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)!

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!

A Waffle Lot of Narwhal and Jelly (Hardcover Books 1-5)
By Ben Clanton
Ages 6-9 | Hardcover Box Set
ISBN 9780735271364  | Tundra Books
The first five books in this bestselling series are now available in a hardcover box set. The perfect gift for hours of underwater fun! The Narwhal and Jelly books are delightfully silly graphic novels full of positivity, friendship and playful adventure. This fintastic hardcover collection includes the following five titles:

  • Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea!
  • Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Narwhal’s Otter Friend
  • Happy Narwhalidays

Hunting by Stars
By Cherie Dimaline
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735269651 | Penguin Teen Canada
Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up – or are re-opened – across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams. Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is – and what it will take to escape. Meanwhile, out in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers – school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go – and how many loved ones is he willing to betray – in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

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.

Tundra Illustrator Gift Guide 2019

The Tundra Illustrator Gift Guide is back again! For the last two years, we put together gift guides inspired by Travis Jonker’s The Ultimate Children’s Literature Illustrator Gift Guide 2017 featuring Tundra’s illustrators from 2019! This list has something for everyone from some of the best children’s book illustrators in the world – treat your family and friends (or yourself!) to a beautiful piece of art this holiday season.

Shop Anne ArrivesAnne’s Kindred Spirits; and Abigail’s artwork

Abigail Halpin is an illustrator living in southern Maine, a few miles from the sea. Her illustrations are a blend of traditional and digital media, mixing watercolor, ink, pencil and more. She has created illustrations and lettering for a range of clients including Galison/Mudpuppy, Simon & Schuster, Disney Publishing, Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Penguin Books. Inspired by vintage textiles, all things Slavic, mystery novels, the ocean and long-forgotten ephemera, Halpin also creates mixed media artwork that blends drawing and embroidery, portraiture and needlework.

Shop Peanut Butter and Jelly; Narwhal’s Otter Friend; and Ben’s artwork

Ben Clanton is an author and illustrator whose picture books include Mo’s Mustache; Rot, the Cutest in the World!; Boo Who?; It Came in the Mail; Something ExtraordinaryRex Wrecks It! and Vote for Me! He lives with his family in Tacoma, Washington.

Shop Where Oliver Fits; Unicorns 101; and Cale’s artwork

Cale Atkinson is an author-illustrator and animator whose books include Unicorns 101Where Oliver FitsTo the SeaOff and Away, and Sir Simon: Super Scarer. He lives lakeside with his family in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. See more of Cale’s work at Cale.ca, and follow him on Twitter at @2dCale.

Shop King Mouse and Dena’s artwork

Dena Seiferling graduated with a BFA and Visual Communications Degree from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 1999. She works as an instructor at ACAD while pursuing her illustration and needle-felted art. Dena lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, with her husband and two children. King Mouse is her first picture book.

Shop The Blue Castle and Elly’s artwork

Elly MacKay is a paper artist and a children’s book author and illustrator. She wrote and illustrated the picture books If You Hold a SeedShadow Chasers and Butterfly Park, among others. She studied illustration and printmaking at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her distinctive pieces are made using paper and ink, and then are set into a miniature theatre and photographed, giving them their unique three-dimensional quality. Elly lives in Owen Sound, Ontario, with her husband and two children.

Shop Alma and the Beast and Esmé’s artwork

Esmé Shapiro grew up in Laurel Canyon, California and Ontario, Canada. Currently she and her dog, Chebini Brown, split their time between Brooklyn and New York’s Hudson Valley. A graduate of The Rhode Island School of Design, Esmé is a past recipient of both the Nancy Lee Rhodes Roberts Scholarship and The SILA West 53 Gold Award-Phillip Hayes Scholarship. She has exhibited at The Society of Illustrators and her work has been featured in Taproot and Plansponsor magazines. Connect with her online at esmeshapiroillustration.com, on twitter and Instagram @esmeshapiro.

Shop Now? Not Yet! and Gina’s artwork

Once upon a time, Gina Perry picked wild blueberries, floated on lakes in her inner tube and was always on the lookout for a real moose in the woods. Now she writes and illustrates books for young readers from her New Hampshire home, where she lives with THREE monsters: her husband and two kids. She is still on the lookout for moose.

Shop Great Job, Dad!Great Job, Mom!; and Holman’s artwork

Holman Wang is a lawyer who also finds time to make children’s books. He and his brother, Jack, are the twin powers behind the board book series Cozy Classics and Star Wars Epic Yarns, which abridge literary and cinematic classics into just twelve words and twelve needle-felted images. Their unique artwork has been exhibited around the world, including at The Original Art exhibition in New York, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and the National Museum of Play. Holman lives with his wife and kids in Vancouver, Canada, and is a board member of the Vancouver Writers Festival.

Shop Albert’s Quiet Quest and Isabelle’s artwork

Isabelle Arsenault is a graphic-design graduate who has applied her skills to illustration. She contributes to magazines and newspapers across the US and Canada, and has been the recipient of major illustration awards such as the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards for Illustration, Communication Arts Illustration Annual, and the National Magazine Awards of Canada. Arsenault lives in Montreal.

Shop Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess and Janet’s artwork

Janet Hill is a painter and children’s book author/illustrator. Her work is both elegant and whimsical, and her painting style evokes a sense of nostalgia, mystery, and humor. She has written and illustrated two picture books: Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess and Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat CountessLucy Crisp and the Vanishing House is her first novel. Janet lives in Stratford, Ontario, where she paints in a small in-house studio and lives with her husband, John, the manager of an independent bookstore, and their cat and dog.

Shop The PaintingThe Ghost Road; and Jensine’s artwork

Jensine Eckwall is a Brooklyn-based illustrator whose clients include BUST Magazine, BOOM! Studios/Adventure Time, The Boston Globe, Lucky Peach, The New York Times and Nylon.

Shop It Began with a Page and Julie’s artwork

Julie Morstad is an author, illustrator, and artist living in Vancouver. Her books have all received great acclaim; most recently, How To was a 2013 Governor General’s Award finalist and received starred reviews in Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal.

Shop Megabat and Fancy CatSergeant Billy; and Kass’s artwork

Kass Reich works as an artist and educator and has spent the majority of the last decade travelling around the world. She earned a degree in Art Education from Concordia University and was an early childhood educator in Beijing, which inspired her to start making picture books for very young readers. She now lives and works in Toronto, Ontario.

Shop You’re in Good Paws and Kathryn’s artwork

Kathryn Drust is a graduate of Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada. With a background in animation, she has interned with Pixar Animation Studios in addition to working with various children’s book publishers. When she is not illustrating books like Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire and Hey Grandude!, she may be found playing the accordion, growing vegetables, folk dancing, or putting on shadow puppet shows. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her grumpy mini dachshund named Chili Dog.

Shop Frankie’s Favorite Food and Kelsey’s artwork

Kelsey Garrity-Riley is an illustrator living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up in Germany and Belgium before moving to the US to pursue her love of art at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, graduating in 2010. She has illustrated several books, including The Whirlpool: Stories by Laurel Croza (Groundwood) and the forthcoming Born to RideA Story About Bicycle Face (Abrams). Frankie’s Favorite Food is her debut as both author and illustrator.

Shop The Not-So Great Outdoors and Madeline’s artwork

Up-and-coming illustrator Madeline Kloepper, a graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, brings wise-beyond-her-years illustrations full of sweetness and curiosity to her debut picture book. Madeline grew up in the lower mainland of British Columbia amidst a sea of humans and spent a few years in Vancouver; she has since migrated northward to Prince George. Her work is influenced by childhood, nostalgia and the relationships we forge with nature, no doubt inspired by her love of exploring the Pacific Northwest.

Shop Encounter and Michaela’s artwork

Michaela Goade is a designer and illustrator living and working in Juneau, Alaska. Her childhood was spent in the forests and on the beaches of Southeast Alaska and her artistic style is rooted in the depth and beauty of its landscapes. At the heart of her work is a love for nature, the beautiful region she calls home and a passion for evocative storytelling. Forever inspired by the coastal wilds of Southeast Alaska, she works to capture its magic and honor its vibrant cultures. Michaela, a Tlingit woman, has illustrated a few picture books for an Alaskan nonprofit organization, the Sealaska Heritage Institute; Encounter is her debut with a trade publisher.

Shop Count on Me and Miguel’s artwork

Award-winning artist Miguel Tanco is a children’s book author and illustrator. He teaches illustration and organizes creative workshops for kids in Spain, where he was born and raised, and in Italy. He has published over forty children’s books including Great DogYou and Me, Me and YouLes Farfelus; and The Story of Cyrano de Bergerac. He lives in Milan with his wife, Federica, and their two sons, Pablo and Javier.

Shop Princess Puffybottom…and Darryl and Olivia’s artwork

Olivia Chin Mueller is an illustrator whose work includes I am a PuppyI am a KittenA Bedtime YarnAll the Love in the World, and Babies in the Forest. She currently lives in Providence, RI.

Shop Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink and Qin’s artwork

Throughout her career, Qin Leng has illustrated picture books, magazines and book covers with publishers around the world. Recent picture books include her author/illustrator debut I Am Small (to be published in fall 2018); Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen by Deborah Hopkinson; and Family Is a Family Is a Family written by Sara O’Leary. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, written by Chieri Uegaki, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and received the APALA Award for best picture book. She lives in Toronto, with her husband and her son.

Shop Swarm of Bees and Rilla’s artwork

Rilla Alexander is an Australian designer and illustrator whose work has appeared on everything from toys and tea cups to buses and buildings. She designed the children’s products for Madrid’s Museo del Prado, teaches Character Design at the Pictoplasma Academy in Berlin and her work has been showcased at Paris’ cultural mecca Colette and at the Musée de la Publicité/Louvre. Her books celebrate creativity, reading, making and doing. She currently lives in Portland, OR.

Amazon.com’s Best Children’s Books of 2018: Ages 6 to 8

Amazon.com has chosen 19 best children’s books of 2018 for ages 6 to 8. We are so thrilled to share that we have 2 titles on this list! Congratulations to our authors and illustrators!

MegabatMegabat
By Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
192 Pages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262577
“[Kass] Reich’s expressive black-and-white illustrations are filled with detail and texture, especially with Megabat’s delightful facial expressions, and help guide the story along. Great for readers who enjoy Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson books.” – Booklist

Peanut Butter and JellyPeanut Butter and Jelly
By Ben Clanton
64 Pages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262454
Narwhal and Jelly are back and Narwhal has a new obsession . . . peanut butter! He’s so obsessed he even wants to change his name to . . . that’s right . . . Peanut Butter! Ever-sensible Jelly isn’t so sure that’s the best idea, but is all for Narwhal trying new things (instead of just eating waffles all the time, no matter how delicious waffles are). In this third book, Narwhal and Jelly star in three new stories about trying new things, favorite foods and accepting who we are. Always funny and never didactic, this underwater duo charms again through their powerful combination of positive thinking, imagination and joyfulness.