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.

Staff Picks: Favorite Teen Books from 2021

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

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

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

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

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

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

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

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

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

Our Stars of 2021

At Tundra Book Group (Tundra Books, Puffin Canada, and Penguin Teen Canada), we think all our books are brilliant, and it’s nice when others think so too! Congratulations to our authors and illustrators; these are our starred books of 2021!

FIVE STARS:

Instructions for Dancing
By Nicola Yoon
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271234 | Penguin Teen Canada
“An endearing, affecting exploration of the journey of love. Everything Yoon touches turns to gold and this cinematic supernatural romance will be no exception.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“A remarkable, irresistible love story that will linger long after readers turn the final page.” – Starred Review, Kirkus
“Yoon delivers a story of love’s unpredictability and the importance of perspective that unfolds with ease and heart.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“A sweet, genuine love story sure to pull on the heartstrings.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“Yoon delivers this captivating story of first love with beautiful prose, clever dialogue that swings between laugh-out-loud funny and wildly insightful, clear respect for the complexity and nuance of her teen characters’ perspectives and emotions – and just enough magic to make it all truly unforgettable.” – Starred Review, BookPage

FOUR STARS:

In the Wild Light
By Jeff Zentner
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263055 | Penguin Teen Canada
“A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Evocative and moving, highlighting Zentner’s impressive skill with both poetry and prose.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“A wise, gorgeous exploration of loss and survival that will make readers cry…Lyrical and heartbreaking.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal
“Heartfelt and deeply moving . . . a book that readers will unhesitatingly take to their hearts.” – Starred Review, Booklist

THREE STARS:

Little Witch Hazel
By Phoebe Wahl
96 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264892 | Tundra Books
“The writing is lush and lyrical, and the textured, earth-toned illustrations expertly capture Hazel’s world, both cozy and gloriously wild . . . More Mosswood, please.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“A thread of loving and nurturing emerges through this treasury of quiet adventures . . . and readers will find satisfaction in seeing the way [Little Witch Hazel’s] sturdy care succors her community and results in gentle reciprocation.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“The quiet but insistent rejection of conventional norms is both cheer worthy and effortlessly integrated, and the result is a story that can sit happily next to any classic fairy story as well as contemporary picture books directly addressing physical differences.” – Starred Review, Booklist

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681  | Tundra Books
“An outstanding contribution to the literature about family, intergenerational friendship, remembrance, community, Indigenous experience, and more.” – Starred Review, The Horn Book
“Robertson’s text is as spare as Flett’s artwork, leaving plenty of space for readers to feel the emotions evoked by both.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“A deeply affecting journey of memory and history.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Time Is a Flower
By Julie Morstad
56 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267541 | Tundra Books
“Thoughtful metaphors and diverse characters take viewers through the manifold dimensions of time. . . . This exuberant vehicle will expand the thinking of those just beginning to comprehend clocks and calendars.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“A conceptual meditation, winsome and enigmatic.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating way to think about the passage of time.” – Starred Review, Booklist

TWO STARS:

Bear Wants to Sing
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Dena Seiferling
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268036 | Tundra Books
“Sparkling whimsy . . . a delicate story full of humor and friendship.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“This tender tale of creativity, manners, and nurturing friendship by the creators of King Mouse has all the makings of a contemporary classic.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Blankie
By Ben Clanton
22 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735266780 | Tundra Books
“A delightful celebration of friendship and fancy.” –  Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“From Clanton’s early graphic novel series, hilarious best-friend duo Narwhal and Jelly happily talk about their favorite things and dart about in their simple, signature colors across the pages.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Both Sides Now
By Peyton Thomas
300 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269750 | Penguin Teen Canada
“Emotionally charged and politically relevant, this is a must-read.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Thomas’ debut is achingly vulnerable . . . There’s no debate: Both Sides Now is a compelling, heartfelt must-read.” – Starred Review, Booklist

Ten Little Dumplings
By Larissa Fan
Illustrated by Cindy Wume
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266193 | Tundra Books
“Stepping out of the shadows: a gentle, persuasive #ownvoices take on a hitherto-untold perspective.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“A sincere and beautiful story for all ages, and one that can gently introduce a serious discussion topic of rank and gender for older readers.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

The Great Godden
By Meg Rosoff
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735268319 | Penguin Teen Canada
“One wants to read the book several times to tease out how Rosoff achieves her effects. The effort is a joy, just like this unforgettable novel, the first of a planned, summer-themed trio.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“There’s enough tension here that readers may hope for a ramp-up into full thriller, but the story moves toward a different kind of satisfying conclusion, with victory lying in an unpredictable tennis match and the ability to preserve the possibilities of future summers.” – Starred Review, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

What Does Little Crocodile Say?
By Eva Montanari
40 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268135 | Tundra Books
“This endearing take on a common preschool scenario will make an appealing read-aloud at home or school.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Montanari’s economic, softly textured pencil crayon drawings and intimate, inventive vignette framings provide plenty to linger over, and deliver the gentle persuasion that reluctant, or sensorially sensitive, preschoolers need.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

ONE STAR:

Anonymouse
By Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Anna Pirolli
40  Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263949 | Tundra Books
“Slyly subversive, Anonymouse offers a shrewd commentary on the challenges and hazards facing nature in the city.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

Bubbles
By Ben Clanton
22 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735266766 | Tundra Books
“From Clanton’s early graphic novel series, hilarious best-friend duo Narwhal and Jelly happily talk about their favorite things and dart about in their simple, signature colors across the pages.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Butterflies Are Pretty . . . Gross!
By Rosemary Mosco
Illustrated by Jacob Souva
36 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265929 | Tundra Books
“A proboscis-in-cheek introduction to butterflies that will appeal to reluctant readers and bug enthusiasts alike.” –  Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Children of the Fox: Thieves of Shadow #1
By Kevin Sands
416 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270411 | Puffin Canada
“The protagonists’ natural chemistry as they learn to collaborate and trust one another helps to ground the epic story, especially once it leans more heavily into fantasy elements, while Callan’s narrative voice adds just the right amount of self-aware humor.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem
By Lauren Soloy
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266087 | Tundra Books
“An excellent introduction to the natural sciences, Darwin, fairies, and inquiry, sure to inspire and fascinate young readers and listeners.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

I Do Not Like Yolanda
By Zoey Abbott
44  Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266513 | Tundra Books
“[F]ull of little wonders that hold the reader’s attention from page to page.A book that will inspire readers to find their own pen pals, a good book, and a new friend.” – Starred Review, School Library Journal

Out Into the Big Wide Lake
By Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265592 | Tundra Books
“A heartening Canadian picture book with an emotionally resonant ending.” –  Starred Review, Booklist

Peter Lee’s Notes From the Field
By Angela Ahn
Illustrated by Julie Kwon
312 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268241 | Tundra Books
“[A] winsome . . . and fetching middle-grade novel. Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field is a winner.” – Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

Super Detectives: Simon and Chester #1
By Cale Atkinson
64 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267428 | Tundra Books
“This story is a winner for new readers and aspiring gumshoes alike. Readers will look forward to seeing more of this entertaining detective duo in the future. It’s no mystery – all clues point to fun!” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Great Bear: The Misewa Saga #2
By David A. Robertson
288 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266131 | Puffin Canada
“Robertson’s nods at the complexity of time-travel plots serve as wry metafictive commentary and also tie into his consideration of profound existential questions.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Secret Fawn
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Elly MacKay
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265165 | Tundra Books
“Sweet and pretty for bedtime or naptime – and validating to little ones all the time.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Tiny Reindeer
By Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271180 | Tundra Books
“Tiny Reindeer is a wonderful addition to the Christmas picture book canon that reminds us of the special gifts we all have to offer, no matter how tiny we might be.” – Starred Review, BookPage

Walking in Two Worlds
By Wab Kinew
296 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269002 | Penguin Teen Canada
“Kinew’s first novel for teens stands out in the field of speculative fiction with its respectful, celebratory, and nuanced exploration of cultures and communities all too often at risk of erasure (particularly Indigenous communities).” – Starred Review, Booklist

Holiday Spotlight: Puffin Canada and Penguin Teen Canada 2021

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

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.

Both Sides Now
By Peyton Thomas
300 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269750 | Penguin Teen Canada
There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, DC, and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls. And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality. Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity. People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things – like who you are and who you love – are not up for debate.

Children of the Fox: Thieves of Shadow #1
By Kevin Sands
416 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270411 | Puffin Canada
A magic-infused fantasy that brings together a ragtag group of kids to pull off a crime so difficult, countless adults have already tried and failed. Lured by the promise of more money than they’ve ever dreamed of, five young criminals are hired to steal a heavily guarded treasure from the most powerful sorcerer in the city. There’s Callan the con artist, Meriel the expert at acrobatics (and knives!), Gareth the researcher, Lachlan who can obtain anything, and Foxtail, whose mysterious eyeless mask doesn’t hinder her ability to climb walls like a spider. Though their shadowy backgrounds mean that they’ve never trusted anyone but themselves, the five must learn to rely on each other in order to get the job done. But as Callan has been warned most of his life, it’s best to stay away from magic. It can turn on you at any moment, and make you think you’re the one running the con game, when in reality you’re the one being fooled. Faced with these unsurmountable odds, can the new friends pull off this legendary heist, or has their luck finally run out?

Great Too
By Lauri Holomis and Glen Gretzky
Illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265615 | Puffin Canada
This follow-up to the bestselling picture book, Great, focuses on building confidence and learning how to focus on the game, featuring hockey great Wayne Gretzky and his dad, Coach Wally. Taylor and Wayne, The Great One, have been working with Coach Wally on their Perfect Play: Taylor fakes a shot and Wayne gets open – pass; shoot; GOAL! And now that their team is going to the biggest tournament in the country, they’ll have a chance to show it off. But as the tournament goes on, Taylor is distracted by the loud cheering crowd, and his confidence starts to fade. Lucky for him, Coach Wally is in his corner, reminding Taylor that it’s okay to be nervous but the most important thing is to remember that he is part of a team, working together with his teammates. As Coach Wally says, if you have a good time, work hard and do your best, “that is all that matters.”

How to Change Everything
The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other
By Naomi Klein and Rebecca Stefoff
336 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270060 | Puffin Canada
Temperatures are rising all over the world, leading to wildfires, droughts, animal extinctions, and ferocious storms – climate change is real. But how did we get to this state, and what can we do next? What if we could work to protect the planet, while also taking action to make life fairer and more equal for the people who live on it? We can – if we’re willing to change everything. In her first book written for young readers, internationally acclaimed, bestselling author and social activist Naomi Klein, with Rebecca Steffof, lays out the facts and challenges of climate change and the movement for climate justice. Using examples of change and protest from around the world, including profiles of young activists from a wide range of backgrounds, Klein shows that young people are not just part of the climate change movement, they are leading the way. How to Change Everything will provide readers with clear information about how our planet is changing, but also, more importantly, with inspiration, ideas, and tools for action. Because young people can help build a better future. Young people can help decide what happens next. Young people can help change everything.

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

Instructions for Dancing
By Nicola Yoon
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271234 | Penguin Teen Canada
Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually. As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything – including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met. Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Poison for Breakfast
By Lemony Snicket
168 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271463 | Penguin Teen Canada
For more than twenty years, Lemony Snicket has led millions of young readers through a mysterious world of bewildering questions and unfortunate events. With this latest book – a love letter to readers young and old about the vagaries of real life – longtime fans and new readers alike will experience Snicket’s distinctive voice in a new way. This true story – as true as Lemony Snicket himself – begins with a puzzling note under his door: You had poison for breakfast. Following a winding trail of clues to solve the mystery of his own demise, Snicket takes us on a thought-provoking tour of his predilections: the proper way to prepare an egg, a perplexing idea called “tzimtzum,” the sublime pleasure of swimming in open water, and much else.

Rising Like a Storm
By Tanaz Bhathena
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735267053 | Penguin Teen Canada
With King Lohar dead and a usurper queen in power, Gul and Cavas face a new tyrannical government that is bent on killing them both. Their roles in King Lohar’s death have not gone unnoticed, and the new queen is out for blood. What she doesn’t know is that Gul and Cavas have a connection that runs deeper than romance, and together, they just might have the strength and magic to end her reign for good. Then a grave mistake ends with Cavas being taken prisoner. Gul is left to train an army of warriors alone. With alliances shifting and the thirst for vengeance growing, the fate of Ambar seems ever more uncertain. It will take every ounce of strength, love, and sacrifice for Gul and Cavas to reach their final goal – and build a more just world than they’ve ever known.

Tell Me When You Feel Something
By Vicki Grant
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270091 | Penguin Teen Canada
It seemed like a cool part-time program – being a “simulated” patient for med school students to practice on. But now vivacious, charismatic Viv lies in a very real coma. Cellphone footage just leads to more questions. What really happened? Other kids suspect it was not an intentional overdose – but each has a reason why they can’t tell the truth. Through intertwining and conflicting narratives, a twisted story unfolds of trust betrayed as we sift through the seemingly innocent events leading up to the tragic night. Perhaps simulated patients aren’t the only people pretending to be something they’re not. . . . The perfect after-school job turns deadly in this contemporary YA thriller that exposes the dark reality of #MeToo in the world of medicine, for fans of Karen McManus and Holly Jackson.

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

The Serpent’s Fury
By Kelley Armstrong
352 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270152 | Puffin Canada
Rowan is Tamarel’s Royal Monster Hunter, and her twin brother, Rhydd, will be its king. After the events of The Gryphon’s Lair, Rowan, along with her friends, her brother and an entourage of monstrous companions, makes her way back to the Dunnian Woods to deal with the pack of dropbears the group trapped in an abandoned cabin after a vicious attack. The dropbears are just one of a number of rare monster species acting erratically in Tamarel.  After a swarm of colocolos nearly tramples the group, Rowan becomes convinced that someone (or something) is driving these monsters out of their natural habitats. But nothing can prepare the Royal Monster Hunter for the truth of the matter: monsters even bigger and deadlier than gryphons have returned to the world, and their nest-building, as well as the actions of the humans trying to drive them out, has upset the balance of nature in Tamarel. Do Rowan’s “monster magnet” skills work against the most fearsome monsters imaginable? Find out in this exciting third book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series!

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.

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.

Native American Heritage Month 2021

November is Native American Heritage Month in the US. Here’s a list of books to celebrate Indigenous culture from some amazing creators.

Picture Books

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes
By Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
40 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735262928 | Tundra Books
Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both the more well known and the not- so-widely recognized. Individually, their stories, though briefly touched on, are inspiring; collectively, they empower the reader with this message: “We are people who matter, yes, it’s true; now let’s show the world what people who matter can do.”

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681  | Tundra Books
A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago – a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination, and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.

Middle Grade

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

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

Young Adult

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

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.