Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra

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

Mad About Meatloaf: Weenie featuring Frank and Beans Book #1
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Alexandra Bye
56 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735267930 | Tundra Books
Weenie loves his human, Bob. He loves his guinea pig friend Beans and his cat friend Frank. He loves naps, adventures and sharing. In fact, Weenie loves pretty much everything (except the mail carrier). But the thing Weenie loves and desires more than anything else in the world is meatloaf. And he’ll do anything to get it. Join Weenie, Frank and Beans on a laugh-out-loud meatloaf adventure, complete with a trench coat disguise, a wild meatloaf trap and even a hungry wolf.

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

Holiday Spotlight: Tundra Books 2022

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we’re lucky to work with so many different imprints and children’s book lists. This holiday season, we’ll be highlighting each one with a dedicated post to help you find the perfect gift (or your next read). Today’s post is all about Tundra Books, our very own Canadian publisher!

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: Peril at Owl Park
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265516 | Tundra Books
Aspiring writer Aggie Morton is looking forward to Christmas. Having just solved a murder and survived her own brush with death in her small town of Torquay on the coast of England, Aggie can’t wait to spend the holidays with her sister Marjorie, the new Lady Greyson of Owl Park, an enormous manor house in the country, Grannie Jane and her fellow sleuth and partner in crime, Hector Perot. Owl Park holds many delights including Aggie’s almost-cousin Lucy, exciting and glamorous visitors from Ceylon, and disguises aplenty in the form of a group of travelling actors. Not to mention a secret passageway AND an enormous, cursed emerald. Not even glowering old Lady Greyson (the Senior) can interfere with Aggie’s festive cheer. But when Aggie and her friends discover a body instead of presents on Christmas morning, things take a deadly serious turn. With the help of a certain nosy reporter, Aggie and Hector will once again have to put their deductive skills and imaginations to work to find the murderer on the loose.

Happy Narwhalidays!
(A Narwhal and Jelly Book #5)
By Ben Clanton
76 Pages | Ages 6-9  | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262515 | Tundra Books
Dive into three new stories about Narwhal’s favorite time of the year! It’s the festive season in the world wide waters, and Narwhal is looking forward to cozying up with a good book, singing and partying with his pod pals and enjoying some warm waffle pudding. But most of all he’s excited about the arrival of the Merry Mermicorn! According to Narwhal, she’s part mermaid, part unicorn and completely mer-aculous! Jelly is of course skeptical about the existence of the “Mira-Miny-What-A Corn” . . . even when he receives a mysterious present. It must be from Narwhal. Now Jelly has to get the perfect gift, but finding a present for someone as unique as Narwhal is no easy feat, even when you have six tentacles. How will Jelly ever come up with a whaley great gift for a best pal who spreads cheer all through the year?

Merry Christmas, Anne
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267183 | Tundra Books
It’s Christmas in Avonlea, and Anne is thankful for so many things: feathery frosts and silvery seas, and wreaths as round as the moon. But most of all, she’s thankful for her kindred spirits, including Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, who adopted her, and her bosom friend Diana. But Anne is distracted this holiday by having to recite at the upcoming Christmas concert. And she feels bad that her kindred spirits give her so much during the year when she has very little to give in return. Can Anne overcome her jitters and make her kindred spirits proud – and also think of a way to show her appreciation for the people she loves? With magical illustrations and a heartfelt message, this festive picture book is the perfect holiday read for Anne fans old and new and a joyous way to celebrate the season.

Strum & Drum: A Merry Little Quest
By Jashar Awan
56 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272392 | Tundra Books
All is quiet in the forest as the Great Star rises in the distance, and two little musicians, Strum and Drum, wake up from a deep slumber and set out to make the most joyous music they can! But as Strum strums his guitar and Drum drums her drum on their way to the North, some mysterious obstacles fill their paths . . . flickering lanterns, bubbles of glass, a silver waterfall, a tiny house, dangerous animals . . . and a wooden man with a toothy grin warns them of a beast with green eyes lying in wait. For this is no ordinary forest – it’s a Christmas tree, on Christmas Eve, and Strum, Drum and all their new friends are ornaments! But when the green-eyed beast strikes and sends them tumbling out of the “forest,” Strum and Drum’s quest to reach the Great Star seems doomed . . . until a little boy setting out milk and cookies for Santa spots them. 

Snow Falls
By Kate Gardner
Illustrated by Brandon James Scott
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919217 | Tundra Books
Snow softens, snow tricks, snow tracks, snow glows and snow snows and snows and snows, transforming a small village into a winter wonderland. A girl and her dog set out and make the most of every snow-filled moment: sledding, building snowmen and snowforts, making snowangels (and snowdogs), and drinking cocoa by a cozy fire as the snow continues to fall. This luminous and lively picture book celebrates the beauty, magic and excitement of snow with simple, easy-to-read text, comprised almost solely of verbs and action words, and gorgeous art that highlights the amazing colors of a snowy day. As inviting as the first snowfall, but so much warmer, Snow Falls encourages little people and big people to go outside and enjoy the snow . . . before it goes!

The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Cale Atkinson
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735268708 | Tundra Books
Santa has a problem. This kid? Harold? Santa doesn’t think he’s real. He WANTS to believe in Harold – after all, Harold is one of the most magical parts of Christmas. Getting Harold’s letters, eating the cookies he leaves out, feeding his carrots to the reindeer . . . what would Christmas be without that? But Santa’s just not sure. Some of his friends are telling him they think Harold’s not real. And the Harold that sat on his knee last Christmas looked AWFULLY different. Santa comes up with a plan to find out once and for all if Harold really exists . . . with hilarious consequences.

Tiny Reindeer
By Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271180 | Tundra Books
Santa and his reindeer are getting ready for Christmas, but Tiny Reindeer is too small to join in! Santa knows that a nudge in the right direction could change Tiny’s life forever. When Tiny discovers a letter from a bereft little girl who is wishing for a tiny reindeer to match her grandfather’s final gift, a hand-carved tiny sleigh, Tiny realizes that this might be his big chance. But will he have the courage to take a (literal) leap into the unknown? And what can Santa do to help? This picture book is a sweet, funny and heartfelt look at being different and feeling too small to matter, and reassures readers that even the smallest gift – whether it’s a tiny reindeer or a seemingly small opportunity to help – can bring lots of joy.

When Santa Was a Baby
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495562 | Tundra Books
Santa’s parents think their little one is absolutely wonderful, even though he has a booming voice instead of a baby’s gurgle, loves to stand in front of the refrigerator, gives his birthday presents away, trains his hamsters to pull a matchbox sleigh . . . and has an unusual interest in chimneys. The adorably funny portrait of an oddball kid who fulfills his destiny – and two very proud parents.

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)!

Tundra Telegram: Books You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we talk about the thing haunting readers’ minds and riling up their blood, and stake out some books that have bite.

We hope you made last weekend a vampire one, as the long-awaited television adaptation of Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy hit streaming services across North America. It’s been eight years since the unsuccessful movie (at least in terms of ticket sales; I think it resulted in at least one good cover of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” which makes it a success in my books). The YA novels have rebooted into a new television series about St. Vladimir’s Academy on NBC Peacock in the U.S. and W / StackTV here in Canada, which premiered this past week.

If binging the series hasn’t drained you (get it?) of all vampire interest, we’ve listed some fang-tastic vampire books for all age categories below. Read on for some great kids’ books and YA that grab you by the throat!

PICTURE BOOKS

When the gang at St. Vladimir’s finish their exams, you know they look forward to a Vampire Vacation, which happens to be the title of our first recommendation in picture books. The book by Laura Lavoie and Micah Player, is about a young vampire (Fang) who is sick of trips to Transylvania and coffin museums, and longs for the sand and surf of a beach vacation. If you know a little about vampires, you can imagine why Fang’s parents refuse – until he convinces them a beach vacation can even be fun for a family of vampires.

For recreation that’s more in line with the typical vampire’s temperature, there’s Glory on Ice: A Vampire Hockey Story by Maureen Fergus and Mark Fearing (great last name, IMHO). Vlad is a centuries-old vampire who decides to dominate peewee hockey, until he realizes his supernatural powers don’t mean much until he gets the fundamentals down. The perfect book for anyone starting hockey – undead or not.

Vlad the Rad (no relation) by Brigette Barrager, is similar in that its titular radical vampire is not interested in anything spooky – unless you consider a sick kickflip or primo slide spooky. Through this high-energy picture book, Vlad learns to combine his passion for skateboarding with his schoolwork, and young readers will learn a way to combine their studies with the things that they find rad.

Vampires aren’t the only spooky creatures covered in Cale Atkinson’s Monsters 101, but readers learn a lot about them – and not just from Professor Batula McFang, one of the guides (along with Professors Blobblins, Howlsworth, and Tina, the zombie lab assistant) who sets the record straight on the fact and fiction about all things ghoulish. You’ll learn so much, it’s kind of like a vampire academy (in book form).

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

What if you love vampires, but Charlotte’s Web is also your favorite book of all time? Let me tell you about the graphic novel series Ham Helsing: Vampire Hunter by Rich Moyer. A reference to famous vampire Van Helsing, this series features the young descendant in a family of fearless vampire hunters who has always preferred a pen (for writing poems) to a stake or sword. But when he sets out in the family biz, he discovers he doesn’t need to do it all on his own, and soon assembles a crew of buddies to help “save his bacon.”

If kids and YA books have taught us anything, it’s that vampires love schools. And there may not really be any vampires in Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories by Mary Amato, but Mrs. Penrose’s class all thinks there are – and isn’t that what matters? Alexander H. Gory thinks his teacher is a vampire, and so he passes around his notebook, detailing the proof. Gossip and fear spreads (not unlike in Vampire Academy), but their teacher’s real secret is both more mundane and more earth-shattering!

Not to be confused with Vampire Vacation (see earlier), Kiersten White’s Vampiric Vacation is the second in her gothic and charming Sinister Summer series, which are kind of like Addams Family travelogues. This book follows the Sinister-Winterbottom twins as they travel not to the beach, but the Sanguine Spa in the “little Transylvania Mountains” overseen by the mysterious count. It’s all fun and games (scavenger hunts, mostly) until boy twin Wil begins to show symptoms of vampirism!

Speaking of schools, the series Middle School Bites by Steven Banks and illustrated by Mark Fearing (that guy must love vampires!) is all about the hijinks that ensue when a boy, Tom Marks, is bitten by a vampire (as well as a werewolf . . . and a zombie) and returns to his middle school. As the first Vam-Wolf-Zom, he has to contend with the monsters that made him who he is, as well as deal with music class and the occasional bully in this very funny series from one of the head writers of SpongeBob SquarePants.

YOUNG ADULT

Of course, if you’ve watched the Vampire Academy series and read the books, our first recommendation is visiting Richelle Mead’s associated Bloodlines series. The six-book saga focuses on Sydney Sage, the alchemist in Vampire Academy who aids Rose later in the books (but has not yet appeared on the show). Alchemists are a group of humans who dabble in magic and connect the worlds of humans and vampires. In Bloodlines, Sydney, in hiding, is sent to a human private school in Palm Springs, California, where she must shield a Moroi princess from assassins who want her dead.

And if vampire romance is your thing, you’ll also want to read Renée Ahdieh’s The Beautiful Quartet. The four-part series takes a page from the book of Anne Rice, set in a sultry and sexy 19th Century New Orleans, chock-full of vampires, and is electrified by the romantic tension between Sebastien Saint Germain, central figure in the city’s macabre nightlife, and dressmaker Celine Rousseau, who has been taken in by a convent.

The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling puts a playful queer twist on vampire romance, as a teenage psychic who can foresee the death of every person she touches falls in love with a vampire (who is already dead – but you knew that). Claire, the vampire, is tasked with teaching Elise, the precognitive, how to master her death prediction powers, and the two soon find themselves trying to solve the future murder of one of Elise’s teacher . . . and solve the mystery of why they’re so dang attracted to each other.

The brand-new Go Hunt Me by Kelly Devos has connections to both the vampires at the academy and the fans (and makers!) of the show. Seven teen amateur teen horror filmmakers go on a trip to shoot a Dracula short on location at a remote Romanian castle. But the setting proves to be scarier than they thought, as the crew goes missing one-by-one in the foreboding building that may have inspired a horror classic.

And we have to mention two forthcoming vampire titles to keep on your radar in 2023:

In Nightfall by Suzanne Young chronicles the story of siblings Theo and Marco as they move to live with their grandmother in the beachside town of Nightfall, Oregon. A town, not unlike the one in classic 80s vampire movie Lost Boys, where a gang of teen girls who may or may not be “nightwalkers” rule the streets at night.

And Deke Moulton’s forthcoming spooky and funny middle-grade novel Don’t Want To Be Your Monster is about two vampire brothers with very different feelings on the ethics of drinking people’s blood who set aside their differences in their Pacific Northwest town.

So long, and fangs for reading!

Tundra Telegram: Books That Killed the Radio Star

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we plug into the subjects we like all too well, and recommend some truly g-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s books.

This past Sunday, social media platforms lit up like starships in reaction to the highs and lows of the 2022 edition of a video music award ceremony. Though the namesake of the awards no longer plays music videos – we note, curmudgeonly – all that Sunday night and the following Monday morning, everyone online was talking about new music, be it BLACKPINK, Lizzo, or the surprise Taylor Swift album announcement.

In honour of this celebration of music, we’re doing something a little different this week: we’ve recommended books – three in each of our usual categories – connected to the winners, performers, and moments from this past Weeknd’s music video awards. So read on, because the music revolution will be televised!  

PICTURE BOOKS

Taylor Swift broke a record for most video of the year wins with her 2022 win for her epic “All Too Well: The Short Film.” And as we all remember, the song chronicles the rise and breakup of a romance, in which the imagery of a scarf (which may or may not be in the possession of Jake Gyllenhaal, and which The Verge has described as “the green dock light of our time”) takes centre stage. We can’t help but be reminded of the new seasonal classic Mistletoe by Tad Hills, in which winter-weather-loving mouse tries in vain to connect to her elephant friend who only wants to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy. Of course, the titular mouse knits a perfect holiday gift for her elephant friend. And you know that elephant would never forget it at his sister’s house.

Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican trap and reggaeton artist and sometime wrestler (!), also made history becoming the first non-English-language act to win artist of the year. Whether it’s his international smash hits or unwavering support for the Latin LGBTQ community, there’s not much bad about Bad Bunny. But the same cannot be said for Richard Scarry’s Naughty Bunny, who scares his mother by blaring the TV too loudly, scribbles all over the walls, and kicks up a fuss when he should be napping. (Actually, he doesn’t sound that bad either.) But though he’s a naughty rabbit, he still manages to be loveable, like Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio – as both male and female backup dancers can attest!

Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow took home a few awards for their blockbuster video of “Industry Baby,” which sees the two rappers breaking out of a very special prison. The perfect picture book pairing would be Milo Imagines the World by Matt De La Peña and Christian Robinson, which follows Milo and his older sister on a long subway ride, during which Milo imagines and draws pictures of the lives of the other riders. Not only does it match the video’s creativity, but the subway ride Milo and his sister make is a weekend journey to visit their incarcerated mother.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Jack Harlow also took home the trophy for “song of the summer,” and had one of the biggest performances of the night with his song “First Class.” And while the video may more be about a moneyed lifestyle than anything academic, there’s no first class more appealing than that in Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness by Ben Clanton. The graphic novel sees beloved sea buds Narwhal and Jelly becoming substitute teachers for the first time for a school of fish. Their education methods are unconventional, but full of fun and positivity. Jack Harlow may have his first class up in the sky, but does he have wafflematics class under the sea?

One of the most notable couples on the red carpet this past weekend was goofy rapper Yung Gravy and TikTok star Addison Raes mother (Sheri Nicole Easterling). We know one person who likes Gravy more than any Tiktokkers’ mothers, and that’s food-obsessed dachshund Weenie in Mad About Meatloaf, the first book in the Weenie featuring Frank and Beans graphic novels by Maureen Fergus and Alexandra Bye. After all, what is a gravy, but meatloaf sauce? And no one loves meatloaf more than Weenie, who hilariously conscripts his fellow pets Frank (a cat) and Beans (a hamster) on a convoluted quest to get some.

Singer and flautist Lizzo gave one of the night’s standout performances and won the award for “video for good” for her new hit “About Damn Time,” an uplifting jam that celebrates survival through hardships. A book that is also about time is Jen Calonita’s The Retake, a time-travelling middle-grade novel about a girl, Zoe, who downloads a magical app on her phone that allows her to travel back in time to moments where she and her best friend Laura started to drift apart. Not only that, it looks at themes of social media pressures and bullying, something Lizzo knows a thing or two about, as well.

YOUNG ADULT

Few musical moments have made this writer feel older than the performance of Eminem and Snoop Dogg of their “From the D 2 to the LBC.” The two hip-hop artists performed as their Bored Ape avatars in the metaverse in a dystopian confluence of advertising for NFTs and Facebook products before they took the stage for real. If you like virtual worlds and avatars but are looking for a little more adventure and social commentary, you should check out Wab Kinew’s Walking in Two Worlds. In it, a shy Indigenous teen on the Rez, Bugz, dominates in a multiplayer video game world called the Floraverse, but finds herself caught between her two realities.

A less bizarre but no less memorable stage performance came from K-Pop group BLACKPINK of their song, “Pink Venom.” And to match the sweet-but-deadly vibe of the song (and the group), we’re going with Danielle Vega’s The Merciless. A group of popular girls with perfect hair perform brutal exorcisms on their classmates. Queen bees meet torture scenes – and with a pink cover, to boot! “Straight to ya’ dome” will have a completely different (and gruesome) meaning after reading.

Finally, Thai K-Pop rapper Lisa (one-fourth of BLACKPINK) won in the “Best K-Pop” category for “Lalisa.” Lisa’s youth, training with YG Entertainment, is not unlike that depicted in the YA novel Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young. In the book, Alice Choy is discovered by the fictional Top10 Entertainment and struggles to stay true to herself and overcome the haters in this insiders’ look at a K-Pop Academy, the kind at which Lisa herself became the first non-ethnically Korean trainee.

Happy reading, friends!