Staff Picks: Favorite Kids Books from 2020

2020 may have been a rough year in a lot of ways but it did give us a lot of great books! We sat down to choose our favourite book of the year from the Tundra and Puffin Canada lists (and it was just as hard as you’d think.)

Vikki, Marketing & Publicity Director

“With authentic dialogue and a ripped from the headlines set-up, this is smart, topical middle grade at it’s finest. A great read for budding social activists.”

Me and BanksyMe and Banksy
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
272 Pages | Ages 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.

Sylvia, Marketing and Publicity Manager

“First, the illustrations are all done in pen ink (look at all those lines she had to draw). And second, this is the cutest fox family interaction that results in a perfect, silly story time!”

Where’s Baby?
By Anne Hunter
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735264984 | Tundra Books
Papa Fox is looking for Baby Fox, who is just out of his sight . . . but not ours! An adorable, interactive read-aloud for fans of Are You My Mother? In this clever introduction to prepositions, a near-sighted Papa is looking for his baby. Is Baby up in the tree? Is Baby under the log? Is Baby around the corner? Where could Baby be? Readers will delight in spotting the little fox on every page as Papa wanders the forest, encountering other animals all along the way, but never quite able to spot his own baby. Anne Hunter’s delicate and lovely illustrations with their limited palette highlight the humor of this adorable hide-and-seek tale.

Evan, Publicity Manager

” I’m a sucker for middle-grade mystery, and Marthe Jocelyn has written an extremely fun (and sneakily dark) series, complete with tons of Agatha Christie Easter eggs. And the gorgeous, Gorey-esque illustrations by Isabelle Follath are the icing on the murder cake.”

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.

Sam, Associate Publicist

“Geneviève Godbout is one of my favourite illustrators and I loved how this sweet, adorable story doubles as a gentle introduction to mental health.”

What’s Up, Maloo?
By Geneviève Godbout
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266643 | Tundra Books
Maloo the kangaroo has lost his hop. Can his friends help him find it again? This sweet picture book explores the idea of sadness and the importance of friendship through ups and downs. No other kangeroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo’s friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What’s wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. With patience, support and a little “hop” from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back. Simple text and adorable art convey the power of friendship over a gloomy mood in Geneviève Godbout’s charming debut as both author and illustrator.

Tundra Illustrator Gift Guide 2020

The Tundra Illustrator Gift Guide is back! For the last three years, we’ve put together gift guides – inspired by Travis Jonker’s The Ultimate Children’s Literature Illustrator Gift Guide 2017 – featuring our current roster of illustrators. We have something for everyone from some of the best children’s book illustrators in the world – treat your family and friends (or yourself!) to a beautiful piece of art this holiday season.

Shop Happy Narwhalidays; Vote for Me; and Ben’s artwork

Ben Clanton is an author and illustrator whose picture books include Mo’s Mustache; Rot, the Cutest in the World!; Boo Who?; It Came in the Mail; Something ExtraordinaryRex Wrecks It! and Vote for Me! He lives with his family in Tacoma, Washington.

Shop The Button Book and Bethan’s artwork

Bethan Woollvin won the Macmillan Prize for Illustration in 2014 for her retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood,” Little Red, which was later named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2016. In 2017, Bethan was awarded the New Talent (Children’s Books) Prize at the World Illustration Awards. She was also shortlisted for the 2017 Klaus Flugge Prize and the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award. Bethan graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge with a First Class Degree in Illustration in 2015 and now lives in Brighton, England.

Shop Snow Falls and Brandon’s artwork

Brandon James Scott is an Emmy Award-nominated animation director and illustrator, with over ten years’ experience in the animation industry. He created the preschool series Justin Time, which has won a Canadian Screen Award and been nominated for an Emmy and an Annie, and directed several episodes of Ever After High. He was also the creative director and designer of the children’s show True and the Rainbow Kingdom. Brandon illustrates whimsical picture books, including The Dog Who Wanted to Fly and several books based on Justin Time. He lives with his family in Toronto, Canada.

Shop The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt and Byron’s artwork

Byron Eggenschwiler is an illustrator living in Calgary, Alberta. He is the illustrator of Operatic, by Kyo Maclear, Coyote Tales by Thomas King and Beastly Puzzles by Rachel Poliquin. Byron has also done illustrations for the New York TimesThe New Yorker, Wall Street JournalGQ and others. He shares a home with his wife and two soft cats.

Shop Monsters 101 and Cale’s artwork

Cale Atkinson is an author-illustrator and animator whose books include Unicorns 101Where Oliver FitsTo the SeaOff and Away, and Sir Simon: Super Scarer. He lives lakeside with his family in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. See more of Cale’s work at Cale.ca, and follow him on Twitter at @2dCale.

Shop The BatThe CockroachThe Mosquito; and Elise’s artwork

Elise Gravel is the creator the Olga series and the Disgusting Critters series as well as I Want a MonsterThe Cranky Ballerina, and What is a Refugee?, which School Library Journal called “effective and compassionate.” Elise studied graphic design at Le Collège d’Enseignement Général et Professional and has since published numerous picture books including La clé à molette (La Courte Échelle Publishers), which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for illustration. Her books have been translated into twelve languages. Elise is inspired by social causes and lives in Montreal with her husband and two children.

Shop What’s Up, Maloo?; If I Couldn’t Be Anne; and Geneviève’s artwork

Born and raised in Quebec, Geneviève Godbout studied traditional animation in Montreal and at the prestigious Gobelins school in Paris. She is the illustrator of a number of books for children, including Goodnight, AnneThe Pink UmbrellaWhen Santa Was a BabyKindergarten Luck and Joseph Fipps. She recently illustrated a picture-book edition of the beloved classic Mary Poppins. She also works for clothing designers like Nadinoo and Mrs. Pomeranz, creating illustrations and prints for their collections.

Shop Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House and Janet’s artwork

Janet Hill is a painter and children’s book author/illustrator. Her work is both elegant and whimsical, and her painting style evokes a sense of nostalgia, mystery, and humor. She has written and illustrated two picture books: Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess and Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat CountessLucy Crisp and the Vanishing House is her first novel. Janet lives in Stratford, Ontario, where she paints in a small in-house studio and lives with her husband, John, the manager of an independent bookstore, and their cat and dog.

Shop Princesses Versus Dinosaurs and Joy’s artwork

Joy Ang is an artist who has illustrated many books for children, including the Mustache Baby series by Bridget Heos, the New York Times bestselling Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath and the upcoming Mulan: The Legend of the Woman Warrior. She graduated from the Alberta College of Art & Design in 2007. In addition to designing characters for Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, Joy is also a cover artist for Marvel Comics and Scholastic’s Wings of Fire and Dogs of the Drowned City seriesand has worked as a concept artist for gaming studios Bioware and Blizzard Entertainment.

Shop Megabat is a Fraidybat; and Kass’s artwork

Kass Reich works as an artist and educator and has spent the majority of the last decade travelling around the world. She earned a degree in Art Education from Concordia University and was an early childhood educator in Beijing, which inspired her to start making picture books for very young readers. She now lives and works in Toronto, Ontario.

Shop Maud and Grand-Maud and Kenard’s artwork

Kenard Pak is an animator and illustrator. He has worked as a visual development artist for Dreamworks, Walt Disney Feature Animation, PDI Dreamworks and Laika.He has illustrated several picture books, including The FogThe Hundred-Year BarnI WonderHave You Heard the Nesting Bird?The Dinner That Cooked Itself and Flowers Are Calling. Ken lives in foggy San Francisco with his wife and three cats.

Shop Natsumi’s Song of Summer and Misa’s artwork

Misa Saburi was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She makes illustrations using Photoshop, sometimes while watching soccer and silly Japanese TV shows. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Shop The Fabled Stables: Willa the Wisp and Olga’s artwork

Olga Demidova was born and raised in Russia. She studied at the Moscow Art Institute of Applied Arts. Olga started work as an animator, but her tremendous passion for illustration changed the direction she works in. Now she works with publishers from all over the world and has published books and apps in Russia, Belarus and the USA, mostly for children.

Shop The Blue House and Phoebe’s artwork

Phoebe Wahl’s work focuses on themes of comfort, nostalgia and intimacy with nature. She grew up unschooled in Washington State, and credits her free spirited childhood in the Northwest for much of her inspiration and work ethic. She works in a variety of mediums, from watercolor and collage to fabric sculpture. Phoebe graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration and currently lives in Bellingham, Washington. She is the award-winning author and illustrator of Sonya’s ChickensBackyard Fairies and The Blue House.

Shop Story Boat and Rashin’s artwork

Rashin Kheiriyeh is an internationally recognized, award-winning illustrator/author, animation director, and painter who has published over seventy children’s books in countries such as the United States, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, Spain, South Korea, China, Brazil, India, and Iran. She has received fifty national and international awards for the books and animations including recently being winner of the 2017 Sendak Fellow Award. She was also the winner of the Bologna Book Fair six times and the winner of Golden Apple Award at the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia. She has an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Illustration and an MFA in Graphic Design from Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran. She also studied at School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. She is a lecturer at Department of Art, University of Maryland and has contributed illustrations to the New York Times, Google, and many other publication houses

Shop Eric and Shaun’s artwork

Shaun Tan has been illustrating young adult fiction and picture books for more than ten years. His brilliant wordless book, The Arrival, won The CBCA Picture Book of the Year, The NSW Premier’s Book of the Year, and the Community Relations Commission Award, and received a Special Mention at the 2007 Bologna Ragazzi Awards. He lives in Australia.

Shop The Barnabus Project and The Fan Brothers’ artwork

Terry, Eric, and Devin Fan grew up in Toronto, where they continue to live and work. Since a young age, the three brothers have collaborated on creative projects, including artwork, picture book manuscripts and even screenwriting. Recipients of the prestigious Sendak Fellowship as well as Kate Greenaway Medal nominees and Governor General’s Literary Award nominees, Terry and Eric are the author/illustrators of the critically acclaimed books The Night Gardener and Ocean Meet Sky, and the illustrators of the bestselling Chris Hadfield-penned picture book The Darkest Dark, Dashka Slater’s The Antlered Ship and Beth Ferry’s The Scarecrow. Devin Fan is an artist, poet and youth worker who has a passion for nature, adventures and kung fu. The Barnabus Project is his first children’s book and marks the first time all three brothers have written and illustrated a picture book together.

Shop Studio: A Place for Art to Start and The Little Friends of Printmaking’s artwork

The Little Friends of Printmaking are husband-and-wife team JW & Melissa Buchanan. They first made a name for themselves by designing and printing silkscreened concert posters, but soon branched out into other fields. In addition to their work as illustrators and designers, they continue their fine art pursuits through exhibitions, lectures, and artists’ residencies worldwide, spreading the gospel of silkscreen to anyone inclined to listen. The Little Friends currently live in Los Angeles with two very round cats.

Shop The Gryphon’s Lair and Xavière’s artwork

Xavière Daumaire is a French artist who has created designs and illustrations for several book series by Kelley Armstrong: Women of the Otherworld, including two graphic novels, Becoming and Bounty Hunt; Age of Legends; Cainsville; and The Blackwell Pages series by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr. She lives in France.

TLA 2020 Virtual Booth

TLA 2020 Booth Banner
We hope everyone is staying safe and doing well. These are difficult times, there’s no doubt about it. Travel and trade shows have been taken off the table this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all stay connected virtually!

The above image is what our booth banner looks like, featuring the artwork from Story Boat by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh. Story Boat is an imaginative, lyrical, unforgettable picture book about the migrant experience through a child’s eyes.

We invite you to take a flip through our January to June 2020 catalog over here (the cover image features art from What’s Up, Maloo? by Geneviève Godbout):
Jan-June 2020

We can’t hand out or send everyone a physical ARC, but please request a review copy from NetGalley here:

PICTURE BOOKS:
If I Couldn't Be Anne It Happened on Sweet Street Maud and Grand-Maud Monsters 101 9780735265417 Ocean Speaks Ray Terry Fox and Me The Barnabus Project The Invisible Bear The Mosquito When Emily Was Small

MIDDLE GRADE:
Clan The Barren Grounds The Gryphons Lair

YOUNG ADULT:
Barry Squires Full Tilt The Enigma Game

We haven’t forgotten about award reading lists! The 2020-2021 Texas Bluebonnet Award list includes:

Sweep

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
By Jonathan Auxier
368 Pages | Ages 8-12
ISBN 9780735264373 | Puffin Canada
Click here to watch Jonathan Auxier reveal the cover and introduce the story of Sweep.
Click here to watch Colby Sharp talk about Sweep.
“This dazzling, warmhearted novel contemplates selflessness and saving, deep love and what makes a monster.” – Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“As heartbreaking as bleak midwinter — and as hopeful as early spring.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
“Nan’s fiery personality will attract readers like moths, and Auxier’s unusual blend of mythology and history will keep them transfixed.” – Starred Review, Booklist
“Auxier crafts a beautiful, hopeful story out of some ugly realities of nineteenth-century British life.” – Starred Review, Horn Book Magazine
“Jonathan Auxier weaves a magical spell that draws readers right into the stark, gritty streets of Victorian London . . . Readers will be entranced.” – Starred Review, School Library Connection

While the current Little Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List includes:

Narwhal's Otter FriendNarwhal’s Otter Friend
By Ben Clanton
64 Pages | Ages 6-9
ISBN 9780735262492 | Tundra Books
Click here to watch our book trailer!
Click here for a Narwhal educators’ guide.
Click here for coloring and drawing activity sheets.
Click here to make your own Narwhal tusk!
Click here for the Narwhal and Jelly song by Emily Arrow.
Check out this Narwhal and Jelly Pinterest collection!
Learn how to draw Narwhal here.
Ben Clanton is doing Miximal Mondays on his Instagram Live!
“Clanton’s Narwhal and Jelly follow in the grand tradition of early reader buddy tails like Frog and Toad or Elephant and Piggie, and this latest tale is sure to find an honored place alongside them on young readers’ bookshelves.” – New York Journal of Books
“The text is short, sweet, and funny; this, combined with the memorable characters, makes dipping one’s toes into independent reading a pleasure.” – Booklist

We hope you found our virtual TLA booth helpful! We look forward to the day we can all safely travel and attend conferences again. If you have any questions about these titles or would like more resources, just reach out to our booth staff at YoungReaders@penguinrandomhouse.com. We also have a list of activity kits and educators’ guides here and our virtual event listing here.

Photos from our booths at ALA Midwinter 2020 and PLA 2020 have been posted to our Facebook page!

New Preschool Books

We believe that a love of reading can start in early childhood so our #TundraTots campaign this year includes three adorable additions for a preschooler’s shelf. An interactive picture book, a gentle intro to mental health, and a cute hide-and-seek adventure – check them out for yourself and keep scrolling to see some adorable photos from our #TundraTots ambassadors!

The Button Book
By Sally Nicholls
Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin
ISBN 9780735267152 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Follow a group of animal friends as they discover a collection of mysterious buttons, all of which do different things! From a blue singing button to a purple tickle button, from a rude sound button to a mysterious white button, there’s only one way to find out what they do: press them all!

What’s Up, Maloo?
By Geneviève Godbout
ISBN 9780735266643 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
No other kangeroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo’s friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What’s wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. With patience, support and a little “hop” from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back.

Where’s Baby?
By Anne Hunter
ISBN 9780735264984 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Readers will delight in spotting the little fox on every page as Papa wanders the forest, encountering other animals all along the way, but never quite able to spot his own baby. Anne Hunter’s delicate and lovely illustrations with their limited palette highlight the humor of this adorable hide-and-seek tale.

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Picture Books about Mental Health

Kids Books about Mental Health
With childhood anxiety and other mental health concerns on the rise, talking to your child about mental wellness is more important than ever. Here are some picture books that can help start conversations about mental health and wellness with young children.

What's Up MalooWhat’s Up, Maloo?
By Geneviève Godbout
ISBN 9780735266643 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
No other kangeroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo’s friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What’s wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. With patience, support and a little “hop” from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back.

Noni Is NervousNoni Is Nervous
By Heather Hartt-Sussman
Illustrated by Geneviève Côté
ISBN 9781770493230 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Noni is nervous about playdates, and global warming, and most of all, about the first day of school. Her parents are worried too, and even her brother is a little wary. But Noni finds a friend, someone a little more outgoing than herself, and discovers that through friendship, she can belong and succeed in a world that once filled her with dread.

Where Oliver FitsWhere Oliver Fits
By Cale Atkinson
ISBN 9781101919071 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Oliver has always dreamed about where he will fit. Will he be in the mane of a unicorn? The tentacle of a pirate squid? The helmet of an astronaut? When he finally goes in search of his perfect place, he finds that trying to fit in is a lot harder than he thought. But like any puzzle, a little trial and error leads to a solution, and Oliver figures out exactly where he belongs.

swarm of beesSwarm of Bees
By Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Rilla Alexander
ISBN 9781101918791 | Hardcover
Ages 3-7 | Tundra Books
Watch out! A mischievous boy has unleashed an angry swarm of bees! The result is a zany gallop through a charming town where readers will encounter evidence of some bad behavior, some frenzied anger and thankfully, a hug and some spaghetti. It can feel good to be angry. It can feel better to stop.

Whimsy Heavy ThingsWhimsy’s Heavy Things
By Julie Kraulis
ISBN 9781770494039 | Hardcover
Ages 4-6 | Tundra Books
Whimsy’s heavy things are weighing her down. She tries to sweep them under the rug, but she trips over them. She even tries to sail them out to sea, but they always come back. Eventually Whimsy decides to deal with the heavy things one at a time … and a surprising thing happens.

Bug in a VacuumBug in a Vacuum
By Mélanie Watt
ISBN 9781770496453 | Hardcover
Ages 5-9 | Tundra Books
A bug flies through an open door where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance – the five stages of grief – as it comes to terms with its fate.

The Bad Mood and the StickThe Bad Mood and the Stick
By Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
ISBN 9781101918777 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Tundra Books
Moods can be confusing. Especially to children. The Bad Mood and The Stick offers a refreshing, thoughtful look at the ways in which a bad mood wreaks havoc as it moves through the world, from person to person, leaving an unexpected trail in its wake: opportunities for laughter, forgiveness and even love. With wry, luminous art by Matthew Forsythe, at last you can look your bad mood in the eye.

The Pink UmbrellaThe Pink Umbrella
By Amelie Callot
Illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
ISBN 9781101919231 | Hardcover
Ages 6-9 | Tundra Books
When it’s bright outside, Adele is the heart of her community, greeting everyone who comes into her café with arms wide open. But when it rains, she can’t help but stay at home inside, under the covers. Because Adele takes such good care of her friends and customers, one of them decides to take care of her too.