Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Heather Smith’s Guide to St. John’s, Newfoundland

A pandemic is no time to travel but we’re always dreaming about the next place we’d love to visit when things are safe again. Thanks to Heather Smith, St. John’s, Newfoundland is now high up on our list – it’s the setting for her latest YA novel, Barry Squires, Full Tilt.

Keep scrolling for Heather’s top five reasons to visit St. John’s!

Heather and her husband outside of Fred’s

1. The People

Get off the plane at the St. John’s International Airport and you might bump into a stranger who’ll treat you like a long-lost friend. “How was your flight, my duck? Bit bumpy at the end there, wasn’t it? We got some wicked wind here, I tells ya. Where are ya staying to anyway? The Newfoundland Hotel? Jeez b’y, that’ll cost you a pretty penny. Why don’t you stay with me? Uncle Dwight’s not in the basement anymore, God rest his soul. Don’t worry, I’ve changed the sheets. Purex was only $4.99 at Pipers this week. I got Aunt Bev a bottle too. She doesn’t get out as much as she used to. Not since the accident.”

Newfoundlanders are a hospitable bunch. Chatty too. Over the course of your stay, you’ll be called duck, love, darlin’, hon, trout, and the ubiquitous ‘buddy’ or ‘missus’. Ask a question and you’ll get a life story. Accept a cup of tea and you’ll get a turkey dinner, a tall tale, and a pair of Nan’s handknitted socks. Don’t worry, your confusion over whether you’re a houseguest or a hostage is completely normal. Some would argue it’s part of the experience.

Of course, Newfoundlanders aren’t perfect. You’re sure to meet a hard ticket who’ll call you something unsavoury, but look on the bright side – at least you can return home with a funny story about the dude in Dildo who said you had a face on ya like a boiled boot.

2. The Food

There are a lot of traditional foods in Newfoundland and Labrador and there are many fine restaurants in and around the St. John’s area that present them in new and interesting ways. You wouldn’t believe what some of these places can do with a slice of bologna! Chinched on Bate’s Hill even make their own! They also do a mean charcuterie board that features house made meats, local cheeses, and homemade mustards and pickles. Delicious! Other notable restaurants include Mallard Cottage and Hungry Heart Café. There’s also Chafe’s Landing which just happens to be located in Petty Harbour, the birthplace of Alan Doyle! (If you’re lucky you might get held hostage by some of his kin!)

3. The Landscape

As soon as the plane emerges from the fog you will see the most rugged beauty you’ve ever seen in your whole entire life. (No exaggeration, Newfoundlanders never stretch the truth.) By the way, did I mention that you might meet Gordon Pinsent? He hands out handknitted socks to newcomers at the airport. Nice guy. I shared a Chinched bologna sandwich with him on Signal Hill once. What’s Signal Hill you ask? Read on, my duck!

Newfoundland in the summer

4. The Touristy Stuff

Downtown St. John’s:

The Duke of Duckworth (Get some beer!)
The Ship Inn (Get some more beer!)
Fred’s Records (Get some music!)
Caine’s Deli (Get a cold plate!)
The Golden Tulip (Get some jewellery!)
Nonia (Get some handknitted socks!)

Other places of note:

Signal Hill National Historic Site (Home of Cabot Tower)
The Narrows (the passage from St. John’s Harbour to the Atlantic – stunning views!)
Cape Spear (North America’s most easterly point)
The Rooms (Fabulous museum and art gallery)
Any hike along the East Coast Trail (more spectacular views!)

5. The Weather (Bahahahahahhahaha!)

Don’t worry, it won’t all be RDF*. If you go in the summer, you’ll be sure to get some fine days – enjoy them while you can!

*Rain, drizzle, and fog.


Now that you know what to expect in Newfoundland, make sure you pick up Barry Squires, Full Tilt when it comes out on September 22!

Barry Squires, Full Tilt
By Heather T. Smith
232 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267466 | Penguin Teen Canada
It’s 1995. When the Full Tilt Dancers give an inspiring performance at the opening of the new bingo hall, twelve-year-old Finbar (Barry) Squires wants desperately to join the troupe. Led by Father O’Flaherty, the Full Tilt Irish Step Dancers are the most sought-after act in St. John’s, Newfoundland (closely followed by popular bagpiper, Alfie Bragg and his Agony Bag). Having watched Riverdance twice, Barry figures he’ll nail the audition. And good thing too — it’d be nice to be known for something other than the port wine stain on his cheek. With questionable talent and an unpredictable temper, Barry’s journey to stardom is jeopardized by his parents’ refusal to take his dreams seriously. Thankfully, Barry has the support of a lively cast of characters: his ever-present grandmother, Nanny Squires; his adorable baby brother, Gord; an old British rocker named Uneven Steven; a group of geriatrics from the One Step Closer to God Nursing Home; and Saibal, a friend with whom Barry gets up to no good.

Other books by Heather:

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe
By Heather T. Smith
232 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735267466 | Penguin Teen Canada
It’s Newfoundland, 1986. Fourteen-year-old Bun O’Keefe has lived a solitary life in an unsafe, unsanitary house. Her mother is a compulsive hoarder, and Bun has had little contact with the outside world. What she’s learned about life comes from the random books and old VHS tapes that she finds in the boxes and bags her mother brings home. Bun and her mother rarely talk, so when Bun’s mother tells Bun to leave one day, she does. Hitchhiking out of town, Bun ends up on the streets of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Fortunately, the first person she meets is Busker Boy, a street musician who senses her naivety and takes her in. Together they live in a house with an eclectic cast of characters: Chef, a hotel dishwasher with culinary dreams; Cher, a drag queen with a tragic past; Big Eyes, a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and The Landlord, a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost. Through her experiences with her new roommates, and their sometimes tragic revelations, Bun learns that the world extends beyond the walls of her mother’s house and discovers the joy of being part of a new family — a family of friends who care.

Chicken Girl
By Heather T. Smith
232 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735267466 | Penguin Teen Canada
Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she’s having trouble seeing the good in the world. As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waver outside a restaurant. There, Poppy meets six-year-old girl Miracle, who helps Poppy see beyond her own pain, opening her eyes to the people around her: Cam, her twin brother, who is adjusting to life as an openly gay teen; Buck, a charming photographer with a cute British accent and a not-so-cute mean-streak; and Lewis a teen caring for an ailing parent, while struggling to reach the final stages of his gender transition. As the summer unfolds, Poppy stops glorifying the past and starts focusing on the present. But just as she comes to terms with the fact that there is good and bad in everyone, she is tested by a deep betrayal.

Heather Smith: website | twitter | instagram

CTV Your Morning Kids’ Book Segment on Mental Health & Wellness

YourMorning_January20
Our Marketing & Publicity Associate Director, Vikki VanSickle, was on CTV’s Your Morning today to talk about kids’ books dealing with mental health and wellness. Check out our titles from her recommended list below and don’t forget to watch her segment!

PICTURE BOOKS

What’s Up, Maloo?
By Genevieve Godbout
ISBN 9780735266643 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
No other kangeroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo’s friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What’s wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. With patience, support and a little “hop” from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back.

Grumpy Monkey Party Time!
By Suzanne Lang
Illustrated by Max Lang
ISBN 9780593118627 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Random House Books for Young Readers
Have you ever been a little anxious about going to a party? Jim Panzee feels that. Porcupine is having a big party, and according to Jim’s best friend Norman, there will be–gulp–dancing. Jim can DEFINITELY not dance. When he tells his friends, they all try to teach him cool moves–surely that’s the only reason Jim isn’t excited about this party!

Big Boys Cry
By Jonty Howley
ISBN 9781524773205 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Random House Books for Young Readers
It’s Levi’s first day at a new school, and he’s scared. His father tries to comfort Levi by telling him “Big boys don’t cry.” Though the father immediately understands his misstep, he can’t find the words to comfort his son, and Levi leaves for school, still in need of reassurance.

CHAPTER BOOKS/MIDDLE GRADE

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
By Lenore Look
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
ISBN 9780375849305 | Paperback
Ages 6-9 | Yearling
Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’ s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen
By Susin Nielsen
ISBN 9781770496545 | Paperback
Ages 10+ | Tundra Books
Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father’s hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry’s family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry’s therapist suggests he keeps a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.

YOUNG ADULT

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe
By Heather Smith
ISBN 9780143198673 | Paperback
Ages 12+ | Penguin Teen Canada
It’s Newfoundland, 1986. Fourteen-year-old Bun O’Keefe has lived a solitary life in an unsafe, unsanitary house. Her mother is a compulsive hoarder, and Bun has had little contact with the outside world. Bun and her mother rarely talk, so when Bun’s mother tells Bun to leave one day, she does. Hitchhiking out of town, Bun ends up on the streets of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
By Teresa Toten
ISBN 9780385678346 | Paperback
Ages 12+ | Doubleday Canada
When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? 

2019 NCTE Annual Convention

Hello Baltimore! Are you as excited for the NCTE Convention as we are? We’ll be showcasing our 2019 titles plus sneak peaks at some 2020 books at booth 1239. Come by to say hi to our Marketing and Publicity Associate Director, Vikki VanSickle; and our Marketing and Publicity Manager, Sylvia Chan. We will be happy to chat all things bookish with you and giveaway some of our beautiful marketing materials including art cards, bookmarks, and more.

We will also be hosting Heather Smith at booth 1239 where she’ll be signing copies of her incredible novel, Chicken Girl. This is based on first come, first serve. One copy per person while quantities last and you must be in line for the signing to receive a complimentary copy. See you there!

YA Halloween Costume: Chicken Girl

Dress up like your favorite YA book covers this Halloween! Today’s outfit is inspired by the bold, feather-filled cover of Chicken Girl We’ve done the work and searched for all the pieces for you!


Boa: cynthiasmerchant | Dress: BobcatVintage | Shoes: Converse

Chicken Girl
By Heather Smith
ISBN 9780143198680 | Penguin Teen Canada
240 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover

Everybody has a story that will break your heart; a poignant coming-of-age YA for fans of David Arnold, from the author of the acclaimed The Agony of Bun O’Keefe, a Kirkus Best of the Year selection.

Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she’s having trouble seeing the good in the world. As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waver outside a restaurant. There, Poppy meets six-year-old girl Miracle, who helps Poppy see beyond her own pain, opening her eyes to the people around her: Cam, her twin brother, who is adjusting to life as an openly gay teen; Buck, a charming photographer with a cute British accent and a not-so-cute mean-streak; and Lewis a teen caring for an ailing parent, while struggling to reach the final stages of his gender transition. As the summer unfolds, Poppy stops glorifying the past and starts focusing on the present. But just as she comes to terms with the fact that there is good and bad in everyone, she is tested by a deep betrayal.

The 2019 OLA Forest of Reading® Winners and Honour Books

The 2019 Forest of Reading awards were announced last week and we are so thrilled that eight of our titles were honoured at the Festival of Trees. Congratulations to our authors and illustrators!

Blue Spruce Award
#2 Honour Book
The Magician's SecretThe Magician’s Secret
Written by Zachary Hyman
Illustrated by Joe Bluhm
Hardcover
Published by Tundra Books
“The conversational tone draws the reader through the story. The remarkable art work by Joe Bluhm showcases the relationship between Charlie and his grandpa and transports the reader into each adventure, providing glimpses of how the imagination can make a dream a reality . . . this book is best shared as a read-aloud. Any adult will be equally thrilled by the story, its rich language and the wonderful illustrations.” – CM Magazine

Silver Birch Fiction Award
Winner
Chase - paperbackChase
Written by Linwood Barclay
Published by Puffin Canada
Paperback
“The action in Chase begins on the first page and doesn’t let up in this new thriller from Linwood Barclay  . . . readers will enjoy the twists and turns of the action and will relate to all three main characters.” – CM Magazine

#1 Honour Book
Elephant SecretElephant Secret
Written by Eric Walters
Published by Puffin Canada
Hardcover
“Walters interweaves his beautiful family story with a thorough description of elephant behavior—their intellect, compassion, and loyalty—and factual scientific possibilities of cloning an extinct species…A must-read for anyone with an interest in elephants and their welfare.” – Booklist

Red Maple Non-Fiction Award
#2 Honour Book
Innovation NationInnovation Nation: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, Happier
Written by David Johnston and Tom Jenkins
Illustrated by Josh Holinaty
Hardcover
Published by Tundra Books
“[R]eminds us just how ingenious Canadians are, despite our golly-gosh-shucks tendency to downplay our accomplishments… Bright illustrations by Josh Holinaty swirl around each page of text to evoke the brilliance of fun and curiosity.” – Quill & Quire

Red Maple Fiction Award
#2 Honour Book
Fourth DimensionFourth Dimension
Written by Eric Walters
Hardcover
Published by Penguin Teen Canada
“I recommend Fourth Dimension to fans of The Rule of 3 series as well as those readers who enjoy action/adventure, realistic, or post-apocalyptic stories. Emma and her mother are strong female characters who are great role models for teenage girls. . . . Recommended.” – CM Magazine

White Pine Award
Winner
The Agony of Bun O'KeefeThe Agony of Bun O’Keefe
Written by Heather T. Smith
Hardcover
Published by Penguin Teen Canada
“Although Bun is 14, she possesses the endearing naiveté and honesty of a child, but her first-person narration isn’t sappy or immature. . . . Bun O’Keefe will settle comfortably at home in readers’ hearts.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program. This initiative of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) offers seven reading programs to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages. The Forest helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors and illustrators. More than 270,000 readers participate annually from their School and/or Public Library. All Canadians are invited to participate via their local public library, school library, or individually.