Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we run through the issues streaming through readers’ minds, and suggest some books that will succeed in keeping you reading.
It’s a brand-new year, and what better way is there to start 2023 than with a new book series! Luckily for you readers, there were many books published in 2022 that have a sequel (or sequels!) coming this year. If you’re keen to hop into a new duology, trilogy, quadrilogy, or ongoing series, we have options for you for every category and genre.
So take a chance on something new and dive into a new saga. New year, new series!
A curious cockroach first met readers this past year in Maggie Hutchings and Felicita Sala’s Your Birthday Was the Best!, in which the friendly insect crashes a kid’s party with hilarious (and sometimes stomach-churning results). That cockroach will be back in 2023, joining his hapless human child friend to class in Your School Is the Best! – and this time, he’s brought the whole family!
Speaking of school, Our Classroom Rules! by Kallie George and Jay Fleck brings back the good-natured forest creatures from 2022’s Our Playground Rules! to talk about kindness and community in the classroom – and how a few simple empathetic “rules” can make school a cool place for everyone to be.
CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE
The year 2023 will be a big one for graphic novel series for the youngest readers. Maureen Fergus and Alexandra Bye’s rollicking pet comedy series Weenie featuring Frank & Beans will chase 2022’s Mad about Meatloaf with more food fun in The Pancake Problem. Whereas in the first book, dachshund Weenie conscripted his cat and guinea pig friends (Frank and Beans) in his quixotic quest to obtain some meatloaf, this book sees the trio battling a malfunctioning machine that makes flapjacks.
Comic readers and 80’s nostalgia fans were delighted by the return of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield in graphic novel form last year with Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends by Francine Pascal, Nicole Andelfinger,and Claudia Aguirre. They were a bit younger (now in middle-school), but dealing with those same school and sisterly concerns. In 2023’s Sweet Valley Twins: Teacher’s Pet, Elizabeth and Jessica take a page from Center Stage and find themselves competing for the leading role in their dance class.
Mason Dickerson’s Housecat Trouble was a true joy for cat lovers in 2022, as it featured a house with three cats – Buster, Nova, and Chauncey – some invisible spirits (that explains a lot, if you know cats) and tons of feline hijinks. Housecat Trouble: Lost and Found has our trio of cat friends discover a lost cat who may or may not be … a ghost? Spooky (but still adorable)!
For more of the creepy stuff, readers have Spooky Sleuths, a series begun in 2022 by Natasha Deen and Lissy Marlin in which friends Asim and Rokshar investigate strange phenomena in their town, X-Files-style. Rokshar, ever the skeptic, believes the paranormal activity can be explained by science, but Asim is not so sure, given how closely the events match Guyanese ghost stories. In 2023, readers have two new adventures to look forward to: Spooky Sleuths: Don’t Go Near the Water! and Spooky Sleuths: Fire in the Sky.
In the same creep-tastic vein is Kiersten White’s Sinister Summer series, in which the Sinister-Winterbottom siblings visit increasingly questionable summer vacation spots and end up solving a few mysteries along the way. This year will see the Sinister-Winterbottoms visiting an eerily normal summer camp where nothing is what it seems in Camp Creepy and far more bizarre science camp at the manor of Mr. Frank and Dr. Stein in Menacing Manor.
While the Sinister-Winterbottom siblings often encounter creepy circumstances, Travis Nichols’ The Terribles are kids who are literal monsters: a vampire, alien, mummy, kaiju and more. Plus, they all live on an island called Creep’s Cove (which could be the title of a Sinister Summer book). 2022’s The Terribles: Welcome to Stubtoe Elementary introduced readers to the monster gang and included a slew of comics, charts, and fun activities. A Witch’s Last Resort, out later this year, introduces a new witch and chronicles a class election for next school overlord!
For the geeks, 2022 also had much to celebrate, including T.P. Jagger’s new series Hide and Geek, in which the GEEKs (Gina, Edgar, Elena, and Kevin) – four nerdy lifelong friends – solve a cryptic puzzle left by a famous toymaker in an attempt to save their town. Spoiler alert: they succeed, but a blogger begins casting doubt on their puzzle-solving powers. So the GEEKs saddle up again to take on another tremendous treasure hunt in The Treasure Test.
If reading about a group of four kids sounds appealing, but video games are more your thing, Player vs. Player: Ultimate Gaming Showdown by M.K. England and Chris Danger (!) might be your bag. Four kid gamers (“The Weird Ones”) take on 63 other teams in an epic tournament of Affinity, a battle-royale-style game. This year, Player vs. Player: Attack of the Bots brings back the kid games, now gone pro and with their own streaming channel. Only one problem: one-fourth of their crew – Wheatley – has gone missing!
While the Mapmakers graphic novels by Cameron Chittock and Amanda Castillo might sound like a young reader’s intro to cartography, Mapmakers and the Lost Magic actually introduces fans to a group of magical protectors long thought lost, until Alidade finds a secret door that leads to Blue, a magical creature called a memri who may help her protect the Valley from the merciless Night Coats. 2023’s Mapmakers and the Enchanted Mountain has Alidade and her allies ready to restore magic to the rest of the world outside the Valley – starting with a hidden Mountain village.
Winnipeg politician and author Wab Kinew’s The Floraverse began in 2022 with Walking in Two Worlds, where readers met Bugz, an Indigenous girl living on the Rez who happens to be a dominant player in a massive multiplayer online game called (what else?) the Floraverse. The Everlasting Road (which hit stores just this week!) follows Bugz’s adventures in the ‘Verse, as she builds a weapon and virtual friend Waawaate, who fills the hole left by the death of her brother – with, as you might expect, problematic results.
The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne by Jonathan Stroud introduced YA readers to an unforgettable duo of fugitives – one with the power to read minds, one with a way with weapons – running for their lives in a future England. The follow-up to the slam-bang, action-packed intro, The Notorious Scarlett and Browne, out later this year, brings the pair of renegades back. This time, they have to save their friends, who have been taken hostage, via a mission nothing short of impossible!
And The Night in Question by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson continues the adventures of Castle Cove’s mystery solving odd couple – Alice Ogilvie and Iris Adams – first seen in The Agathas. After cracking the case of Brooke Donovan’s death, the pair dig into a violent assault at their school dance which seems to be connected to the unsolved death at the same site of a film starlet decades prior.