Holiday Spotlight: Penguin Young Readers 2022

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we’re lucky to work with so many different publisher 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 Penguin Young Readers.

All My Rage
By Sabaa Tahir
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593202340 | Razorbill
Lahore, Pakistan. Then. Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Clouds’ Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start. Juniper, California. Now. Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding. Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him – and Juniper – forever. When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth – and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst. From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness – one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.

Busy Betty
By Reese Witherspoon
Illustrated by Xindi Yan
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593465882 | Flamingo Books
Busy Betty has always been busy . . . even when she was just a baby! When Betty gives Frank a big hug, she realizes he needs a bath, PRONTO! Her best friend, Mae, is coming over, and Betty can’t have the smelliest dog in the whole world! But giving Frank a bath is harder than she thought and just when everything seems impossible, with Mae’s help, Betty learns she can accomplish anything with perseverance, teamwork, and one great idea. From Reese Witherspoon comes a smart and larger-than-life character who encourages young readers to celebrate what makes them unique and realize that anything is possible!

ChupaCarter
By George Lopez with Ryan Calejo
Illustrated by Santy Gutierrez
272 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593465974 | Razorbill
Twelve-year-old Jorge is a misunderstood middle school misfit who has been sent to live with his grandparents in New Mexico. After catching the attention of his belligerent principal and the school bullies on his very first day of school, Jorge is lonely, resentful, and desperate for a friend. But the only kid who shares his interest in junk food and games turns out to be a young chupacabra – a legendary monster with a fearsome reputation! The truth is, Carter is anything but savage – he’s kind, a good listener, and has great taste in sneakers. For Jorge, being friends with a mythical creature is awesome. But when local cattle turn up dead and his principal – who’s obsessed with hunting – learns of Carter’s existence, Jorge must play a dangerous game of cat and mouse to keep his friend safe.

Echoes and Empires
Morgan Rhodes
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593351659 | Razorbill
Josslyn Drake knows only three things about magic: it’s rare, illegal, and always deadly. So when she’s caught up in a robbery gone wrong at the Queen’s Gala and infected by a dangerous piece of magic – one that allows her to step into the memories of an infamously evil warlock – she finds herself living her worst nightmare. Joss needs the magic removed before it corrupts her soul and kills her. But in Ironport, the cost of doing magic is death, and seeking help might mean scheduling her own execution. There’s nobody she can trust. Nobody, that is, except wanted criminal Jericho Nox, who offers her a deal: his help extracting the magic in exchange for the magic itself. And though she’s not thrilled to be working with a thief, especially one as infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) as Jericho, Joss is desperate enough to accept. But Jericho is nothing like Joss expects. The closer she grows to Jericho and the more she sees of the world outside her pampered life in the city, the more Joss begins to question the beliefs she’s always taken for granted – beliefs about right and wrong, about power and magic, and even about herself. In an empire built on lies, the truth may be her greatest weapon.

Green Is for Christmas
By Drew Daywalt
Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
32 Pages | Ages 4–8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593353387 | Philomel Books
When Green Crayon claims that green is the only color for Christmas, other crayons let him know that there would be no Christmas without them either. No candy canes or Santa without Red, no snow without White, no bells or stars without Silver, and no cookies or reindeer without Tan! The crayons agree that they all need to come together to make Christmas special. This humorous, small hardcover Christmas story is the perfect stocking stuffer and a great gift for fans of The Day The Crayons Quit – and all kids who like to color.

Singing with Elephants
Margarita Engle
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593206690 | Viking Books for Young Readers
Cuban-born eleven-year-old Oriol lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she struggles to belong. But most of the time that’s okay, because she enjoys helping her parents care for the many injured animals at their veterinary clinic.
Then Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature moves to town, and aspiring writer Oriol finds herself opening up. And when she discovers that someone is threatening the life of a baby elephant at her parents’ clinic, Oriol is determined to take action. As she begins to create a world of words for herself, Oriol learns it will take courage and strength to do what she thinks is right – even if it means keeping secrets from those she loves. A beautifully written, lyrically told story about the power of friendship – between generations, between humans and animals – and the potential of poetry to inspire action, justice, and acceptance.

That’s Not My Name!
by Anoosha Syed
40 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593405178 | Viking Books for Young Readers
Mirha is so excited for her first day of school! She can’t wait to learn, play, and make new friends. But when her classmates mispronounce her name, she goes home wondering if she should find a new one. Maybe then she’d be able to find a monogrammed keychain at the gas station or order a hot chocolate at the cafe more easily. Mama helps Mirha to see how special her name is, and she returns to school the next day determined to help her classmates say it correctly – even if it takes a hundred tries.

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
Isaac Blum
224 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593525821 | Philomel Books
Hoodie Rosen’s life isn’t that bad. Sure, his entire Orthodox Jewish community has just picked up and moved to the quiet, mostly non-Jewish town of Tregaron, but Hoodie’s world hasn’t changed that much. He’s got basketball to play, studies to avoid, and a supermarket full of delicious kosher snacks to eat. The people of Tregaron aren’t happy that so many Orthodox Jews are moving in at once, but that’s not Hoodie’s problem.
That is, until he meets and falls for Anna-Marie Diaz-O’Leary – who happens to be the daughter of the obstinate mayor trying to keep Hoodie’s community out of the town. And things only get more complicated when Tregaron is struck by a series of antisemitic crimes that quickly escalate to deadly violence. As his community turns on him for siding with the enemy, Hoodie finds himself caught between his first love and the only world he’s ever known. Isaac Blum delivers a wry, witty debut novel about a deeply important and timely subject, in a story of hatred and betrayal – and the friendships we find in the most unexpected places.

This Book is Not a Present
By Max Greenfield
Illustrated by Mike Lowery
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593462362 | G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR
We all know kids who carry a book everywhere they go. Kids who can’t stop reading, even if it’s long after bedtime. Kids who love nothing more than sitting quietly in the corner, turning page after page . . . this book is a love letter to all the other kids. The ones who wouldn’t dream of asking for a book as a present. The ones who unwrap the box hoping to find anything – a dog, a skateboard, even socks – besides a book. Packed with clever, fourth-wall-breaking gags from Max Greenfield (New Girl) and eye-popping art from New York Times bestselling illustrator Mike Lowery, this ideal read-aloud may not wag its tail or come with wheels, but it’s sure to have even the most reluctant bibliophiles laughing all the way to the end.

Thirst
Varsha Bajaj
192 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593354391 | Nancy Paulsen Books
Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity – an act that Minni accidentally witnesses one night. Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet and there’s even a rooftop swimming pool. What Minni also discovers there is one of the water mafia bosses. Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life. How did something as simple as access to water get so complicated?

Wordless Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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