Jeff Zentner released his latest novel, In the Wild Light, this week! If you haven’t read any of his books – be warned that there might be tears (grab a box of tissues) – and get ready to dive into the Jeff Zentner Bookish Universe:
By Jeff Zentner
432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263130 | Penguin Teen Canada
What would you say if you could spend one last day with someone you lost? One day Carver Briggs had it all – three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts. The next day it all crashed and burned, literally, after he wrote them out of existence with an inane text sent to his friend Mars – the last words his friends ever see. Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the fatal crash and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. Even worse, Mars’s father, a powerful judge, pressures the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions. But Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, who is the only person to stand by him at school, and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her – having him stand in as Blake for one last day doing all their favorite things so they can share memories and say a proper goodbye. Soon Eli and Mars’s families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver – but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to prison or a complete breakdown?
In the Wild Light By Jeff Zentner
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263055 | Penguin Teen Canada
Life in a small Appalachian town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his best friend, Delaney, is second nature. He’s been spending his summer mowing lawns while she works at Dairy Queen. But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his love for the grandparents who saved him and the town he has to leave behind. Jeff Zentner’s new novel is a beautiful examination of grief, found family, and young love.
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee
By Jeff Zentner
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263123 | Penguin Teen Canada
High school seniors and best friends Delia and Josie are two of the brightest stars on TV . . . TV Six, that is, the premiere public access cable station of Jackson, Tennessee. Every Saturday night the duo slip into their on-screen personas, Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, to host the Midnite Matinee – an enthusiastic, if underwatched, creature feature that brings back the best, the bizarre and the usually zero-budget horror and sci-fi flicks of the 1950s and 60s. But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls must face tough decisions about their futures. For Josie, that probably means leaving town for a big university, and chasing her dream career in mainstream TV. If only she didn’t have to leave the show – and Delia – behind to get the life she wants. But the future isn’t the only thing Josie feels guilty about. Soon she begins falling for the charismatic MMA fighter, Lawson, and her commitment to the show and Delia is pushed to its limits. As the line between growing up and growing apart blurs, Josie and Delia must test the bonds of friendship and learn that an uncertain future can be both monstrous . . . and momentous.
The Serpent King
By Jeff Zentner
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263581 | Penguin Teen Canada
Dill isn’t the most popular kid at his rural Tennessee high school. After his father fell from grace in a public scandal that reverberated throughout their small town, Dill became a target. Fortunately, his two fellow misfits and best friends, Travis and Lydia, have his back. But as they begin their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. His only escapes are music and his secret feelings for Lydia – neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending – one that will rock his life to the core. In his debut novel, Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.
If you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen our #PenguinIcebreakers pop up over the past few months. We asked some of our favourite YA authors to answer a few questions to help us get to know them better – catch up with all the current Icebreakers now and get ready for more as we head into the new year!
How It All Blew Up By Arvin Ahmadi 272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593202876 | Viking BFYR Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy — he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right? Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature . . . until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom. At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.
The Cousins By Karen M. McManus 336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780525708001 | Delacorte BFYR Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious. Their parents are all clear on one point — not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious — and dark — their family’s past is. The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over — and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.
This Coven Won’t Break By Isabel Sterling 336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780451480354 | Razorbill Hannah Walsh just wants to finish high school. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever. When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have — their power — Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact. Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony.
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee By Jeff Zentner 384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback ISBN 9780735263123 | Penguin Teen Canada High school seniors and best friends Delia and Josie are two of the brightest stars on TV . . . TV Six, that is, the premiere public access cable station of Jackson, Tennessee. Every Saturday night the duo slip into their on-screen personas, Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, to host the Midnite Matinee — an enthusiastic, if underwatched, creature feature that brings back the best, the bizarre and the usually zero-budget horror and sci-fi flicks of the 1950s and 60s. But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls must face tough decisions about their futures. For Josie, that probably means leaving town for a big university, and chasing her dream career in mainstream TV. If only she didn’t have to leave the show — and Delia — behind to get the life she wants. But the future isn’t the only thing Josie feels guilty about. Soon she begins falling for the charismatic MMA fighter, Lawson, and her commitment to the show and Delia is pushed to its limits. As the line between growing up and growing apart blurs, Josie and Delia must test the bonds of friendship and learn that an uncertain future can be both monstrous . . . and momentous.
Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House By Janet Hill 240 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781770499249 | Tundra Books It has been a year since Lucy Crisp graduated from high school and she still hasn’t found her calling. That is, until she discovers an exclusive arts college called Ladywyck Lodge. On a whim, she applies and is thrilled to be accepted into their program. Lucy moves to Esther Wren, the charming little town where it’s based, and stays in the house her father buys as an investment: a magnificent building built by a sea captain in 1876. The house has history and personality — perhaps too much personality. . . Strange things start happening. Lucy hears voices and footsteps in empty rooms. She sees people and things that should not be there. Furniture disappears and elaborate desserts appear. What’s worse is that the strange events are not restricted to her house. Lucy begins to understand that the town and its inhabitants are hiding many secrets, and Ladywyck is at the heart. As the eerie happenings escalate, Lucy fears she is being threatened — but she is determined not to let fairy potions, spells and talk of witchcraft scare her away.
A Phoenix First Must Burn Edited by Patrice Caldwell 368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781984835659 | Viking BFYR Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.
Burn Our Bodies Down By Rory Power 352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780525645627 | Delacorte BFYREver since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along. But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for. Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there? The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.
Girl Crushed By Katie Heaney 352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781984897343 | Knopf BFYR Before Quinn Ryan was in love with Jamie Rudawski, she loved Jamie Rudawski, who was her best friend. But when Jamie dumps Quinn a month before their senior year, Quinn is suddenly girlfriend-less and best friend-less. Enter a new crush: Ruby Ocampo, the gorgeous and rich lead singer of the popular band Sweets, who’s just broken up with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Quinn’s always only wanted to be with Jamie, but if Jamie no longer wants to be with her, why can’t Quinn go all in on Ruby? But the closer Quinn grows to Ruby, the more she misses Jamie, and the more (she thinks) Jamie misses her. Who says your first love can’t be your second love, too?
Hunted by the Sky By Tanaz Bhathena 384 Pages | Ages 12+| Hardcover ISBN 9780735267022 | Penguin Teen Canada Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge. Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets Gul in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance — and discovers a magic he never expected to find. Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own.
A Game of Hope By Sandra Gulland 384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780143187127 | Penguin Teen Canada Paris, 1798. Hortense de Beauharnais is engrossed in her studies at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, most of whom suffered tragic losses during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution. She loves to play and compose music, read and paint, and daydream about Christophe, her brother’s dashing fellow officer. But Hortense is not an ordinary girl. Her beautiful, charming mother Josephine has married Napoleon Bonaparte, soon to become the most powerful man in France, but viewed by Hortense as a coarse, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror. Where will Hortense’s future lie? Inspired by Hortense’s real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of teen life long ago, this is the story of a girl chosen by fate to play a role she didn’t choose.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder By Holly Jackson 400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781984896360 | Delacorte Press Everyone in Fairview knows the story. Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town. But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer? Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.
The Grey Sisters By Jo Treggiari 228 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780735263000 | Penguin Teen Canada D and Spider have always been close friends, and they are further united in their shared heartbreak: they both lost siblings in a horrific plane crash two years earlier. A chance sighting of a beloved cuddly toy in a photograph of the only survivor spurs D to finally seek closure. She and Spider and their friend, Min, set off on a road trip to the mountainside site of that terrible crash. Ariel has lived on the mountain all her life. She and her extended family are looked down upon by neighboring townsfolk and she has learned to live by her wits, trusting few people outside of her isolated, survivalist community. A terrifying attack sends her down the mountain for help; on her way, she comes upon the three girls — a chance encounter that will have far-reaching consequences for them all.
He Must Like You By Danielle Younge-Ullman 336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780735265691 | Penguin Teen Canada Libby’s having a rough senior year. Her older brother absconded with his college money and is bartending on a Greek island. Her dad just told her she’s got to pay for college herself, and he’s evicting her when she graduates so he can AirBnB her room. A drunken hook-up with her coworker Kyle has left her upset and confused. So when Perry Ackerman, serial harasser and the most handsy customer at The Goat where she waitresses, pushes her over the edge, she can hardly be blamed for dumping a pitcher of sangria on his head. Unfortunately, Perry is a local industry hero, the restaurant’s most important customer and Libby’s mom’s boss. Now Libby has to navigate the fallout of her outburst, find an apartment and deal with her increasing rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life — and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. As timely as it is timeless, He Must Like You is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people.
Barry Squires, Full Tilt By Heather T. Smith 232 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780735267466 | Penguin Teen Canada It’s 1995. When the Full Tilt Dancers give an inspiring performance at the opening of the new bingo hall, twelve-year-old Finbar (Barry) Squires wants desperately to join the troupe. Led by Father O’Flaherty, the Full Tilt Irish Step Dancers are the most sought-after act in St. John’s, Newfoundland (closely followed by popular bagpiper, Alfie Bragg and his Agony Bag). Having watched Riverdance twice, Barry figures he’ll nail the audition. And good thing too — it’d be nice to be known for something other than the port wine stain on his cheek. With questionable talent and an unpredictable temper, Barry’s journey to stardom is jeopardized by his parents’ refusal to take his dreams seriously. Thankfully, Barry has the support of a lively cast of characters: his ever-present grandmother, Nanny Squires; his adorable baby brother, Gord; an old British rocker named Uneven Steven; a group of geriatrics from the One Step Closer to God Nursing Home; and Saibal, a friend with whom Barry gets up to no good.
The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person By Frederick Joseph 272 Pages | Ages 12+| Hardcover ISBN 9781536217018 | Candlewick For Frederick Joseph, life as a transfer student in a largely white high school was full of wince-worthy moments that he often simply let go. As he grew older, however, he saw these as missed opportunities not only to stand up for himself, but to spread awareness to those white people who didn’t see the negative impact they were having. Speaking directly to the reader, The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid” who now presents himself as the friend many readers need. Backmatter includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more.
Who do you want to see do a #PenguinIcebreakers video? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
At Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, we think all our books are brilliant, and it’s nice when others think so too! Congratulations to our authors and illustrators, these are our starred books of 2019!
It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Hardcover | ISBN 9781101918593
Ages 5-9 | Tundra Books
“A splendid picture-book celebration of an artist and activist.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Maclear and Morstad’s biography conveys with quiet power how recently segregation reached into every aspect of American life, and how one woman did her part to defeat it.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“Maclear and Morstad pack a lot of information into a few pages. This exemplary biography of a pioneer in multicultural children’s books deserves a place in most collections.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“This beautiful biography offers a fitting tribute to an artist with a lasting legacy in American picture books.” – Starred Review, Booklist
A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
By Kelley Armstrong
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735265356
Ages 10-14 | Puffin Canada
“. . . [A] fast and fun read, a great read-a-like for Tamora Pierce’s ‘Tortall’ series.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“A fresh take on familiar fantasy creatures and situations.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness
Alma and the Beast
By Esme Shapiro
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735263963
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
“With lessons on friendship, culture, and helping others, and language and art reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this endearing picture book is richly rewarding.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“It’s a sweetly psychedelic mix of Tove Jansson, Van Gogh, and what is now recognizably trademark Shapiro. . . . [her] tale is a gentle charmer, plain and simple.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire
By Kathy Kacer and Eric Walters
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735266247
Ages 10-14 | Puffin Canada
“Shirli’s voice is true and strong as she narrates her own tale of rehearsals, her very ethnically diverse friendships, her deep distress as she witnesses Zayde’s pain, and her joy as he reconnects with his music. A beautiful, painful, heartfelt reminder that the past is with us still.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Walters and Kacer pull of this impressive feat of complex storytelling and make it look easy . . . . [It is an] honest, open and unflinching [story] about some of the more dark and traumatic aspects of history.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735264045
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
“Graceful and perceptive in both illustration and text, the timeless theme is particularly pertinent today.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Each page is riotous and breathtaking.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee
By Jeff Zentner
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735263048
Ages 14+ | Penguin Teen Canada
“Zentner’s quick-witted, charming characters tackle real-life issues with snappy dialogue and engaging levity.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“As in his award-winning The Serpent King (2016), Zentner packs a poignantly satisfying blend of wit and pathos, with lovable and unpredictable characters. . . . Readers looking for an unforgettable slice of small-town angst will love this one.” – Starred Review, Booklist
We Contain Multitudes
By Sarah Henstra
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735264212
Ages 14+ | Penguin Teen Canada
“This is an absolutely extraordinary work of fiction that proves the epistolary novel is an art form. Kurl and Jo are characters to die for, emotionally compelling and empathetic…. [This novel] is not to be missed.” – Starred Review, Booklist “A love story, a therapy session, a reason to read Whitman-the sweetness of unexpected amour is here, as is the saline of sadness…Your reason to root for love-and the power of the pen.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
Great Job, Dad! and Great Job, Mom!
By Holman Wang
Hardcover | Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
ISBN 9780735264106 | ISBN 9780735264083
“The artwork in this tongue-in-cheek look at the many roles [dads] play in family life is certain to have readers poring over the pages.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
Ho’onani: Hula Warrior
By Heather Gale
Illustrated by Mika Song
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735264496
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
“Boldly outlined watercolor and ink artwork . . . convey visual information with strength that suggests Ho‘onani’s own. And Gale grounds the child’s experience, based on a true story, in Hawaiian traditions, modeling showing ‘every person the same unconditional acceptance and respect’.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
How to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps
By Nicola Winstanley
Illustrated by John Martz
Hardcover | ISBN 9780735263543
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
“This laugh-out-loud picture book can serve as a beginning reader. . . . The inevitable ending will delight both children and adults and this title will be requested over and over.” – Starred Review, Booklist
Princess Puffybottom . . . and Darryl
By Susin Nielsen
Illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller
Hardcover | ISBN 9781101919255
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
“Nielsen’s tale and Mueller’s digitally created pooch and puss pair perfectly. . . . Princess and Darryl need a sequel.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
Yesterday we hosted our second #PenguinTeenSocial event – we invited bloggers and booksellers to our office for a fun night of trivia, pizza, and author signings. Check out some of our highlights below!
Thanks to everyone for a great night – hope to see you again next year!