Tundra Telegram: Books That Really Slay

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we talk about the subjects hoarding all our attention, and recommend some books that we think are straight fire.

This past weekend, HBO premiered House of the Dragon, the prequel series to their popular Game of Thrones show, based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Viewers were keen to return to Westeros and learn about how the House of Targaryen fell – so keen, in fact, that streaming services HBO Max and Crave (in Canada) reportedly crashed for many users.

What better time to recommend some books for children and teens about dragons – books that are too hot, they’d make a dragon want to retire (from appearing in dragon-related books, I assume)? So, let’s not drag on any further (get it?) and jump into this week’s fiery recommendations.

PICTURE BOOKS

What we’re looking for is books with dragons in them, so there’s no better way to start our picture book recommendations than with There’s a Dragon in Your Book by Tom Fletcher and Greg Abbott. But not just any dragon – a cute baby dragon that hatches in your book (as if it were Drogo’s funeral pyre) and young readers must stamp, blow, and flap their arms to save the book from bursting into flame when this baby dragon sneezes!

One thing you don’t see a lot of in Game of Thrones is something you see a lot of in this book: underwear. Attack of the Underwear Dragon, written by Scott Rothman and Pete Oswald, follows Cole, the brave assistant to the great knight Sir Percival, who must face a terrifying Underwear Dragon on his own. The sequel, Return of the Underwear Dragon, reveals Cole and the Dragon’s conflict in the first book resulted from – spoiler alert – the Dragon’s inability to read signs. So this book chronicles young Cole’s attempt to teach his scaly friend to read – even resorting to alphabet-themed undies.

Okay, so the “dragons” in Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor aren’t the kind that fly and breathe fire. But this book by Patricia Valdez and Felicita Scala is about a pioneering female scientist who loved reptiles – especially komodo dragons. Procter became the Curator of Reptiles at the British Museum, designed the Reptile House at the London Zoo, and hosted children’s tea parties with her komodo dragon as a guest of honor (!).

Ellie’s Dragon by Bob Graham is sort of a modern twist on the “Puff the Magic Dragon” song, as it tells of the friendship of small, shy Ellie, and the newborn dragon she finds at the grocery store, Scratch, who may or may not be real.

Though it could have been written by a Targaryen, How to Light Your Dragon is actually written by Fred Benaglia and Didier Levy, and hilariously walks readers through the steps to help a dragon rediscover its fire-breathing abilities. While there are certain handy tricks (surprising your dragon with a cake and unlit birthday candles), readers learn the key is loving your dragon unconditionally.

And though a dragon is just one of the mythical creatures our heroine considers for a pet in Vikki VanSickle and Cale Atkinson’s If I Had a Gryphon – among unicorns, manticores, and, yes, gryphons – it’s among the ones that cause the most property damage, as it comically torches our poor pet lover’s house with a sneeze.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

When you hear “dragon,” you probably think of castles and knights in shining armor. Well, throw that out the window (like it were Bran Stark), because you need to read Canadian Zetta Elliott’s Dragons in a Bag series. The acclaimed middle-grade series takes place in modern-day Brooklyn, where young Jaxon and friends Kenny, Kavita and Vikram help his mother’s Ma deliver some baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. Book Two, The Dragon Thief, outlines what happens when Kavita steals a dragon’s egg. And The Witch’s Apprentice shows Jax learning a little magic for himself!

The Dragon Storm series, written by Alistair Chisholm and illustrated by Eric Deschamps, is a series of books, each about a youth brought to a secret league of dragonseers, The Guild, where they train to bond with their dragons and summon their power. Whether it’s Tom and Ironskin, Cara and Silverthief, or Ellis and Pathseeker – each kid and their dragon have a rousing adventure story to tell.

A Dragon Used to Live Here, or so the story goes by Annette LeBlanc Cate – or rather, that’s the story that Meg, a cranky scribe in the castle basement, tells to restless noble children Thomas and Emily. Meg tells them fantastical and funny stories of their mother’s (and the castle’s) past that they frankly cannot believe – kidnappings, loyal elves, true love, archery practice gone amiss, and, of course, a ferocious dragon.

Rowan has had to face all sorts of monsters throughout Kelley Armstrong’s Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series: gryphons, colocolos, and dropbears. And in the fourth and final installment, The Final Trial, she, her twin brother Rhydd, friends Dain and Alianor, and an ever-growing group of monstrous companions, must protect the dragon living in their homeland and prove to all the kingdoms that people and monsters can peacefully coexist.

Likewise, The Unicorn Rescue Society, a series of books by Adam Gidwitz and Hatem Aly, has featured rescues of everything from sasquatches to chupacabras by Elliot, Uchenna, and mentor Professor Fauna. But in Book 2: The Basque Dragon (co-authored by Jesse Casey) they must solve the kidnapping of a fire-breathing dragon in the mountains of Europe’s Basque County.

Including The Dragon Turn, the fifth case of The Boy Sherlock Holmes by Canadian author Shane Peacock, in this list is maybe unfair. But the mystery that teen Sherlock and Irene Doyle attempt to solve is connected to illusionist Alistair Hemsworth, who makes a very real and – for his rival magicians – very deadly dragon appear before audiences’ very eyes (just like those talented visual effects people at HBO).

YOUNG ADULT

If you’re talking YA and dragons, then you have to mention Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. (After all, don’t you have to trust a fantasy writer who has a broadsword?) First written when Paolini was just a teen himself, the books follow poor farm boy Eragon who stumbles upon a dragon egg and – as often happens in these situations – is soon swept into a world of magic, battle, and story. The latest book set in the world of Eragon is The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, three original stories that interlock with Eragon’s epic, featuring a wanderer and a cursed child, spells and magic – and dragons, obvi.

Not to be outdone in the dragon department is Vancouver’s Rachel Hartman, who first introduced readers to the kingdom of Goredd, in which dragons can take human form and coexist in an uneasy peace with humans in the New York Times bestselling novel Seraphina and its sequel, Shadow Scale. She’s since continued her explorations of social justice and feminist in the realm of Goredd with Tess of the Road and its follow-up, In the Serpent’s Wake. Both books feature Tess and her old dragon friend, as they traverse the lands and seas.

If you like your dragons with a dose of post-revolutionary action, you want Fireborne by Rosaria Munda, a book that comes highly recommended by dragon expert Rachel Hartman. In it, Annie and Lee, just children when a brutal revolution changed their world and gave a chance to potentially enter into the governing class of dragonriders. Seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet (even though Annie’s family was executed by dragonfire years ago!). And if you like those dragonriding politics, you’ll love Flamefall and Furysong, the other books in the Aurelian Cycle.

And lest you get the impression that European fantasy has the copyright on dragon stuff, we recommend Elizabeth Lim’s The Dragon’s Promise, and not just as a reminder of the importance dragons have to Asian legend. The next adventure after Six Crimson Cranes (which also famously features a dragon!) sees the sorceress Princess Shiori trying to make good on a deathbed promise to return the dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner. Unfortunately, that involves journeying to the kingdom of dragons, filled with almost as many dangers as the pearl itself!

Happy reading, friends!

Tundra Top Ten: June 2022

Want to know what everyone else has been reading and loving lately? Every month we will share our list of top ten bestselling kids’ books that we publish into North America. Here are the Tundra and Puffin Canada titles for the month of June 2022 – how many have you read?

narwhal unincorn of the sea1. Narwhal and Jelly Series
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

By Ben Clanton
64 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918265 | Tundra Books
Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together. A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever – even though it doesn’t have any words . . . or pictures!

The Barren Grounds2. The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga #1
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything – including them.

3. Carson Crosses Canada
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
36 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918838 | Tundra Books
Feisty Annie Magruder and her dog, Carson, live in British Columbia, Canada, and they’re setting out to visit her sister, Elsie, in Newfoundland. In their little rattlebang car, packed with Carson’s favorite toy, Squeaky Chicken, and plenty of baloney sandwiches, Annie and Carson hit the road! They travel province by province, taking in each unique landscape and experiencing something special to that particular part of this vast, grand country. For example, they marvel at the beauty of the big, open sky – and grasshoppers! – in Saskatchewan and discover the gorgeous red earth and delicious lobster rolls in PEI, before finally being greeted by Elsie – and a surprise for Carson!

4. 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!

5. Little Witch Hazel
By Phoebe Wahl
96 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264892 | Tundra Books
Little Witch Hazel is a tiny witch who lives in the forest, helping creatures big and small. She’s a midwife, an intrepid explorer, a hard worker, and a kind friend. In this four-season volume, Little Witch Hazel rescues an orphaned egg, goes sailing on a raft, solves the mystery of a haunted stump, and makes house calls to fellow forest dwellers. But when Little Witch Hazel needs help herself, will she get it in time? Little Witch Hazel is a beautiful ode to nature, friendship, wild things and the seasons that only Phoebe Wahl could create: an instant classic and a book that readers will pore over time and time again.

The Barnabus Project6. The Barnabus Project
By The Fan Brothers
72 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263260 | Tundra Books
Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets, where children can buy genetically engineered “perfect” creatures, there is a secret lab. Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them is perfect. They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars. But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn’t want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it’s time for he and the others to escape. With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom – and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are. This suspenseful, poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.

7. If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Colin Jack
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495685 | Tundra Books
If you happen to have a dinosaur, lying around your living room, and you don’t know what to do with it . . . why don’t you use it as a can opener? It will make a terrific nutcracker too! There are oodles of uses for a dinosaur – from a fine umbrella to an excellent kite and a dandy pillow, not to mention a reliable burglar alarm and the perfect excuse to forget your homework. This delightfully absurd exploration of the domestic uses of dinosaurs – and the things dinos just aren’t good for at all – is guaranteed to tickle funny bones and spark imaginations. If you read carefully, you’ll learn how to make your dinosaur last a very long time.

8. The Final Trial: A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying #4
By Kelley Armstrong
320 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270206 | Puffin Canada
The time has come! After discovering the true reason for the monster migration, Rowan is on an expedition to ultimately prove that she is worthy of the ebony monster-slaying sword on her back. She and her twin brother, Rhydd, their friends Dain and Alianor, as well as some other trusted advisors – and the ever-growing group of monstrous companions – are on a mission to help protect the dragon living in their homeland and are travelling to kingdoms beyond to make their case. But not everyone agrees that people can live peacefully alongside monsters, especially when new terrifying creatures appear. It will take everything Rowan has to fight off threats of all kinds, from both monsters and people. It won’t be easy, but if she succeeds, she will become Royal Monster Hunter at long last.

9. The Great Bear: The Misewa Saga #2
By David A. Robertson
288 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266131 | Puffin Canada
Back at home after their first adventure in the Barren Grounds, Eli and Morgan each struggle with personal issues: Eli is being bullied at school, and tries to hide it from Morgan, while Morgan has to make an important decision about her birth mother. They turn to the place where they know they can learn the most, and make the journey to Misewa to visit their animal friends. This time they travel back in time and meet a young fisher that might just be their lost friend. But they discover that the village is once again in peril, and they must dig deep within themselves to find the strength to protect their beloved friends. Can they carry this strength back home to face their own challenges?

10. Bibi’s Got Game: A Story About Tennis, Meditation, and a Dog Named Coco
By Bianca Andreescu with Mary Beth Leatherdale
Illustrated by Chelsea O’Byrne
56 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270558 | Tundra Books
From the moment she wakes up, Bibi is very busy. Even before school begins, there are cartwheels to do, world records to break (38 minutes balancing a spoon on your nose), and her dog, Coco, to snuggle. Bibi’s mother suggests she try a sport, but nothing feels right. Until she tries tennis. On the court, she feels strong and powerful. Her serve is like lightning, her backhand booms like thunder and her forehand is as fierce as a hurricane. But one day, everything changes when she is injured on the playground. Bibi is heartbroken, sad, frustrated and angry – she decides to quit tennis! But her mother, with a little help from Coco, shows her how to meditate and dispel the self-doubt and negativity. Bibi learns to focus on all the things that make her grateful and happy. And when her body is ready to go back to tennis, so is her mind. “Now every morning, I picture myself strong and powerful on the court. Just me and the fuzzy ball.”

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!

Bibi’s Got Game: A Story About Tennis, Meditation, and a Dog Named Coco
By Bianca Andreescu with Mary Beth Leatherdale
Illustrated by Chelsea O’Byrne
56 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270558 | Tundra Books
From the moment she wakes up, Bibi is very busy. Even before school begins, there are cartwheels to do, world records to break (38 minutes balancing a spoon on your nose), and her dog, Coco, to snuggle. Bibi’s mother suggests she try a sport, but nothing feels right. Until she tries tennis. On the court, she feels strong and powerful. Her serve is like lightning, her backhand booms like thunder and her forehand is as fierce as a hurricane. But one day, everything changes when she is injured on the playground. Bibi is heartbroken, sad, frustrated and angry – she decides to quit tennis! But her mother, with a little help from Coco, shows her how to meditate and dispel the self-doubt and negativity. Bibi learns to focus on all the things that make her grateful and happy. And when her body is ready to go back to tennis, so is her mind. “Now every morning, I picture myself strong and powerful on the court. Just me and the fuzzy ball.”

My Lala
By Thomas King
Illustrated by Charlene Chua
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269347 | Tundra Books
Lala wakes up one morning and decides that she owns the world. Quick as a fox, she bounds to her box of treasures and finds her shiny red dots – to mark what is hers, because there’s nothing that’s not! Lala’s bear gets a dot, as does her blankie, boots, and even the markers she uses to make scrawls on her walls. When she finishes labeling everything in her room and goes to label her dad-daddy’s socks, Lala realizes that she’s out of dots! But when Lala discovers that she can simply create her own red dots, will anything be safe from Lala? Join rambunctious Lala on her quest to own the world in this joyful picture book that celebrates confidence and positive thinking.

The Final Trial
By Kelley Armstrong
320 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270206 | Puffin Canada
The time has come! After discovering the true reason for the monster migration, Rowan is on an expedition to ultimately prove that she is worthy of the ebony monster-slaying sword on her back. She and her twin brother, Rhydd, their friends Dain and Alianor, as well as some other trusted advisors – and the ever-growing group of monstrous companions – are on a mission to help protect the dragon living in their homeland and are travelling to kingdoms beyond to make their case. But not everyone agrees that people can live peacefully alongside monsters, especially when new terrifying creatures appear. It will take everything Rowan has to fight off threats of all kinds, from both monsters and people. It won’t be easy, but if she succeeds, she will become Royal Monster Hunter at long last.

New in Paperback:

The Serpent’s Fury
By Kelley Armstrong
336 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735270176 | Puffin Canada
Rowan is Tamarel’s Royal Monster Hunter, and her twin brother, Rhydd, will be its king. After the events of The Gryphon’s Lair, Rowan, along with her friends, her brother and an entourage of monstrous companions, makes her way back to the Dunnian Woods to deal with the pack of dropbears the group trapped in an abandoned cabin after a vicious attack. The dropbears are just one of a number of rare monster species acting erratically in Tamarel.  After a swarm of colocolos nearly tramples the group, Rowan becomes convinced that someone (or something) is driving these monsters out of their natural habitats. But nothing can prepare the Royal Monster Hunter for the truth of the matter: monsters even bigger and deadlier than gryphons have returned to the world, and their nest-building, as well as the actions of the humans trying to drive them out, has upset the balance of nature in Tamarel. Do Rowan’s “monster magnet” skills work against the most fearsome monsters imaginable? Find out in this exciting third book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series!

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.