Tundra Telegram: Books that will Flip You Upside Down

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we delve into the topics on the tips of readers’ tongues and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

The Duffer Brothers’ Netflix phenomenon, Stranger Things – a blend of horror, science fiction, and 1980s nostalgia – returned to the streaming service this past weekend with seven episodes featuring your friends Eleven, Mike Wheeler, Hopper, Joyce Byers, and all your faves (like my personal favorite, Mr. Clarke). And by all accounts, it’s an ambitious epic, filled with secret government projects, unfathomable horror, and Kate Bush needle-drops galore.

You’ll have to wait until July to watch the final two episodes of Season 4, but we have lots of like-minded reading suggestions for Stranger Things fans of all ages to tide them over through June!

PICTURE BOOKS

It’s a bit difficult to find picture books that are good pairings with Stranger Things, as so few picture books feature anything close to demigorgons, and very few have ample ’80s references. But one exception are the picture books created by Calgary artist Kim Smith. Her Pop Classics Illustrated Storybooks – like Back to the Future, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird – capture all the classic moments of these pop-culture milestones that are often referenced throughout Stranger Things, and a great introduction for the youngest readers to the genre of science fiction.

MIDDLE GRADE

Probably the closest title in tone and subject matter to Stranger Things is the Last Kids on Earth book series by Max Brallier and Douglas Holgate. Suburban middle schoolers playing video games, eating inhuman amounts of candy, and battling the forces of the supernatural and monstrous (usually zombies)? Check, check, and check! And there’s nine books to enjoy so far. Join Jack Sullivan, his friends Quint, June, and Dirk, and his trusty Louisville Slicer as they battle monstrous hordes in this heavily illustrated book series (which was also adapted into a Netflix series – Finn Wolfhard even voices Jack!).

Another middle-grade title that’s a good match for Stranger Things is Sneaks by Catherine Egan. Three kids (Ben, Charlotte, and Akemi) uncover a secret society in their town to keep interdimensional sprites (called ‘Sneaks’) from slipping into our universe. And while the Sneaks may seem not as dangerous as some of the creatures from the Upside Down, they are planning to pull a much more dangerous creature – along the lines of a Mind Flayer! – into our world!

Most books by Melissa Savage (The Truth about Martians, Nessie Quest) could fit on this list, but we’re going to recommend Karma Moon: Ghost Hunter, in which a girl (Karma), whose father is a TV ghost-hunter, stays in a haunted Colorado hotel to help her dad’s flailing TV series. However, there are a few problems – namely Karma struggles with anxiety, and the Stanley Hotel seems to be home to a real haunted house!

And if you can wait until July – you’ll need to wait until then for the Stranger Things season finale anyway – you might like Strangeville School Is Totally Normal by Darcy Miller and illustrated by Brett Helquist. Harvey Hill is the new kid at Strangeville Middle School, trying to blend in, until he realizes his new school is filled with strange sea creatures, giant rats, and a Bermuda-Triangle-like lunch room. A school that might fit in really well in Hawkins, Indiana.

YOUNG ADULT

For YA reading, you can’t do better than the genuine article – actual licensed Stranger Things books, like Runaway Max by Brenna Yovanoff (which focuses on Sadie Sink’s skateboarding loner, who shows up in Season 2) or Rebel Robin by A. R. Carpetta (which focuses on the inner life of the fan-favorite third-season introduction portrayed by Maya Hawke). And you can pre-order the third book in the series, Lucas on the Line by Suyi Davies, about Lucas Sinclair in his own words, out this July.

Likewise, you may enjoy Matthew J. Gilbert’s How to Survive in a Stranger Things World, a hardcover gift book filled with wisdom and guidance to help you through school, friendships, and your town’s darkest secrets. Plus, it’s jam-packed with photos from the television series.

But if you’re looking for something with a similar feel to the show, rather than an officially licensed book, you might like Wilder Girls by Rory Power, which matches (if not surpasses) the show’s creep factor. A feminist Lord of the Flies with a splash of body horror is how we’d describe this mind-melting debut science fiction novel about three girls locked in quarantine at their island board school as a body-altering illness begins to infect everyone else.

You might also be intrigued by What We Harvest, the debut novel from Ann Fraistat that hinges on dark horror in a small town. Hollow’s End is a town that provides food for much of America with its miracle crops, but that bounty comes – as Wren and her family discover – with a deadly price! A blight called ‘Quicksilver’ poisons the land and turns the livestock into staggering, infected zombies. Can Wren and her ex Derek save Hollow’s End?

And Pete and Alistair Montague may be a bit older than the Party in Stranger Things, but they – along with friends like Charlie, Rachel, and Rowan – investigate mysterious goings on in their town of Port Howl in Nathan Page and Drew Shannon’s The Montague Twins graphic novels. The books in the series have definite ST vibes, but are set about twenty years earlier, so there are more Donovan musical cues than Echo and the Bunnymen. And, like Eleven, the Montagues have a few tricks up their sleeves – including some witchy powers.

The 2022 Forest of Reading® Winners and Honour Books

The Forest of Reading® is Canada’s largest recreational reading program which helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors, and illustrators. The winners and honour books were announced this week and we’d like to congratulate our authors and illustrators!

2022 Silver Birch Express Award® Fiction Winner

Mellybean and the Giant Monster
By Mike White
208 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593202548 | Razorbill
Melly loves to play games. All her feline friends want to do, though, is take a nap. So when she doesn’t leave them alone, the cats trick her into burying a shoe in the backyard. But the small prank turns into a big problem when Melly falls down the hole . . . and is magically transports her to another world! Melly lands smack-dab in the middle of a scuffle between a group of knights and a huge monster. But Melly soon befriends the grumpy giant, learning he isn’t as scary as he seems. He’s being hunted by a greedy king. One who has also been stealing from his people and locking them up in the dungeons. So although Melly is desperate to find a way back home to Mama and Papa (her human owners), she makes it her mission to help her new friend and the kingdom. But how could someone so tiny defeat such a powerful king? It may just take a game that only Melly can win.

2022 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Winner

Deadman’s Castle
By Iain Lawrence
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446551 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime – and ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They’ve lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can’t even remember his real name. But now he’s twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He’s even starting to wonder–what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father’s frightened mind? Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he’s lived by all his life – making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he’s allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them – is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all?

2022 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Honour Book

Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster
By Rachelle Delaney
256 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269279 | Puffin Canada
Alice Fleck’s father is a culinary historian, and for as long as she can remember, she’s been helping him recreate meals from the past – a hobby she prefers to keep secret from kids her age. But when her father’s new girlfriend enters them into a cooking competition at a Victorian festival, Alice finds herself and her hobby thrust into the spotlight. And that’s just the first of many surprises awaiting her. On arriving at the festival, Alice learns that she and her father are actually contestants on Culinary Combat, a new reality TV show hosted by Tom Truffleman, the most famous and fierce judge on TV! And to make matters worse, she begins to suspect that someone is at work behind the scenes, sabotaging the competition. It’s up to Alice, with the help of a few new friends, to find the saboteur before the entire competition is ruined, all the while tackling some of the hardest cooking challenges of her life . . . for the whole world to see.

2022 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Honour Book

Tremendous Things
By Susin Nielsen
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271203 | Penguin Teen Canada
We all have moments that define us. For the comically clueless Wilbur, his moment happened on the first day of middle school, when someone shared his private letter with the entire student body. It revealed some of Wilbur’s innermost embarrassing thoughts that no one else should ever know. Now it’s the start of ninth grade and Wilbur hasn’t been able to escape that major humiliation. His good friend Alex stuck by him, but Alex doesn’t have as much time since he started dating Fabrizio. Luckily, Wil can confide in his best friend: his elderly neighbor Sal. Also, Wil’s in the school band, where he plays the triangle. They’re doing an exchange program with students from Paris, and Wilbur’s billet, Charlie, a tall, chic young woman who plays the ukulele and burps with abandon, captures his heart. Charlie likes him, but only as a friend. So Alex, Fabrizio, and Sal host a Queer Eye-style intervention to get Wil in shape and to build his confidence so he can impress Charlie when their band visits Paris, and just maybe replace humiliation with true romance in the City of Love.

2022 White Pine Award™ Honour Books

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
By Nathan Page
Illustrated by Drew Shannon
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525646761 | Knopf BFYR
Pete and Alastair Montague are just a couple of mystery-solving twins, living an ordinary life. Or so they thought. After a strange storm erupts on a visit to the beach, they discover there is more to their detective skills than they had thought. Their guardian, David Faber, a once prominent professor, has been keeping secrets about their parents and what the boys are truly capable of. At the same time, three girls go missing after casting a mysterious spell, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes their small town down an unexpected path. With the help of David’s daughter, Charlie, they discover there are forces at work that they never could have imagined, which will impact their lives forever. An exciting new graphic novel from innovative creators Nathan Page and Drew Shannon that is at once timely and thrilling.


Thanks to CBC Books for hosting and presenting the virtual awards! If you missed the ceremonies, you can catch up with them online here.

MTL YA Fest 2022

It’s one of our favourite times of the year: MTL YA FEST is happening tomorrow, Sunday, May 1, 2022! We’re thrilled to be sponsoring some amazing authors on the lineup, make sure to register for the fest at this link and don’t forget to tune in!

Can’t make it tomorrow? Don’t worry! Once you sign up you will have access to the recorded panels!

A.R. Capetta at 11:30 am

The Heartbreak Bakery
By A.R. Capetta
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536216530 | Candlewick
Syd (no pronouns, please) has always dealt with big, hard-to-talk-about things by baking. Being dumped is no different, except now Syd is baking at the Proud Muffin, a queer bakery and community space in Austin. And everyone who eats Syd’s breakup brownies . . . breaks up. Even Vin and Alec, who own the Proud Muffin. And their breakup might take the bakery down with it. Being dumped is one thing; causing ripples of queer heartbreak through the community is another. But the cute bike delivery person, Harley (he or they, check the pronoun pin, it’s probably on the messenger bag), believes Syd about the magic baking. And Harley believes Syd’s magical baking can fix things, too – one recipe at a time.

Adib Khorram at 3:30 pm

Kiss & Tell
By Adib Khorram
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593325261 | 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 star of 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.

Alexandra Leigh Young at 11:30 am

Idol Gossip
By Alexandra Leigh Young
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536213645 | Walker Books US
Every Friday after school, seventeen-year-old Alice Choy and her little sister, Olivia, head to Myeongdong to sing karaoke. Back in San Francisco, when she still had friends and earthly possessions, Alice took regular singing lessons. But since their diplomat mom moved them to Seoul, her only musical outlet is vamping it up in a private karaoke booth to an audience of one: her loyal sister. Then a scout for Top10 Entertainment, one of the biggest K-pop companies, hears her and offers her a spot at their Star Academy. Can Alice navigate the culture clashes, egos, and extreme training practices of K-pop to lead her group onstage before a stadium of 50,000 chanting fans – and just maybe strike K-pop gold? Not if a certain influential blogger and the anti-fans get their way. . . . This debut novel is about standing out and fitting in, dreaming big and staying true. It will speak to fans of K-pop and to anyone who is trying to take their talents to the next level.

Christina Soorntornvat at 12:30 pm

The Last Mapmaker
By Christina Soorntornvat
368 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536204957 | Candlewick
In a fantasy adventure every bit as compelling and confident in its world building as her Newbery Honor Book A Wish in the Dark, Christina Soontornvat explores a young woman’s struggle to unburden herself of the past and chart her own destiny in a world of secrets. As assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker, twelve-year-old Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a conman – and in a kingdom where the status of one’s ancestors dictates their social position, the truth could ruin her. Sai seizes the chance to join an expedition to chart the southern seas, but she isn’t the only one aboard with secrets. When Sai learns that the ship might be heading for the fabled Sunderlands – a land of dragons, dangers, and riches beyond imagining – she must weigh the cost of her dreams. Vivid, suspenseful, and thought-provoking, this tale of identity and integrity is as beautiful and intricate as the maps of old.

Gavriel Savit at 10:00 am and 10:30 am

The Way Back
By Gavriel Savit
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781984894656 | Ember
For the Jews of Eastern Europe, demons are everywhere: dancing on the rooftops in the darkness of midnight, congregating in the trees, harrowing the dead, even reaching out to try and steal away the living. But the demons have a land of their own: a Far Country peopled with the souls of the transient dead, governed by demonic dukes, barons, and earls. When the Angel of Death comes strolling through the little shtetl of Tupik one night, two young people will be sent spinning off on a journey through the Far Country. There they will make pacts with ancient demons, declare war on Death himself, and maybe – just maybe – find a way to make it back alive.

H.N. Khan at 11:30 am

Wrong Side of the Court
By H. N. Khan
312 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270879 | Penguin Teen Canada
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.

Huda Fahmy at 12:30 pm

Huda F Are You?
By Huda Fahmy
192 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593324318 | Dial BFYR
Huda and her family just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: She was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl. Huda is lost in a sea of hijabis, and she can’t rely on her hijab to define her anymore. She has to define herself. So she tries on a bunch of cliques, but she isn’t a hijabi fashionista or a hijabi athlete or a hijabi gamer. She’s not the one who knows everything about her religion or the one all the guys like. She’s miscellaneous, which makes her feel like no one at all. Until she realizes that it’ll take finding out who she isn’t to figure out who she is.

Judith Eagle at 12:30 pm

The Pear Affair
By Judith Eagle
Illustrated by Jo Rioux
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536217032 | Walker Books US
Penelope Magnificent spends as little time as possible with her awful parents — a grocery-mogul father and a fashion-obsessed mother who loves expensive purses more than she does her daughter. But when they mention an important trip to Paris, Nell begs to come along. Paris holds something very dear to her: her old au pair Perrine – Pear – who lives there. Pear used to write to Nell every week, promising to come to her rescue, but recently the letters stopped. With the help of a savvy bellboy named Xavier, Nell sets out from her parents’ ultra-fancy Parisian hotel to find her beloved Pear. But Pear’s old neighbors and coworkers are strangely tight-lipped. And as Nell’s search for the truth takes her and Xavier to some of the darkest, most mysterious parts of the city, a sinister plot comes to light involving the destruction of a cherished – and delicious – part of Parisian life. Food, fashion, and intrigue abound in this delightful caper from the author of The Secret Starling.

Julian Winters at 3:30 pm

Right Where I Left You
By Julian Winters
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593206478 | Viking BFYR
Isaac Martin is ready to kick off summer. His last before heading off to college in the fall where he won’t have his best friend, Diego. Where – despite his social anxiety – he’ll be left to make friends on his own. Knowing his time with Diego is limited, Isaac enacts a foolproof plan: snatch up a pair of badges for the epic comic convention, Legends Con, and attend his first ever Teen Pride. Just him and Diego. But when an unexpected run-in with Davi – Isaac’s old crush – distracts him the day tickets go on sale, suddenly he’s two badges short of a perfect summer. Even worse, now he’s left making it up to Diego by hanging with him and his gamer buddies. Decidedly NOT part of the original plan. It’s not all bad, though. Some of Diego’s friends turn out to be pretty cool, and when things with Davi start heating up, Isaac is almost able to forget about his Legends Con blunder. Almost. Because then Diego finds out what really happened that day with Davi, and their friendship lands on thin ice. Isaac assumes he’s upset about missing the convention, but could Diego have other reasons for avoiding Isaac?

Karen M. McManus at 1:30 pm

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?

Kekla Magoon at 1:30 pm

Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People
By Kekla Magoon
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536214185 | Candlewick
In this comprehensive, inspiring, and all-too-relevant history of the Black Panther Party, Kekla Magoon introduces readers to the Panthers’ community activism, grounded in the concept of self-defense, which taught Black Americans how to protect and support themselves in a country that treated them like second-class citizens. For too long the Panthers’ story has been a footnote to the civil rights movement rather than what it was: a revolutionary socialist movement that drew thousands of members – mostly women – and became the target of one of the most sustained repression efforts ever made by the U.S. government against its own citizens. Revolution in Our Time puts the Panthers in the proper context of Black American history, from the first arrival of enslaved people to the Black Lives Matter movement of today. Kekla Magoon’s eye-opening work invites a new generation of readers grappling with injustices in the United States to learn from the Panthers’ history and courage, inspiring them to take their own place in the ongoing fight for justice.

Kristen R. Lee at 1:30 pm

Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman
By Kristen R. Lee
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593309155 | Crown BFYR
Savannah Howard sacrificed her high school social life to make sure she got into a top college. Her sights were set on an HBCU, but when she is accepted to the ivy-covered walls of Wooddale University on a full ride, how can she say no? Wooddale is far from the perfectly manicured community it sells on its brochures, though. Savannah has barely unpacked before she comes face to face with microaggressions stemming from racism and elitism. Then Clive Wilmington’s statue is vandalized with blackface. The prime suspect? Lucas Cunningham, Wooddale’s most popular student and son of a local prominent family. Soon Savannah is unearthing secrets of Wooddale’s racist history. But what’s the price for standing up for what is right? And will telling the truth about Wooddale’s past cost Savannah her own future? A stunning, challenging, and timely debut about racism and privilege on college campuses.

Namina Forna at 2:30 pm

The Merciless Ones
By Namina Forna
464 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848727 | Delacorte Press
It’s been six months since Deka has freed the goddesses and discovered who she really is. There are now wars waging across the kingdom. Oterans now think jatu are traitors to the nation. Deka is called a monster. But the real battle has only just begun and Deka must lead the charge. Deka is tasked with freeing the rest of the goddesses. Only as she begins to free them, she begins to see a strange symbol everywhere in places of worship and worn on armor. There’s something unnatural about that symbol; just looking at it makes Deka lose her senses. Even worse, it seems to repel her powers. She can’t command or communicate with the new deathshrieks. In fact, she can’t even understand them when they speak. Deka knows freeing the goddesses is just the beginning. She can tell whatever dark force out is powerful and there is something sinister out there threatening the kingdom connected to that symbol – something merciless – that her army will need to stop before humanity crumbles. But Deka’s powers are only getting stronger . . . and her strongest weapon could be herself.

Natasha Bowen at 2:30 pm

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.

Natasha Preston at 1:30 pm

The Fear
By Natasha Preston
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593125014 | Delacorte BFYR
It’s just a stupid meme that’s going around their small fishing town in the dead of winter – people reposting and sharing their biggest fear. But when her classmates start turning up dead – dying in the way that they said scared them the most – Izzy knows it’s no joke. With each death hitting closer to home, Izzy sets out to try to stop the killer. Could her older sister’s friend Tristan have something to do with the deaths? He’s given her some strange vibes. Or what about his brooding cousin, Axel? But he’s in her classes at school. He’s not a murderer . . . is he? Izzie’s soon on a path that will lead her right to the killer . . . and her own worst nightmare.

Nathan Page & Drew Shannon at 1:30 pm

The Montague Twins #2: The Devil’s Music
By Nathan Page
Illustrated by Drew Shannon
320 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525646815 | Knopf BFYR
Alastair, Pete, Charlie, and Rachel aren’t just magical teen detectives in their coastal town of Port Howl – they are also members of a local teen rock band. Before a show one night, Charlie and Rachel meet a famous rockstar, Gideon, and invite him to their show. He’ll never come, but why not try, right? Little do they know, Gideon does show up, and he brings the threads of his dark past with him. In fact, he might even be the source of the rumored Devil’s Music, a limited-release song that entrances all of its listeners in a deadly hypnosis. When Pete quickly gets drawn into Gideon’s web, it’s up to his brother and friends to save him. But Pete might not be the only Montague Twin at risk for Gideon’s spell . . . .

Vanessa L. Torres at 11:30 am

The Turning Pointe
By Vanessa L. Torres
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593426135 | Knopf BFYR
When sixteen-year-old Rosa Dominguez pirouettes, she is poetry in pointe shoes. And as the daughter of a tyrant ballet Master, Rosa seems destined to become the star principal dancer of her studio. But Rosa would do anything for one hour in the dance studio upstairs where Prince, the Purple One himself, is in the house. After her father announces their upcoming auditions for a concert with Prince, Rosa is more determined than ever to succeed. Then Nikki – the cross-dressing, funky boy who works in the dance shop – leaps into her life. Weighed down by family expectations, Rosa is at a crossroads, desperate to escape so she can show everyone what she can do when freed of her pointe shoes. Now is her chance to break away from a life in tulle, grooving to that unmistakable Minneapolis sound reverberating through every bone in her body.

Wab Kinew at 2:30 pm

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.

Tundra Telegram: Books That Strike a Chord

Welcome to the first edition of Tundra Telegram, where we look at the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

This past Sunday, some very important recording awards were held, celebrating the best in the past year’s music. (For legal reasons, we are refraining from naming those awards on this site, but we all know what we’re talking about, right?) Jon Batiste and Olivia Rodrigo were among the big winners. If those music-minded awards put you in a musical mood, you may want to check out some of the following titles.

PICTURE BOOKS

Brother, Sister, Family is a children’s book by music legend (and winner of dozens of musical awards) Willie Nelson and his sister and bandmate Bobbie Nelson, and illustrated by Kyung Eun Han. It’s a moving tale about a family with little money but a lot of love – especially for music.

Darryl’s Dream is a picture book about a quiet, nerdy kid who gets the chance to show his creativity at a school talent show. It also happens to be written by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, a member of pioneering hip-hop group RUN-D.M.C. (who won a lifetime achievement award in 2016).

Why Not You? by performer Ciara and her Super Bowl champion husband Russell Wilson and illustrator Jessica Gibson is an inspiring picture book that encourages young readers to go after their biggest dreams – which may or may not include Song of the Year at an award show.

Paul McCartney, the author of Grandude’s Green Submarine (illustrated by Canadian artist Kathryn Durst) has been nominated for (and won) so many music awards, they probably take up several Wings (get it?) of his home.

And Nina, by Traci N. Todd and Christian Robinson is a lyrical picture book biography about Nina Simone who – improbably – was nominated, but never won an award of the kind they gave out last weekend. Can you believe that?!

MIDDLE GRADE

Jade Armstrong’s brand-new graphic novel Scout Is Not a Band Kid is a very funny story about a hapless girl who joins the school band for the trips (rather than an interest in music) – or one trip in particular (which will bring her closer to her favorite author). Trombone solos and hilarity ensues.

Celia C. Pérez’s The First Rule of Punk is a heartfelt exploration of friendship, being yourself, and rocking out. No one, not even the Posada Middle School’s anti-punk administration, will stop Malú from inciting a little anarchy in the USA.

This may be a bit more country than rock, hip-hop, or pop, but we’re sure Chris Stapleton would approve. In Kate O’Shaughnessy’s The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane, Maybelle is searching for her father. She soon discovers he’s a country radio DJ and will be judging a singing contest in Nashville. And you’d best believe she’s going to hop in an RV to Nashville to enter that contest!

Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer’s Broken Strings belongs more in awards for musical theatre, since it concerns a school production of Fiddler on the Roof that stirs up painful family secrets (as well as a little bit of romance), but given the Sondheim tribute at this year’s awards, we’re going to include it.

YOUNG ADULT

The boy band in Adib Khorram’s gay romance, Kiss & Tell is more 4*Town than BTS, but we’re sure they’d be up for Best Pop Duo / Group Performance.

David Yoon’s Super Fake Love Song follows Sunny Dae, who pretends he’s the front man of a rock band to impress the girl of his dreams – going to all lengths to not reveal the lie. (Fun fact: we’re pretty sure this is also how Imagine Dragons was formed.)

Jose Pimienta’s Suncatcher is a graphic novel about a girl whose grandfather’s soul is trapped in his guitar. All she has to do is play the perfect song and his soul will be freed. (Looks like a job for Swedish one-man hit factory Max Martin, am I right?)

The Montague Twins: The Devil’s Music, the new graphic novel by Nathan Page and Drew Shannon, looks at the dark side of rock music, as the twin teen detectives form a rock band with their friends, and soon encounter rock star Gideon, who may or may not have sinister hypnotic powers.

And fifteen YA authors and one bonafide rock star contribute to the short stories in Battle of the Bands. Edited by Lauren Gibaldi and Eric Smith, the stories by Preeti Chhibber, Ashley Woodfolk, Jeff Zentner, and Motion City Soundtrack‘s Justin Courtney Pierre present a  kaleidoscopic view of one transformative night of music (not unlike the award show itself).

Spring-Summer 2022 Sequels

Some of our fave books have sequels coming out this year and we can’t wait to get back into those worlds. Here are some of the ones we’ve read and loved so far:

Akata Woman
By Nnedi Okorafor
416 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780451480583 | Viking BFYR
From the moment Sunny Nwazue discovered she had mystical energy flowing in her blood, she sought to understand and control her powers. Throughout her adventures in Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, she had to navigate the balance between nearly everything in her life – America and Nigeria, the “normal” world and the one infused with juju, human and spirit, good daughter and powerful Leopard Person. Now, those hard lessons and abilities are put to the test in a quest so dangerous and fantastical, it would be madness to go . . . but may destroy the world if she does not. With the help of her friends, Sunny embarks on a mission to find a precious object hidden deep in an otherworldly realm. Defeating the guardians of the prize will take more from Sunny than she has to give, and triumph will mean she will be forever changed.

Bound by Firelight
By Dana Swift
448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593124253 | Delacorte Press
After a magical eruption devastates the kingdom of Belwar, royal heir Adraa is falsely accused of masterminding the destruction and forced to stand trial in front of her people, who see her as a monster. Adraa’s punishment? Imprisonment in the Dome, an impenetrable, magic-infused fortress filled with Belwar’s nastiest criminals – many of whom Adraa put there herself. And they want her to pay. Jatin, the royal heir to Naupure, has been Adraa’s betrothed, nemesis, and fellow masked vigilante . . . but now he’s just a boy waiting to ask her the biggest question of their lives. First, though, he’s going to have to do the impossible: break Adraa out of the Dome. And he won’t be able to do it without help from the unlikeliest of sources – a girl from his past with a secret that could put them all at risk. Time is running out, and the horrors Adraa faces in the Dome are second only to the plot to destabilize and destroy their kingdoms. But Adraa and Jatin have saved the world once already . . . Now, can they save themselves?

Crimson Reign
By Amélie Wen Zhao
496 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525707875 | Delacorte Press
The Red Tigress, Anastacya Mikhailov, has lost the gift she was only beginning to realize defined her. Stolen from her during the battle in Bregon, her blood Affinity rests with Sorsha Farrald, a dangerous Affinite who is on the run, headed straight to Cyrilia and to Ana’s aunt . . . the Empress Morganya. Thought she is weakened, Ana’s course remains true – yet her return to her homeland reveals a Cyrilia on the brink of collapse. Morganya’s tyrannical rule has transformed into a sinister quest for unquestioned authority, and she has set her sights far beyond Cyrilia. Morganya seeks a legendary ancient power, rumored to have once belonged to the Deities themselves. If she can locate it, she can rule the world. What’s more, Ana’s allies, the insurgent Affinite rebels known as the Redcloaks, no longer support her. For their allegiance is with the people – and there can be no equality with a monarchy. Ana faces enemies at every turn, and every day without her Affinity brings her closer to death. Yet she is determined to liberate her people and vanquish the legacy of her own imperial bloodline the inequality sewn into the fabric of her land. Her only hope lies in the navy she recruited in Bregon, the courage of her band of friends, and the cunning crime-lord-turned-captain she’s fallen for. If Ana loses this fight, it will be her last. And Morganya’s reign of darkness with consume the world.

In the Serpent’s Wake
By Rachel Hartman
512 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780385685917 | Penguin Teen Canada
Tess has a mission from the Queen: sail across the oceans to the bottom of the world and prevent a war. Unbeknownst to the Queen, Tess also intends to find the last World Serpent – a once-mythical creature with the magical ability to heal her best friend Pathka from a life-threatening injury. Tess never was one to follow the rules and this self-assigned mission feels like her duty, her calling, her destiny. Destiny has other ideas. When someone from Tess’s past makes a surprise return, old wounds are cracked open, throwing her mission – both the Queen’s and Tess’s personal agenda – into complete disarray. What’s more, Tess’s personal pain is intertwined with a history greater than her own and the mending of it threatens the delicate balance of the entire Southlands. Tess was sent on this journey to prevent a war, but she may be starting one of her own.

The Montague Twins #2: The Devil’s Music
By Nathan Page
Illustrated by Drew Shannon
320 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525646815 | Knopf BFYR
Alastair, Pete, Charlie, and Rachel aren’t just magical teen detectives in their coastal town of Port Howl – they are also members of a local teen rock band. Before a show one night, Charlie and Rachel meet a famous rockstar, Gideon, and invite him to their show. He’ll never come, but why not try, right? Little do they know, Gideon does show up, and he brings the threads of his dark past with him. In fact, he might even be the source of the rumored Devil’s Music, a limited-release song that entrances all of its listeners in a deadly hypnosis. When Pete quickly gets drawn into Gideon’s web, it’s up to his brother and friends to save him. But Pete might not be the only Montague Twin at risk for Gideon’s spell . . . .

And here are three coming out soon (but not soon enough)!

Rivals
By Katharine McGee
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593429709 | Random House BFYR
Beatrice is queen, and for the American royal family, everything is about to change. Relationships will be tested. Princess Samantha is in love with Lord Marshall Davis – but the more serious they get, the more complicated things become. Is Sam destined to repeat her string of broken relationships . . . and this time will the broken heart be her own? Strangers will become friends. Beatrice is representing America at the greatest convocation of kings and queens in the world. When she meets a glamorous foreign princess, she gets drawn into the inner circle . . . but at what cost? And rivals will become allies. Nina and Daphne have spent years competing for Prince Jefferson. Now they have something in common: they both want to take down manipulative Lady Gabriella Madison. Can these enemies join forces, or will old rivalries stand in the way?

The Gifts That Bind Us
By Caroline O’Donoghue
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536222227 | Walker Books
It’s senior year, and Maeve and her friends are practicing and strengthening their mystical powers, while Maeve’s new relationship with Roe is exhilarating. But as Roe’s rock star dreams start to take shape, and Fiona and Lily make plans for faraway colleges, Maeve, who struggles in school, worries about life without them – will she be selling incense here in Kilbeg, Ireland, until she’s fifty? Alarm bells sound for the coven when the Children of Brigid, a right-wing religious organization, quickly gains influence throughout the city – and when its charismatic front man starts visiting Maeve in her dreams. When Maeve’s power starts to wane, the friends realize that all the local magic is being drained – or rather, stolen. With lines increasingly blurred between friend and foe, the supernatural and the psychological, Maeve and the others must band together to protect the place, and the people, they love.

The Merciless Ones
By Namina Forna
464 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848727 | Delacorte Press
It’s been six months since Deka has freed the goddesses and discovered who she really is. There are now wars waging across the kingdom. Oterans now think jatu are traitors to the nation. Deka is called a monster. But the real battle has only just begun and Deka must lead the charge. Deka is tasked with freeing the rest of the goddesses. Only as she begins to free them, she begins to see a strange symbol everywhere in places of worship and worn on armor. There’s something unnatural about that symbol; just looking at it makes Deka lose her senses. Even worse, it seems to repel her powers. She can’t command or communicate with the new deathshrieks. In fact, she can’t even understand them when they speak. Deka knows freeing the goddesses is just the beginning. She can tell whatever dark force out is powerful and there is something sinister out there threatening the kingdom connected to that symbol – something merciless – that her army will need to stop before humanity crumbles. But Deka’s powers are only getting stronger . . . and her strongest weapon could be herself.

Which sequels are you waiting for??