Lala realizes that she’s out of dots! But when Lala discovers that she can simply create her own red dots, will anything be safe from Lala? Join rambunctious Lala on her quest to own the world in this joyful picture book that celebrates confidence and positive thinking.

My Self, Your Self
By Esmé Shapiro
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880234 | Tundra Books
From the way you button your coat to the way you tap your toes, from the top of your head to your adorable tummy, there are so many reasons to love your self, and so many reasons to be loved. Join a group of endearing forest creatures as they bake and eat cranberry-butter-pie muffins, sing silly songs at bath time and stop to smell the chestnut-nettle roses, all the while exploring their individuality. This joyously affirming picture book from the inimitable Esmé Shapiro encourages the youngest readers to get to know and love and be kind to their wonderful selves and the equally wonderful selves around them.

Listen to your voice

Kumo: The Bashful Cloud
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Nathalie Dion
64  Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267282 | Tundra Books
Kumo is a cloud whose only wish is to float unseen. When she’s assigned cloud duty for the day, she feels overwhelmed by self-doubt and her fear of being noticed. But after learning that closing your eyes isn’t a good solution to your troubles, Kumo pulls her fluff together and does her duties – drifting, releasing rain and providing shelter – meeting some new friends along the way and inspiring the imagination (and capturing the heart) of a small daydreamer like her. Kyo Maclear’s sweetly humorous and lyrical parable about shyness, vividly brought to life by Nathalie Dion’s ethereal illustrations, is an affirmation of the pleasures of community and the confidence that can arise from friendship and visibility.

Little Echo
By Al Rodin
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880623 | Tundra Books
Have you ever heard an Echo?
They live in lakes and tunnels and caves.
But have you ever seen an Echo?
Little Echo lives alone in a cave. Shy, she hides away, echoing the noises around her. But Little Echo isn’t just shy – she’s lonely. And when Max comes to the cave one day, in search of treasure, Little Echo starts to discover that maybe she has a voice of her own.

It’s okay to ask for help

The Pink Umbrella
By Amélie Callot
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919231 | Tundra Books
When it’s bright outside, Adele is the heart of her community, greeting everyone who comes into her café with arms wide open. But when it rains, she can’t help but stay at home inside, under the covers. Because Adele takes such good care of her friends and customers, one of them decides to take care of her too, and piece by piece leaves her little gifts that help her find the joy in a gray, rainy day. Along with cute-as-a-button illustrations, The Pink Umbrella celebrates thoughtful acts of friendship.

Tough Like Mum
By Lana Button
Illustrated by Carmen Mok
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265981 | Tundra Books
Kim’s mum is tough. Everyone says so. She can deal with unruly customers at the Red Rooster with a snap of her fingers. Kim is tough, too. She doesn’t need to wear a hat to keep her ears warm. And she can make soup all by herself, even without the stove. Kim and her mum are tough. But Kim is learning that sometimes toughness doesn’t look like what you’d expect. In this tender exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, Kim and her mother learn that in order to support and truly take care of each other, they need to be tough – and that sometimes being tough means showing vulnerability and asking for help.

It’s okay to feel down

The Invisible Bear
By Cecile Metzger
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266872 | Tundra Books
A bear sits in his quiet, colorless home in a forgotten place. He feels invisible; no one comes to see him, and he spends his days alone. Then someone moves in next door. Madame Odette is sound and sunshine, and at first, the bear isn’t sure about this colorful new neighbor. But through an act of kindness, the bear and the Madame Odette meet, and as time goes by, they become friends. And in the end, they are both forever changed by the gifts they bring each other. The first book from author-illustrator Cécile Metzger, The Invisible Bear is a powerful and beautiful meditation on the beauty of friendship and how two people can save each other just by being themselves.

What’s Up, Maloo?
By Geneviève Godbout
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266643 | Tundra Books
Maloo the kangaroo has lost his hop. Can his friends help him find it again? This sweet picture book explores the idea of sadness and the importance of friendship through ups and downs. No other kangeroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo’s friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What’s wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. With patience, support and a little “hop” from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back. Simple text and adorable art convey the power of friendship over a gloomy mood in Geneviève Godbout’s charming debut as both author and illustrator.

Coping with grief isn’t easy

A Garden of Creatures
By Sheila Heti
Illustrated by Esmé Shapiro
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268814 | Tundra Books
Two bunnies and a cat live happily together in a beautiful garden. But when the big bunny passes away, the little bunny is unsure how to fill the void she left behind. A strange dream prompts her to begin asking questions: Why do the creatures we love have to die, and where do we go when we die? How come life works this way? With the wisdom of the cat to guide her, the little bunny learns that missing someone is a way of keeping them close. And together they discover that the big bunny is a part of everything around them – the grass, the air, the leaves – for the world is a garden of creatures. With its meditative text, endearing illustrations and life-affirming message, A Garden of Creatures reveals how the interconnectedness of nature and the sweetness of friendship can be a warm embrace even in the darkest times.

Bug in a Vacuum
By Mélanie Watt
ISBN 9781770496453 | Hardcover
Ages 5-9 | Tundra Books
A bug flies through an open door where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance – the five stages of grief – as it comes to terms with its fate.

Rodney Was a Tortoise
By Nan Forler
Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266629 | Tundra Books
Bernadette and Rodney are the best of friends. Rodney’s not so good at playing cards, but he’s great at staring contests. His favorite food is lettuce, though he eats it VERRRRRRY SLOOOOOWLY. And he’s such a joker! When Bernadette goes to sleep at night, Rodney is always there, watching over her from his tank.  As the seasons pass, Rodney moves slower and slower, until one day he stops moving at all. Without Rodney, Bernadette feels all alone. She can’t stop thinking about him, but none of her friends seem to notice. Except for Amar. Rodney Was a Tortoise is a moving story about friendship and loss. It shows the importance of expressing kindness and empathy, especially in life’s most difficult moments.

Our Stars of 2022

At Tundra Book Group (Tundra Books, Puffin Canada, and Penguin Teen Canada), 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 2022!

THREE STARS:

Night Lunch
By Eric Fan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270572 | Tundra Books
“Via the glow of streetlamps, the luminous moon, and the cart’s twinkling light, Seiferling (The Language of Flowers) theatrically illuminates the nighttime action,” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“It’s difficult to create stories that plug directly into the looping logic of the minds of very young children that are also smart and engaging enough for adults in charge of bedtime reading.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire
“An inspired inversion of the sleep-pushing picture book.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

The Puffin Keeper
By Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by Benji Davies
112 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271807 | Puffin Canada
“A memorable story of the healing powers of art, nature, and human kindness.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Morpurgo’s spare, deeply felt prose, with undercurrents of the otherworldly, creates an irresistible momentum for this elegant story of the sea and a destiny fulfilled.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“Whether on land or at sea, this tale of lasting friendship delivers adventure and charm in spades. A welcome addition to most collections.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

TWO STARS:

My Self, Your Self
By Esmé Shapiro
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880234 | Tundra Books
“A sublime joy” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Shapiro envelops big ideas within this whimsically affirming exploration of individuality and selfhood.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Rodney Was a Tortoise
By Nan Forler
Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266629 | Tundra Books
“Wry, observational writing by Forler and loose, frequently funny vignettes by Ling Kang give this tale of loss its own distinctive, endearing resonance.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“This tender story about losing a friend and making room for a new one ends on a realistically hopeful note.” – Starred Review, The Horn Book

ONE STAR:

A Garden of Creatures
By Sheila Heti
Illustrated by Esmé Shapiro
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268814 | Tundra Books
“The discussions are thoughtful but direct, with no euphemisms or straightforward answers . . . . A beautiful and unconventional meditation on loss and love.” – Starred Review, Booklist

Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
56 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269255 | Tundra Books
“Bailey, the author of Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, writes with a sure sense of her audience . . . . Follath’s droll illustrations capture the look of the Victorian era, the drama of Doyle’s imagination, and the dry wit of Bailey’s text. A lively, memorable biography.” – Starred Review, Booklist

Baby Squeaks
By Anne Hunter
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269095 | Tundra Books
“The gift of gab proves deeply funny in Hunter’s (Where’s Baby?) earnest portrait of early language acquisition.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly 

Fight Like a Girl
By Sheena Kamal
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265578 | Penguin Teen Canada
“Kamal’s raw novel about a young fighter from a working-class background fittingly pulls no punches when it comes to examining the lasting impact of familial trauma. Trisha’s search for the truth will stay with readers, as will the satisfying feeling that they have finished reading a truly complex page-turner.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Flowers Are Pretty . . . Weird!
By Rosemary Mosco
Illustrated by Jacob Souva
36 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265943 | Tundra Books
“Using wordplay (“Bee honest” and “bee-lieving”) and puns galore, a bee explains how flowers are both wonderful and weird.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Kumo: The Bashful Cloud
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Nathalie Dion
64  Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267282 | Tundra Books
“Sprinkled with Japanese vocabulary, Kumo will impart a new appreciation for clouds and show readers how it can sometimes be frightening to step into the world, then reassuring them that others are willing to help when we overcome our bashfulness.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Midnight and Moon
By Kelly Cooper
Illustrated by Daniel Miyares
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266308 | Tundra Books
“The story’s gentle drama and quiet heroics of two characters with disabilities make this a wonderful read that also affirms being introverted, nonverbal, or shy.” – Starred Review, Booklist

Super Family: Simon and Chester #3
By Cale Atkinson
96 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272439 | Tundra Books
“Atkinson’s mastery of facial expressions is unmatched in comics today, and the combination of visual and written humor with genuinely sweet revelations about the nature of familial love is so perfectly balanced it’s simply superb.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Grave Thief
By Dee Hahn
344 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269439 | Puffin Canada
“Fast-paced and full of magic, this debut is sure to be a smash hit with fantasy and adventure lovers. Readers should come prepared with a box of tissues, however, as there are some tearjerker moments. Recommended first purchase.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf: A Counting Story
By Davide Cali
Illustrated by Marianna Balducci
36 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269910 | Tundra Books
“[A] a clever take on metafiction . . . Creative visuals and storytelling make for an absorbing read and a great bridge for both math and writing activities.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Wrong Side of the Court
By H. N. Khan
312 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270879 | Penguin Teen Canada
“H.N. Khan’s Wrong Side of the Court is finely crafted and well paced, it’s hard to believe it’s his literary debut. Toronto’s infamous Regent Park is brought vividly to life in the novel, and Khan creates relatable, true-to-life characters. He also portrays the multiculturalism of Toronto well, gradually immersing the reader in Fawad’s South Asian culture.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Tundra Top Ten: September

Want to know what everyone else has been reading and loving lately? Every month we will share our list of top ten bestselling kids’ books that we publish into North America. Here are the Tundra and Puffin Canada titles for the month of September 2022 – how many have you read?

1. Narwhal and Jelly Series
By Ben Clanton
Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271364 | 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 both love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together. A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series with each volume featuring three stories. The series celebrates the value of positivity and creativity.

2. Night Lunch
By Eric Fan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270572 | Tundra Books
Noses sniff the air as mouthwatering smells waft down city streets, luring growling bellies to the Night Owl. Inside this elegant, horse-drawn establishment, a feathery cook works the grill, serving up tasty dishes for shift-workers and operagoers alike: a mince pie for Fox, a ham sandwich for Badger and puddings for little Possums. Mouse, a poor street sweeper, watches as the line of customers swells, ever hopeful that someone will drop a morsel of food – but Owl’s cooking is far too delicious for more than a crumb to be found. As the evening’s service winds down, weary Owl spots trembling Mouse. Has he found his own night lunch, or will he invite this small sweeper inside for a midnight feast for two? From the imagination of two acclaimed picture book creators, together for the first time, this dreamlike picture book is a magical ode to Victorian lunch wagons. Evoking the sounds, sights, smells and tastes of the city at night, Night Lunch reveals how empathy and kindness as well as dignity and gratitude can be found – and savored – in the most unexpected places.

3. The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga #1
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. The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt
By Riel Nason
Illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264472 | Tundra Books
Ghosts are supposed to be sheets, light as air and able to whirl and twirl and float and soar. But the little ghost who is a quilt can’t whirl or twirl at all, and when he flies, he gets very hot. He doesn’t know why he’s a quilt. His parents are both sheets, and so are all of his friends. (His great-grandmother was a lace curtain, but that doesn’t really help cheer him up.) He feels sad and left out when his friends are zooming around and he can’t keep up. But one Halloween, everything changes. The little ghost who was a quilt has an experience that no other ghost could have, an experience that only happens because he’s a quilt . . . and he realizes that it’s OK to be different.

5. Ghostlight
By Kenneth Oppel
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272330 | Puffin Canada
The story of the tragic death of sixteen-year-old Rebecca Strand and her lighthouse keeper father is just an elaborate tale Gabe tells tourists for his summer job on the Toronto Island. Or so he thought. When his ghost tours awaken Rebecca’s spirit, Gabe is drawn into a world far darker than any ghost story he’s ever heard. Rebecca reveals that she and her father were connected to The Order, a secret society devoted to protecting the world from “the wakeful and wicked dead”—malevolent spirits like Viker, the ghost responsible for their deaths. But now the Order has disappeared and Viker is growing even stronger, and he’ll stop at nothing to wreak chaos and destruction on the living. Gabe and his friends – both living and dead – must find a way to stop Viker before they all become lost souls.

6. How to Teach Your Cat a Trick in Five Easy Steps
By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by Zoe Si
52 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270619 | Tundra Books
Step one: Decide on a trick
Step two: Get some treats ready
Step three: Hold the treat in your hand and ask your cat to do the trick
Step four: Watch your cat do exactly what you asked him to do
Step five: Reward your cat for doing the trick
Simple, right? This spoof on an instruction manual features an increasingly bewildered human, a nonchalant cat, a very good dog and a know-it-all narrator . . . who really doesn’t know it all. How DO you teach a cat a trick? Read on to find out!

7. Kumo: The Bashful Cloud
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Nathalie Dion
64  Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267282 | Tundra Books
Kumo is a cloud whose only wish is to float unseen. When she’s assigned cloud duty for the day, she feels overwhelmed by self-doubt and her fear of being noticed. But after learning that closing your eyes isn’t a good solution to your troubles, Kumo pulls her fluff together and does her duties – drifting, releasing rain and providing shelter – meeting some new friends along the way and inspiring the imagination (and capturing the heart) of a small daydreamer like her. Kyo Maclear’s sweetly humorous and lyrical parable about shyness, vividly brought to life by Nathalie Dion’s ethereal illustrations, is an affirmation of the pleasures of community and the confidence that can arise from friendship and visibility.

8. My Self, Your Self
By Esmé Shapiro
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880234 | Tundra Books
From the way you button your coat to the way you tap your toes, from the top of your head to your adorable tummy, there are so many reasons to love your self, and so many reasons to be loved. Join a group of endearing forest creatures as they bake and eat cranberry-butter-pie muffins, sing silly songs at bath time and stop to smell the chestnut-nettle roses, all the while exploring their individuality. This joyously affirming picture book from the inimitable Esmé Shapiro encourages the youngest readers to get to know and love and be kind to their wonderful selves and the equally wonderful selves around them.

9. How to Make Friends with a Ghost
By Rebecca Green
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880401 | Tundra Books
What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some of its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no one mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren’t looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you’ll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you. A whimsical story about ghost care, Rebecca Green’s debut picture book is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and the timeless theme of friendship.

10. Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf: A Counting Story
By Davide Cali
Illustrated by Marianna Balducci
36 Pages | Ages 3-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269910 | Tundra Books
In this clever counting book, the big bad wolf doesn’t want to tell a long story. He wants to get to the eating part. But the reader has other ideas. From a pig soccer team to a pig for every letter of the alphabet to 101 pigs in an animated movie, the stories get more and more fantastical . . . but they’re always too short and they ALL end the same way. Using an abacus as the basis for her illustrations, Marianna creates beguiling little pigs and a menacing but slightly bored wolf that perfectly complement the inventive story by Davide Cali. Come for the counting, stay for the storytelling! This book has it all.

Tundra Telegram: Books That Are Un-fork-gettable

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we talk about the subjects readers are stewing on, and recommend some tasty tomes for young readers to chew on.

This past weekend was Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. And for many people – at least the more fortunate among us – that means a large family feast with plates of delicious food. Often followed by days and days of leftovers. So, if you’re anything like us, food has been on your mind a lot.

Luckily, the many publishers for children and young readers that we sell and distribute have a veritable cornucopia of food-related books, if you’re hungry to read about the things we ingest. Come partake of some peculiar but very palatable publications.

PICTURE BOOKS

Anyone who has had Thanksgiving dinner with family knows mealtimes can be filled with drama. And that’s the case in Frankie’s Favorite Food by Kelsey Garrity-Riley, where the school play will feature kids dressed as their favorite foods. Only one problem: Frankie can’t decide because he loves so many foods. So he becomes the play’s costume manager until he figures out a favorite food that will also be familiar to Thanksgiving diners.

Ten Little Dumplings by Larissa Fan and Cindy Wume is not about literal dumplings, but ten sons in a Taiwanese family who have that nickname (as having both sons and dumplings is auspicious). But the book also looks at the one sister to the dumplings, growing up in the shadow of her brothers and making her own way in life. And since it includes a couple of feasts fit for eleven kids (and featuring some actual dumplings), we’re counting it as a food book.

Though some Thanksgiving meals can be pretty routine, some home chefs get a bit more adventurous. That spirit of culinary adventure permeates Kalamata’s Kitchen by Sarah Thomas and illustrated by Jo Kosmides Edwards, about a girl and her alligator sidekick (Al Dente) who get over back-to-school anxiety by magically transporting themselves to an Indian spice market , where they realize trying new things – be they foods or experiences at school – is exciting!

How about a picture book from the host of Top Chef and Taste the Nation? Tomatoes for Neela by Padma Lakshmi and Juana Martinez-Neal celebrates family recipes and family time spent in the kitchen – a perfect subject for post-Thanksgiving reading. Neela and Amma go to the market to buy tomatoes to make her Paati’s famous sauce. And as Neela and Amma cook together, they find a way for Paati to share in both the love and the flavors though she is far away.

Let Me Fix You a Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens by Elizabeth Lilly also celebrates how a good meal can bring a family together. Inspired by the author’s childhood vacations, it follows a family road trip, as they visit both sides of the family – American and Colombian – and revel in the two cultures and cuisines.

When the big meal is more of a potluck, it can sometimes turn into a competition of whose dish is the best. The characters of It Happened on Sweet Street by Caroline Adderson and Stephane Jorisch know that feeling all too well, as a rivalry among bakers causes havoc on one road that hosts a panoply of new cakes, cookies, and pies. The winners, as usual, are the ones eating the desserts.

Inspired by the spirit of, but not about the famous French chef and television personality, Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad features two young friends – Julia and Simca – who love cooking, preparing feasts for friends, and who agree there’s no such thing as “too much butter.” This is a playful, scrumptious celebration of the joy of eating, the importance of never completely growing up, and mastering the art of having a good time.

The titular character in Little Taco Truck by Tanya Valentine and Jorge Martin also loves making food for friends – or any paying customers, that is – but has trouble sharing at first, when other food trucks (Annie’s Arepas and Gumbo Jumbo, among others) begin to park on their street. Packed with flavor and cuisine from around the world, this is a great read-aloud about friendship and cooperation, for fans of both trucks and food.

And if you have a young reader who doesn’t just want to read about food, but wants to actually make it, there’s Cook It!: The Dr. Seuss Cookbook for Kid Chefs by Daniel Gercke. From Grinch-inspired Roast Beast to “Warm Whisked Wocket Waffles” and – yes – even, Green Eggs and Ham, this book features fifty recipes inspired by the books of Dr. Seuss (and accompanying Seussian photos from Christopher Testani) for kids and grown-ups to cook together.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

As might be expected, food stories lend themselves well to graphic novels, as it’s said we eat with our eyes first. Kicking off this shortlist of mouthwatering comics is Stephen Shaskan’s Pizza and Taco series about two best friends who also happen to be two delicious foods with lots of toppings.

Mika Song’s Donut Feed the Squirrels features two squirrel friends – Norma and Belly – who would probably gobble Pizza and Taco up. Lucky for them, Norma and Belly are focused on a donut food truck and the best way to steal its scrumptious contents.

The squirrels’ plight is probably understood by Weenie, the hero of the hilarious Mad about Meatloaf by Maureen Fergus and Alexandra Bye. As you may have guessed from the title, Weenie – a wiener dog with best friends Frank (a cat) and Beans (a guinea pig) – is obsessed with meatloaf and will try anything to get some – disguises, meatloaf traps, and much, much more.

And even Ben Clanton’s Narwhal and Jelly get in on the food action in their third book, Peanut Butter and Jelly. Longtime readers of the series know N & J love their waffles. But in this book, Narwhal becomes so enamored with peanut butter, they even want to change their name to peanut butter! This is another fun adventure about trying new things, favorite foods, and self-acceptance.

Thanksgiving usually involves cooking with your family, something that happens in a very public forum in Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster by Rachelle Delaney. Alice’s father is a culinary historian, who enters into a reality cooking show – Culinary Combat – with his daughter, much to her chagrin. Even worse: a saboteur is mixing up some mayhem backstage, and Alice and a few new friends take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.

Tanya Lloyd Kyi’s Mya’s Strategy to Save the World is mostly about Mya Parsons and her attempts to prove herself responsible so she can get a phone. But it’s also about Mya’s growing social justice interest, her involvement with the school’s Social Justice club (particularly campaigns to assist Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, where her mom hails from). Along the way, she takes some cooking lessons from her aunt and readers are treated to a few curry recipes to try at home!

All these fictional stories about food are great, but what if you want . . . the truth? Yummy: A History of Desserts by Victoria Grace Elliott chronicles, in graphic novel form, the inventions of pies, ice cream, brownies, and more. Learn about the true stories behind everyone’s favorite treats in the most mouthwatering nonfiction book ever.

YOUNG ADULT

Anyone who has stuffed themselves sick on Thanksgiving dinner knows eating and romance are inextricably linked. There are many YA novels linking food and love, like Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma. In it, Radha gives up her dreams of becoming one of the greatest kathak dancers in the world and discovers a new love for Indian cooking. Then Jai, captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, enters her life and the two get a taste of what happily ever after could be like.

Jared Reck’s Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love mines the romance of Scandinavian cooking, as it follows Oscar Olsson, who runs a Swedish food truck with his grandfather. That is, he does until he’s pulled away more and more by Mary Louise (Lou) an overachiever who ropes him into a project reducing food waste at their high school. Will love blossom over uneaten apples? You bet it will!

Jennifer Yen’s A Taste for Love combines matchmaking and baking in all the best ways. Liza Yang agrees to help her mother, owner of the popular Yin & Yang Bakery, set up a junior baking competition at the store. But Liza finds she’s been tricked – all the baking contestants are eligible young Asian American men her mother thinks would make a perfect partner for her daughter. (Now who amongst us can say they’ve ever had a Thanksgiving with nearly as much romantic potential?)

Magical muffins are at the heart of A. R. Carpetta’s The Heartbreak Bakery, in which a teenaged baker, Syd, sends ripples of heartbreak through Austin’s queer community when a batch of post-being-dumped brownies turns out to be magical – and makes everyone who eats them break up with their romantic partners! So it’s up to Syd and cute bike messenger Harley to try to fix things – because Thanksgiving is all about making amends.

Love from Scratch by Kaitlyn Hill lets the sparks (and flour) fly when two interns – Reese and Benny – start at a wildly popular cooking channel in Seattle. When the two competitors have to work together on a video shoot, audiences begin to ship them, even as their rivalry intensifies. But all baking relies on good chemistry.

Finally, the Pocket Change Collective book Food-Related Stories by chef and food activist Gaby Melian and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky, looks at Melian’s journey through food, from growing up in Argentina, to becoming a street vendor, and later Bon Appetit’s test kitchen manager. The book explores how creating a meaningful relationship with food – however simple or complicated – can be a powerful form of activism.

Happy reading (and eating)!