Tundra Telegram: Books That You Should Never Ever Put Down

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we talk about things that are our current mood, and recommend some sick books you might low-key love.

We’re cheating a little this week by talking about yet another Netflix television series, but the entire Tundra team was just too excited for the return of one of the funniest teen comedy-dramas in some time, Never Have I Ever, to avoid it. And as star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan hails from Mississauga, Ontario, our Canadian pride was just too strong to resist. Plus, there are so few children’s books about heads of state taking classified documents.

Resultingly, this week we’re recommending picture books, middle-grade titles and – perhaps most fittingly – YA that connect, in one way or another, to the popular teen comedy series chronicling the victories and embarrassments of Sherman Oaks high school student Devi Vishwakumar. Read on, fellow Coyote Girls and Boys.

PICTURE BOOKS

We’re sure that Devi (and the actor who plays her, Maitreyi) can relate to Mirha, the protagonist of picture book That’s Not My Name!, written and illustrated by Torontonian Anoosha Syed. Mirha’s classmates mispronounce her name, she can’t find a monogrammed keychain at the gas station, and begins to wonder if she should find a new one until Mama helps her see how special her name is.

Whether it’s grief that causes temporary paralysis or a volcanic anger that leads to verbal altercations with her mother and declaring nuclear war at model U.N., one thing Devi has is Big Feelings, which is also the name of a picture book by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman. The book, much like Devi’s therapist Jamie Ryan, helps children’ navigate life when they feel mad, frustrated, or overwhelmed.

This isn’t a spoiler, as Never Have I Ever essentially opens with the death of Devi’s father, Mohan, but a lot of the emotional challenges Devi faces are traced back to the loss of a parent. Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing by Kenesha Sneed uses ceramics to tell the story of a mother and son (Eisha), coping with a lost father. Eisha learns to live with the sense of loss and of the joyful power of making something new out of what is left behind (even if it’s just a single voice mail).

More than a few times Devi’s father’s death has manifested itself in her dreams, which reminds us of another wonderful book about grief for young readers, A Garden of Creatures by Sheila Heti and Esmé Shapiro. After a bunny and cat lose their fellow garden friend, the big bunny, a strange dream prompts the smaller bunny to begin asking questions big questions about death. Along those same lines, Lost in the Clouds by Tom Tinn-Disbury, part of the new series, Difficult Conversations for Children, acts as a guide to talking to young kids about grief, as it follows Billy and his father while they navigate the loss of Billy’s mother

Never Have I Ever also makes us happy as it features a main character who is the romantic interest of several appealing suitors – and she has body hair. It reminds us of Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand and Nabi H. Ali, in which young Indian-American girl Laxmi falls in love with the hair on her upper lip, her arms, legs, and between her eyebrows!

The show wouldn’t be the same without the incredible narration from tennis star John McEnroe. Not only do McEnroe and Devi share a reputation for hot tempers, Devi’s story has sentimental connections to the tennis star. For a picture book that combines tennis greatness, temporary debilitating injuries, and social-emotional learning, you have to check out former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu’s Bibi’s Got Game, co-written by Mary Beth Leatherdale and illustrated by Chelsea O’Byrne.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

One element we haven’t dwelled on much yet is how uproariously funny Never Have I Ever is. Need another hit of humor? Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. has got you covered. Edited by Betsy Bird and featuring hilarious stories by Cece Bell, Libba Bray, Raina Telgemeier, and many more – all featuring funny girl friends (not unlike Devi, Eleanor, and Fabiola).

For a book that more precisely marries comedy with the challenges of being a second-generation teenager in America, try Jessica Kim’s beloved Stand Up, Yumi Chung! Yumi, a shy outsider whose parents run a Korean barbecue restaurant, plots to become a stand-up comedian (under a false identity) while she’s supposed to be studying for a private school scholarship. Like Never Have I Ever, it’s a charming story with bighearted characters.

In The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller, Natalie and her friends’ interest in science may be more of a Fabiola thing than a Devi one . But it’s a funny story about three friends who hope to use science to win an egg-drop contest in order to get Natalie’s mom out of a depression funk. And, like much of the show, it’s all about a kid learning their mother is a real person, too!

And though the protagonist of The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan by Salma Hussain is a first-generation immigrant (from Dubai), and lives about 30 years before Devi’s story, we think there are definitely similarities. It features a headstrong young girl who falls in love and deflects from big problems with humor: “We didn’t even get any days off school!” she notes, when talking about the first Persian Gulf War.

YOUNG ADULT

Debate club? Witty banter? A headstrong brown girl fighting back against some anti-Indian online memes. High school romance? While those sound like the ingredients of an episode of Never Have I Ever, they also describe the new YA novel TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Canadian Jesmeen Kaur Deo, in which a pretty, popular debater, TJ, sets out to demonstrate she can let her body hair grow naturally and still be beautiful.

Academic high-achieving rivals to lovers – shades of Devi and Ben Gross – Kavya and Ian anchor Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale. Kavya has always been told she’s a little too ambitious, a little too mouthy, and a little too much – or besharam (remind you of any TV characters?). But when she’s cast as Ariel in a job that supplies Disney princesses to children’s birthday parties, and her academic rival Ian is cast as Prince Eric? You know what happens next!

With a teen romance in the robotics club, My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth falls more into the Fabiola territory. But like Devi, protagonist Bel has no interest in robotics or engineering (even if she’s good at it), until handsome Mateo Luna (the book’s Paxton Hall-Yoshida), captain of the robotics club, insists they need her talent.

While there’s a conspicuous lack of Bollywood content on Never Have I Ever, we still feel Nisha Sharma’s very funny romance My So-Called Bollywood Life should be included with our recommendations. Sure, Winnie Mehta is obsessed with Bollywood films and Devi shows no interest in them, but they both experience romantic disaster with comic results and are feisty, second-generation heroines readers will root for.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon is the story of Frank Li, who – like Devi – is a teenager living in Southern California and is torn between the more traditional expectations of his family (who sacrificed a lot to raise him in the U.S.A.) and his strong desire to live the life of a “regular American teen” – and that includes dating a white girl. Plus, like Devi’s cousin Kamala, he winds up in a fake relationship within his culture that turns out to be something more.

And Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi, follows Parvin Mohammadi, a bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Iranian-American who’s just been very publicly dumped. But she’s got a scheme to solve all her problems with dating the hottest boy in school, Matty Fumero. She just has to study rom-coms and be the perfect dream girl. But over the course of the book she learns, as Devi so often does, that to get the boy, you just have to be yourself.

Happy reading, friends!

Raptors 905 Summer Reading Challenge 2022

For the past two years, we’ve partnered with our friends at First Book Canada and Raptors 905 to put together the summer reading challenge. Students in grades 4-6 are invited to read 5 books over 5 weeks for a total of 905 minutes of reading. Each week, readers are then invited to join a virtual meeting with the authors of the book club picks.

Here are the titles included in this year’s reading challenge and the dates each author will be joining the virtual meetings.

Friday, July 15, 2022: Zetta Elliot

The Witch’s Apprentice
By Zetta Elliott
Illustrated by Cherise Harris
272 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593427705 | Random House BFYR
Ever since the baby dragons were returned to the magical realm, things have been off. The New York summer has been unusually cold. A strange sleeping sickness is spreading across the city. And Jaxon’s friends Kenny and Kavita have begun to change, becoming more like the fairy and dragon they once cared for. On top of all that, Jax is hiding a secret – Vik entrusted him with a phoenix egg! Jax wants to help his friends and learn how to hatch the phoenix, but so far his lessons as a witch’s apprentice haven’t seemed very useful. Where can he find the strength – and the magic – he needs?

Friday, July 22, 2022: Zanib Mian

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Maker
By Zanib Mian
Illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593109212 | Putnam BFYR
Welcome to the imaginative brain of Omar! Omar and his family have just moved, and he is NOT excited about starting at a new school. What if the work is too hard or the kids are mean or the teacher is a zombie alien?! But when Omar makes a new best friend, things start looking up. That is, until a Big Mean Bully named Daniel makes every day a nightmare! Daniel even tells Omar that all Muslims are going to be kicked out of the country. . . . Could that possibly be true? Luckily, Omar’s enormous imagination and goofy family help him get through life’s ups and downs. Omar’s funny, relatable narrative is the perfect answer to the call for both mirrors and windows to fill bookshelves with diverse stories.

Friday, July 29, 2022: Torrey Maldonado

What Lane?
By Torrey Maldonado
144 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525518457 | Nancy Paulsen Books
Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn’t think it’s his lane, but he goes. Here’s the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he’s not so sure. As a mixed kid, he feels like he’s living in two worlds with different rules – and he’s been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his white friends . . . so what’ll he do? Hold on tight as Stephen swerves in and out of lanes to find out which are his – and who should be with him. Torrey Maldonado, author of the highly acclaimed Tight, does a masterful job showing a young boy coming of age in a racially split world, trying to blaze a way to be his best self.

Friday, August 5, 2022: Salma Hussain

The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan
By Salma Hussain
296 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271494 | Tundra Books
Mona Hasan is a young Muslim girl growing up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when the first Gulf War breaks out in 1991. The war isn’t what she expects – “We didn’t even get any days off school! Just my luck!” – especially when the ground offensive is over so quickly and her family peels the masking tape off their windows. Her parents, however, fear there is no peace in the region, and it sparks a major change in their lives. Over the course of one year, Mona falls in love, speaks up to protect her younger sister, loses her best friend to the new girl at school, has summer adventures with her cousins in Pakistan, immigrates to Canada, and pursues her ambition to be a feminist and a poet.

Friday, August 12, 2022: Christina Soontornvat

A Wish in the Dark
By Christina Soontornvat
384 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781536222975 | Candlewick
All light in Chattana is created by one man – the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free. Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice – and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.

Beach Reads for Young Readers

Summer, summer, summertime is the perfect time to head to a beach with a good read – here are our recommendations for young readers!

Picture Books

A Day for Sandcastles
By JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536208429 | Candlewick
The creators of the acclaimed Over the Shop evoke a perfect summer beach day – and themes of creativity, cooperation, flexibility, and persistence – all without a word in this sun-warmed, salt-stained delight of a story. A busload of beachgoers spills out onto the sand for a day of fun and frolic. Three siblings begin work on a castle, patting and shaping the sand as the sun arcs over the sky. Time and again, their progress is halted: a windswept hat topples their creation; a toddler ambles through it; the tide creeps close, and then too close. Meeting each demolition with fresh determination, the builders outdo themselves time and again, until the moment arrives to pile back into the bus for home. An authentic portrait of sibling cooperation – and glorious inspiration for creative people of all ages – A Day for Sandcastles channels the thrill of surrendering expectations on the path to infinite possibility.

A Mermaid Girl
By Sana Rafi
Illustrated by Olivia Aserr
40 Pages | Ages 5-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593327609 | Viking BFYR
Summer is here and Heba is so excited to wear her new, yellow burkini to the community pool for the first time! She can’t wait to look like the other mermaid girls in her family and sparkle like the sun. But when Heba arrives at the pool and her friends start asking her questions about her new special swimsuit, she feels like she’s standing out too much. Suddenly her burkini seems like a bad idea. Luckily Mama helps Heba to find strength in the mermaid girls who came before her. Feeling more connected to the women of her family, Heba is ready to show her friends that she can do all the same things that they can do – handstands, summersaults, and dives off the diving board – even while wearing her yellow burkini.

Children of the Forest
By Matt Myers
40 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447671 | Neal Porter Books
Grabbing a bow and quiver, a kid sets off, toddler sister in tow, to live off the land in the expanses of their own backyard. First, they sneak past their snoozing father to pilfer supplies from the refrigerator, but only what they need. After that, they’re utterly on their own. Out in these uncharted spaces they encounter many dangers, from a ferocious mountain lion (a house cat) to a hulking canine beast (their dog). When the sun dips low, they make a camp complete with defenses to ward off predators. Matt Myers’s cool self-serious text is juxtaposed with whimsical art depicting the playful antics of backyard life, making for a tale full of delight for imaginative children.

Hot Dog
By Doug Salati
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593308431 | Knopf BFYR
It’s summer in the city, and this hot dog has had enough! Enough of sizzling sidewalks, enough of wailing sirens, enough of people’s feet right in his face. When he plops down in the middle of a crosswalk, his owner endeavors to get him the breath of fresh air he needs. She hails a taxi, hops a train, and ferries out to the beach. Here, a pup can run! With fluid art and lyrical text that have the soothing effect of waves on sand, Doug Salati shows us how to find calm and carry it back with us so we can appreciate the small joys in a day.

Look What I Found at the Beach
By Moira Butterfield
Illustrated by Jesus Verona
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536223972 | Nosy Crow
Open your senses to a world of wonder by taking a walk along the beach! Set off on an adventure and find natural treasures, from spiraled seashells to discarded mermaid’s purses. Then learn more about the marine plants and creatures in this fact-filled guide to the outdoors.

Mermaid Dreams
By Kate Pugsley
30 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735270596 | Tundra Books
One sunny Saturday, Maya and her parents visit the beach. Maya loves the beach: the warm sand feels wonderful between her toes. But it would be more fun if she had a friend. Too shy to say hello, Maya watches the kids play nearby, and slowly her eyes droop closed. . . . When Maya awakens she has been transported to a magical underwater world. Maya admires the sea creatures flitting around her, and she discovers that she too has a beautiful tail. Maya is a mermaid! But who is calling out a greeting from behind that coral? Whose bright eyes are peering at her from the sea grass? Whose laughter does she hear? Could it be a new friend? Or just another sea creature? This adorable picture book will delight the youngest daydreamers and shows us that making new friends may not be as hard as you think – if you have a good imagination!

Vampire Vacation
By Laura Lavoie
Illustrated by Micah Player
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593203132 | Viking BFYR
The last thing Fang wants is another vacation in Transylvania. He’s toured Dracula’s castle and the coffin museum enough for an eternal lifetime. Why can’t he spend the summer swimming and surfing like his other friends? When his parents refuse, Fang decides to convince them that fun at the beach is possible, even for a family of vampires. Laura Lavoie’s clever text and Micah Player’s devilishly fun illustrations are the perfect pairing for this hilarious picture book that captures the joy of having new adventures and staying true to yourself.

Middle Grade

Growing Pangs
By Kathryn Ormsbee
Illustrated by Molly Brooks
256 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593301319 | Random House BFYR
Katie knows there’s stuff that makes her different. She’s homeschooled, she has freckles, and her teeth are really crooked. But none of these things matter to Kacey. They’re best friends forever – just like their necklaces say. But when they go to summer camp, Kacey starts acting weird. What happened to the “forever”? And when Katie gets home, she can’t stop worrying. About getting braces. About 6th grade. About friends. She knows tapping three times or opening and closing a drawer won’t make everything better . . . but sometimes it helps stop the worrying. Is something wrong with her? And will anyone want to be friends with her if they find out?

PAWS: Gabby Gets It Together
By Nathan Fairbairn
Illustrated by Michele Assarasakorn
176 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593351864 | Razorbill
Meet best friends Gabby Jordan, Priya Gupta, and Mindy Kim. They’re different in just about every way – personalities, hobbies, family, and more – but they have a few important things in common: they’re all in the same class, they absolutely love animals, and for reasons that are as varied as the trio themselves none of them can actually have any pets. Unable to resist the adorable temptation any longer, the girls decide to come up with a way to finally get their hands on some furry friends. And, as luck would have it, it seems like their neighborhood is in need of some afterschool dog-walkers. So, just like that, PAWS is born! But it turns out that running a business is harder than it looks, especially with three co-owners who are such different people. The girls soon argue about everything, from how to prioritize their commitments to the best way to keep their doggy clients happy. And when their fighting ultimately leads to a doggo crisis, will it tear their business and friendship apart or will they be able to get it together to save the day?

The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan
By Salma Hussain
296 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271494 | Tundra Books
Mona Hasan is a young Muslim girl growing up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when the first Gulf War breaks out in 1991. The war isn’t what she expects – “We didn’t even get any days off school! Just my luck!” – especially when the ground offensive is over so quickly and her family peels the masking tape off their windows. Her parents, however, fear there is no peace in the region, and it sparks a major change in their lives. Over the course of one year, Mona falls in love, speaks up to protect her younger sister, loses her best friend to the new girl at school, has summer adventures with her cousins in Pakistan, immigrates to Canada, and pursues her ambition to be a feminist and a poet.

Willis Wilbur Wows the World
By Lindsey Leavitt
Illustrated by Daniel Duncan
208 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593224052 | Penguin Workshop
Nine-year-old Willis Wilbur had his summer figured out. He and his best friend, Shelley, were going to Band Camp, and he was going to learn how to play the sousaphone. Easy. Simple. A done deal. But when Shelley is whisked off to Hawaii for a summer with her family, Willis is left staring down the long, boring road of an empty summer. Or even worse – eight long weeks of Day Camp. So Willis decides to try something new. He’s going to MAKE A DATE WITH DESTINY. And after spotting a flyer for a local business competition, he finds exactly what his true calling really is: becoming the Neighborhood Life Coach. A kid helping other kids with kids’ problems. His niche, he discovers. And he was going to be great at it. The best at it. So good, that he was going to become wildly, ridiculously famous. All he needed were some clients . . . . With gumption, tenacity, and many other buzzwords he finds in self-help business magazines, Willis dives bowtie-first into the entrepreneurial waters. But starting a business alone, especially without his best friend by his side, is tough work. And with neighborhood bullies getting in his way, a guinea pig client who’s actually a guinea pig, and an annoyingly competent little sister asking for a raise, Willis has his work cut out for him.

Wretched Waterpark 
By Kiersten White
256 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379042 | Delacorte Press
Meet the Sinister-Winterbottoms: brave Theo, her timid twin, Alexander, and their older sister, Wil. They’re stuck for the summer with their Aunt Saffronia, who doesn’t know how often children need to eat and can’t use a smartphone, and whose feet never quite seem to touch the floor when she glides–er–walks. When Aunt Saffronia suggests a week pass to the Fathoms of Fun Waterpark, they hastily agree. But the park is even stranger than Aunt Saffronia. The waterslides look like gray gargoyle tongues. The employees wear creepy black dresses and deliver ominous messages. An impossible figure is at the top of the slide tower, people are disappearing, and suspicious goo is seeping into the wave pool. Something mysterious is happening at Fathoms of Fun, and it’s up to the twins to get to the bottom of it. The mystery, that is. NOT the wave pool. Definitely NOT the wave pool. But are Theo and Alexander out of their depth?

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!

Scaredy Squirrel Gets a Surprise
By Melanie Watt
84 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269590 | Tundra Books
In this second NUTTY ADVENTURE, Scaredy is in for a big surprise . . . and Scaredy does NOT like surprises. He is a squirrel who likes a schedule, predictability, nothing unexpected. So, what’s inside the mysterious crate? Turns out it’s a POOL! Scaredy imagines sharks, eels and algae! He prepares safety rules! Luckily his friends Ivy, Timber and newcomer Rash are happy to remind him of another important rule . . . having fun!

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea
By Shyam Selvadurai
280 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880333 | Tundra Books
Shyam Selvadurai’s brilliant novels, Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens, have garnered him international acclaim. In his first young adult novel, now with a new cover, he explores first love with clarity, humor and compassion. The setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life “before,” when his doting mother was still alive. Amrith’s holiday plans seem unpromising: he wants to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin arrives from Canada and Amrith’s ordered life is storm-tossed. He finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy. Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed.

The Language of Flowers
By Dena Seiferling
56 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270534 | Tundra Books
Deep within a magical meadow, some lonely flowers receive a very special gift: a baby bumblebee in need. The flowers name her Beatrice, they care for her and help her find her wings. And as she grows older, Beatrice learns the language of her floral family – messages of kindness and appreciation that she delivers between them. With each sweet word, the flowers bloom until the meadow becomes so big that Beatrice needs help delivering her messages and decides to set out in search of her own kind. But this little bee’s quest takes her beyond the safety of the meadow and into the dangerous swamp the flowers have warned her about, a swamp inhabited by strange plants with snapping jaws and terrible teeth . . . will these prickly plants let her pass? Could they just be in need of a little sweetness themselves? A gently fanciful tale of the miracle of pollination and the important relationship between flowers and bees, this sweetly affirming story, inspired by the Victorian practice of floriography, suggests the secret to flourishing is kindness and appreciation. 

The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan
By Salma Hussain
296 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271494 | Tundra Books
Mona Hasan is a young Muslim girl growing up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when the first Gulf War breaks out in 1991. The war isn’t what she expects – “We didn’t even get any days off school! Just my luck!” – especially when the ground offensive is over so quickly and her family peels the masking tape off their windows. Her parents, however, fear there is no peace in the region, and it sparks a major change in their lives. Over the course of one year, Mona falls in love, speaks up to protect her younger sister, loses her best friend to the new girl at school, has summer adventures with her cousins in Pakistan, immigrates to Canada, and pursues her ambition to be a feminist and a poet.

Throwaway Daughter
By Ting-Xing Ye with William Bell
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880340 | Tundra Books
Throwaway Daughter tells the story of Grace Dong-mei Parker, whose biggest concern is how to distill her adoption from China into the neat blanks of her personal history assignment. Aside from the unwelcome reminders of difference, Grace loves passing for the typical Canadian teen – until the day she witnesses the Tiananmen massacre on the news. Horrified, she sets out to explore her Chinese ancestry, only to discover that she was one of the thousands of infant girls abandoned in China since the introduction of the one-child policy, strictly enforced by the Communist government. But Grace was one of the lucky ones, adopted as a baby by a loving Canadian couple. With the encouragement of her adoptive parents, she studies Chinese and travels back to China in search of her birth mother. She manages to locate the village where she was born, but at first no one is willing to help her. However, Grace never gives up and, finally, she is reunited with her birth mother, discovering through this emotional bond the truth of what happened to her almost twenty years before.

New in Paperback:

Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster
By Rachelle Delaney
256 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735269293 | Puffin Canada
Alice Fleck’s father is a culinary historian, and for as long as she can remember, she’s been helping him recreate meals from the past – a hobby she prefers to keep secret from kids her age. But when her father’s new girlfriend enters them into a cooking competition at a Victorian festival, Alice finds herself and her hobby thrust into the spotlight. And that’s just the first of many surprises awaiting her. On arriving at the festival, Alice learns that she and her father are actually contestants on Culinary Combat, a new reality TV show hosted by Tom Truffleman, the most famous and fierce judge on TV! And to make matters worse, she begins to suspect that someone is at work behind the scenes, sabotaging the competition. It’s up to Alice, with the help of a few new friends, to find the saboteur before the entire competition is ruined, all the while tackling some of the hardest cooking challenges of her life . . . for the whole world to see.

Goodnight AnneGoodnight, Anne: Inspired by Anne of Green Gables
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735271739 | Tundra Books
Under the watchful eye of her adoptive mother Marilla, Anne has come to cherish life at Green Gables – the dearest, loveliest spot in the world, and her true home. Every night before she goes to bed, she thinks of all the people and places she loves: her family, her bosom friend Diana, her splendid teacher Miss Stacy, beloved tree Snow Queen, the Lake of Shining Waters and the brilliant sky above. Anne even wishes goodnight – or good riddance! – to pesky classmate Gilbert and nosy neighbor Mrs. Lynde. And through it all, Anne’s imagination takes flight on a whimsical journey through Avonlea.

Instructions for Dancing
By Nicola Yoon
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735271272 | Penguin Teen Canada
Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually. As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything – including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met. Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

Scaredy Squirrel In a Nutshell
By Melanie Watt
72 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880432 | Tundra Books
Scaredy is happy to stay in his nut tree. Why would he ever leave? The outside is filled with dangers. Like aliens! And dust! And a certain fluffy bunny who likes to pop up! But things don’t always go as planned, even for a super-prepared squirrel. When he has to venture out of his tree and onto the ground, Scaredy panics and plays dead . . . but maybe the fluffy bunny’s not so scary after all? In a nutshell, Scaredy might just make a new friend, if he is brave enough . . .

Peter Lee’s Notes From the Field
By Angela Ahn
Illustrated by Julie Kwon
312 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735268265 | Tundra Books
Eleven year-old Peter Lee has one goal in life: to become a paleontologist. Okay, maybe two: to get his genius kid-sister, L.B., to leave him alone. But his summer falls apart when his real-life dinosaur expedition turns out to be a bust, and he watches his dreams go up in a cloud of asthma-inducing dust. Even worse, his grandmother, Hammy, is sick, and no one will talk to Peter or L.B. about it. Perhaps his days as a scientist aren’t quite behind him yet. Armed with notebooks and pens, Peter puts his observation and experimental skills to the test to see what he can do for Hammy. If only he can get his sister to be quiet for once – he needs time to sketch out a plan.

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.

Eid al-Fitr 2022

This year, the holy month of Ramadan will occur for Muslim people from April 1 to May 1, culminating with Eid al-Fitr on May 2. If you’re looking for books to celebrate Ramadan or just want to learn more about Muslim culture, here are some suggestions:

My Name Is Bilal
By Asma Mobin-Uddin
Illustrated by Barbara Kiwak
32 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9781635925135 | Astra Young Readers
After a family move, Bilal and his sister Ayesha attend a new school where they find out that they may be the only Muslim students there. Bilal sees his sister bullied on their first day, so he worries about being teased himself, thinking it might be best if his classmates didn’t know that he is Muslim. Maybe if he tells kids his name is Bill, rather than Bilal, then they will eave him alone. But when Bilal’s teacher Mr. Ali, who is also Muslim, sees how Bilal is struggling. He gives Bilal a book about the first person to give the call to prayer during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. That person was another Bilal: Bilal Ibn Rabah. What Bilal learns from the book forms the compelling story of a young boy grappling with his identity.

The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan
By Salma Hussain
296 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271494 | Tundra Books
Mona Hasan is a young Muslim girl growing up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when the first Gulf War breaks out in 1991. The war isn’t what she expects – “We didn’t even get any days off school! Just my luck!” – especially when the ground offensive is over so quickly and her family peels the masking tape off their windows. Her parents, however, fear there is no peace in the region, and it sparks a major change in their lives. Over the course of one year, Mona falls in love, speaks up to protect her younger sister, loses her best friend to the new girl at school, has summer adventures with her cousins in Pakistan, immigrates to Canada, and pursues her ambition to be a feminist and a poet.

For older readers:

Huda F Are You?
By Huda Fahmy
192 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593324318 | Dial BFYR
Huda and her family just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: She was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl. Huda is lost in a sea of hijabis, and she can’t rely on her hijab to define her anymore. She has to define herself. So she tries on a bunch of cliques, but she isn’t a hijabi fashionista or a hijabi athlete or a hijabi gamer. She’s not the one who knows everything about her religion or the one all the guys like. She’s miscellaneous, which makes her feel like no one at all. Until she realizes that it’ll take finding out who she isn’t to figure out who she is.

Perfectly Parvin
By Olivia Abtahi
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593109427 | Putnam BFYR
Parvin Mohammadi has just been dumped – only days after receiving official girlfriend status. Not only is she heartbroken, she’s humiliated. Enter high school heartthrob Matty Fumero, who just might be the smoking-hot cure to all her boy problems. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to Homecoming, she’s positive it will prove to herself and her ex that she’s girlfriend material after all. There’s just one problem: Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself hasn’t worked for her in the past (see aforementioned dumping), she decides to start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those women aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk. But Parvin discovers that being a rom-com dream girl is much harder than it looks. Also hard? The parent-mandated Farsi lessons. A confusing friendship with a boy who’s definitely not supposed to like her. And hardest of all, the ramifications of the Muslim ban on her family in Iran. Suddenly, being herself has never been more important. Olivia Abtahi’s debut is as hilarious as it is heartfelt – a delightful tale where, amid the turmoil of high school friendships and crushes, being yourself is always the perfect way to be.

Salaam, with Love
By Sara Sharaf Beg
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593482629 | Underlined
Being crammed into a house in Queens with her cousins is not how Dua envisions her trip to New York City. But here she is, spending the holy month of Ramadan with extended family she hasn’t seen in years. Dua struggles to find her place in the conservative household and to connect with her aloof, engaged-to-be-married cousin, Mahnoor. And as if fasting the whole day wasn’t tiring enough, she must battle her hormones whenever she sees Hassan, the cute drummer in a Muslim band who has a habit of showing up at her most awkward moments. After just a month, Dua is surprised to find that she’s learning a lot more than she bargained for about her faith, relationships, her place in the world – and cute drummers.

Wrong Side of the Court
By H. N. Khan
312 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270879 | Penguin Teen Canada
Fifteen-year-old Fawad Chaudhry loves two things: basketball and his mother’s potato and ground-beef stuffed parathas. Both are round and both help him forget about things like his father, who died two years ago, his mother’s desire to arrange a marriage to his first cousin, Nusrat, back home in Pakistan, and the tiny apartment in Regent Park he shares with his mom and sister. Not to mention his estranged best friend Yousuf, who’s coping with the shooting death of his older brother. But Fawad has plans: like, asking out Ashley, even though she lives on the other, wealthier side of the tracks, and saving his friend Arif from being beaten into a pulp for being the school flirt, and making the school basketball team and dreaming of being the world’s first Pakistani to be drafted into the NBA. All he has to do now is convince his mother to let him try out for the basketball team. And let him date girls from his school. Not to mention somehow get Omar, the neighborhood bully, to leave him alone.

For more books, check out our list from last year!