Tundra Telegram: Books You’ll Wish Tripped and Fell Into Your Bed

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we step forward into a few subjects that are always talked about, and filter out some great books that are really good 4 u.

This past Friday, young singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo released her highly anticipated second album, GUTS, a couple months after the release of lead single “Vampire” and just one month after the release of “Bad Idea Right?” (A song title which the editors within us feel really should have a comma.) The album is a new collection of pop-punk anthems and over-the-top ballads about some of her (and our) favorite things: awful boys, awkwardness, self-loathing, and parties you want to leave.

We’ve listened (and re-listened) to GUTS to figure out what books for young readers are the most logical fit for the twelve (non-hidden) tracks of the album. Without further ado, we present book accompaniments to Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS, from picture books to YA – something we think is a good idea. Right?

PICTURE BOOKS

Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl”: A song all about social anxiety, awkwardness, and the fear that everything you do is inherently embarrassing? That reminds us of Are You Mad At Me? by Tyler Feder and Cody Feder, a picture book about an extremely nervous ostrich who constantly worries she’s doing the wrong thing and that someone is mad at her. This results in a neck movement that Opal the ostrich calls “The Noodles.” (Note to Olivia Rodrigo: “Noodle Ballad” also has a nice ring to it.)

The Grudge”: While the song is mostly about a friendship of sorts marked by betrayal and manipulation, we’d like to focus on the difficulty the narrator has in forgiving and forgetting the damage done. Hence, we recommend Petal the Angry Cow by Maureen Fergus and Olga Demidova, a book about a cow who flies into a rage no matter the grievance, whether the horse steps on her foot or the dog steals her favorite chapeau. Petal seeks advice on how to let go of grudges, and it turns out the farm’s goose is not the best animal to turn to. (Though if online detectives are to be believed regarding the song’s inspiration, we could also recommend Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography by Wendy Loggia and Elisa Chavarri, but we try not to buy into internet rumors.)

Logical”: Rodrigo’s ballad about self-delusion (and now you got me thinkin’ / two plus two equals five) and a manipulative boyfriend may seem a far cry from Minh Lê and Raissa Figuero’s picture book about an imaginary friend, Real To Me, but the parallels are there! (Others tried to tell me that she wasn’t real, that she was just imaginary.) Both are portraits of the lies we tell ourselves (even if, as in the case of the book, they are happy ones) and how to move past them.

Making the Bed”: You might think it’s difficult to find a picture book that matches the emotions of ennui and dissatisfaction with fame heard in “Making the Bed,” but that’s where you’re wrong. Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock by Linda Bailey and Isabelle Follath is not just a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the world’s greatest detective, but an account of the author’s struggles with the success of Sherlock and how he felt trapped by his own creation’s popularity.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Vampire”: So, the song isn’t about a literal vampire (though the subject apparently only comes out at night), but we couldn’t waste an opportunity to mention a wonderful middle-grade book about the real thing: Don’t Want To Be Your Monster by Deke Moulton. Neither of the vampire brothers in the humorous horror-mystery are as sociopathic as the guy in “Vampire,” but they do remain bloodsuckers.

Pretty Isn’t Pretty”: This is a song about impossible beauty standards for women and girls, and the devastating self-image problems that usually result. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stories with those elements, but Barely Floating by Lilliam Rivera is perhaps the most uplifting. Natalia De La Cruz Rivera y Santiago is part of a synchronized swimming team, the LA Mermaids, but is often underestimated in a sport where girls are expected to be thin and white. Barely Floating explores what it means to be at home in your own skin (even when you’re underwater).

Get Him Back!”: Who doesn’t love a song with an exclamation mark?(!) And this pop-punk track about trying to win a boy back who’s probably bad for you certainly deserves the punctuation. While the titular Penny in Penny Draws a Best Friend by Sara Shepard isn’t trying to win back a boy, she is trying to figure out why her former best friend Violet is avoiding her and hanging out with all the meanest girls in school. It’s a book about letting go of friends who aren’t right for you and making room for others who are.

Teenage Dream”: Not to be confused with the Katy Perry hit, this song was written by an actual teenager. The subject is birthdays and the conflicting emotions of feeling simultaneously too young and too old. Those are resolutely not the conflicting emotions at play in Megabat and the Not-Happy Birthday by Anna Humphrey and Kass Reich, but the book is all about mixed birthday emotions. In the book, those feelings are about hating your new glasses and getting into a big fight with your mostly-verbal bat friend (two specific feelings the singer-songwriter doesn’t touch on).

YOUNG ADULT

All-American B—h”: Finally, we enter the world of YA, a perfect age category for the oeuvre of Olivia Rodrigo. The opening song, which speaks to the unachievable double standards facing women and girls, has a title inspired by the writing of Joan Didion. Tragically, Didion never wrote children’s books or YA, but we think a good pairing for this track is On the Subject of Unmentionable Things by Julia Walton, in which rule-following goody-two-shoes Phoebe Townsend lives a secret life as a sex education blogger who raises the ire of a local mayoral candidate who is all-too-keen to enforce some double standards.

Bad Idea Right?”: This banger is all about the time-honored tradition of reuniting with ex against your better judgment. That immediately made us think of Amanda Woody’s novel They Hate Each Other, in which Jonah and Dylan, who dislike each other immensely but everyone thinks should be together, hook up one wild homecoming night. Mutually horrified, they decide to fake-date, so they can end their relationship with a big, staged fight to prove their incompatibility to everyone else. One can only imagine what kind of idea that is.

Love is Embarrassing”: A song that explores the mortifying experiences of young love and how that affects your feelings of self-worth and mental state can find few better matches than Something More by Jackie Khalilieh. Diagnosed as autistic before the school year begins, fifteen-year-old Palestinian Canadian Jessie finds herself romantically entangled with two very different boys that – especially given her difficulties with certain social cues – often leaves her reeling and confused.

Lacy”: “Lacy” is a lyrically intriguing song that looks at a relationship between two female friends that blurs the line between love and hate, envy and total worship. In many ways the song reminds us of the fraught friendship between Beth and the beautiful, magnetic, but perhaps untrustworthy Edie in the 1983 New York coming-of-age tale Friends Like These by Meg Rosoff.

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. These titles are now available in stores and online!

I Am a Meadow Mermaid
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Elly MacKay
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271371 | Tundra Books
A little girl dreams of adventures in the water and feels the spirit of the ocean all around her . . . even though she lives on the prairie, with flat land as far as the eye can see. But she won’t let a little detail like that stand in the way of being a meadow mermaid! Frolicking in the “waves” of wheat and “oceans” of grass, spying sea horses and . . . a shipwrecked sailor? Even if that shipwreck is actually an overturned bike and the sailor a new kid from a neighboring field, it’s still a chance to make a new friend, one with an imagination as expansive and a love of the ocean as deep as the little girl’s own. This fanciful, whimsical picture book will charm young mermaids and little pirates everywhere, and inspire them to embrace the spirit of the ocean in the things around them, no matter where they live!

Something More
By Jackie Khalilieh
336 Pages | Age 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774882139 | Tundra Books
Fifteen-year-old Jessie, a quirky loner obsessed with the nineties, is diagnosed as autistic just weeks before starting high school. Determined to make a fresh start and keep her diagnosis a secret, Jessie creates a list of goals that range from acquiring two distinct eyebrows to getting a magical first kiss and landing a spot in the school play. Within the halls of Holy Trinity High, she finds a world where things are no longer black and white and quickly learns that living in color is much more fun. But Jessie gets more than she bargained for when two very different boys steal her heart, forcing her to go off-script.

Something More is also available today in Audiobook!

New in Paperback:

Followers
By Raziel Reid
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263826 | Tundra Books
After a disastrous date results in her arrest, sixteen-year-old Lily Rhode is horrified to discover her mugshot is leaked on a gossip website. Lily is the niece of Whitney Paley, a Hollywood housewife and star of reality show Platinum Triangle, a soap-opera-style docu-series in the vein of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Hills, revolving around several glamorous families living in the Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills neighborhoods of Los Angeles. When Lily’s mom kicks her out of their trailer home in the Valley, Whitney (Lily’s mom’s estranged sister) invites her to live with her, her movie-star husband, Patrick, and their daughter, Hailey. Lily is set up in the pool house and thrust into the company of reality-star offspring – kids who are born with silver spoon emojis on their feed. Lily’s cousin Hailey and the other teens have lived their entire lives on camera and are masters of deception, with Hailey leading the pack. As Lily learns from the Paleys how to navigate her newfound fame, she finds herself ensnared in the unfolding storylines. What Lily doesn’t know is that she’s just a pawn being used on the show to make the Paleys look sympathetic to viewers while distracting from on-set sexual misconduct rumors surrounding super hero dad Patrick Paley . . . Is Lily safe under Patrick’s roof? Or will Lily be Patrick’s downfall? If she isn’t destroyed by Hailey first. When Lily catches the eye of Hailey’s designated leading man Joel Strom – it’s war!

Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness
By Ben Clanton
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735262553 | Tundra Books
Dive into four new stories about Narwhal and Jelly becoming substitute teachers! The two best friends come across an enthusiastic school of fish one morning. Unfortunately, Mr. Blowfish, their teacher, has come down with a cold, and class will have to be cancelled . . . until Professor Knowell (Narwhal) and Super Teacher (Jelly) volunteer to help out! The first subject is Wafflematics, in which Narwhal and Jelly calculate the number of waffles needed to feed the class. That’s what we’re chalking about! Next up is a super-fun science scavenger hunt, followed by a game of “Tag! You’re Awesome!” at recess. Narwhal’s teaching methods may be unconventional, but with Jelly’s help, the two teach (and learn) with their trademark positivity and humor. Before they know it, the day is over . . . but what grade will Narwhal receive from Jelly?

We can’t wait to see you reading and listening to these titles! If you share these books online, remember to use #ReadTundra in your hashtags so that we can re-post.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 3

To celebrate the release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hitting theatres, we’ve paired each song from the Awesome Mix, Vol. 3 to a young adult title for you to enjoy. Happy reading!

Creep (Acoustic) by Radiohead

Kiss & Tell
By Adib Khorram
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593325278 | Dial Books
Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend – leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all – and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens. But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the drummer for the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble – for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.

Crazy on You by Heart

Never Vacation with Your Ex
By Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326909 | Viking
Seventeen-year-old volleyball star Kaylee Jordan lives a life of player rankings, constant training, and a carefully curated social media full of followers watching to see if she’ll go pro out of high school like her famous mom. Her one refuge, and the thing she looks forward to every summer? The vacation her family spends in Malibu with the Freeman-Yus. This year, there’s only one problem: Kaylee and their son, Dean, dated for the past three months, and Kaylee just unceremoniously dumped him. Hoping to spare them the worst summer ever, Kaylee comes to Dean with her unconventional solution: she’s going to walk him through her rules for getting over an ex. When Dean grudgingly cooperates, Kaylee’s got her work cut out for her. But helping Dean follow her own rules starts becoming difficult when the pressures of Kaylee’s family legacy and perfect life start to feel less like a plan and more like a prison…and amid warm California nights and stolen laughs, Kaylee feels herself falling for Dean for the same reasons and some new ones. With their trip coming to an end, Kaylee has to make the complicated choice between doing what’s expected and taking a (second) chance on love.

Since You Been Gone by Rainbow

Always Isn’t Forever
By J. C. Cervantes
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593404485 | Razorbill
Best friends and soul mates since they were kids, Hart Augusto and Ruby Armenta were poised to take on senior year together when Hart tragically drowns in a boating accident. Absolutely shattered, Ruby struggles to move on from the person she knows was her forever love. Hart can’t let go of Ruby either…. Due to some divine intervention, he’s offered a second chance. Only it won’t be as simple as bringing him back to life – instead, Hart’s soul is transferred to the body of local bad boy. When Hart returns to town as Jameson, he realizes that winning Ruby back will be more challenging than he’d imagined. For one, he’s forbidden from telling Ruby the truth. And with each day he spends as Jameson, memories of his life as Hart begin to fade away. Though Ruby still mourns Hart, she can’t deny that something is drawing her to Jameson. As much as she doesn’t understand the sudden pull, it can’t be ignored. And why does he remind her so much of Hart? Desperate to see if the connection she feels is real, Ruby begins to open her heart to Jameson – but will their love be enough to bridge the distance between them?

In the Meantime by Spacehog

Something More
By Jackie Khalilieh
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774882139 | Tundra Books
Fifteen-year-old Jessie, a quirky loner obsessed with the nineties, is diagnosed as autistic just weeks before starting high school. Determined to make a fresh start and keep her diagnosis a secret, Jessie creates a list of goals that range from acquiring two distinct eyebrows to getting a magical first kiss and landing a spot in the school play. Within the halls of Holy Trinity High, she finds a world where things are no longer black and white and quickly learns that living in color is much more fun. But Jessie gets more than she bargained for when two very different boys steal her heart, forcing her to go off-script.

Reasons by Earth, Wind, and Fire

French Kissing in New York
By Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593173619 | Delacorte Press
Margot hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Zach, the dreamy American boy she met one magical night in Paris. In an instant, they fell head over heels in love and spent the perfect evening ensemble—sealed with a kiss and a promise: if the universe wants them to be together, fate will find a way. Flash forward one year later: Margot has finished high school and is newly arrived in New York, ready to roll up her chef’s-coat sleeves in Manhattan’s bustling restaurant scene, celebrate her father’s upcoming wedding . . . and reconnect with Zach. But a lot can happen in a year, and promises made in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower look different in the neon glow of the Big Apple. Margot spends the summer desperate to find Zach and enlists the help of Ben, the sweet line cook at her restaurant. Margot is convinced she found her soul mate that night in Paris . . . but what if the universe has a different plan?

Do You Realize?? by The Flaming Lips

Catch the Light
By Kate Sweeney
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593350256 | Viking
Nine months after the death of her father, Marigold is forced to pick up and move from sunny Los Angeles all the way across the country to rural Upstate New York. According to her mom, living with her aunt in a big old house in the woods is the fresh start Marigold and her little sister need. But Mary aches for the things she’s leaving behind – her best friend, her older sister, her now-long-distance boyfriend, and the senior year that felt like her only chance at making things feel normal again. On top of everything, Mary has a troubling secret: she’s starting to forget her dad. The void he’s left in her memory is quickly getting filled with bonfires, house parties, and hours in the darkroom with Jesse, a fellow photographer and kindred spirit whom she can’t stop thinking about. As the beauty of Mary’s new world begins to sink in and her connection with Jesse grows stronger, she feels caught between her old life and her new one. Mary might just be losing her grip on the pieces of her life that she’s tried so hard to hold together. When the two finally come crashing together, Mary will have to decide what she really wants and come to terms with the ways that the loss of her dad has changed who she is. Even if she can’t hold on to her past forever, maybe she can choose what to keep.

We Care a Lot by Faith No More

Once Upon a K-Prom
By Kat Cho
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781368066983 | Disney Hyperion
Elena Soo has always felt overshadowed. Whether by her more successful older sisters, her more popular twin brother, or her more outgoing best friend, everyone except Elena seems to know exactly who they are and what they want. But she is certain about one thing – she has no interest in going to prom. While the rest of the school is giddy over corsages and dresses, Elena would rather spend her time working to save the local community center, the one place that’s always made her feel like she belonged. So when international K-pop superstar Robbie Choi shows up at her house to ask her to prom, Elena is more confused than ever. Because the one person who always accepted Elena as she is? Her childhood best friend, Robbie Choi. And the one thing she maybe, possibly, secretly wants more than anything? For the two of them to keep the promise they made each other as kids: to go to prom together. But that was seven years ago, and with this new K-pop persona, pink hair, and stylish clothes, Robbie is nothing like the sweet, goofy boy she remembers. The boy she shared all her secrets with. The boy she used to love. Besides, prom with a guy who comes with hordes of screaming fans, online haters, and relentless paparazzi is the last thing Elena wants – even if she can’t stop thinking about Robbie’s smile…right?

Koinu no Carnival (from ‘Minute Waltz’) by EHAMIC

Borrow My Heart
By Kasie West
288 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593643259 | Delacorte Press
Wren is used to being called a control freak. She doesn’t care; sticking to the list of rules she created for herself helps her navigate life. But when a cute guy named Asher walks through the door of her neighborhood coffee shop, the rulebook goes out the window. Asher is cute, charming . . . and being catfished by his online crush. So Wren makes an uncharacteristically impulsive decision—she pretends to be the girl he’s waiting for to save him from embarrassment. Suddenly she’s fake-dating a boy she knows nothing about. And it’s . . . amazing. It’s not long before Asher has her breaking even more of her own rules. But will he forgive her when he finds out she’s not who she says she is? Wren’s not so sure. . . . After all, rules exist for a reason.

I’m Always Chasing Rainbows by Alice Cooper

Good As Gold
By Candace Buford
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781368090254 | Disney Hyperion
Casey’s life in Langston has been charmed. She’s the queen bee of her prep school, a shoe-in for prom queen, and on her way to the Ivy League come fall. She can’t wait to leave the whole town of Langston behind her. That is until her father loses his job and she finds herself on the brink of losing her ticket out of town. The town of Langston is known for its picturesque lake and robust summer tourism. Everyone who lives in town has heard the rumors at some point – there is a treasure buried deep below the surface that no one has ever been able to find. Few people actually believe in the treasure, and even fewer have searched for it. But some have tried . . . Suddenly an outcast from her popular squad, Casey falls in with a new group of friends who are exactly the opposite of her usual crowd, but are more accepting. Together they devise a plan to find the elusive treasure, in a quest to get the money and save Casey’s family and her future. But what they find is much more complicated than just a pile of gold. With thrilling twists and turns and high stakes adventure, fans of Outer Banks will devour this summer adventure.

San Francisco by The Mowgli’s

You Bet Your Heart
By Danielle Parker
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593565278 | Joy Revolution
Sasha Johnson-Sun might not know everything—like how to fully heal after her dad’s passing or how many more Saturdays her mom can spend cleaning houses. But the one thing Sasha is certain of? She will graduate this year as Skyline High’s class valedictorian. At least, she was sure before the principal calls Sasha and her cute, effortlessly gifted ex–best friend, Ezra Davis-Goldberg, into his office to deliver earth-shattering news: they’re tied for valedictorian and the scholarship attached… This outcome can’t be left to chance. So, Sasha and Ezra agree on a best-of-three, winner-take-all academic bet. As they go head-to-head, they are forced not only to reexamine why they drifted apart but also to figure out who they’ve become since. With her future hanging in the balance, Sasha must choose: honor her family’s sacrifices by winning (at all costs) or give her heart a shot at finding happiness?

Poor Girl by X

You’d Be Home Now
By Kathleen Glasgow
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525708070 | Ember
For all of Emory’s life she’s been told who she is. In town she’s the rich one – the great-great-granddaughter of the mill’s founder. At school she’s hot Maddie Ward’s younger sister. And at home, she’s the good one, her stoner older brother Joey’s babysitter. Everything was turned on its head, though, when she and Joey were in the car accident that killed Candy MontClaire. The car accident that revealed just how bad Joey’s drug habit was. Four months later, Emmy’s junior year is starting, Joey is home from rehab, and the entire town of Mill Haven is still reeling from the accident. Everyone’s telling Emmy who she is, but so much has changed, how can she be the same person? Or was she ever that person at all? Mill Haven wants everyone to live one story, but Emmy’s beginning to see that people are more than they appear. Her brother, who might not be “cured,” the popular guy who lives next door, and most of all, many “ghostie” addicts who haunt the edges of the town. People spend so much time telling her who she is–it might be time to decide for herself. A journey of one sister, one brother, one family, to finally recognize and love each other for who they are, not who they are supposed to be, You’d Be Home Now is Kathleen Glasgow’s glorious and heartbreaking story about the opioid crisis, and how it touches all of us.

This Is the Day by The The

A Scatter of Light
By Malinda Lo
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525555285 | Dutton
Aria Tang West was looking forward to a summer on Martha’s Vineyard with her best friends – one last round of sand and sun before college. But after a graduation party goes wrong, Aria’s parents exile her to California to stay with her grandmother, artist Joan West. Aria expects boredom, but what she finds is Steph Nichols, her grandmother’s gardener. Soon, Aria is second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be, and a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable – for Aria, her family, and the working-class queer community Steph introduces her to. It’s the kind of summer that changes a life forever.

No Sleep Till Brooklyn by Beastie Boys

The Isle of the Gods
By Amie Kaufman
464 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593479285 | Knopf Books for Young Readers
Selly has salt water in her veins. So when her father leaves her high and dry in the port of Kirkpool, she has no intention of riding out the winter at home while he sails off to adventure. But any plans to follow him are dashed when a handsome stranger with tell-tale magician’s marks on his arm commandeers her ship. He is Prince Leander of Alinor and he needs to cross the Crescent Sea without detection so he can complete a ritual on the sacred Isles of the Gods. Selly has no desire to escort a spoiled prince anywhere, and no time for his entitled demands or his good looks. But what starts as a leisure cruise will lead to acts of treason and sheer terror on the high seas, bringing two countries to the brink of war, two strangers closer than they ever thought possible and stirring two dangerous gods from centuries of slumber…

Dog Days Are Over by Florence + the Machine

A Spark in the Cinders
By Jenny Elder Moke
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781368039918 | Disney Hyperion
The story has reached it’s happily ever after, the peasant girl has married her prince and become queen, all is well in the kingdom… But for Aralyn, the princesses stepsister, the story is only just beginning. The kingdom of Novador has had a streak of misfortunes, with drought, famine, and disease plaguing the lands. According to a prophecy, restoring an ancient magical artifact – the Protector’s Blade – is the only thing that can pull the kingdom back from the brink of destruction. With inside information from her fairy godmother, Aralyn teams up with lady knight Vee to go questing for the shattered pieces of the blade that have been scattered to the furthest reached of Novador. To win each element of the dagger, the girls must prove themselves by using their strengths to conquer their greatest fear. Aralyn uses wisdom, Vee physical prowess, and Queen Ellarose who is ruling the kingdom, uses benevolence. Together, these three powerful women fight to take their place as the rightful heirs to the kingdom.

Badlands by Bruce Springsteen

The Family Fortuna
By Lindsay Eagar
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763692353 | Candlewick
Beaked. Feathered. Monstrous. Avita was born to be a star. Her tent sells out nightly, and every performance incites bloodcurdling screams. She’s the most lucrative circus act from Texas to Tacoma, the crown jewel of the Family Fortuna, and Avita feeds on the shrieks, the gasps, the fear. But when a handsome young artist arrives to create posters of the performers, she’s appalled by his rendering of Bird Girl. Is that all he sees? A hideous monster – all sharp beak and razor teeth, obsidian eyes and ruffled feathers? Determined to be more, Avita devises a plan to snatch freedom out from under the greased mustache of her charismatic father, the domineering proprietor and ringmaster. But will their fragile circus family survive the showdown she has in mind? By turns delightful and disturbing, bawdy and breathtaking, horrific and heartfelt, this electric and exquisitely crafted story about a family like no other challenges our every notion of what it means to be different – subject to an earful of screams – and to step out of the shadows and shine anyway.

Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2023

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! Here’s a list of recent and upcoming books that highlight Asian creators and their stories.

Read Now:

Picture Books:

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior
By Heather Gale
Illustrated by Mika Song
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264496 | Tundra Books
Ho’onani feels in-between. She doesn’t see herself as wahine (girl) OR kane (boy). She’s happy to be in the middle. But not everyone sees it that way. When Ho’onani finds out that there will be a school performance of a traditional kane hula chant, she wants to be part of it. But can a girl really lead the all-male troupe? Ho’onani has to try. . . . Based on a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a celebration of Hawaiian culture and an empowering story of a girl who learns to lead and learns to accept who she really is – and in doing so, gains the respect of all those around her.

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918593 | Tundra Books
Gyo Fujikawa’s iconic children’s books are beloved all over the world. Now it’s time for Gyo’s story to be told – a story of artistic talent that refused to be constrained by rules or expectations. Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. While Gyo’s career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family’s internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting – for herself, her vision, her family and her readers – and later wrote and illustrated the first children’s book to feature children of different races interacting together.

Kumo: The Bashful Cloud
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Nathalie Dion
64  Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267282 | Tundra Books
Kumo is a cloud whose only wish is to float unseen. When she’s assigned cloud duty for the day, she feels overwhelmed by self-doubt and her fear of being noticed. But after learning that closing your eyes isn’t a good solution to your troubles, Kumo pulls her fluff together and does her duties – drifting, releasing rain and providing shelter – meeting some new friends along the way and inspiring the imagination (and capturing the heart) of a small daydreamer like her. Kyo Maclear’s sweetly humorous and lyrical parable about shyness, vividly brought to life by Nathalie Dion’s ethereal illustrations, is an affirmation of the pleasures of community and the confidence that can arise from friendship and visibility.

Ten Little Dumplings
By Larissa Fan
Illustrated by Cindy Wume
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266193 | Tundra Books
In the city of Tainan, there lives a very special family – special because they have ten sons who do everything together. Their parents call them their ten little dumplings, as both sons and dumplings are auspicious. But if you look closely, you’ll see that someone else is there, listening, studying, learning and discovering her own talent – a sister. As this little girl grows up in the shadow of her brothers, her determination and persistence help her to create her own path in the world . . . and becomes the wisdom she passes on to her own daughter, her own little dumpling. Based on a short film made by the author, inspired by her father’s family in Taiwan, Ten Little Dumplings looks at some unhappy truths about the place of girls in our world in an accessible, inspiring and hopeful way.

The Care and Keeping of Grandmas
By Jennifer Mook-Sang
Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271340 | Tundra Books
It can be discombobulating for all involved when a grandma moves in permanently. Fortunately, our narrator has gone through it and has LOTS of tips on how to make your grandma feel at home. In a story filled with humor, confusion and moments of sweetness, Jennifer Mook-Sang introduces us to a delightful family dynamic and a grandma who doesn’t really need the help settling in but appreciates it anyway. As Grandma goes about her days, her well-meaning granddaughter sees her caring for her plants, and makes sure that Grandma is getting the proper care too.

Middle Grade:

Double O Stephen and the Ghostly Realm
By Angela Ahn
288 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268272 | Tundra Books
Stephen loves pirates. What he doesn’t love is his name: Stephen Oh-O’Driscoll. He believes when his Korean mother and Irish father gave him this name, that it was just one cruel setup for being teased. Giving things the proper name is important, which is why Stephen thinks that it’s time to update the definition of “pirate.” They’ve got a bad rep, and maybe they deserve some of it, but Stephen still likes a few pirate traditions, like bandannas and eyepatches – he’s just not that into stealing things from people. He has the perfect new word: piventurate. A sailor who passionately seeks adventure. That’s what he wants to be. When he gets suspended from school for doing proper piventurate-in-training things (using sticks to practice sword fighting), his mother doesn’t let him sit around doing nothing, instead she takes him to a museum. At the museum everything changes. Stephen finds himself in a strange new place, face-to-face with a real pirate. A pirate ghost. Captain Sapperton needs Stephen’s help to cross to the other side, and his former ghost crew are intent on making sure Stephen follows through, whatever it takes. Stephen is about to discover the true meaning of piventurate, and much to his surprise, his adventure will not only take him farther into the ghostly realm, but also closer to home, where long-held family secrets reveal surprising ties to the spirit world.

The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan
By Salma Hussain
296 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735271517 | 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.

Young Adult:

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735269958 | Tundra Books
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Wrong Side of the Court
By H. N. Khan
312 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735270893 | Tundra Books
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.

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Picture Book:

Dim Sum Palace
By X. Fang
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774881989 | Tundra Books
Liddy is so excited about going to the Dim Sum Palace tomorrow with her family that she can’t sleep. So when a delicious smell wafts into her room, she hops out of bed, opens her door and steps into . . . an actual palace of dim sum! There are dumplings, baos, buns and more delicious treats than one girl can possibly eat. Liddy just has to take a bite, but she slips and falls . . . into a bowl of dumpling filling. The chefs are so busy rolling, folding and pinching dough that they don’t notice they’ve prepared a most unusual dumpling for the Empress — a Liddy dumpling! Worst of all, she looks good enough to eat . . .

Young Adult:

Of Light and Shadow
By Tanaz Bhathena
448 Pages | Age 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271432 | Penguin Teen Canada
When they don’t give us our birthright, we steal it. Roshan Chaya is out for justice. Abandoned by her parents at birth and adopted by the kingdom of Jwala’s most notorious bandit before his brutal murder, she is now leader of the Shadow Clan, a gang of farmers-turned-bandits impoverished by the provincial governor’s atrocities and corruption. Roshan’s goal: to avenge her adoptive father and earn back rights and dignity for her people. Prince Navin has always felt like an outcast. Second in line for the throne, he has never been close to his grandmother, Queen Bhairavi of Jwala. When a night out drinking with friends leads to his capture by the infamous Shadow Clan, Navin schemes to befriend Roshan and use her as a means to escape. His ploy, however, brings Navin closer to the corruption and poverty at the heart of Roshan’s province, raising questions about its governor and Navin’s own family. To further complicate things, the closer Roshan and Navin get, the harder it becomes to fight their growing attraction. But how can they trust each other when the world as they know it starts to fall apart? Set in a magical world inspired by the badlands of 17th century India, this standalone epic fantasy novel by Tanaz Bhathena is packed with political tensions, dangerous schemes, and swoon-worthy romance that asks the age old question: can love conquer all?

Something More
By Jackie Khalilieh
336 Pages | Age 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774882139 | Tundra Books
Fifteen-year-old Jessie, a quirky loner obsessed with the nineties, is diagnosed as autistic just weeks before starting high school. Determined to make a fresh start and keep her diagnosis a secret, Jessie creates a list of goals that range from acquiring two distinct eyebrows to getting a magical first kiss and landing a spot in the school play. Within the halls of Holy Trinity High, she finds a world where things are no longer black and white and quickly learns that living in color is much more fun. But Jessie gets more than she bargained for when two very different boys steal her heart, forcing her to go off-script.

Tundra Telegram: Books For Readers Across the Spectrum

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we sense the subjects overtaking readers’ attention and suggest some stimulating books that fit the script.

April is World Autism Month, which presents an annual opportunity to talk about autism spectrum disorder – including in the world of books. Over 70 million people worldwide are on the spectrum, but the number of books that feature autistic characters and published by autistic authors is (glaringly) much smaller.

However, things are changing for the better and young readers of all ages can find many good books that talk about autism spectrum disorder or feature autistic main characters – often written by autistic authors themselves or parents of autistic kids. Please read on to learn about some of our favorites.

PICTURE BOOKS

Author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Chris Eliopoulos have a series of picture book biographies called Ordinary People Change the World, and their book I Am Temple Grandin is a perfect example of how that is very true in terms of autism rights and neurodiversity. Grandin is an American scientist and animal behaviorist who also helped break down years of stigma around autism because she was one of the first adults to publicly disclose that she was autistic, and has since become an internationally known proponent of neurodiversity.

Changes in routine can be hard for any kid, but especially for kids on the autism spectrum when it comes to social situations. This forms the basis of Samantha Cotterill’s book It Was Supposed to Be Sunny, in which a perfectly planned birthday party goes awry. The book was specifically written for kids on the autism spectrum and has been called “brilliant” and “engaging” by autism specialist Tony Attwood.

Though although not directly about autism or sensory processing difficulties, Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It) by Carrie Finison and Daniel Wiseman, it highlights the importance of consent and different comfort levels in social interaction. Finison has been explicit in her choice not to label or diagnose Doug, but many neurodiverse readers (and family members) have found the book a helpful one.

Another book that similarly refuses to label its main character is Midnight and Moon by Kelly Cooper and Daniel Miyares. Many readers feel the main character, a girl named Clara who has trouble fitting in with her peers, may be on the autism spectrum.  Clara befriends a blind horse, Moon, who also struggles to find his place among the horses. The foal and girl both have special qualities that are recognized by friends who are open to seeing them: a boy named Jack and a horse named Midnight, But their specialness is recognized by nearly everyone when Clara and Moon demonstrate some real bravery in the midst of a powerful snowstorm.

While it’s not revealed outright just why the titular bouncing boy sees things differently in Trampoline Boy by Nan Forler and Marion Arbona, there’s a gentle suggestion that he is autistic. But the main message of the book – demonstrated by a girl named Peaches who jumps on a trampoline with the boy and spends time with him – is how important and valuable different perspectives are, when you’re willing to interact with people the way they’d like to interact.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

With an author who has ASD, Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann, features an autistic girl, Kiara, who tries very hard to make friends. She identifies with the X-Men character Rogue, who hurts everyone she touches. (Now I’m invested.) When she makes friends with a new kid, Chad, she tries hard to make it work. But keeping his secret makes her question what little she understands about friendship.

Instead of a superhero, a neurodivergent girl finds a kindred spirit in victims of witch trials in A Kind of Spark by Elle McNichol. Addie, who, like McNichol, is autistic, discovers that her small Scottish town used to burn witches simply because they were different. Since Addie can sometimes see things that others do not, hear sounds that they can ignore, and occasionally feel things all at once, she feels a connection with the witches and campaigns to establish a local memorial.

Nova, the protagonist of Planet Earth Is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos, is a nonverbal autistic foster kid who loves space and is extremely excited about the looming Challenger launch. (That’s going to be a problem.) Nova is dismissed by many at first – except for her foster sister Bridget, but they are now separated, in different foster homes. The author has ASD herself and the book makes it clear how much has changed regarding neurotypical people’s understanding of autism since 1986.

If you’re a little disappointed Victorian literature doesn’t feature more autistic characters, then Susan Adrian’s Forever Neverland is for you! A contemporary follow-up to J. M Barrie’s Peter Pan, the book features Clover and Fergus, the great-great-grandkids of Wendy Darling, taken to Neverland by that forever young boy. Fergus happens to be autistic, and while his sister Clover worries about him, he feels that Neverland is a dream come true.

An eleven-year-old autistic athlete doesn’t let anything stop her from playing baseball in Sarah Kapit’s Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!, even if she would be the only girl on her team. Part of her determination comes from (fictional) Major League pitcher VJ Capello, who kindly responds to her letters.

Autistic author Sarah Kapit also has a rollicking tween detective story, The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family, in which two autistic sisters – one verbal, one nonverbal who uses a tablet to communicate – Lara and Caroline reluctantly team up to form FIASCCO (Finkel Investigation Agency Solving Consequential Crimes Only). Things goes awry when Lara starts snooping on Caroline, putting their detective agency in serious jeopardy!

A bird-loving autistic boy, Axel, is the star of A Bird Will Soar by Alison Green Myers. When a tornado damages Axel’s home and – maybe worse – the eagle’s nest in the wood near his house – things get overwhelming. Suddenly his absent dad returns home to repair the damage, and Axel has to manage his dad’s presence and his favorite eagles’ disappearance.

Speaking of tornadoes: Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick is a coming-of-age story about a neurodivergent seventh grader inspired by her own kid. Frankie can’t stand to be touched, is bothered by loud noises, and hates changes in her routine. She has a friend, Colette, but that friendship is complicated. When Colette disappears, Frankie is convinced she’s left clues behind that only she can decipher.

And Counting by 7s by Holly Sloan Goldberg features Willow Chance, a girl possibly somewhere on the autism spectrum (although that is never explicitly said). Willow is obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, and finds it comforting to count by 7s. She’s never really connected with anyone aside from her adoptive parents, until (spoilers!) they both die in a car crash, leaving her alone. But Willow manages to find a fascinatingly diverse surrogate family and hope for an amazing future.

YOUNG ADULT

Naoki Higashida was only a middle-schooler when he began to write his memoir The Reason I Jump. Autistic and with very low verbal fluency, Naoki used an alphabet grid to spell out his answers to the questions he imagines others most often wonder about him and being autistic. The result, translated to English by KA Yoshida, and with an introduction by David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) is an attitude-transforming book that investigates everything from self-harm, perceptions of time and beauty, and the challenges of communication.

For something similar told in a very different manner, A Different Kind of Normal by Abigail Balfe is an illustrated memoir that’s hard to define. Balfe, a queer creative producer, stand-up comic, and part of the team behind the amazing animated series Big Mouth, has created a mind-blowing memoir about learning she was autistic later in life. Highly illustrated by Balfe herself, the book also includes a wealth of resources about neurodiversity and is perfect for demystifying autism for curious young readers.

For a little re-mystifying … or just mystery, check out The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya McGregor, a queer contemporary mystery, featuring a nonbinary autistic teen (Sam, ’natch) who tries to solve a 30-year-old mystery about a teenager’s death in their new Oregonian town, digging up old skeletons as they do (but not literally). McGregor, like Sam, is nonbinary and is autistic.

Two high school juniors make an unexpected connection in Julie Buxbaum’s YA romance What To Say Next. David is autistic and socially isolated, but the relatively popular Kit appreciates his sincerity, especially after she loses her father in a car accident. Their relationship grows as Kit deals with the accident’s aftermath in this unexpectedly funny dual-perspective narrative.

Palestinian Canadian Jackie Khalilieh was diagnosed as autistic as an adult, which – among other things – led her to look back at episodes in her teen years with a new perspective. One result of this is her YA debut novel, Something More, a fun contemporary romance with a protagonist – Jessie – who is obsessed with the nineties and learns she’s autistic. We’re excited for readers to follow Jessie’s journey after her new diagnosis, as she wonders who to trust with her news, and creates a list of goals that range from acquiring two distinct eyebrows to getting a magical first kiss and landing a spot in the school play. Look for it in stores everywhere in June 2023!