Holiday Spotlight: Penguin Young Readers 2021

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

Aetherbound
By E. K. Johnston
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735231856 | Dutton BFYR
Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston’s latest is story of survival and self-determination. Pendt Harland’s family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation. But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive. During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for.

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

Call Us What We Carry
By Amanda Gorman
240 Pages | All Ages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593465066 | Viking Books
Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, these poems shine a light on a moment of reckoning and reveal that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem
By Amanda Gorman
Illustrated by Loren Long
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593203224 | Viking BFYR
In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes – big or small – in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves. With lyrical text and rhythmic illustrations that build to a dazzling crescendo by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long, Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference.

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.

Fatima’s Great Outdoors
By Ambreen Tariq
Illustrated by Stevie Lewis
40 Pages | Ages 4-8| Hardcover
ISBN 9781984816955 | Kokila
Fatima Khazi is excited for the weekend. Her family is headed to a local state park for their first camping trip! The school week might not have gone as planned, but outdoors, Fatima can achieve anything. She sets up a tent with her father, builds a fire with her mother, and survives an eight-legged mutant spider (a daddy longlegs with an impressive shadow) with her sister. At the end of an adventurous day, the family snuggles inside one big tent, serenaded by the sounds of the forest. The thought of leaving the magic of the outdoors tugs at Fatima’s heart, but her sister reminds her that they can keep the memory alive through stories – and they can always daydream about what their next camping trip will look like. Ambreen Tariq’s picture book debut, with cheerful illustrations by Stevie Lewis, is a rollicking family adventure, a love letter to the outdoors, and a reminder that public land belongs to all of us.

Hello (From Here)
By Chandler Baker and Wesley King
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326121 | Dial BFYR
Maxine and Jonah meet in the canned goods aisle just as California is going into lockdown. Max’s part-time job as a personal grocery shopper is about to transform into a hellish gauntlet. Jonah’s preexisting anxiety is about to become an epic daily struggle. As Max and Jonah get to know each other through FaceTime dates, socially distanced playground hangs, and the escalating heartbreaks of the pandemic, they’re pushed apart by what they don’t share and pulled closer by what they do. As thoughtful, probing, and informed as it is buoyant, romantic, and funny, Hello (From Here) cuts across differences in class, privilege, and mental health, all thrown into stark relief by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a novel that looks at the first two months of the quarantine, and adds falling in love to the mess.

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.

I Don’t Want to Read This Book
By Max Greenfield
Illustrated by Mike Lowery
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326060 | Putnam BFYR
Words, sentences, and even worse, paragraphs fill up books. Ugh! So what’s a reluctant reader to do? Actor Max Greenfield (New Girl) and New York Times bestselling illustrator Mike Lowery bring the energy and laugh-out-loud fun out for every child (and parent) who thinks they don’t want to read a book. Joining the ranks of favorites like The Book With No Pictures and The Serious Goose, this clever and playful read-aloud breaks the fourth wall and will have all readers coming back for laughs again and again!

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom
By Sangu Mandanna
352 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593206973 | Viking BFYR
Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mom is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki’s sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years. One day, her sketchbook’s calming effect is broken when her mythological characters begin springing to life right out of its pages. Kiki ends up falling into the mystical world she drew, which includes a lot of wonderful discoveries like the band of rebel kids who protect the kingdom, as well as not-so-great ones like the ancient deity bent on total destruction. As the one responsible for creating the evil god, Kiki must overcome her fear and anxiety to save both worlds – the real and the imagined – from his wrath. But how can a girl armed with only a pencil defeat something so powerful?

The Last Kids on Earth and the Doomsday Race
By Max Brallier
Illustrated by Douglas Holgate
320 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984835376 | Viking BFYR
With his zombie-controlling powers growing stronger, Jack Sullivan and his buddies are road-tripping toward the mysterious Tower, where they must once and for all stop Rezzoch the Ancient, Destructor of Worlds, from descending upon our dimension. But their journey is sidetracked when they are swept up by the Mallusk, an enormous centipede monster carrying the world’s largest shopping mall on its back. On board, the kids discover a thriving monster society: Mallusk City! There, they encounter old allies – as well as old foes, who are ruling over Mallusk City with an iron fist. Beating these bad guys in battle is not an option, but beating them in an election is . . . so Jack runs for mayor of Mallusk City! At first, proving his leadership skills just means shaking monster hands, kissing monster babies, and promising to fill the water fountains with strawberry Nesquik. But when the Mallusk falls under attack, Jack must learn how to be a true leader – before it’s too late.

Laxmi’s Mooch
By Shelly Anand
Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984815651 | Kokila
Laxmi never paid much attention to the tiny hairs above her lip. But one day while playing farm animals at recess, her friends point out that her whiskers would make her the perfect cat. She starts to notice body hair all over – on her arms, legs, and even between her eyebrows. With her parents’ help, Laxmi learns that hair isn’t just for heads, but that it grows everywhere, regardless of gender. Featuring affirming text by Shelly Anand and exuberant, endearing illustrations by Nabi H. Ali, Laxmi’s Mooch is a celebration of our bodies and our body hair, in whichever way they grow.

The Legend of Auntie Po
By Shing Yin Khor
304 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525554882 | Kokila
Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman’s daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan – reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch. Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth, and about immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in America.

The Legend of the Christmas Witch
By Dan Murphy and Aubrey Plaza
Illustrated by Julia Iredale
56 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593350805 | Viking BFYR
Gather ‘round the fire to hear a Christmas legend that has never been told before . . . until now. Each year a mysterious figure sweeps into town, leaving behind strange gifts in the night. No, not Santa Claus, but his sister . . . The Christmas Witch. Her story begins many, many years ago when her brother was torn away from her as a child. Raised alone by a witch of the woods, Kristtōrn’s powers of magic grew, as did her temper. Determined to find her long lost twin, she set out on a perilous journey across oceans to find him. But what she found instead was a deep-seated fear of her powers and a confrontation that would leave the fate of Christmas hanging in the balance.

When We Make It
By Elisabet Velasquez
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593324486 | Dial BFYR
Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied. When We Make It is a love letter to girls who were taught to believe they would not make it at all. The verse is evocative and insightful, and readers are sure to be swept into Sarai’s world and rooting for her long after they close the book.

The 12 Days of Halloween

These spooky tunes are best sung out loud! Give it a try. Then visit our #12DaysOfHalloween page every day to see if it’s a trick day (no book giveaway) or treat day (book giveaway):

On the first day of Halloween my true love gave to me, a Mary Shelley biography!
Oct 20
On the second day of Halloween my true love gave to me, one silly story
Oct 21
On the third day of Halloween my true love gave to me, one family curse
Oct 22

On the fourth day of Halloween my true love gave to me, one YA horror
Oct 23

On the fifth day of Halloween my true love gave to me, one evil tree
Oct 24

On the sixth day of Halloween my true love gave to me, one spooky painting
Oct 25

On the seventh day of Halloween my true love gave to me, one historical fable
Oct 26

On the eighth day of Halloween my true love gave to me, one guide to ghost care
Oct 27

On the ninth day of Halloween my true love gave to me, Victorian monster hunters
Oct 28

On the tenth day of Halloween my true love gave to me, four demon slayers
Oct 29

On the eleventh day of Halloween my true love gave to me one magical painter
Oct 30

On the twelfth day of Halloween my true love gave to me, one epic quest
Oct 31

We hope you enjoyed singing along. Now go enter our contest on the days there are giveaways!