Tundra Telegram: Books that Got Game

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we dig into the topics readers are talking about and recommend some recent great books to continue the process.

Last week – Thursday, June 16, to be precise – the 2022 NBA Finals were decided, as the Golden State Warriors beat the Boston Celtics in the sixth game of the series. Immediately, the Pistons in our mind started firing, and just like Magic – and in the Knick of time – we had an idea. Spurred by the NBA championships, we’re thinking basketball.

So, spend some (hang) time with us as we recommend basketball books for yourself or the young ballers in your life. These are books with moves so smooth they’d make the Harlem Globetrotters shout “Sweet Georgia Brown!” And you can find most of them with nothin’ but ‘Net (the Internet, that is – you can find them in bookstores, too). Best of all, there’s not a single brick among them.

PICTURE BOOKS

What better book to start your reading with than one by the actual 2022 NBA Finals MVP (and pride of Akron, Ohio), Stephen Curry? I Have a Superpower, illustrated by Geneva Bowers, fictionalizes Curry’s own journey to the NBA to inspire the next generation of go-getters and big dreamers. The book teaches kids you don’t have to be the strongest, fastest, or even tallest kid out on the court – any goal is achievable through hard work. heart, and determination. No capes required!

If you want to get a kid who loves b-ball into phonics, Actiphons: Billy Basketball is the book for you. Actiphons is a series of stories that help the youngest readers practice 70 letter sounds – each with its own fun character and action. And the hero of this book, Billy Basketball, is not feeling well – on the injury roster – but he would rather not rest and play basketball outside. Don’t overdo it, Billy!

Like to learn a little history with your literature? You might like Basketball Belles: How Stanford, Cal, and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map by Sue Macy and Matt Collins. The book depicts the birth of women’s basketball by telling the story of Agnes Morley and the first ever inter-collegiate women’s basketball game in April 1896 (University of California at Berkeley vs. Stanford), an event that garnered national attention and put women’s basketball on the map.

Canadian hero Terry Fox may be known for long-distance running, but – as Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Milan Pavlovic reveals – Fox had a lifelong love of basketball. He was reportedly a terribly player at first, but met childhood friend Doug, who noticed Fox’s his characteristic strength, determination, and loyalty – even at a young age. Doug helped Terry practice his hoops until he earned a spot on the team. And the rest is history . . . just not basketball history.

A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories by John Martz may not have a lot of basketball content, but in one of the wordless stories, Tim does try his paw at basketball. Let’s just say he’s no Air Bud.

CHAPTER BOOKS

If you’re into basketball, you’re going to want to learn about the giants of the NBA, so you should start with Kirsten Anderson and Dede Putra’s Who Is Michael Jordan? to learn about the legendary Chicago Bull who changed the game. And follow that up with Ellen Labrecque and Gregory Copeland’s Who Was Kobe Bryant? to read about the career and legacy of the iconic Los Angeles Laker.

MIDDLE GRADE

Ben Hardy is new in school and thinks he can make an impression with the cool kids with a harmless prank in the very funny My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner. Only problem is, his prank ends up causing the school’s mascot to break their ankle! And so Ben, in some cruel and unusual punishment, is sentenced to serve as the mascot – a giant potato – during the school’s final basketball games. Can Ben hide the fact he’s under the big potato skin and maintain his cred?

Combining the fast-paced action of the NBA playoffs with dynamic photos and poetry? It’s not Kurtis Blow‘s “Basketball,” but Hoop Kings 2: New Royalty. Poet Charles R. Smith has written a dozen poetic odes to the superstars of the NBA like Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin, filled with more wordplay than a Kevin Harlan broadcast. Want to read some verse extolling the virtues of The Beard, James Harden. Of course you do!

And few children’s authors write sports like Mike Lupica, who turns his attentions to the court with No Slam Dunk. Wes is a player who tries to live by his father’s words and be a good teammate, sharing the ball and the spotlight. But his team’s new point guard, all-star Danilo “Dinero” Rey has different ideas. He always the ball and the attention, even if it costs his team the game. Wes will need to figure out a way for them to work together to emerge victorious.

YOUNG ADULT

Tons of Toronto teens have hoop dreams, and that’s true of fifteen-year-old Regent Park native Fawad Chaudhry in H. N. Khan’s YA novel Wrong Side of the Court. He wants to be the first Pakistani to be drafted into the NBA. He just needs to get over his father’s death, avoid an arranged marriage to his cousin, dodge his bully Omar, and reconnect with his grieving friend Yousuf first. Oh, and make the school team, too!

Maybe Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson’s fun and pulpy teen murder mystery The Agathas doesn’t scream basketball to you. But the prime suspect in the case of a girl’s disappearance is Steve, the school’s basketball star and – coincidentally . . . or not? – ex of heroine (and one of the “Agathas” who uses the works of Agatha Christie to solve the mystery) Alice Ogilvie. We’re not going to pretend you’ll read about anyone putting three in the key in this book, but it’s basketball adjacent!

And just because this year’s champions were the Golden State Warriors, we had to mention Namina Forna’s blockbuster The Gilded Ones. Not a single bounce pass is made in Forna’s epic fantasy, but the book’s protagonist, Deka, does join an army of girls whose blood runs gold during their culture’s blood ceremony. They sound like Warriors fans to us!

Tundra Telegram: Books That Do a Li’l Turn on the Catwalk

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we dig into the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

This past Monday was the Met Gala – ostensibly a fundraiser for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, but more widely known as “Fashion’s Biggest Night.” The theme in 2022 is “The Gilded Age” (not to be confused with the new HBO show by the same name), and while we didn’t see Rihanna as a bejeweled pope or Katy Perry as a hamburger, there were some notable fashions, like Blake Lively‘s reversible gown and Ashton Sanders‘s vampire steampunk look.

If you want to read some books that delve as deeply into high fashion and serving lewks, we have some recommendations for you. But whatever you read, as Tim Gunn would say, “Make it work!”

PICTURE BOOKS

With such fans as InStyle magazine and Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie, the picture book Mitford at the Fashion Zoo by Donald Johnson, the fashion illustrator and a creative director at Estée Lauder, should be on your list of fashion picture books. Part Zootopia, part The Devil Wears Prada, Mitford’s story is both a fashion satire and inspirational tale of following your dreams.

But there’d be no fashion without the textiles used to make those gorgeous gowns and thrilling threads. And Julie KraulisA Pattern for Pepper follows Pepper as she journeys through notable patterns and their origins – pinstripe, houndstooth, ikat, toile, and more – in her effort to make a dress for a special occasion (not unlike the Met Gala).

If Lady Gaga’s 2019 Brandon Maxwell gown was one of your favorite Gala look in recent years, Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad’s Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli will probably intrigue you. Schiaparelli, known for turning art into fashion and for her imaginative designs, invented the color shocking pink (among other things). And you’ll learn that and more in this lyrical picture book biography.

MIDDLE GRADE

There are few better guides to fashion than Canada’s own Jeanne Beker. The FashionTelevision correspondent, style columnist, and Canada’s Next Top Model judge wrote Passion for Fashion: Careers in Style, illustrated by Nathalie Dion, as an introduction to the fashion industry and career guide, with information and profiles of agents, designers, models, photographers, stylists, makeup artists, publicists, journalists, fashion illustrators, creative directors, fashion show producers, color specialists, personal shoppers, and more!

The couture outfits of the Met Gala are one thing, but Fashionopolis: The Secrets Behind the Clothes We Wear by Dana Thomas, looks at the social issues surrounding fast fashion and its impact on the environment and social justice. If you ever wondered how designer jeans ended up in your local mall, this book is a helpful tool.

In the mood for fiction instead? Look no further than Lakita Wilson’s Be Real, Macy Weaver, a funny and fashion-filled story of friendship. Macy is fresh from a friend breakup and a move when she meets Brynn, a smart girl who seems to have her whole life figured out – right down to her future as a high fashion model. That’s when one small fib turns Macy’s life into one of dazzling dresses and glamour – like a Met Gala Junior High!

As Lee Pace could tell you at the 2021 Met Gala, The Swag Is in the Socks. And that’s the name of a novel by Kelly J. Baptist, in which young Xavier learns about the power of some out-there socks, and the importance of swagging out and speaking up.

YOUNG ADULT

If you’re looking to marry your love of high fantasy and high fashion, Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim has you covered. A teenage girl, Maia, poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and enters a cutthroat competition to sew three magic dresses – from the sun, the moon, and the stars. If that sounds like a cosmic version of Project Runway, you’re not wrong! (And check out the sequel, Unravel the Dusk.)

One thing the Met Gala excels in is showing a little skin. This very idea propels Marya Cuevas and Marie Marquardt’s Does My Body Offend You?, a story about two teenagers who join forces to fight the school’s dress code and find friendship, despite their different backgrounds.

Okay, so Namina Forna’s bestselling and blood-soaked fantasy The Gilded Ones may not have a lot to do with fashion, but it is an incredible tale filled with warrior women, and the title just fits the theme so well.

There is no shortage of reality TV stars and social media influencers found at the Met Gala, from Kendall Jenner to Addison Rae, which makes Raziel Reid’s Followers another perfect YA pick. This over-the-top satirical romp follows a naïve teenager thrown into a back-stabbing world of reality television, designer labels, and tabloid gossip.

World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture 2022

Every year, January 24 is World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture. We’ve put together a recommended reading list of recent books for you and your little ones to start the dialogue and celebrate African culture and stories.

Picture Books:

Catch That Chicken!
By Atinuke
Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536212686 | Candlewick
Lami is the best chicken catcher in the whole village. Her sister may be speedy at spelling, her friend fast at braiding hair, and her brother brave with bulls, but when it comes to chickens, nobody is faster or braver than Lami. That is, until the day when Lami chases a little too fast, up the baobab tree, and reaches a little too far . . . ow! How can she catch chickens with an ankle that’s puffed up like an angry lizard? Could it be, as Nana Nadia says, that quick thinking is more important than quick Award-winning author Atinuke celebrates Nigerian village life in a story vibrantly illustrated by Angela Brooksbank with a universal message at its heart.

Nana Akua Goes to School
By Tricia Elam Walker
Illustrated by April Harrison
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525581130 | Schwartz & Wade
It is Grandparents Day at Zura’s elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja’s grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou’s grandmother is a dentist. But Zura’s Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana – or worse, make fun of her – Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura’s classmates feel special, too.

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water
By Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson
Illustrated by Nikkolas Smith
48 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593307359 | Kokila
The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson. A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.

Chapter Books/Graphic Novels:

Akissi: Tales of Mischief
By Marguerite Abouet
Illustrated by Mathieu Sapin
184 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781911171478 | Flying Eye Books
Poor Akissi! The neighborhood cats are trying to steal her fish, her little monkey Boubou almost ends up in a frying pan, and she’s nothing but a pest to her older brother Fofana. But Akissi is a true adventurer, and nothing scares her away from hilarious escapades in her modern African city. Jump into the laugh-out-loud misadventures of Akissi in these girls-will-be-girls comics, based on author Margeurite Abouet’s childhood on the Ivory Coast.

She Persisted: Wangari Maathai
By Eucabeth Odhiambo and Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593353561 | Philomel BFYR
In this chapter book biography by critically acclaimed author Eucabeth Odhiambo, readers learn about the amazing life of Wangari Maathai – and how she persisted. When Wangari Maathai learned about how many trees had been cut down in Kenya, where she was from, she was horrified. So she founded the Green Belt Movement and got friends, family, and even strangers to help her plant trees and respect the environment – and she received a Nobel Peace Prize for her work. Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list ways that readers can follow in Wangari Maathai’s footsteps and make a difference!

When Stars Are Scattered
By Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson and Iman Geddy
264  Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525553915 | Dial BFYR
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

Middle Grade:

Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood
Edited by Kwame Mbalia
320 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379936 | Delacorte BFYR
Black boy joy is . . .
Picking out a fresh first-day-of-school outfit.
Saving the universe in an epic intergalactic race.
Finding your voice – and your rhymes – during tough times.
Flying on your skateboard like nobody’s watching.
And more! From seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.

Ikenga
By Nnedi Okorafor
240 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593113530 | Viking BFYR
Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers? Award-winning Nnedi Okorafor, acclaimed for her Akata novels, introduces a new and engaging hero in her first novel for middle grade readers set against a richly textured background of contemporary Nigeria.

Young Adult:

African Town
By Charles Waters and Iene Latham
448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593322888 | Putnam BFYR
In 1860, long after the United States outlawed the importation of enslaved laborers, 110 men, women and children from Benin and Nigeria were captured and brought to Mobile, Alabama aboard a ship called Clotilda. Their journey includes the savage Middle Passage and being hidden in the swamplands along the Alabama River before being secretly parceled out to various plantations, where they made desperate attempts to maintain both their culture and also fit into the place of captivity to which they’d been delivered. At the end of the Civil War, the survivors created a community for themselves they called African Town, still exists to this day. Told in 14 distinct voices, including that of the ship that brought them to the American shores and the founder of African Town, this powerfully affecting historical novel-in-verse recreates a pivotal moment in US and world history, the impacts of which we still feel today.

Beasts of Prey
By Ayana Gray
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593405680 | Putnam BFYR
There’s no such thing as magic in the broken city of Lkossa, especially for sixteen-year-old Koffi, who holds a power within her that could only be described as magic – a power that if discovered could cost her life. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, Koffi knows the fearsome creatures in her care and paying off her family’s debts to secure their eventual freedom can be her only focus. But the night those she loves are gravely threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi finally unleashes the power she doesn’t fully understand, upending her life completely. As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six – an elite warrior – and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, Ekon encounters not only the Shetani – a vicious monster that has plagued the city for nearly a century and stalks his nightmares, but Koffi who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior. Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani could also be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon form a tentative alliance and together enter the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild, frightening magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.

Skin of the Sea
By Natasha Bowen
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593120941 | Random House BFYR
Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata – a mermaid – collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable – she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it. To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . . Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

The Gilded Ones
By Namina Forna
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848697 | Delacorte BFYR
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity – and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki – near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be – not even Deka herself.

Staff Picks: Favorite Teen Books from 2021

2021 was . . . a year, but at least we got some great reading done! After a lot of thought, we came up with our top two favorite books of the year (and it was very hard!).

Dark and Shallow Lies
By Ginny Myers Sain
432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593403969 | Razorbill
La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide. This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World – and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier. Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something – her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave. When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou – a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history – Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent – and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

Hunting by Stars
By Cherie Dimaline
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735269651 | Penguin Teen Canada
Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up – or are re-opened – across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams. Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is – and what it will take to escape. Meanwhile, out in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers – school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go – and how many loved ones is he willing to betray – in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
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.

From Little Tokyo, With Love
By Sarah Kuhn
432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593327487 | Viking BFYR
If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale – being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business – she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills, and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold. All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America’s reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness – searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo’s hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe . . . finally finding a sense of belonging. But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn’t so kind. Rika knows she’s setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don’t happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?

Prom House
By Chelsea Mueller
256 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593180051 | Underlined
Release Date: May 4, 2021
What happens when the best night of your life turns into the worst? Full of menace and suspense, this is an unputdownable thriller – and a trade paperback original! Ten people share a prom house at the Jersey Shore for the weekend. Every one of them has a secret . . . and when they begin to die one by one, panic ensues. Could somebody’s prom date also be . . . a killer?

Walking in Two Worlds
By Wab Kinew
296 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269002 | Penguin Teen Canada
Bugz is caught between two worlds. In the real world, she’s a shy and self-conscious Indigenous teen who faces the stresses of teenage angst and life on the Rez. But in the virtual world, her alter ego is not just confident but dominant in a massively multiplayer video game universe. Feng is a teen boy who has been sent from China to live with his aunt, a doctor on the Rez, after his online activity suggests he may be developing extremist sympathies. Meeting each other in real life, as well as in the virtual world, Bugz and Feng immediately relate to each other as outsiders and as avid gamers. And as their connection is strengthened through their virtual adventures, they find that they have much in common in the real world, too: both must decide what to do in the face of temptations and pitfalls, and both must grapple with the impacts of family challenges and community trauma. But betrayal threatens everything Bugz has built in the virtual world, as well as her relationships in the real world, and it will take all her newfound strength to restore her friendship with Feng and reconcile the parallel aspects of her life: the traditional and the mainstream, the east and the west, the real and the virtual.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
By Crystal Maldonado
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447176 | Holiday House
Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing – he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? Because it’s time people did.

The Gilded Ones
By Namina Forna
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848697 | Delacorte BFYR
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity – and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki – near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be – not even Deka herself.

Holiday Spotlight: Random House Children’s Books 2021

Here at Penguin Random House Canada, we’re lucky to work with so many different publisher lists. This holiday season, we’ll be highlighting each one with a dedicated post to help you find the perfect gift (or your next read). Today’s post is all about Random House Children’s Books.

A Lesson in Vengeance
By Victoria Lee
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593305829 | Delacorte Press
Felicity Morrow is back at the Dalloway School to finish her senior year after the tragic death of her girlfriend. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students – girls some say were witches. Felicity was once drawn to the dark legacy of witchcraft. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; but it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget it. It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway – and in herself.

As Good As Dead
By Holly Jackson
464 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379851 | Delacorte Press
Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars. Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself – or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . . and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . . . .

Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers
By Michelle Obama
432 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593303740 | Delacorte BFYR
Michelle Robinson was born on the South Side of Chicago. From her modest beginnings, she would become Michelle Obama, the inspiring and powerful First Lady of the United States, when her husband, Barack Obama, was elected the forty-fourth president. They would be the first Black First Family in the White House and serve the country for two terms. This volume for young people is an honest and fascinating account of Michelle Obama’s life led by example. She shares her views on how all young people can help themselves as well as help others, no matter their status in life. She asks readers to realize that no one is perfect, and that the process of becoming is what matters, as finding yourself is ever evolving. In telling her story with boldness, she asks young readers: Who are you, and what do you want to become?

Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood
Edited by Kwame Mbalia
320 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379936 | Delacorte BFYR
Black boy joy is . . .
Picking out a fresh first-day-of-school outfit.
Saving the universe in an epic intergalactic race.
Finding your voice – and your rhymes – during tough times.
Flying on your skateboard like nobody’s watching.
And more! From seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.

Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
By Barack Obama
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780385738729 | Delacorte BFYR
A revealing portrait of a young Black man asking questions about self-discovery and belonging – long before he became one of the most important voices in America. This unique edition includes a new introduction from the author, full-color photo insert, and family tree. On his journey to adulthood from a humble background, he forges his own path through trial and error while staying connected to his roots. Barack Obama is determined to lead a life of purpose, service, and authenticity. This powerful memoir will inspire readers to examine both where they come from and where they are capable of going.

Grandude’s Green Submarine
By Paul McCartney
Illustrated by Kathryn Durst
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593372432 | Random House BFYR
Grandude’s inventions are the stuff of legend, and his new green submarine doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it flies as well as submerges! Grandude whisks the grandkids off on another adventure, but he and the Chillers soon find themselves in a pickle. Suddenly, it’s Nandude to the rescue! Nandude is an explorer as courageous as Grandude, with an amazing accordion-ship to boot! Between Grandude’s magic compass and Nandude’s magical music, everyone arrives home safely. But not before enjoying a parade, dancing rainforest animals, and a narrow escape from a grabby octopus. This tale is perfect for little explorers and Paul McCartney fans alike! Artist Kathryn Durst returns with glorious, humor-filled illustrations that are as beautiful as ever.

Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark
By Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrated by Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews
Adapted by Jenny Laird
176 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593174715 | Random House BFYR
Where did the tree house come from? Before Jack and Annie can find out, the mysterious tree house whisks them to the prehistoric past. Now they have to figure out how to get home. Can they do it before dark . . . or will they become a dinosaur’s dinner? For the first time in graphic novel – live the adventure again in the very first Magic Tree House book, with new art from comic artists Kelly and Nichole Matthews!

Pony
By R. J. Palacio
304 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780553508116 | Knopf BFYR
Twelve-year-old Silas is awoken in the dead of night by three menacing horsemen who take his father away. Silas is left shaken, scared, and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool . . . who happens to be a ghost. When a pony shows up at his door, Silas makes the courageous decision to leave his home and embark on a perilous journey to find his father. Along the way, he will face his fears to unlock the secrets of his past and explore the unfathomable mysteries of the world around him.

Six Crimson Cranes
By Elizabeth Lim
464 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593300916 | Knopf BFYR
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother. A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die. Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear – no matter what the cost.

Skin of the Sea
By Natasha Bowen
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593120941 | Random House BFYR
Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata – a mermaid – collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable – she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it. To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . . Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

Take Me With You When You Go
By David Levithan and Jennifer Niven
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525580997 | Knopf BFYR
Ezra Ahern wakes up one day to find his older sister, Bea, gone. No note, no sign, nothing but an email address hidden somewhere only he would find it. Ezra never expected to be left behind with their abusive stepfather and their neglectful mother – how is he supposed to navigate life without Bea? Bea Ahern already knew she needed to get as far away from home as possible But a message in her inbox changes everything, and she finds herself alone in a new city – without Ez, without a real plan – chasing someone who might not even want to be found. As things unravel at home for Ezra, Bea will confront secrets about their past that will forever change the way they think about their family. Together and apart, broken by abuse but connected by love, this brother and sister must learn to trust themselves before they can find a way back to each other.

The Big Bath House
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Gracey Zhang
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593181959 | Random House Studio
In this celebration of Japanese culture and family and naked bodies of all shapes and sizes, join a little girl – along with her aunties and grandmother – at a traditional bath house. Once there, the rituals leading up to the baths begin: hair washing, back scrubbing, and, finally, the wood barrel drumroll. Until, at last, it’s time, and they ease their bodies – their creased bodies, newly sprouting bodies, saggy, jiggly bodies – into the bath. Ahhhhhh! With a lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, this picture book is based on Kyo Maclear’s loving memories of childhood visits to Japan, and is an ode to the ties that bind generations of women together.

The Gilded Ones
By Namina Forna
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848697 | Delacorte BFYR
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity – and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki – near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be – not even Deka herself.

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: The Lost Stories Collection
By Michael Scott
512 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593376904 | Delacorte BFYR
The legendary alchemyst Nicholas Flamel and his wife, the sorceress Perenelle, traveled the globe for centuries before they discovered the Twins of Legend, Josh and Sophie Newman. Secrets abound – and now you can discover even more of the Flamels’ story in this volume of eight stories set in the world of the internationally bestselling series. Stand with the Flamels when they find the Codex, the book that holds the secret to their immortality. Follow Machiavelli under the perilous streets of Paris. Join Scatty and her twin, Aoife, as they journey through mysterious Shadowrealms. Within these pages you will meet enemies old and new and forge alliances with characters from history, myth, and legend, all as you uncover new mysteries and discover answers to questions remaining in the original series.

You’ll Be the Death of Me
By Karen M. McManus
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593175866 | Delacorte BFYR
Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day. Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out from working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up . . . again. So when the three unexpectedly run into each other, they decide to avoid their problems by ditching. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say. . . until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school – and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse. It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common . . . like a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something. Could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?