Staff Picks: Anticipated 2021 Kids Books

New year, new books! There are so many exciting titles coming out in 2021 – here are the ones we’re most looking forward to during the first half of the year.

Vikki, Marketing & Publicity Director

“I love a buddy comedy, and Simon & Chester made me laugh out loud. I can’t wait to introduce kids to this new graphic novel chapter book series featuring the adventures of a kid and his BFF, who happens to be a novel-writing ghost in a deerstalker.”

Super Detectives: Simon and Chester #1
By Cale Atkinson
64 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267428 | Tundra Books
Release Date:  February 9, 2021
Welcome to the world of Simon and Chester, ghost and boy duo extraordinaire.
They like to kick butt and take names.
They don’t like chores.
They are best friends.
And they are about to solve the MYSTERY OF A LIFETIME.
(Oh, and eat some snacks probably.)
Join Simon and Chester in their first adventure, and fall in love with this hilarious odd couple by fan favorite author and illustrator Cale Atkinson.

Sylvia, Marketing and Publicity Manager

“It’s the type of book I would have loved as a kid – I adore the notebook/journal/diary format, you could also say I like reading other people’s secret thoughts!”

Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field
By Angela Ahn
Illustrated by Julie Kwon
312 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268241 | Tundra Books
Release Date: March 2, 2021
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.

Evan, Publicity Manager

“David Robertson can do no wrong in my book, so when you have him writing a very personal picture book story about his family’s trapline, re-team him with incredible When We Were Alone illustrator Julie Flett, you have a book I can’t wait to get into my hands and eyeballs.”

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681  | Tundra Books
Release Date: May 4, 2021
A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago – a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.

Sam, Associate Publicist

“My niece and I have been reading the series together and we’re both so excited for more Megabat!”

Megabat and the Not-Happy Birthday
By Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
176 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266049 | Tundra Books
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Daniel isn’t in the birthday party mood. He hates his new glasses – they’re dorky, and he feels silly in them. Megabat LOVES Daniel’s new face windows! They make him dizzy and his tummy feel funny. And he loves parties even more! Daniel starts planning his party, and things are looking up – all of his friends are excited, and he has some fun games planned. Plus: presents! Megabat’s party excitement is losing steam. He has to hide the whole time. He can’t eat any of the delicious buttermelon. And he can’t participate in any games, even though it’s the thing he wants most in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. When Megabat loses his temper and breaks Daniel’s best birthday gift, he realizes he’s been a bad friend and gives Daniel what he thinks is the best possible gift: he runs away. But being alone in the big, wide, world is harder than he thought.

Monster Monday with Cale Atkinson

Have you met the fangtastic monsters in Cale Atkinson’s Monsters 101? We hear that they’ve been taking over indie bookstores across Canada for the past few weeks . . . and now we have one living on our blog!

Meet Charlie!

Charlie has the power to lure in foolish victims with her cuteness, only to hypnotize and force them to gather delicious foods and dance for her amusement.

And to tell us more, here’s Cale Atkinson himself – author, illustrator, and professional monster researcher.

So far, we’ve tracked monsters at six indie bookstores across the country – and we’ve heard from Cale himself that there will be more. Keep an eye out for each store’s monster, you never know where one might pop up!

List of confirmed monster sightings:

Ella Minnow
Once Upon a Bookstore
Moonbeam Books
McNally-Robinson
Munro Books
Audreys Books
Vancouver Kidsbooks
Blue Heron Books


Monsters 101Monsters 101
By Cale Atkinson
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267084 | Tundra Books
Readers who loved Unicorns 101 will love this laugh-out-loud picture book that finally sets the record straight about monsters! They’re so much more than just that scary thing under your bed. Join Professors Vampire, Blob and Werewolf, and their trusty lab assistant – a zombie named Tina – as they reveal eerie and frankly ridiculous monster facts never uttered outside a crypt! Full of eye-popping illustrations and a story with nonstop side-splitting laughs, plus a removable Professor of Monstrology diploma at the end of the book, Monsters 101 will have children – and adults – eager to enroll, time and time again!

#HalloweenAtHome: Read Them a Good Scare!

Halloween is just around the corner and this month we’ll be posting our recommended reads for all ages ranges! This list is all about frightfully fun picture books for the young ghouls in your life – make sure to pick them up from your favorite bookstore for a sweet treat!

Ages 2-5

I Want to Be in a Scary Story
By Sean Taylor
Illustrated by Jean Jullien
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763689537 | Candlewick
Our author would like to write a funny story, but his main character – Monster – has a different idea. He wants to be the star of a chilling, petrifying, utterly terrifying SCARY story. But scary stories . . . well, they can be very scary – especially for their characters! Particularly when they involve dark forests and creepy witches and spooky houses. . . . Oh yikes and crikes, this is definitely not the scary story Monster had in mind! Maybe he wants to be in a funny story after all!

Peppa Pig and the Halloween Costume
By Candlewick Press
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536200607 | Candlewick
What should Peppa Pig be for Halloween? She has lots of costume ideas, but her friends seem to have thought of everything already. Should Peppa be a pirate? No, Danny Dog is dressing up as a pirate – with an eye patch and everything! What about a nurse? No, that’s Suzy Sheep’s costume. Can Peppa pull together a Halloween costume that’s perfectly Peppa Pig and perfect for her favorite activity – in time for trick-or-treating?

We’re Going on a Goon Hunt
By Michael Rex
40 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984813626 | Putnam BFYR
A goon hunt is no easy task. A twisted tangled pumpkin patch, murky bubbling swamp, and foggy crumbling graveyard are just a few of the obstacles these kids will have to go through, skulking monsters included. And when the Goon finally makes an appearance – under the covers they go! Except one brave child who finds monsters more fun than scary. The beloved classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt gets a ghoulish twist in this goon-infused parody that perfectly plays with the rhythm and sound effects of the original. Mike Rex’s creepy settings and hilarious text will have kids demanding to giggle and shiver through the story again and again.

Ages 3-7

Bob’s Hungry Ghost
By Geneviève Côté
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Ebook
ISBN 9781770497146 | Tundra Books
Bob wants a dog for his birthday, but instead he gets a ghost . . . and its name is Fluffy. Unfortunately, Fluffy doesn’t fetch, sit or go for walks. But he does eat everything, and soon all of Bob’s things and even Bob himself end up in Fluffy’s belly. Will Bob find a way to tame his unruly and very hungry ghost? Will Fluffy realize that eating Bob wasn’t a very nice thing to do? All ends well in this sweet and silly look at appreciating what you have. And everyone will want a ghost for their birthday after reading this book.

Ghost in the House
By Ammi-Joan Paquette
Illustrated by Adam Record
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780763698928 | Candlewick
Boo! Watch out for this rollicking, cumulative counting book for a Halloween treat that’s more playful than scary. When a little ghost goes slip-sliding down the hallway, he suddenly hears . . . a groan! Turns out it’s only a friendly mummy, who shuffles along with the ghost, until they encounter . . . a monster! As the cautious explorers continue, they find a surprise at every turn – and add another adorably ghoulish friend to the count. But you’ll never guess who is the scariest creature in the house!

Gustavo, The Sky Ghost
By Flavia Z. Drago
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211146 | Candlewick
Gustavo is good at doing all sorts of ghostly things: walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. And he loves almost nothing more than playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo is shy, and some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye scream or making friends with other monsters. Whenever he tries getting close to them, he realizes they just can’t see him. Now that the Day of the Dead is fast approaching, what can he do to make them notice him and to share with them something he loves? With fancifully detailed artwork and visual humor, debut picture-book creator Flavia Z. Drago’s vivid illustrations tell a sweet and gently offbeat story of loneliness, bravery, and friendship that is sure to be a treat for little ghouls and goblins everywhere.

Monsters 101Monsters 101
By Cale Atkinson
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267084 | Tundra Books
Readers who loved Unicorns 101 will love this laugh-out-loud picture book that finally sets the record straight about monsters! They’re so much more than just that scary thing under your bed. Join Professors Vampire, Blob and Werewolf, and their trusty lab assistant – a zombie named Tina – as they reveal eerie and frankly ridiculous monsters facts never uttered outside a crypt! Full of eye-popping illustrations and a story with nonstop sidesplitting laughs, plus a removable Professor of Monstrology diploma at the end of the book, Monsters 101 will have children – and adults – eager to enroll, time and time again!

Pick a Pumpkin
By Patricia Toht
Illustrated by Jarvis
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536207644 | Candlewick
Pairing a wonderfully rhythmic read-aloud text with expressive retro illustrations, author Patricia Toht and illustrator Jarvis capture all the excitement and familial feeling of a favorite holiday tradition. Readers will be happy to follow along with each step, from picking out the perfect specimen at the pumpkin patch (be sure to stop for cider and toffee apples) to carting it home, scooping out the insides, carving a scary face, and finally lighting a candle inside – savoring the familiar ritual of transforming an ordinary pumpkin into a one-of-a-kind glowing jack-o’-lantern.

Snowmen at Halloween
By Caralyn M. Buehner
Illustrated by Mark E. Buehner
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525554684 | Dial BFYR
Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered . . . what do snowmen do when we’re not watching? After an early snowfall, a few kids build some snowmen before going trick-or-treating. And when the kids go off to bed, the snowmen have their own Halloween festival! There’s candy and apple-bobbing and costume contests and all sorts of autumn activities. When the kids wake up the next morning, the snowmen are gone . . . but they’ve left a very special message behind.

The Little Ghost Who Was a QuiltThe Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt
By Riel Nason
Illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264472 | Tundra Books
Ghosts are supposed to be sheets, light as air and able to whirl and twirl and float and soar. But the little ghost who is a quilt can’t whirl or twirl at all, and when he flies, he gets very hot. He doesn’t know why he’s a quilt. His parents are both sheets, and so are all of his friends. (His great-grandmother was a lace curtain, but that doesn’t really help cheer him up.) He feels sad and left out when his friends are zooming around and he can’t keep up. But one Halloween, everything changes. The little ghost who was a quilt has an experience that no other ghost could have, an experience that only happens because he’s a quilt . . . and he realizes that it’s OK to be different.

Ages 4-8

Give Me Back My Bones!
By Kim Norman
Illustrated by Bob Kolar
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763688417 | Candlewick
A stormy night at sea has uncovered some long-buried secrets and surprises. Is that the mast of a shipwreck? A faded pirate hat? And what’s that hiding in the sand? A mandible and a clavicle, phalanges and femurs, a tibia and a fibula – could there be a set of bones scattered across the ocean floor? And who might they belong to? A jaunty rhyme takes readers on an underwater scavenger hunt as a comical skeleton tries to put itself back together piece by piece. Make no bones about it: this rollicking read-aloud will have young ones learning anatomy without even realizing it.

Halloween, Here I Come!
By D.J. Steinberg
Illustrated by Laurie Stansfield
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593094204 | Grosset & Dunlap
Kick off your Halloween night with these festive poems from the author of Kindergarten, Here I Come! From choosing the best costume and going out trick-or-treating to sorting your candy and dealing with the results after you’ve eaten too much, author D. J. Steinberg captures the slightly shivery as well as festive moments of Halloween in this collection of playful poems. Includes a sheet of stickers for extra Halloween fun!

How to Make Friends with a Ghost
By Rebecca Green
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919019 | Tundra Books
What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some of its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no one mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren’t looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you’ll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you. A whimsical story about ghost care, Rebecca Green’s debut picture book is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and the timeless theme of friendship.

Rocket and the Perfect Pumpkin
By Tad Hills
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593177853 | Schwartz & Wade
It’s a beautiful day at the pumpkin patch! There, Rocket and Bella find the perfect pumpkin. But as the friends try to take the pumpkin home, it rolls downhill and lands in front of Mr. Barker’s doghouse. Can Rocket and Bella get their pumpkin back? With its simple words, lots of repetition, and bright, colorful illustrations, young readers will love this Step 1 Step into Reading leveled reader about being generous, which they can read all by themselves!

Sir Simon: Super Scarer
By Cale Atkinson
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919095 | Tundra Books
Meet Sir Simon, Super Scarer. He’s a professional ghost who has been transferred to his first house. And to top it off, this house is occupied by an old lady – they’re the easiest to haunt! But things don’t go as planned when it turns out a KID comes with this old lady. Chester spots Simon immediately and peppers him with questions. Simon is exasperated . . . until he realizes he can trick Chester into doing his ghost chores. After a long night of haunting, it seems that maybe Chester isn’t cut out to be a ghost, so Simon decides to help with Chester’s human chores. Turns out Simon isn’t cut out for human chores either. But maybe they’re both cut out to be friends . . .

The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo!
By Elaine Bickell
Illustrated by Raymond McGrath
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593202159 | Philomel BFYR
Little Ghost went out in the middle of the night and flew up to someone to give them a fright. She opened her mouth–but her BOO wasn’t there! All that came out was a rush of cold air. “I’ve lost my BOO! I’ve lost my BOO! Where has it gone? What will I do?” Poor Little Ghost has lost her scary BOO, so she sets out on a nighttime hunt to find it. She searches high and low, but it’s nowhere to be found! Will she ever find her lost BOO? With bold and gorgeous art accompanied by bouncy, rhyming text, The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo is a charming, not-so-spooky read aloud perfect for Halloween or any time of year!

Ages 5-9

Mary Who Wrote FrankensteinMary Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Júlia Sardà
Hardcover | 56 Pages | Ages 5-8
ISBN 9781770495593 | Tundra Books
How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on the tombstone of her famous feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of sixteen runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. Two years later, they travel to Switzerland where they meet a famous poet, Lord Byron. On a stormy summer evening, with five young people gathered around a fire, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. Mary has a waking dream about a monster come to life. A year and a half later, Mary Shelley’s terrifying tale, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, is published – a novel that goes on to become the most enduring monster story ever and one of the most popular legends of all time.

Where’s Waldo? Spooky Spotlight Search
By Martin Handford
16 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211580 | Candlewick
Somewhere in the darkness, Waldo is venturing across a swamp toward a looming castle, sneaking down to the dungeon and through a creepy gallery to. . . . Hey! We didn’t see that twist coming! In Waldo’s second adventure featuring this innovative, all-paper design, readers can slide a spotlight searcher under a series of totally dark scenes, illuminating small sections and stealthily moving the light to seek out Waldo and his friends. Everyone’s favorite vagabond is in costume as himself in this Halloween-worthy challenge for eagle-eyed fans.


Check out our #HalloweenAtHome page for more ideas to celebrate including bookish costumes, ideas, and activities!

2020 Willow Awards

The Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards aims to promote reading and celebrate Canadian literature each year. We would like to congratulate Kelley Armstrong whose Aftermath won the Snow Willow Award and Cale Atkinson whose Sir Simon: Super Scarer won the Shining Willow Award.

Aftermath
By Kelley Armstrong
384 Pages | Ages 12+| Paperback
ISBN 9780385686471 | Penguin Teen Canada
Three years ago, Skye’s brother Luka died in a mass shooting at the local high school. But there’s no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn’t a victim — he was a shooter. Now, Skye returns to the small town she had fled to start anew. But the scars of the past don’t heal easily. And there’s one person Skye dreads seeing most: Jesse Matin. Her childhood crush and former best friend until the massacre tore them apart. Told in alternating points of view, Skye and Jesse wade into the mystery of what took place that fateful day. But someone clearly doesn’t want Skye back in town, and when she and Jesse uncover new evidence that could clear Luka’s name, it becomes obvious that someone wants the past to stay buried. In the aftermath of violence, someone has to pay. Blood for blood.

Sir Simon: Super Scarer
By Cale Atkinson
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919095 | Tundra Books
Meet Sir Simon, Super Scarer. He’s a professional ghost who has been transferred to his first house. And to top it off, this house is occupied by an old lady — they’re the easiest to haunt! But things don’t go as planned when it turns out a KID comes with this old lady. Chester spots Simon immediately and peppers him with questions. Simon is exasperated. . . until he realizes he can trick Chester into doing his ghost chores. After a long night of haunting, it seems that maybe Chester isn’t cut out to be a ghost, so Simon decides to help with Chester’s human chores. Turns out Simon isn’t cut out for human chores either. But maybe they’re both cut out to be friends . . .

2020 Chocolate Lily Awards

The Chocolate Lily Awards have been celebrating the creative work of Children’s authors and illustrators living in British Columbia since 2002.  We would like to congratulate Susin Nielsen whose No Fixed Address won in the novel category and Cale Atkinson whose Sir Simon: Super Scarer won in the picture book category.

No Fixed Address
By Susin Nielsen
288 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262751| Tundra Books
Felix Knuttson, twelve, is an endearing kid with an incredible brain for trivia. His mom Astrid is loving but unreliable; she can’t hold onto a job, or a home. When they lose their apartment in Vancouver, they move into a camper van, just for August, till Astrid finds a job. September comes, they’re still in the van; Felix must keep “home” a secret and give a fake address in order to enroll in school. Luckily, he finds true friends. As the weeks pass and life becomes grim, he struggles not to let anyone know how precarious his situation is. When he gets to compete on a national quiz show, Felix is determined to win — the cash prize will bring them a home. Their luck is about to change! But what happens is not at all what Felix expected.

Sir Simon: Super Scarer
By Cale Atkinson
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919095 | Tundra Books
Meet Sir Simon, Super Scarer. He’s a professional ghost who has been transferred to his first house. And to top it off, this house is occupied by an old lady — they’re the easiest to haunt! But things don’t go as planned when it turns out a KID comes with this old lady. Chester spots Simon immediately and peppers him with questions. Simon is exasperated. . . until he realizes he can trick Chester into doing his ghost chores. After a long night of haunting, it seems that maybe Chester isn’t cut out to be a ghost, so Simon decides to help with Chester’s human chores. Turns out Simon isn’t cut out for human chores either. But maybe they’re both cut out to be friends . . .