Tundra Telegram: Books that Won’t Leave You on Read

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we illuminate the topics that have us all chatting, and recommend some great books to generate further discussion.

Last Friday, nearly half of Canada found itself without telephone or internet service as one of Canada’s few major telecommunications companies, Rogers, experienced a massive network blackout. Millions of people were unable to make a call (even for 911 emergencies), send an email, or – in many cases – make a purchase via debit or credit card. People crowded around outside coffee shops and stores (on networks other than Rogers) for their sweet, sweet WiFi. The Weeknd was forced to cancel a show – ironically at the Rogers Centre – due to the outage’s effect on venue operations and ticketing.

The big telecommunications company has remained vague about the reason for the nationwide outage, and customers are, understandably, still upset. (In fact, as of this writing, there are still many Canadians affected by the outage who still have no service!) So, we thought we’d highlight some books on outages, telephones, and general communication breakdown. If you still have internet service: enjoy!

PICTURE BOOKS

To remind you of what we all lost in the Rogers outage, we recommend Pamela Druckerman and Benjamin Chaud’s Paris by Phone. Little Josephine decides that Paris is where she really belongs, and all it takes is a quick call on her magical phone to whisk her away to the City of Lights. And though she loves her visit, she finds herself missing home. It’s a love letter to Paris (and to home) and a metaphor (at least we think it is?) for the independence a telephone can grant.

Before there was WiFi, there was Grace Banker and switchboard operators like her. Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call by Claudia Friddell and Elizabeth Baddeley is a historical picture book about a telephone switchboard trainer in New York who becomes the Chief Operator of the 1st Unit of World War I telephone operators in the battlefields of France. Thirty-two female telephone operators transferred orders from commanders to battlefields and communicated top-secret messages between American and French headquarters. (And you thought telephones were just for Candy Crush!)

In this instance, it wasn’t a power outage – though if your lights and other home electronics were connected to “the internet of things” – it may have felt that way. Nevertheless, we recommend astronaut Chris Hadfield and The Fan BrothersThe Darkest Dark, to remind you that the dark (whether the dark of infinite space or a downed network) is beautiful and exciting And the newest edition has a special glow-in-the-dark cover, in case you are caught in a real blackout.

And if you do find yourself in a real power blackout – not just a telecommunications one – you should make sure you have a copy of Ray by Marianna Coppo handy. The humorous picture book is about a light bulb who spends most of his time at the end of a hall in darkness until he goes on a magnificent journey. It’s also a book about the power of imagination – something you’ll need to rely on without access to social media or streaming services!

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

To understand the tremendous Rogers outage, you have to start at the beginning. And that’s with Who Was Alexander Graham Bell? by Bonnie Bader and David Groff. Learn all about the man who invented the telephone – a sometime Canadian, no less! – whose technological revolution resulted from his work with teaching deaf students. Fun fact: his namesake telecommunications company (Bell Canada) did not experience a monster outage last week.

Mya’s Strategy to Save the World by Tanya Lloyd Kyi is, ostensibly, about protagonist Mya Parsons and her quest to get her own cell phone. So, she would be understandably upset by the network outage of last week. That said, she also runs her school’s social justice club and is determined to change the world for the better, so she’d probably be against large corporate communications oligopolies (look it up!) anyway.

And a novel that starts with faulty network communications and goes downhill from there is Frances Greenslade’s Red Fox Road. Francie’s family vacation goes awry with the GPS leads them astray. Soon, she becomes stranded alone – no phone, no internet – in the bush, and must rely only on her survival skills to keep her alive in this modern-day Hatchet.

And though it’s not available until the fall, Babble!: And How Punctuation Saved It by Caroline Adderson and Roman Muradow is the perfect book to talk about communication breakdowns. Chaos reigns in the village of Babble! All day, the residents fight, yell and argue, and no one is heard or understood – it’s like a life full of network outages. But then … punctuation arrives to build bridges. This book is both a parable for communication failures and catnip for grammar teachers.

YOUNG ADULT

If you’re talking outages, you’re talking the gripping Rule of Three series by Eric Walters: The Rule of Three, Fight for Power, and Will to Survive. One ordinary afternoon, every single machine in sixteen-year-old Adam’s high school computer lab stops working. Cars won’t start, phones are down, and a blackout is widespread. Follow Adam and his allies in this epic survival adventure about what happens when all the modern technological amenities on Earth suddenly just … stop working. (Some of it is pretty violent!) And check out the standalone book, The Fourth Dimension, which follows fifteen-year-old Emma’s journey in that same all-encompassing power outage.

And if you or the young readers in your life are looking to “unplug” a bit more this summer (voluntarily, of course), Tundra Book Group is involved in a number of excellent summer reading programs we encourage you to check out, like:

Get #Ready2Camp

As lifestyles becomes increasingly urban and suburban, many are seeking a break from concrete and screen time by exploring the great outdoors. From a simple walk, to hiking, or camping, it’s never been a better time to escape the urban jungle and feel the grass beneath your feet! What better way to prepare the concept of camping to little ones than a read aloud before you go?

In the Clouds 
By Elly MacKay
44 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266964 | Tundra Books
A bored and curious little girl wishes for a bit of sunshine on a cloudy day. But a friendly bird soon whisks her off for an adventure in the sky, where she can contemplate questions both scientific and philosophical in nature: how do clouds float? Or carry the rain? Where do they go when they disappear? Are there clouds on other planets? Do they have memories? Have they ever seen a girl like her? This dreamy picture book from the inimitable Elly MacKay features her trademark stunning, light-infused spreads that beautifully capture the wondrousness of clouds and the power of nature to inspire and stimulate imaginations.

Now Not YetNow? Not Yet!
By Gina Perry
32 Page | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919521 | Tundra Books
Peanut says let’s swim.
Moe says time to hike.
Peanut says let’s swim now.
Moe says time to eat a snack.
Peanut says now!
Moe says time to put up the tent.
Peanut says NOW!
Moe says NOT YET!
Can these two friends come together in time to save their camping trip?

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping
By Melanie Watt
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271173 | Tundra Books
Scaredy Squirrel is not too comfortable with the idea of camping — unless it’s on his couch! There will be no mosquitoes, skunks, or zippers to worry about when he watches a show about the joys of camping on his brand-new TV. But first Scaredy must find an electrical outlet, and that means going into the woods! Will this nutty worrywart’s plans prepare him for the great outdoors, or will his adventure end up as a scary story told around the campfire? To coincide with the launch of the new Scaredy Squirrel graphic chapter book series, this hilarious Scaredy picture book adventure is making a timely and triumphant return!

The Boy and the Mountain
By Mario Bellini
Illustrated by Marianna Coppo
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270251 | Tundra Books
A little boy, who is a keen artist, becomes obsessed with a mountain he can see from his house. One day, he tries to draw the mountain, but his drawing doesn’t look anything like it, so he decides that he has to take a closer look. He sets off with his dog, drawing what he sees along the way, and making a growing collection of animal companions during his hike. But when he finally reaches the mountain, the boy makes a discovery about the importance of perspective and friendship which changes how he views the world around him.

The Golden GlowThe Golden Glow
By Benjamin Flouw
48 Page | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264120 | Tundra Books
Fox loves nature. There’s nothing he enjoys more than reading about and picking flowers. One evening, he comes across a rare specimen in his old botany book — the golden glow, a plant from the Wellhidden family, found only in the mountains . . . a plant that has yet to be described. Fascinated, Fox decides to set off on a quest in search of the mysterious golden glow. He packs his knapsack, a map, a compass, a flashlight, a sleeping bag and other items for his hike. Along the way, Fox observes many different kinds of trees and plants. He also encounters woodland friends who help him make it to the summit of the mountain. But when Fox eventually stumbles upon the object of his quest, he makes a surprising decision.

The Not-So Great OutdoorsThe Not-So Great Outdoors
By Madeline Kloepper
40 Page | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264175 | Tundra Books
What’s so great about the “great outdoors”? A grumpy urban kid begrudgingly accompanies her family on a summer camping trip, missing all the sublime sights right under her nose as she longs for the lights and stimulation of the city. But as she explores forests, lakes and mountains, and encounters bears, beavers and caribou, she slowly comes to realize that the simpler things are just as sparkly, that the sky is its own majestic light show, and the symphony is all around. The Not-So Great Outdoors is a humorous and richly imagined reminder of the beauty and magic that can be found away from the city and our screens.

When We Go Camping
By Margriet Ruurs
Illustrated by Andrew Kiss
32 Page | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780887766855 | Tundra Books
In this beautifully illustrated book, one busy family finds lots to do from sun up to sunset. At the campsite, there’s wood to chop for the fire and fish to catch. And there’s lots of time to explore, climb rocks, splash in the lake, and discover animals in the shadows of the woods. As afternoon turns to evening, supper needs to be made, and just before bed, stories are told around the campfire. When We Go Camping is as instructional as it is delightful. Each painting highlights the tracks of one animal, which curve from the text into the illustration. Readers can turn to the glossary for more details about the wildlife depicted on each page.


If you’re not planning on camping outdoors this year, join us for Camp Penguin instead! We have lots of great books to keep young readers occupied plus a virtual event with two graphic novel creators coming up in July – register here!

We also have a fun activity for kids to participate in. Click on the BINGO card image below to download and print. Throughout the summer, they can mark off everything they managed to do on the BINGO card. As for prizes when completing a row, column, or diagonal? We hear ice cream is pretty good. 🍦

READy2Camp-Bingo Card

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. The following titles are now available in stores and online!

Professor Goose Debunks Goldilocks and the Three Bears
By Paulette Bourgeois
Illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267305 | Tundra Books
Mother Goose’s fairy tales are NOT based in science, and her great niece Professor Goose thinks it’s time to share the truth. Join Professor Goose as she – literally – travels through the pages of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, fact-checking, exposing the flaws and explaining the science. Bears don’t live in cottages – they prefer dens! The smallest bowl of porridge wouldn’t be “just right” – it would have been the coldest! Professor Goose is delighted to see Baby Bear use the scientific method and Goldilocks’s fight or flight response. And maybe Goldilocks should have used a GPS so she wouldn’t have gotten lost in the first place? Jammed with jokes and wonderfully silly illustrations, this book entertains while it introduces basic scientific laws and rules to young readers. At the back of the book, readers will find Professor Goose’s  instructions on how to engineer their own chair for a (teddy) bear!

The Boy and the Mountain
By Mario Bellini
Illustrated by Marianna Coppo
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270251 | Tundra Books
A little boy, who is a keen artist, becomes obsessed with a mountain he can see from his house. One day, he tries to draw the mountain, but his drawing doesn’t look anything like it, so he decides that he has to take a closer look. He sets off with his dog, drawing what he sees along the way, and making a growing collection of animal companions during his hike. But when he finally reaches the mountain, the boy makes a discovery about the importance of perspective and friendship which changes how he views the world around him.

What Does Little Crocodile Say at the Park?
By Eva Montanari
40 Pages | Ages 2-5| Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268159 | Tundra Books
What sounds does Little Crocodile hear on a trip to the park?
Grandma says “Sweet Pea!”
The pigeons go flap, flap
The dandelion goes pffff
The chatter goes chit chat
The merry-go-round goes wheee
And the crocodile says . . . WAHHHH!
In this charming book of sounds, Little Crocodile visits the park with Grandma and Grandpa and experiences being left out, kindness and independence, ultimately enjoying their day . . . after a small meltdown, of course! Little ones will delight in the adorable illustrations and fun read-aloud, and parents will delight in the sly humor and familiar emotional rollercoaster of a toddler’s day.

We can’t wait to see you reading these titles! If you share these books online, remember to use #ReadTundra in your hashtags so that we can re-post.

Gift Books for Graduation

People all over the world are celebrating their graduations this summer so here’s a list of inspiring books that make great gifts for new graduates regardless of age.

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem
By Amanda Gorman
Illustrated by Loren Long
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593203224 | Viking BFYR
In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes – big or small – in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves. With lyrical text and rhythmic illustrations that build to a dazzling crescendo by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long, Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference.

Great Dog
By Davide Cali
Illustrated by Miguel Tanco
46 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919170 | Tundra Books
A pup and his father contemplate his grand future while looking at other Great Dogs in their family. Will he be a marathon runner like Uncle Tibor, the fastest dog in the family? Will he be an astronaut like Aunt Yuki, who reached for the stars? Or maybe a teacher like Uncle Scooter, respected by all? No matter what, says his father, he will be a GREAT dog!

Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers
By Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina AlHathloul
Illustrated by Rebecca Green
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781662650642 | MineditionUS
Loujain watches her beloved baba attach his feather wings and fly each morning, but her own dreams of flying face a big obstacle: only boys, not girls, are allowed to fly in her country. Yet despite the taunts of her classmates, she is determined to do it – especially because Loujain loves colors, and only by flying can she see the color-filled field of sunflowers her baba has told her about. Eventually, he agrees to teach her, and Loujain’s impossible dream becomes reality – and soon other girls dare to learn to fly. Based on the experiences of co-author Lina AlHathloul’s sister, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain AlHathloul, who led the successful campaign to lift Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, this moving and gorgeously illustrated story reminds us to strive for the changes we want to see – and to never take for granted women’s and girls’ freedoms.

Petra
By Marianna Coppo
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262676 | Tundra Books
Petra is a little rock who believes she is a mighty mountain . . . until a dog fetches her for its owner, and she is tossed into a bird’s nest. A mountain? No, Petra is now an egg! An egg of the world in a world of possibility. Until she’s flung into a pond, and becomes an amazing island . . . and, eventually, a little girl’s pet rock. What will she be tomorrow? Who knows? But she’s a rock, and this is how she rolls!

The Path: A Picture Book About Finding Your Own True Way
By Bob Staake
32 Pages | 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781662650635 | MineditionUS
On this playfully illustrated journey with Bob Staake, children and adults alike will discover an encouraging truth: our path through life is not only challenging and beautiful – it is all our own to discover and invent. “You will walk. You will walk along a well-worn path that many people have taken – and long before you.” So begins this inspirational journey over gentle, grassy hills, through fields of wildflowers, over raging rivers, up steep mountains, and even through a dark, chilly cave. When it splits in two, you will have to decide what to do next – and you’ll create a path that’s unique to you.

The Story of You
By Lisa Ann Scott
Illustrated by Sue Cornelison
32 Pages | 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781635923117 | Astra Young Readers
No one can tell you who you are – it’s all up to you! You write your story with your actions and words. This dynamic picture book for readers of all ages features lush illustrations that bring universal situations to light, including ways to be brave, bold, and kind, as well as knowing when you’ve made a mistake. A perfect gift for new parents, young graduates, as well as children and adults in any stage of their life, this is a book with a message: You are what you say and do.

The Year We Learned to Fly
By Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by Rafael López
32 Pages | 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399545535 | Nancy Paulsen Books
On a dreary, stuck-inside kind of day, a brother and sister heed their grandmother’s advice: “Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours. Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing. Somebody somewhere at some point was just as bored you are now.” And before they know it, their imaginations lift them up and out of their boredom. Then, on a day full of quarrels, it’s time for a trip outside their minds again, and they are able to leave their anger behind. This precious skill, their grandmother tells them, harkens back to the days long before they were born, when their ancestors showed the world the strength and resilience of their beautiful and brilliant minds. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art celebrate the extraordinary ability to lift ourselves up and imagine a better world.

This Is Ruby
By Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Alea Marley
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263611 | Tundra Books
Ruby is a little girl with a sense of curiosity and enthusiasm that’s too big to contain! Ruby is always busy – she loves to make things, watch things grow and figure out how things work, with her dog Teddy by her side. And Ruby has lots of ideas about what she wants to be: maybe an animal conservationist? Or an archaeologist? She’s great at excavating (i.e. digging holes). Or maybe an inventor? She’s already invented a book with smells instead of words (so dogs can read it) and a time machine (the dinosaurs did have feathers after all, and the future is looking wild). This is Ruby, and this is her world.

For older grads:

Call Us What We Carry
By Amanda Gorman
240 Pages | All Ages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593465066 | Viking Books
Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, these poems shine a light on a moment of reckoning and reveal that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.

Rising Troublemaker: A Fear-Fighter Manual for Teens
By Luvvie Ajayi Jones
272 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593526033 | Philomel Books
The world can feel like a dumpster fire, with endless things to be afraid of. It can make you feel powerless to ask for what you need, use your voice, and show up truly as your whole self. Add the fact that often, people might make you feel like your way of showing up is TOO MUCH. BE TOO MUCH, and use it for good. That is what it means to be a troublemaker. In this book, Luvvie Ajayi Jones – bestseller of books, sorceress of side-eyes and critic of culture – gives you the permission you might need to be the troublemaker you are, or wish to be. This is the book she needed when she was the kid who got in trouble for her mouth when she spoke up about what she felt was not fair. This is the book she needed when kids made fun of her Nigerian accent. This is the book that she needed when it was time to call herself a writer, but she was too scared. As a Rising Troublemaker, you need to know that the beautiful, audacious life you want is on the other side of doing the things that will scare you. This book will help you face and fight your fear and start living that life ASAP.

Tundra Telegram: Books to Verse-Shift-fy Your Shelf

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, a column in which we look at the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

One movie we can’t stop thinking about – and neither can some of our fellow readers and authors – is the Michelle Yeoh-starring, Daniels-directed action movie, Everything Everywhere All at Once (or EEAAO, for short). The frenetic action-drama-comedy is unlike much else currently on movie screens, but we’re thinking some page-turners might be able to fill the gap. Whether it’s the multiple parallel dimensions, the over-the-top martial arts action, or the multigenerational family conflict that appeals to you most about the film, we’ve got a few book recommendations that “every rejection, every disappointment has led you” to.

PICTURE BOOKS

Let’s face it, there aren’t a ton of picture books about alternate dimensions (yet), but a book that combines family with something a little superhuman – and one that mixes a few tears with laughs and a comic-booky premise, is Minh Lê and Dan Santat’s The Blur, in which a superhuman child zips and zooms through her childhood, with her parents frantically trying to keep up.

If your picture book story times could use a little more fight choreography, you’ll want to check out The Rise (and Falls) of Jackie Chan, a picture book biography of the inimitable action star by Kristen Mai Giang and Alina Chau. Read this book closely enough and you might be able to do what Waymond Wang does with a fanny pack.

And this may be a stretch, but if your favorite part of the movie involved a rock with googly eyes, you should definitely check out Marianna Coppo’s Petra, a picture book about a rock willing to just roll with the circumstances.

MIDDLE GRADE

S. G. Wilson’s Me vs. the Multiverse series (Pleased to Meet Me and Enough about Me) follows Meade Macon, a young boy who learns about the mysteries of the multiverse (and the many Meades), as first revealed to him in the form of a note written on an origami octopus.

Christopher Edge’s science-fiction adventure, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright follows a young boy who grieves the death of his astrophysicist mother by searching for her by universe-hopping to alternate timelines. And in his search, he stumbles upon the answers to life’s most challenging questions. (Seems like a positive side effect.)

For a little Canadian content in your multiverse meanderings, read Downside Up by Richard Scrimger. In it, Fred isn’t grieving his mother, but his dearly departed dog Casey, when he falls down a sewer grate into an alternate universe. In this other version of life, his dog is alive, his mom and sister are happier, and the version of him is happier, too. But something’s not quite as it seems.

We consider tax returns the adult equivalent of homework, so Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend by Katie Zhao, featuring a girl tackling school projects, family troubles, and otherworldly chaos follows EEAAO pretty closely plot-wise. Add to that a heroine who must quickly embrace new powers to save the world and you have a legendary book recommendation.

If the blend of family history, queer coming-out story, and the fantastic most appealed to you in the movie, you might like the widely acclaimed graphic novel The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen. Not only are those elements present, so is the generational conflict between first- and second-generation Asian immigrants – and the imagery is just as (googly) eye-opening!

YOUNG ADULT

If, like Evelyn Wang, you have lived a life of some regret, wondering how the many small choices you’ve made led you to where you are now, you’ll want to check out Kristin Cashore’s Jane, Unlimited. The book by the author of the Graceling series follows Jane, a girl with no direction a year out of high school, who is invited to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens. What she doesn’t know is Tu Reviens is a world of infinite choices that will ultimately determine the course of her currently untethered life.

If the Sliding Doorsesque idea of the parallel worlds created by seemingly simple choices intrigues you, may we also suggest Again, Again by TikTok’s favorite author, E. Lockhart? What if there were alternates universes and different version of you, who acted differently and made different choices to the same trying circumstances in life? Could you be braver, happier, lonelier? More in love? Questions that lie at the heart of both the film and this book.

And for reasons that will be clear only to those who have seen Everything Everywhere All at Once in all its bananas glory, we also suggest Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan. (IYKYK!)