Surviving Middle Grade

Middle school can be tough, so when the tweens in your life need a break, we have a great collection of entertaining books for them to escape to! From art-based school protests, to murder mysteries, to an Indigenous version of Narnia, we have something for everyone.

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen The Body Under the PianoAggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
336 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265462 | Tundra Books
Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative, but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal – including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends – to solve the case before Aggie’s beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn’t commit. Filled with mystery, adventure, an unforgettable heroine and several helpings of tea and sweets, The Body Under the Piano is the clever debut of a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere, from a Governor General’s Award-nominated author of historical fiction for children.

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: Peril at Owl Park
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265493 | Tundra Books
Aspiring writer Aggie Morton is looking forward to Christmas. Having just solved a murder and survived her own brush with death in her small town of Torquay on the coast of England, Aggie can’t wait to spend the holidays with her sister Marjorie, the new Lady Greyson of Owl Park, an enormous manor house in the country, Grannie Jane and her fellow sleuth and partner in crime, Hector Perot. Owl Park holds many delights including Aggie’s almost-cousin Lucy, exciting and glamorous visitors from Ceylon, and disguises aplenty in the form of a group of travelling actors. Not to mention a secret passageway AND an enormous, cursed emerald. Not even glowering old Lady Greyson (the Senior) can interfere with Aggie’s festive cheer. But when Aggie and her friends discover a body instead of presents on Christmas morning, things take a deadly serious turn. With the help of a certain nosy reporter, Aggie and Hector will once again have to put their deductive skills and imaginations to work to find the murderer on the loose. Filled with mystery, adventure, unforgettable characters and several helpings of tea and Christmas pudding, Peril at Owl Park is the second book in a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere.

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

ClanClan
By Sigmund Brouwer
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918494 | Tundra Books
Part survival story, part animal-human friendship story and part redemption story, Clan follows the journey of Atlatl and the saber tooth cub he rescues from a dire wolf attack. Injured as a child, Atlatl dreams of one day earning his father’s respect as a hunter. But when Atlatl brings the young saber tooth to his Clan, it leads to a devastating moment of torn loyalties between Atlatl and his father – a moment that will change their lives forever. Then an epic disaster strikes, and suddenly Atlatl has to rely on wits, ingenuity and bravery to face his biggest foe yet and try to save what remains of his Clan.

Me and BanksyMe and Banksy
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
272 Pages | 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266919 | Puffin Canada
Dominica’s private school is covered in cameras, and someone is hacking into them and posting embarrassing moments for the whole school to see. Like Ana picking her nose. When Dominica quickly changes her shirt from inside out in what she thinks is the privacy of a quiet corner in the library, she’s shocked – and embarrassed – to discover a video has captured this and is currently circulating amongst her schoolmates. So mortifying, especially since over the past three years, they’ve had a half-dozen school talks about social media safety. Who has access to the school security cameras and why are they doing this? Dominica and her best friends, Holden and Saanvi, are determined to find out, and in the process start an art-based student campaign against cameras in the classroom.

Also available as an audiobook

Pine Island HomePine Island Home
By Polly Horvath
240 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268623 | Puffin Canada
From Newbery Honor and National Book Award-winning author Polly Horvath comes a story of four sisters searching for home. Fiona, Marlin, Natasha, and Charlie McCready are left on their own when their missionary parents are washed away in a tsunami. Fortunately, their great aunt Martha volunteers to have them live with her on her farm in British Columbia. But while they are traveling there, Martha dies unexpectedly, forcing Fiona, the eldest, to come up with a scheme to keep social services from separating the girls – a scheme that will only work if no one knows they are living on their own. Fiona approaches their grouchy and indifferent neighbor Al and asks if he will pretend to be their live-in legal guardian should papers need to be signed or if anyone comes snooping around. He reluctantly agrees, under the condition that they bring him dinner every night. As weeks pass, Fiona takes on more and more adult responsibilities, while each of the younger girls finds their own special role in their atypical family. But even if things seem to be falling into place, Fiona can’t help but worry that it is only a matter of time before they are caught. What she needs to do is find them a real guardian.

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

Red Fox Road
By Frances Greenslade
248 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267817 | Puffin Canada
Francie and her parents are on a spring road trip: driving from British Columbia, Canada, to hike in the Grand Canyon. When a shortcut leads them down an old logging road, disaster strikes. Their truck hits a rock and wipes out the oil pan. They are stuck in the middle of nowhere. Francie can’t help feeling a little excited – she’d often imagined how she’d survive if she got stranded in the bush, and now here they are. But will her survival skills – building fires, gathering dandelion leaves and fir needles for tea – be enough when hours stretch into days?

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

The Barren GroundsThe Barren Grounds
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.

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

The Gryphon’s Lair
By Kelley Armstrong
352 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265387 | Puffin Canada
Rowan is now the Royal Monster Hunter, and her twin brother, Rhydd, is destined to be king. But her mother’s cousin Heward is still determined that his children be the ones to inherit the titles, and will stop at nothing to show that Rowan and Rhydd are too immature to properly lead. After the gryphon that Rowan captured in Book One gives birth but then dies, Rowan is left with a baby gryphon she knows she cannot keep. And it grows faster than anyone can imagine. . . . In order to save face after an accident involving the troublesome gryphon, Rowan, with the help of her friends Dain and Alianor, along with an entourage of monstrous companions, must make a journey to the mountains to release the gryphon back into the wild. What starts off as a simple enough task soon becomes a dangerous quest, as the group encounters numerous rare and deadly monsters along the way, including wyverns and ceffyl-dwrs. Nothing is easy when you’re a “monster magnet” like Rowan. Can she prove herself worthy of the title of Royal Monster Hunter? Find out in this exciting second book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying duology!

Also available as an audiobook

Make sure to pick up these books from your favourite local bookstore and check out our Book Extras page for discussion guides!

The 2021 OLA Forest of Reading® Nominees

The Forest of Reading® is Canada’s largest recreational reading program. This initiative of the Ontario Library Association offers seven reading programs to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages. The Forest helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors, and illustrators. Here at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, we’d like to congratulate our nominated authors and illustrators.

2021 Blue Spruce Award™ Nominees

Bad Dog
By Mike Boldt
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984847973 | Doubleday BFYR
“Look what I got for my birthday! A pet dog!” says a little girl holding a . . . cat? Rocky doesn’t listen or obey like all the other dogs. (Because Rocky is a cat.) And Rocky hates her leash and doesn’t seem to like other dogs. (Probably because Rocky is a cat.) And rather than play fetch, Rocky prefers to . . . lick between her toes? Ew. Rocky is a bad “dog”! BUT Rocky doesn’t bark, and is so cute when she sleeps in sunny spots. Maybe Rocky IS a good dog? (Or, you know, maybe Rocky is a cat.) Cat lovers and dog lovers alike will howl with laughter at this little girl’s willful insistence that her cat is a dog. The hilarious ways in which cats and dogs are different are brilliantly illuminated with each turn of the page and will leave young readers and their grown-ups giggling.

2021 Silver Birch Express Award® Fiction Nominees

Terry Fox and MeTerry Fox and Me
By Mary Beth Leatherdale
Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267688 | Tundra Books
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope, this picture book biography tells the story of a friendship defined by strength and love. Before Terry Fox become a national hero and icon, he was just a regular kid. But even then, his characteristic strength, determination and loyalty were apparent and were the foundation for his friendship with Doug. The two first met at basketball tryouts in grammar school. Terry was the smallest – and worst – basketball player on the court. But that didn’t stop him. With Doug’s help, Terry practiced and practiced until he earned a spot on the team. As they grew up, the best friends supported each other, challenged each other, helped each other become better athletes and better people. Doug was by Terry’s side every step of the way: when Terry received a diagnosis of cancer in his leg, when he was learning to walk – then run – with a prosthetic leg and while he was training for the race of his life, his Marathon of Hope. Written from Doug’s perspective, this story shows that Terry Fox’s legacy goes beyond the physical and individual accomplishments of a disabled athlete and honors the true value of friendship.

2021 Yellow Cedar Award® Fiction Nominees

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
By Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
48 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918593 | Tundra Books
Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. But while Gyo’s career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family’s internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting – for herself, her vision, her family and her readers – and later wrote and illustrated the first children’s book to feature children of different races interacting together. This luminous new book beautifully and openly touches on Gyo’s difficult experiences and growth. Through Julie Morstad’s exquisite illustrations, alternating between striking black-and-white linework and lush colour, and Kyo Maclear’s artful and accessible writing, the story of this cherished figure is told at last.

2021 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Nominees

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer
By Gillian Goerz
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525552857 | Dial BFYR
Jamila Waheed is staring down a lonely summer in a new neighborhood – until she meets Shirley Bones. Sure, Shirley’s a little strange, but both girls need a new plan for the summer, and they might as well become friends.  Then this kid Oliver shows up begging for Shirley’s help. His pet gecko has disappeared, and he’s sure it was stolen! That’s when Jamila discovers Shirley’s secret: She’s the neighborhood’s best kid detective, and she’s on the case. When Jamila discovers she’s got some detective skills of her own, a crime-solving partnership is born. The mystery of the missing gecko turns Shirley and Jamila’s summer upside down. And when their partnership hits a rough patch, they have to work together to solve the greatest mystery of all: What it means to be a friend.

The Barren GroundsThe Barren Grounds
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.

2021 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Nominees

Broken Strings
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266247 | Puffing Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

2021 White Pine Award™ Nominees

He Must Like You
By Danielle Younge-Ullman
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265691 | Penguin Teen Canada
Libby’s having a rough senior year. Her older brother absconded with his college money and is bartending on a Greek island. Her dad just told her she’s got to pay for college herself, and he’s evicting her when she graduates so he can AirBnB her room. A drunken hook-up with her coworker Kyle has left her upset and confused. So when Perry Ackerman, serial harasser and the most handsy customer at The Goat where she waitresses, pushes her over the edge, she can hardly be blamed for dumping a pitcher of sangria on his head. Unfortunately, Perry is a local industry hero, the restaurant’s most important customer and Libby’s mom’s boss. Now Libby has to navigate the fallout of her outburst, find an apartment and deal with her increasing rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life – and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. As timely as it is timeless, He Must Like You is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people.

By Tanaz Bhathena
384 Pages | Ages 12+| Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267022 | Penguin Teen Canada
Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge. Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl—Gul—in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance—and discovers a magic he never expected to find. Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.
The Starlight Claim
By Tim Wynne-Jones
240 Pages | Ages 14+| Hardcover
ISBN 9781536202649 | Candlewick
Four months after his best friend, Dodge, disappeared near their families’ camp in a boat accident, Nate is still haunted by nightmares. He’d been planning to make the treacherous trek to the remote campsite with a friend — his first time in winter without his survival-savvy father. But when his friend gets grounded, Nate secretly decides to brave the trip solo in a journey that’s half pilgrimage, half desperate hope he will find his missing friend when no one else could. What he doesn’t expect to find is the door to the cabin flung open and the camp occupied by strangers: three men he’s horrified to realize have escaped from a maximum-security prison. Snowed in by a blizzard and with no cell signal, Nate is confronted with troubling memories of Dodge and a stunning family secret, and realizes that his survival now depends on his wits as much as his wilderness skills. As things spiral out of control, Nate finds himself dealing with questions even bigger than who gets to leave the camp alive.

Monster Monday with Cale Atkinson

Have you met the fangtastic monsters in Cale Atkinson’s Monsters 101? We hear that they’ve been taking over indie bookstores across Canada for the past few weeks . . . and now we have one living on our blog!

Meet Charlie!

Charlie has to power to lure in foolish victims with her cuteness, only to hypnotize and force them to gather delicious foods and dance for her amusement.

And to tell us more, here’s Cale Atkinson himself – author, illustrator, and professional monster researcher.

So far, we’ve tracked monsters at six indie bookstores across the country – and we’ve heard from Cale himself that there will be more. Keep an eye out for each store’s monster, you never know where one might pop up!

List of confirmed monster sightings:

Ella Minnow
Once Upon a Bookstore
Moonbeam Books
McNally-Robinson
Munro Books
Audreys Books
Vancouver Kidsbooks
Blue Heron Books


Monsters 101Monsters 101
By Cale Atkinson
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267084 | Tundra Books
Readers who loved Unicorns 101 will love this laugh-out-loud picture book that finally sets the record straight about monsters! They’re so much more than just that scary thing under your bed. Join Professors Vampire, Blob and Werewolf, and their trusty lab assistant – a zombie named Tina – as they reveal eerie and frankly ridiculous monster facts never uttered outside a crypt! Full of eye-popping illustrations and a story with nonstop side-splitting laughs, plus a removable Professor of Monstrology diploma at the end of the book, Monsters 101 will have children – and adults – eager to enroll, time and time again!

#HalloweenAtHome: Spooktacular Adventures

Halloween is just around the corner and this month we’ll be posting our recommended reads for all ages ranges! This list is for all the ghouls and goblins who can read on their own – these chapter books and middle grade novels will give them the creeps! Make sure to pick them up from your favorite bookstore for a sweet treat!

Chapter Books

Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise
By Kate DiCamillio
Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780763649517 | Candlewick
When the Watsons decide to zip their porcine wonder into a formfitting princess dress for Halloween – complete with tiara – they are certain that Mercy will be beautiful beyond compare. Mercy is equally certain she likes the sound of trick-or-treating and can picture piles of buttered toast already. As for the Lincoln Sisters next door, how could they know that their cat would lead them all on a Halloween “parade” of hysterical proportions? Kate DiCamillo’s beguiling pig is back in a tale full of treats, tricky turns, hijinks, and high humor.

Stink and the Hairy Scary Spider
By Megan McDonald
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
160 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536209204 | Candlewick
Creepy! Crawly! Criminy! Everyone knows that Stink is bonkers about most scientific things. But there’s one exception: dangle a spider in front of him and he goes berserk! Stink is so freaked out by spiders that he can’t read about them. He can’t look at them. He can’t think about them. And he for-sure can’t touch them! Stink has arachnophobia (a fear of spiders), and he has it bad. But when a hairy backyard emergency arises, Stink is forced to face his fear – and eight beady eyes – head-on. Will he manage to tame the heebie-jeebies, or will he remain stuck in his web of terror? Arachno-fans will love the comics sprinkled throughout with facts about spiders as well as a hands-on origami challenge.

Middle Grade Ages 8-12

A Small Zombie Problem
By K. G. Campbell
240 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780553539585 | Knopf BFYR
August DuPont has spent his whole life inside a dilapidated house with his aunt Hydrangea. His lonely existence ends abruptly with the arrival of an invitation to meet an aunt – and cousins – he didn’t even know existed. When Aunt Orchid suggests that August attend school with his cousins, it’s a dream come true. But August has scarcely begun to celebrate his reversal of fortune when he is confronted by a small problem on his way home. So begins an adventure filled with a wild child, a zombie, a fabled white alligator, and an unimaginable family secret.

Begone the Raggedy Witches
By Celine Kiernan
288 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781536208740 | Candlewick
On the night that Aunty dies, the raggedy witches come for Mup’s family. Pale, cold, and relentless, the witches will do anything for the tyrannical queen who has outlawed most magic and enforces her laws with terror and cruelty — and who happens to be Mup’s grandmother. When witches carry off her dad, Mup and her mam leave the mundane world to rescue him. But everything is odd in the strange, glittering Witches Borough, even Mam. Even Mup herself. In a world of rhyming crows, talking cats, and golden forests, it’s all Mup can do to keep her wits about her. And even if she can save her dad, Mup’s not sure if anything will ever be the same again. First in a new trilogy by Irish author Celine Kiernan, this tale of family and forbidden magic charts a fresh path through the landscape of beloved fantasy tradition — and promises to bewitch any reader in search of stories to love.

Middle School Bites
By Steven Banks
Illustrated by Mark Fearing
304 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823445431 | Holiday House
Thanks to a series of unfortunate bites, eleven-year-old Tom is a triple threat: he’s a Vam-Wolf-Zom. And just in time for the first day of middle school. So much for his Invisible Tom Plan. He never thought to make a What If I Turn Into A Vampire Werewolf Zombie Plan. Maybe it’s time for a Run Away and Live Somewhere Else Plan? With the help of his irrepressible best friend, Zeke, Tom tries to accept his future. Zeke thinks being a Vam-Wolf-Zom sounds EXCELLENT! (Zeke thinks everything sounds EXCELLENT!) At least he’ll be able to stand up to the sixth-grade bully. The question is will the rest of Hamilton Middle School accept the Vam-Wolf-Zom, too?


Midnight at the Barclay Hotel
By Fleur Bradley
Illustrated by Xavier Bonet
320 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593202906 | Viking BFYR
When JJ Jacobson convinced his mom to accept a surprise invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway at the illustrious Barclay Hotel, he never imagined that he’d find himself in the midst of a murder mystery. He thought he was in for a run-of-the-mill weekend ghost hunting at the most haunted spot in town, but when he arrives at the Barclay Hotel and his mother is blamed for the hotel owner’s death, he realizes his weekend is going to be anything but ordinary. Now, with the help of his new friends, Penny and Emma, JJ has to track down a killer, clear his mother’s name, and maybe even meet a ghost or two along the way.

Monsterology
By Dr. Ernest Drake
Edited by Dugald A. Steer
32 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763639402 | Candlewick
Do krakens really lurk below the ocean waves? Do griffins command the air above? In a fascinating new discovery sure to rival the ground-breaking Dragonology, the intrepid Dr. Ernest Drake turns his inquisitive gaze from dragons to other so-called mythical creatures. For anyone who has ever wondered whether legendary beasts still wander among us, this lush look at an astounding array of creatures offers everything a true believer would want to know.

Rise of Zombert
By Kara LaReau
Illustrated by Ryan Andrews
144 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201062 | Candlewick
While helping her best friend, Danny, film his latest horror flick, Mellie discovers a scraggly cat behind a dumpster outside the YummCo Foods factory. Mellie names the stray Bert and hides him in her room, knowing her parents won’t let her keep him. But soon Bert has decapitated all her stuffed animals, and before long he is leaving the headless corpses of birds and mice as gifts for her. Danny is convinced the cat is a zombie, living on the brains of his victims. But is that what is really going on? Award-winning author Kara LaReau lets loose a fresh and sharply funny new mystery series, with an irresistible touch of the macabre. Fans of creepy stories and animal lovers alike will devour this fast-moving first episode in one gulp.

The Ghost Road
By Charis Cotter
368 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263253 | Tundra Books
For the first time, Ruth is heading to Newfoundland to stay with family she’s never met instead of spending the summer traveling with her dad. When she arrives, she finds Newfoundland is very different from her life in Toronto – people there are much more friendly, but also superstitious, believing in ghosts and The Sight and family curses. Ruth’s cousin Ruby is also staying for the summer, and the two discover they have a lot in common: they both lost their moms when they were two years old, they’re the same age and they even like the same food. But while Ruby believes in spirits and fairies, Ruth believes in science and cold, hard facts. When they find ominous information on some tombstones in the local cemetery, Ruth and Ruby start investigating their family’s past and discover that twin girls are born in every generation, and every set of twins dies young, leaving their children without mothers. What’s more, one of the twins always has The Sight and can see the Ghost Road that leads to the mysterious lost settlement of Slippers Cove. What happened there? What does it have to do with their family? And who is the ghostly presence that keeps visiting Ruth late at night? The answers lie somewhere along the Ghost Road . . . if they can only find it.

The Last Kids on Earth
By Max Brallier
Illustrated by Douglas Holgate
240 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780670016617 | Viking BFYR
Ever since the monster apocalypse hit town, average thirteen year old Jack Sullivan has been living in his tree house, which he’s armed to the teeth with catapults and a moat, not to mention video games and an endless supply of Oreos and Mountain Dew scavenged from abandoned stores. But Jack alone is no match for the hordes of Zombies and Winged Wretches and Vine Thingies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent monster known only as Blarg. So Jack builds a team: his dorky best friend, Quint; the reformed middle school bully, Dirk; Jack’s loyal pet monster, Rover; and Jack’s crush, June. With their help, Jack is going to slay Blarg, achieve the ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success, and be average no longer! Can he do it? 

The Mulberry Tree
By Allison Rushby
304 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536207613 | Candlewick
Ten-year-old Immy and her family have run away from their storm cloud of problems to a tiny village in Cambridgeshire, England, where her depressed physician father can take a sabbatical and get back on his feet. Luckily, they find an adorable thatched cottage to begin a new life in. But their new home comes with one downside: in the backyard, there is an ancient, dark, and fierce-looking mulberry tree that has ceased bearing any fruit. There’s a legend that the towering tree steals away girls who live in the cottage on the eve of their eleventh birthday, and villagers even cross the street when they pass by the house. Of course, Immy thinks this is all ridiculous. But then she starts to hear a strange song in her head. . . . In a page-turner perfect for middle-graders, Allison Rushby folds themes of new-school travails, finding friends, being embarrassed by parents, and learning empathy into a deliciously goose-bumpy supernatural mystery.

The Painting
By Charis Cotter
288 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263215 | Tundra Books
Annie and her mother don’t see eye to eye. When Annie finds a painting of a lonely lighthouse in their home, she is immediately drawn to it – and her mother wishes it would stay banished in the attic. To her, art has no interest, but Annie loves drawing and painting. When Annie’s mother slips into a coma following a car accident, strange things begin to happen to Annie. She finds herself falling into the painting and meeting Claire, a girl her own age living at the lighthouse. Claire’s mother Maisie is the artist behind the painting, and like Annie, Claire’s relationship with her mother is fraught. Annie thinks she can help them find their way back to each other, and in so doing, help mend her relationship with her own mother. But who IS Claire? Why can Annie travel through the painting? And can Annie help her mother wake up from her coma?

The Pumpkin War
By Cathleen Young
192 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524767334 | Wendy Lamb Books
At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer, adults and kids across the island grow giant, thousand-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town. Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first-prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn’t care much about winning, or at least Billie didn’t think so until last summer’s race, when his pumpkin crashed into hers as she was about to cross the finish line and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin and beating Sam in the race. It’s a tricky science to grow pumpkins, since weather, bugs, and critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long-lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

The Swallow
By Charis Cotter
320 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9781770495920 | Tundra Books
In 1960s Toronto, two girls retreat to their attics to escape the loneliness and isolation of their lives. Polly lives in a house bursting at the seams with people, while Rose is often left alone by her busy parents. Polly is a down-to-earth dreamer with a wild imagination and an obsession with ghosts; Rose is a quiet, ethereal waif with a sharp tongue. Despite their differences, both girls spend their days feeling invisible and seek solace in books and the cozy confines of their respective attics. But soon they discover they aren’t alone–they’re actually neighbors, sharing a wall. They develop an unlikely friendship, and Polly is ecstatic to learn that Rose can actually see and talk to ghosts. Maybe she will finally see one too! But is there more to Rose than it seems? Why does no one ever talk to her? And why does she look so . . . ghostly? When the girls find a tombstone with Rose’s name on it in the cemetery and encounter an angry spirit in her house who seems intent on hurting Polly, they have to unravel the mystery of Rose and her strange family . . . before it’s too late.

The Witches
By Roald Dahl
224 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780141365473 | Puffin
BEWARE. There are witches EVERYWHERE. Witches could be a cashier in a supermarket, a woman driving a fancy car, or even your own teacher. The only thing a witch cares about is squelching children. She hunts and squelches as many children as she possibly can. At least one a week. The Grand High Witch hates children most of all and plans to make every single one of YOU disappear. Only one boy and his grandmother can stop her. But if their plan fails, the Grand High Witch will frizzle them like fritters, and then what will happen?

Thirteens
By Kate Alice Marshall
240 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593117026 | Viking BFYR
Eleanor has just moved to the quiet, prosperous Eden Eld. When she awakes to discover an ancient grandfather clock that she’s never seen before outside her new room, she’s sure her eyes must be playing tricks on her. But then she spots a large bird, staring at her as she boards the school bus. And a black dog with glowing red eyes follows her around town. All she wants is to be normal, and these are far from normal. And worse — no one else can see them. Except for her new friends, Pip and Otto, who teach her a thing or two about surviving in Eden Eld. First: Don’t let the “wrong things” know you can see them. Second: Don’t speak of the wrong things to anyone else. The only other clue they have about these supernatural disturbances is a book of fairytales unlike any they’ve read before. It tells tales of the mysterious Mr. January, who struck a cursed deal with the town’s founders. Every thirteenth Halloween, he will take three of their children, who are never heard from again. It’s up to our trio to break the curse — because Eden Eld’s thirteen years are up. And Eleanor, Pip, and Otto are marked as his next sacrifice.

Middle Grade Ages 10+

Ghostology
By Lucinda Curtle
Edited by Dugald A. Steer
30 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536209150 | Candlewick
Have you been hearing strange footsteps and knocks, whispers and rattling chains? Perhaps the early-twentieth-century author of this newly discovered tome has some secrets to share. Within the book’s weathered pages, you’ll hear of a headless French pirate in search of his missing noggin, a vanishing pair of young trickster twins, a ghostly woman who screams for attention, and other communications from the “fun side.” Readers who wish to plumb the mysteries of the paranormal will find some hands-on challenges to lift their spirits, along with tips on a range of spectral subjects, such as what to pack in a ghostologist’s field kit, how to distinguish the types of ghosts, the best ways to hunt them, and spotting the unfortunate fakes and frauds. Too bad the late author never got to see her guide find its way into the world! But wait — what are those strange and scratchy asides that appear in odd places throughout the book?

Small Spaces
By Katherine Arden
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525515043 | Putnam BFYR
After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie who only finds solace in books discovers a chilling ghost story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man” – a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. Captivated by the tale, Ollie begins to wonder if the smiling man might be real when she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about on a school trip to a nearby farm. Then, later, when her school bus breaks down on the ride home, the strange bus driver tells Ollie and her classmates: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed these warnings. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them – the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”

The Ghost in Apartment 2R
By Denis Markell
320 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525645740 | Delacorte BFYR
It stinks that Danny’s older brother moved out and went to college. But you know what’s worse? He left behind an angry ghost in his room! With the help of his friends Nat and Gus, Danny interviews everyone his Brooklyn neighborhood to find out about spirits. Is it an Arabian ghoul? A Korean gwishin? A Polish haunting? Maybe the answer lies with Danny’s own bubbe and her tales of a dybbuk, a Jewish mythological ghost. Regardless of its origins, what does the spirit truly want? And can Danny manage to bring the phantom to rest?

The Night Gardener
By Jonathan Auxier
368 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780143189978 | Puffin Canada
When orphaned Irish siblings Molly and Kip arrive to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house, they discover that the house and its inhabitants are not what they seem. Soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and the secrets of the cursed house will change their lives forever. This much-anticipated follow up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian mystery in the tradition of Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

This Town Is Not All Right 
By M. K. Krys
304 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593097144 | Penguin Workshop
Twins Beacon and Everleigh McCullough are moving from their home in sunny LA to Driftwood Harbor, a rainy fishing village in New England. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s something strange about this town and the mysterious group of too-perfect students called The Gold Stars. After Everleigh is recruited into their ranks, Beacon must uncover Driftwood Harbor’s frightening secret before he loses his sister forever. This Town Is Not All Right is the middle-grade horror debut from M.K. Krys (YA author Michelle Krys). Be prepared for a thrilling page-turner with a major mystery because the residents of Driftwood Harbor will do whatever it takes to keep their dark secrets from rising to the surface.


Check out our #HalloweenAtHome page for more ideas to celebrate including bookish costumes, ideas, and activities!

#HalloweenAtHome: Read Them a Good Scare!

Halloween is just around the corner and this month we’ll be posting our recommended reads for all ages ranges! This list is all about frightfully fun picture books for the young ghouls in your life – make sure to pick them up from your favorite bookstore for a sweet treat!

Ages 2-5

I Want to Be in a Scary Story
By Sean Taylor
Illustrated by Jean Jullien
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763689537 | Candlewick
Our author would like to write a funny story, but his main character – Monster – has a different idea. He wants to be the star of a chilling, petrifying, utterly terrifying SCARY story. But scary stories . . . well, they can be very scary – especially for their characters! Particularly when they involve dark forests and creepy witches and spooky houses. . . . Oh yikes and crikes, this is definitely not the scary story Monster had in mind! Maybe he wants to be in a funny story after all!

Peppa Pig and the Halloween Costume
By Candlewick Press
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536200607 | Candlewick
What should Peppa Pig be for Halloween? She has lots of costume ideas, but her friends seem to have thought of everything already. Should Peppa be a pirate? No, Danny Dog is dressing up as a pirate – with an eye patch and everything! What about a nurse? No, that’s Suzy Sheep’s costume. Can Peppa pull together a Halloween costume that’s perfectly Peppa Pig and perfect for her favorite activity – in time for trick-or-treating?

We’re Going on a Goon Hunt
By Michael Rex
40 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984813626 | Putnam BFYR
A goon hunt is no easy task. A twisted tangled pumpkin patch, murky bubbling swamp, and foggy crumbling graveyard are just a few of the obstacles these kids will have to go through, skulking monsters included. And when the Goon finally makes an appearance – under the covers they go! Except one brave child who finds monsters more fun than scary. The beloved classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt gets a ghoulish twist in this goon-infused parody that perfectly plays with the rhythm and sound effects of the original. Mike Rex’s creepy settings and hilarious text will have kids demanding to giggle and shiver through the story again and again.

Ages 3-7

Bob’s Hungry Ghost
By Geneviève Côté
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Ebook
ISBN 9781770497146 | Tundra Books
Bob wants a dog for his birthday, but instead he gets a ghost . . . and its name is Fluffy. Unfortunately, Fluffy doesn’t fetch, sit or go for walks. But he does eat everything, and soon all of Bob’s things and even Bob himself end up in Fluffy’s belly. Will Bob find a way to tame his unruly and very hungry ghost? Will Fluffy realize that eating Bob wasn’t a very nice thing to do? All ends well in this sweet and silly look at appreciating what you have. And everyone will want a ghost for their birthday after reading this book.

Ghost in the House
By Ammi-Joan Paquette
Illustrated by Adam Record
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780763698928 | Candlewick
Boo! Watch out for this rollicking, cumulative counting book for a Halloween treat that’s more playful than scary. When a little ghost goes slip-sliding down the hallway, he suddenly hears . . . a groan! Turns out it’s only a friendly mummy, who shuffles along with the ghost, until they encounter . . . a monster! As the cautious explorers continue, they find a surprise at every turn – and add another adorably ghoulish friend to the count. But you’ll never guess who is the scariest creature in the house!

Gustavo, The Sky Ghost
By Flavia Z. Drago
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211146 | Candlewick
Gustavo is good at doing all sorts of ghostly things: walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. And he loves almost nothing more than playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo is shy, and some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye scream or making friends with other monsters. Whenever he tries getting close to them, he realizes they just can’t see him. Now that the Day of the Dead is fast approaching, what can he do to make them notice him and to share with them something he loves? With fancifully detailed artwork and visual humor, debut picture-book creator Flavia Z. Drago’s vivid illustrations tell a sweet and gently offbeat story of loneliness, bravery, and friendship that is sure to be a treat for little ghouls and goblins everywhere.

Monsters 101Monsters 101
By Cale Atkinson
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267084 | Tundra Books
Readers who loved Unicorns 101 will love this laugh-out-loud picture book that finally sets the record straight about monsters! They’re so much more than just that scary thing under your bed. Join Professors Vampire, Blob and Werewolf, and their trusty lab assistant – a zombie named Tina – as they reveal eerie and frankly ridiculous monsters facts never uttered outside a crypt! Full of eye-popping illustrations and a story with nonstop sidesplitting laughs, plus a removable Professor of Monstrology diploma at the end of the book, Monsters 101 will have children – and adults – eager to enroll, time and time again!

Pick a Pumpkin
By Patricia Toht
Illustrated by Jarvis
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536207644 | Candlewick
Pairing a wonderfully rhythmic read-aloud text with expressive retro illustrations, author Patricia Toht and illustrator Jarvis capture all the excitement and familial feeling of a favorite holiday tradition. Readers will be happy to follow along with each step, from picking out the perfect specimen at the pumpkin patch (be sure to stop for cider and toffee apples) to carting it home, scooping out the insides, carving a scary face, and finally lighting a candle inside – savoring the familiar ritual of transforming an ordinary pumpkin into a one-of-a-kind glowing jack-o’-lantern.

Snowmen at Halloween
By Caralyn M. Buehner
Illustrated by Mark E. Buehner
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525554684 | Dial BFYR
Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered . . . what do snowmen do when we’re not watching? After an early snowfall, a few kids build some snowmen before going trick-or-treating. And when the kids go off to bed, the snowmen have their own Halloween festival! There’s candy and apple-bobbing and costume contests and all sorts of autumn activities. When the kids wake up the next morning, the snowmen are gone . . . but they’ve left a very special message behind.

The Little Ghost Who Was a QuiltThe Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt
By Riel Nason
Illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264472 | Tundra Books
Ghosts are supposed to be sheets, light as air and able to whirl and twirl and float and soar. But the little ghost who is a quilt can’t whirl or twirl at all, and when he flies, he gets very hot. He doesn’t know why he’s a quilt. His parents are both sheets, and so are all of his friends. (His great-grandmother was a lace curtain, but that doesn’t really help cheer him up.) He feels sad and left out when his friends are zooming around and he can’t keep up. But one Halloween, everything changes. The little ghost who was a quilt has an experience that no other ghost could have, an experience that only happens because he’s a quilt . . . and he realizes that it’s OK to be different.

Ages 4-8

Give Me Back My Bones!
By Kim Norman
Illustrated by Bob Kolar
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763688417 | Candlewick
A stormy night at sea has uncovered some long-buried secrets and surprises. Is that the mast of a shipwreck? A faded pirate hat? And what’s that hiding in the sand? A mandible and a clavicle, phalanges and femurs, a tibia and a fibula – could there be a set of bones scattered across the ocean floor? And who might they belong to? A jaunty rhyme takes readers on an underwater scavenger hunt as a comical skeleton tries to put itself back together piece by piece. Make no bones about it: this rollicking read-aloud will have young ones learning anatomy without even realizing it.

Halloween, Here I Come!
By D.J. Steinberg
Illustrated by Laurie Stansfield
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593094204 | Grosset & Dunlap
Kick off your Halloween night with these festive poems from the author of Kindergarten, Here I Come! From choosing the best costume and going out trick-or-treating to sorting your candy and dealing with the results after you’ve eaten too much, author D. J. Steinberg captures the slightly shivery as well as festive moments of Halloween in this collection of playful poems. Includes a sheet of stickers for extra Halloween fun!

How to Make Friends with a Ghost
By Rebecca Green
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919019 | Tundra Books
What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some of its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no one mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren’t looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you’ll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you. A whimsical story about ghost care, Rebecca Green’s debut picture book is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and the timeless theme of friendship.

Rocket and the Perfect Pumpkin
By Tad Hills
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593177853 | Schwartz & Wade
It’s a beautiful day at the pumpkin patch! There, Rocket and Bella find the perfect pumpkin. But as the friends try to take the pumpkin home, it rolls downhill and lands in front of Mr. Barker’s doghouse. Can Rocket and Bella get their pumpkin back? With its simple words, lots of repetition, and bright, colorful illustrations, young readers will love this Step 1 Step into Reading leveled reader about being generous, which they can read all by themselves!

Sir Simon: Super Scarer
By Cale Atkinson
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101919095 | Tundra Books
Meet Sir Simon, Super Scarer. He’s a professional ghost who has been transferred to his first house. And to top it off, this house is occupied by an old lady – they’re the easiest to haunt! But things don’t go as planned when it turns out a KID comes with this old lady. Chester spots Simon immediately and peppers him with questions. Simon is exasperated . . . until he realizes he can trick Chester into doing his ghost chores. After a long night of haunting, it seems that maybe Chester isn’t cut out to be a ghost, so Simon decides to help with Chester’s human chores. Turns out Simon isn’t cut out for human chores either. But maybe they’re both cut out to be friends . . .

The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo!
By Elaine Bickell
Illustrated by Raymond McGrath
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593202159 | Philomel BFYR
Little Ghost went out in the middle of the night and flew up to someone to give them a fright. She opened her mouth–but her BOO wasn’t there! All that came out was a rush of cold air. “I’ve lost my BOO! I’ve lost my BOO! Where has it gone? What will I do?” Poor Little Ghost has lost her scary BOO, so she sets out on a nighttime hunt to find it. She searches high and low, but it’s nowhere to be found! Will she ever find her lost BOO? With bold and gorgeous art accompanied by bouncy, rhyming text, The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo is a charming, not-so-spooky read aloud perfect for Halloween or any time of year!

Ages 5-9

Mary Who Wrote FrankensteinMary Who Wrote Frankenstein
By Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Júlia Sardà
Hardcover | 56 Pages | Ages 5-8
ISBN 9781770495593 | Tundra Books
How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on the tombstone of her famous feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of sixteen runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. Two years later, they travel to Switzerland where they meet a famous poet, Lord Byron. On a stormy summer evening, with five young people gathered around a fire, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. Mary has a waking dream about a monster come to life. A year and a half later, Mary Shelley’s terrifying tale, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, is published – a novel that goes on to become the most enduring monster story ever and one of the most popular legends of all time.

Where’s Waldo? Spooky Spotlight Search
By Martin Handford
16 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211580 | Candlewick
Somewhere in the darkness, Waldo is venturing across a swamp toward a looming castle, sneaking down to the dungeon and through a creepy gallery to. . . . Hey! We didn’t see that twist coming! In Waldo’s second adventure featuring this innovative, all-paper design, readers can slide a spotlight searcher under a series of totally dark scenes, illuminating small sections and stealthily moving the light to seek out Waldo and his friends. Everyone’s favorite vagabond is in costume as himself in this Halloween-worthy challenge for eagle-eyed fans.


Check out our #HalloweenAtHome page for more ideas to celebrate including bookish costumes, ideas, and activities!