Our Kids Publicity Manager: Meet Evan!

Hello, this is Evan Munday (he/him) from Penguin Random House Canada. (If you regularly get emails from me, you’ll be familiar with that phrase.) I work as the Publicity Manager for Tundra Books.

There are few things I love more than reading comic books (the X-Men are my surrogate family) or competing in (or writing for) trivia contests. You can often find me watching movies of questionable taste – don’t hesitate to email for bad movie recommendations that may change your life. I sometimes write a moderately entertaining book series for young readers called The Dead Kid Detective Agency (ECW Press). I grew up in beautiful New Jersey (so I’m a dual citizen), but have lived in Toronto since 2003. 

I’ve worked in publishing for nearly twenty (?) years, having worked at esteemed publishing organizations like Coach House Books and The Word On The Street festival. I’ve been with Tundra since September 2017. As Publicity Manager, I work on a number of our Tundra titles, doing my best to get them reviewed and featured, and the authors interviewed, profiled, or invited to events. The authors and I work together to make sure their books become young readers’ favorites, and my favorite aspect is working on live events, though they fill me with bottomless dread.

5 Random Facts About Me

  1. I was named one of the Globe & Mail’s Best Dressed in 2018.
  2. I am allergic to various skin adhesives (such as on bandages and in spirit gum).
  3. Though I am a fan of many different musical artists, my undying fandom for Carly Rae Jepsen is best known amongst friends and coworkers.
  4. I am father to one four-year-old, and cat father to two kitties (Remington and Gustav).
  5. There were three incidents in my childhood that necessitated getting stitches in my head: my mother (accidentally) closed the hatchback of our car on my head, I smashed my head against a doorframe, and my friend (?) threw me down his stairs.

Favorite Penguin Random House Titles

Little Witch Hazel
By Phoebe Wahl
96 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264892 | Tundra Books
Little Witch Hazel is a tiny witch who lives in the forest, helping creatures big and small. She’s a midwife, an intrepid explorer, a hard worker and a kind friend. In this four-season volume, Little Witch Hazel rescues an orphaned egg, goes sailing on a raft, solves the mystery of a haunted stump and makes house calls to fellow forest dwellers. But when Little Witch Hazel needs help herself, will she get it in time? Little Witch Hazel is a beautiful ode to nature, friendship, wild things and the seasons that only Phoebe Wahl could create: an instant classic and a book that readers will pore over time and time again.

The Barnabus Project
By The Fan Brothers
72 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263260 | Tundra Books
Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets, where children can buy genetically engineered “perfect” creatures, there is a secret lab. Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them is perfect. They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars. But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn’t want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it’s time for he and the others to escape. With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom – and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are. This suspenseful, poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.

Pluto Rocket: New in Town (Pluto Rocket #1)
By Paul Gilligan
88 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271906 | Tundra Books
Meet Pluto Rocket, a friendly alien, and Joe Pidge, a wise-cracking pigeon, in the first book of this hilarious new early graphic novel series, for fans of Narwhal and Jelly and Pizza and Taco! Joe Pidge, not just a pigeon but also the stylish king of the neighborhood, is bobbing his way down the street one day when, all of a sudden, Pluto Rocket enters the scene. It turns out, Pluto is from another planet, and is disguising herself for her secret mission – to find out what life in the neighborhood is really like. Lucky for Pluto, Joe Pidge has seen it all before, eaten it all before, and pooped on it all before, so he takes her under his wing and the two become fast friends. But Joe is the one who actually learns a thing or two and whose mind is blown by the out-of-this-world Pluto in this hilarious graphic novel series from Paul Gilligan, creator of the syndicated comic strip Pooch Cafe!

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
By Nathan Page
Illustrated by Drew Shannon
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525646761 | Knopf BFYR
Pete and Alastair Montague are just a couple of mystery-solving twins, living an ordinary life. Or so they thought. After a strange storm erupts on a visit to the beach, they discover there is more to their detective skills than they had thought. Their guardian, David Faber, a once prominent professor, has been keeping secrets about their parents and what the boys are truly capable of. At the same time, three girls go missing after casting a mysterious spell, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes their small town down an unexpected path. With the help of David’s daughter, Charlie, they discover there are forces at work that they never could have imagined, which will impact their lives forever. An exciting new graphic novel from innovative creators Nathan Page and Drew Shannon that is at once timely and thrilling.

Scout Is Not a Band Kid
By Jade Armstrong
272 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593176238 | Random House Graphic
When Scout learns that her favorite author is doing an exclusive autograph session at the end of the year, she’s determined to be there! She officially needs a plan . . . and when she finds out that her school’s band is heading to the same location for their annual trip, an idea takes shape. Being a band kid can’t be that hard, right? As it turns out, learning how to play an instrument when you can’t even read music is much, much, MUCH tougher than expected. And it’s even harder for Scout when her friends aren’t on board with her new hobby. Will she be able to master the trombone, make new band friends, and get to her favorite author’s book signing? Tackling everything seems like a challenge for a supergenius superfriend supermusician – and she’s just Scout.

Favorite Non Penguin Random House Titles

Anticipated Penguin Random House Titles

Meet more of our staff by checking out previous posts!

Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2023

Hello graphic novel lovers! The Young Readers team at Penguin Random House Canada is headed to downtown Toronto for TCAF 2023, happening on April 29th and 30th at the Toronto Reference Library. We’ll be showcasing many of our wonderful graphic novels at tables 144/145! Come by and say hello to our many staff volunteers including our Publicity Manager, Evan, our Publicist, Graciela, and our Social Media Coordinator, Julia!

Saturday, April 29th

At 10am at the Presentation Pond, join author Mario Brassard and illustrator Gérard DuBois for a reading of their latest graphic novel, Who Owns The Clouds?

Sunday, April 30th

At 10am at the Presentation Pond, join comics author Ryan North (Danger and Other Unknown Risks) for a workshop on writing comics professionally.

At 11am in the Novella Room, join author Mario Brassard and illustrator Gérard DuBois (Who Owns The Clouds?), and author Isabelle Arsenault for a panel on Dynamic Duos – Writer And Illustrator/Cartoonists Collaborators.

At 12pm at the Comic Campground, join author and illustrator Paul Gilligan for a reading of his latest graphic novel, Pluto Rocket: New in Town.

At 2pm at the Workshop Woodland, Matt James will read from his new book, Tadpoles. Grab some pencils and crayons, and get creative with Matt at this workshop.

At 3pm at the Learning Centre, join comics author Ryan North (Danger and Other Unknown Risks) for a panel on becoming a comics writer.

At 4pm in the Novella Room, join author Cory Silverberg (You Know, Sex) for a panel on Graphic Medicine for Kids and Teens.

We will also be hosting signings on both days at tables 144/145! Books will be available for purchase courtesy of The Beguiling.

We will also have goodies from our graphic novels available for free and a Narwhal & Jelly tote bag as a gift with purchase while supplies last!

And don’t forget to follow us online @tundrabooks and @penguinteenca as we post live from the show floors!

Tundra Telegram: Books That May A-Muse You

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we dig down into the themes that have readers agitated and recommend some books for literary bliss and feeling good.

This Thursday, Tundra publicists Evan and Sam will venture out to another concert together (following a successful outing to Carly Rae Jepsen and Bleachers) – this time to see British space-paranoia prog rockers Muse at their Toronto concert date at the Rogers Centre, where much melodic caterwauling and epic guitars will be heard.

To celebrate, we’ve assembled children’s books – from picture books to YA – that sound like they should be Muse songs (whether or not the content of the books fit the band’s themes of technological fear, government oppression, and/or visitors from outer space at all). Plug in, baby, and enjoy!

PICTURE BOOKS

With a title that sounds like it could be a 10-minute, three-act epic from the boys in Muse, Time Is a Flower by Julie Morstad is a playful and poignant exploration of the nature of time and a 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book. From a seed that grows into a tree to a memory captured in a photo and a sunbeam that crosses the floor, this book will have kids thinking about time in ways like never before.

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, Kate Fillion, and The Fan Brothers was written by an actual astronaut, and definitely has a title about outer space poetic enough to make our list. “The darkest dark” of the title refers to outer space, a place young Chris Hadfield dreams of exploring as an astronaut – a dream that intensifies as he family watches the 1969 moon landing. Only one problem: he needs to get over his fear of the dark at bedtime.

The songs of Muse tend to stay above ground (and far above in some cases – into outer space), but we can’t help but think The Aquanaut by Jill Heinerth and Jaime Kim would fit their oeuvre. The content at first seems far from Muse lyrics: the book is about a girl who feels too young and too far away from her dreams of exploring the world. But she imagines things like her bedroom as a space station and her body growing flippers or tusks. (Now we’re talking!) The book looks at how the author Heinerth’s childhood wonder led to her accomplishments and experiences as an underwater explorer and photographer.

Blips on a Screen may be all that we are on a Supreme Being’s iPad, but it’s also a book by Kate Hannigan and Zachariah OHora about Ralph Baer, a pioneer in the video game revolution. This picture book biography chronicles how a refugee from Nazi Germany used his tech skills to make video games you could play in your own home a reality. Not only did he create the blueprint for the first home video game console, he invented the Simon electronic game!

The extraterrestrial and intergalactic become the intimate in The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer and Ekua Holmes. The book blends science and art, describing how the Big Bang that began the universe hurled stardust everywhere, and the ash of those stars turned into planets – and into us! We are all the stuff of stars, and this picture book describes just how that happened!

Resist! by Diane Stanley sounds like a Muse track, though the subtitle Peaceful Acts That Changed Our World makes it sound a little less metal. Nevertheless, young readers will be inspired by these accounts of activists who fought back with music and marches, sit-ins and walk-outs to defend the disenfranchised and demand reform, refusing to back down even in the face of violent oppression. And since Muse sings “love is our resistance,” maybe this picture book is the most fitting comparison title!

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Apocalypse abounds in both the songs of Muse and Eric Walters’s Fourth Dimension, a look at one teenager and her family in the midst of the disintegration of society after a massive and mysterious outage that knocks out all modern amenities. Emma and her family canoe to an isolated island, but find they are far from safe, as people become increasingly desperate to find food and shelter. Time to panic!

Pluto Rocket by Paul Gilligan technically has a subtitle – New in Town – that makes it sound less like a song. But “Pluto Rocket” itself is a perfect Muse song. Plus, the graphic novel for young readers is all about an alien! This alien happens to be very friendly and just wants to find out what life in the neighborhood (a.k.a. Earth) is really like, and luckily, she meets a streetwise pigeon (Joe Pidge) who is very happy to inform her.

What is a “ghostlight”? It sounds intriguing yet celestial enough to be a Matt Bellamy metaphor, but Ghostlight is actually a supernatural spook-fest from acclaimed and bestselling author Kenneth Oppel. Gabe, a young tour guide at a historic lighthouse, accidentally awakens the ghost of a dead girl, and has to join forces with her to protect the world of the living from a malevolent and terrifying ghost named Viker.

Middle school meets a sci-fi epic in Michael Merschel’s Revenge of the Star Survivors, a book which could double for another of Muse’s more prog-rocky, multi-movement compositions. Clark Sherman is an eighth-grader obsessed with the sci-fi show Star Survivors, and views everything in his miserable new school through the lens of the show, whether it be hostile natives (violent bullies) or his fiendishly evil Principal Denton. But then he meets a few kindred spirits who make him realize he’s not alone in this world.

Canadian Wesley King wrote the book Dragons vs. Drones, in which a young computer genius transports himself into a realm populated by giant dragons (and – sometimes – people who ride them), pursued by deadly sleek, high-tech government drones. Given Muse did a whole album just about drones, you know this is right up their alley.

YOUNG ADULT

Fewer YA book titles match that fear of technology so prevalent in Muse songs than Killer Content by Kiley Roache. And in the case of the book, there are many reasons to be afraid, as a group of famous TikTokers descend into paranoia and backstabbing when one of them is found dead in the infinity pool at their beachfront Malibu mansion, And no amount of “stitching” will put them back together again!

Of course, there’s also Chaos Theory by Nic Stone, with a title we’re shocked isn’t already the name of a Muse song. The book has less to do with that mathematical concept that Jeff Goldblum talks about in Jurassic Park, and more to do with unlikely romances. Two teens – one, a certified genius living with a diagnosed mental disorder, and the other a politician’s son who is running from his own addiction and grief – find something in each other. But their connection threatens to pull their universes apart the closer they get to one another.

Terrors from above abound in the songs of Muse, which is why Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena is a perfect fit for this list. The book follows a young heroine, Gul, on a journey of discovery, warrior magic, and forbidden romance in a fantasy world (Ambar) inspired largely by Indian history and myth. And while the novel is more in the realm of fantasy than technological apocalypse, the title alone makes it the right choice here.

We can’t talk about the songs of Muse without noting that Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (now out in paperback!) would double as a perfect song title – and even song concept. Giant transforming robots piloted by teenagers that can battle aliens outside the Great Wall of China? And the girls die from the process until 18-year-old Zetian demonstrates she’s able to reverse the process? Muse wishes they thought up a song with that plot!

In the realm of YA books that have fitting titles, but stories that may be less so falls Free Radicals by Lila Reisen. The book does have some thematic connections – fighting power and injustice – since it follows Afghan-American Mafi’s calamitous sophomore year in high school when she accidentally exposes family secrets, putting her family back in Afghanistan in danger. This is all done as she is dispensing small doses of justice as the school’s secret avenger “the Ghost of Santa Margarita High.”

Finding Jupiter by Kelis Rowe can fit in that same category. The title makes the story seem interplanetary, but its story of a fraught but star-crossed romance set against the backdrop of a Memphis roller rink is down-to-earth in its poignancy. It also features a fair deal of found poetry – and what is poetry if not lyrics?

Though it could refer to a computer network outage, Black Internet Effect by Shavone Charles and illustrated by Alex Lukashevsky actually outlines the author, musician, model, and technology executive’s epic journey through Google, Twitter, and more, and how it shaped her mission to make space for herself and other young women of color both in the online and physical worlds.

No, it’s not the new album from Muse. It’s the new YA novel from Morgan Rhodes: Echoes and Empires! In a world where magic is rare, illegal, and always deadly, one girl – Josslyn Drake – finds herself infected by a dangerous piece of magic after a robbery gone wrong at the Queen’s Gala. Now sharing the memories of an infamously evil warlock, Joss needs the magic removed before it corrupts her soul and kills her. But who can she trust to help her when practicing magic comes with a death penalty?

Finally, what would a Muse-song-like-titles list be without at least one entry from bestselling science fiction writer Brandon Sanderson? We’ve narrowed it down to one book: Cytonic. The third in Sanderson’s Skyward series, it stars Spensa, a girl who becomes a Defiant Defense Force pilot and travels beyond the stars to save the world she loves from destruction. And in this installment of the series, Spensa learns about the alien weapon that the Superiority – the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life – plans to use in their war, and desperately seeks a way to stop it.

Tuesdays with Tundra

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

Pluto Rocket: New in Town (Pluto Rocket #1)
By Paul Gilligan
88 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271906 | Tundra Books
Meet Pluto Rocket, a friendly alien, and Joe Pidge, a wise-cracking pigeon, in the first book of this hilarious new early graphic novel series, for fans of Narwhal and Jelly and Pizza and Taco! Joe Pidge, not just a pigeon but also the stylish king of the neighborhood, is bobbing his way down the street one day when, all of a sudden, Pluto Rocket enters the scene. It turns out, Pluto is from another planet, and is disguising herself for her secret mission — to find out what life in the neighborhood is really like. Lucky for Pluto, Joe Pidge has seen it all before, eaten it all before, and pooped on it all before, so he takes her under his wing and the two become fast friends. But Joe is the one who actually learns a thing or two and whose mind is blown by the out-of-this-world Pluto in this hilarious graphic novel series from Paul Gilligan, creator of the syndicated comic strip Pooch Cafe!

Pluto Rocket: New in Town is also available today in Paperback!

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.