Tundra Telegram: Books That Are Real Dingers

We’re back with another edition of Tundra Telegram, a column in which we look at the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

Last weekend in cities across North America, baseball season began. Baseball: America’s pastime, a thing to watch while eating a few chili dogs. Readers could hear the crack of the bat, smell the aroma of Cracker Jacks, taste the awkwardness of crowds doing half-hearted waves. And if you, like so many others, have been knocked flat by a case of baseball fever, we prescribe a few of these books and plenty of rest!

PICTURE BOOKS

If you think your child is showing sure signs of infielding and arm strength before they can even walk, you should pick up the board book Baseball Baby by Diane Adams and Canadian illustrator Charlene Chua in which a toddler is introduced to baseball for the first time.

A Ticket to the Pennant by Mark Holtzen is a story of baseball in Seattle, back when the Seattle Mariners were the Seattle Rainiers. (We have heard it’s rainier in Seattle.) Huey searches for his lost ticket to the big game, and wanders through the city’s diverse communities – all united by their love of the sport.

But if it’s the characters of baseball you love, you’ll want Barb Rosenstock and Terry Widener’s Yogi, a picture book tribute to Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, an all-star and true personality who coined such classic wisdom like, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over,” and “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

And if you like baseball AND hockey, check out NHL player and author Zachary Hyman’s The Bambino and Me, about a boy in 1920s New York and his quest to watch Babe Ruth face off against the dreaded Red Sox.

CHAPTER BOOKS

Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli’s Jack at Bat may not have the history or the literary pedigree of a “Casey at the Bat,” but it does have a mischievous rabbit, a cranky old lady, a lovable dog, and baseball teams named the Lady Town Ladies and the Big City Brats, so kids seem to like it more.

Jack and Annie have encountered dinosaurs, mummies, dolphins, and pirates, but in Magic Tree House #29: A Big Day of Baseball, they meet Jackie Robinson, the first Black player in Major League Baseball, as they are whisked back to 1947 to see Number 42 and learn about a longer-held American pastime than baseball. (Spoiler: it’s racism.)

MIDDLE GRADE

If you loved A League of Their Own and like your baseball stories with a dash of history and civil rights, you’ll love Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages. In 1957 small-town America, Katy Gordon proves that even if you’re the best ten-year-old pitcher in town, people will try to stop you from playing Little League. (And for this reader, there was, in fact, crying in baseball.)

But don’t just stop there, as you’ll also want to follow along the journey of Shenice Lockwood and her Fulton Firebirds as they go to the regional softball championship in New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone’s coming-of-age softball page turner Fast Pitch. Not only will you cheer their triumphs, you’ll also learn a little about baseball history!

If you like classic books just as much as you like baseball, Alan Gratz’s Fantasy Baseball is probably for you. If you’ve ever wondered what a baseball game would look like with Dorothy Gale, The Big Bad Wolf, and Pinocchio in the infield, search no further!

Learn about Vancouver’s legendary Asahi baseball team in Ellen Schwartz’s Heart of a Champion, in which Kenny and his brother and local baseball star Mickey’s worlds are turned upside-down when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, and a dark period in Canadian history follows.

And maybe Paolo Bacigalupi’s Zombie Baseball Beatdown doesn’t have that much to say about the game (and is more about a zombie apocalypse caused by corrupt food producers) but no one can deny baseball bats do get swung frequently.

YOUNG ADULT

Matt de la Peña’s Mexican WhiteBoy tells the story of Danny, a biracial kid with a killer fastball. When he spends a summer with his father’s family in Mexico, he faces personal demons tougher than any slugger.

And including Karen M. McManus’s blockbuster One of Us Is Lying (now a successful television series) is a stretch, but may we remind you that Cooper, one of the Bayview Four (and one of our murder suspects) is an all-star pitcher. So, we’re keeping it!

Lace Up Your Skates for #TundraOnIce

Winter is coming so it’s time to break out your skates and hit the ice! From a beloved classic to a vampire-filled adventure, curling up with these books is the perfect way to unwind after an energetic game of hockey (even if you’re just a spectator!). 

Bobby Orr and the Hand-me-down Skates
By Kara Koostra and Bobby Orr
Illustrated by Jennifer Phelan
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265325 | Tundra Books
Bobby eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. So, with his birthday is coming up, he only wants one thing: new skates. He’s seen the exact pair he wants in the shop window: sparkling blades, shiny leather, clean new laces tied in perfect bows. But when Bobby opens his gift, he’s dismayed to find hand-me-down skates: scuffed leather, nicked blades, floppy laces. Once Bobby breaks them in, though, he and the hand-me-down skates become inseparable, and he can’t imagine life without them . . . until the brand-new skates come into his life. How can he leave his hand-me-down skates behind? Log Driver’s Waltz illustrator Jennifer Phelan brings this classic story to life with timeless, gorgeous art, and Kara Kootsra’s words evoke the joy and dedication that Bobby Orr brought to his favorite sport. 

Glory on Ice: A Vampire Hockey Story
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Mark Fearing
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524714512 | Knopf BFYR
After centuries alone in his old castle, Vlad is ready to try something new. When he hears the local hockey team gushing about how they’ll crush and destroy their opponents in the next game, he knows he’s found the activity for him! Vlad immediately gives the game his all, but he soon realizes that super-human powers don’t mean much in hockey without a mastery of the basics. After weeks of practice, he’s finally ready for the big game . . . but can a hundreds-of-years-old vampire really learn new tricks? This hilarious, energetic picture book encourages teamwork, perseverance, and a love of hockey that will last a lifetime, even for an immortal being.

Great
By Lauri Holomis and Glen Gretzky
Illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Foreword by Wayne Gretzy
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735265134 | Puffin Canada
A story of teamwork with a positive message, featuring Wayne Gretzky and Coach Wally (Wayne’s dad, Walter Gretzky). Taylor is so excited when he makes the hockey team — and not just any team, but HIS team. The boy they are already calling The Great One. Taylor wants to be great too, but he’s still got a lot to learn. Lucky for him, Coach Wally is in his corner, guiding him through the ups and downs of being part of a hockey team, and being the best player he can be. As Coach Wally says, if you have a good time, work hard and do your best, “that is all that matters.”

Hockey Hero
By Zachary Hyman
Illustrated by Zachary Pullen
40 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770496309 | Tundra Books
A heart-warming, intergenerational story about an awkward young boy who finds his hockey chutzpah at a PeeWee tournament. Tommy goes from timid observer to essential player – as we readers cheer him on! Illustrated by Zachary Pullen whose inimitable style blends perfectly with Zachary Hyman’s inspiring text.

Jay Versus the Saxophone of Doom
By Kara Koostra
Illustrated by Kim Smith
Afterword by Bobby Orr
192 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735268692 | Puffin Canada
Jay Roberts loves hockey. He’s good at it. He also loves his hockey hero, Bobby Orr, considered a legend by Jay’s grandfather. In fact, even though they may bicker, when it comes to the Bruins, the whole family agrees that they are the team to root for. When it comes to hockey, Jay’s a team player. But there’s one person who seems determined to make life hard for Jay: his classmate and fellow team member, Mick Bartlet. It’s a good thing Jay can usually stickhandle his way out of his bullying. But something else is determined to make Jay’s life difficult, something far harder for Jay to play: the saxophone. Sixth grade just became a whole lot more challenging . . .

Splinters
By Kevin Sylvester
40 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780887769443 | Tundra Books
Cindy Winters loves to play hockey. When her family’s basement apartment is flooded and the floor freezes, she’s even happy to skate on the concrete. Her parents are too poor to enroll her in a league, but she’s resourceful and does odd jobs until she has earned enough money to play. Armed with her mother’s old equipment, she is thrilled to join a team. But her happiness doesn’t last long. Among her teammates are the horrible Blister Sisters. They make her life miserable. And worse, Cindy’s sidelined by the coach, who just happens to be Mrs. Blister. It looks like she’ll be spending the season cleaning equipment, instead of playing on the ice. Cindy’s luck changes when her Fairy Goaltender appears and saves the day. With its great humor and hilarious illustrations, Kevin Sylvester’s Splinters is bound to become a favorite.

The Highest Number in the World
By Roy MacGregor
Illustrated by Geneviève Després
32 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781770495753 | Tundra Books
9-year-old Gabe (Gabriella) Murray lives and breathes hockey. She’s the youngest player on her new team, she has a nifty move that her teammates call “the Gabe,” and she shares a lucky number with her hero, Hayley Wickenheiser: number 22. But when her coach hands out the team jerseys, Gabe is stuck with number 9. Crushed, Gabe wants to give up hockey altogether. How can she play without her lucky number? Gabe’s grandmother soon sets her straight, though – from her own connection to the number 9 in her hockey-playing days to all the greats she cheered for who wore it, she soon convinces Gabe that this new number might not be so bad after all. A lovely intergenerational tale and a history of the storied number 9 in hockey, The Highest Number in the World is a must-have for any hockey fan.

The Hockey Sweater
By Roch Carrier
Illustrated by Sheldon Cohen
Translated by Sheila Fischman
24 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735268685 | Tundra Books
In the days of Roch’s childhood, winters in the village of Ste. Justine were long. Life centered around school, church, and the hockey rink, and every boy’s hero was Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice Richard. Everyone wore Richard’s number 9. They laced their skates like Richard. They even wore their hair like Richard. When Roch outgrows his cherished Canadiens sweater, his mother writes away for a new one. Much to Roch’s horror, he is sent the blue and white sweater of the rival Toronto Maple Leafs, dreaded and hated foes to his beloved team. How can Roch face the other kids at the rink?

When the Moon Comes
By Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Matt James
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101917770 | Tundra Books
The beaver flood has finally frozen–perfect ice, without a bump or a ripple. For the kids in town, it’s Christmas in November. They wait, impatiently, for the right moment. Finally, it arrives: the full moon. They huff and puff through logging trails, farms, back roads and tamarack swamps, the powdery snow soaking pant legs and boots, till they see it – their perfect ice, waiting. And the game is on. When the Moon Comes is steeped in tradition and nostalgia: for hockey, for childhood, for a simpler time. The beauty of the text is matched by the brilliant, rich illustrations that wonderfully capture the magic of a moonlit night in winter.

Make sure to pick these up from your favourite bookstore and check out our website for even more suggestions!

The 2019 OLA Forest of Reading® Winners and Honour Books

The 2019 Forest of Reading awards were announced last week and we are so thrilled that eight of our titles were honoured at the Festival of Trees. Congratulations to our authors and illustrators!

Blue Spruce Award
#2 Honour Book
The Magician's SecretThe Magician’s Secret
Written by Zachary Hyman
Illustrated by Joe Bluhm
Hardcover
Published by Tundra Books
“The conversational tone draws the reader through the story. The remarkable art work by Joe Bluhm showcases the relationship between Charlie and his grandpa and transports the reader into each adventure, providing glimpses of how the imagination can make a dream a reality . . . this book is best shared as a read-aloud. Any adult will be equally thrilled by the story, its rich language and the wonderful illustrations.” – CM Magazine

Silver Birch Fiction Award
Winner
Chase - paperbackChase
Written by Linwood Barclay
Published by Puffin Canada
Paperback
“The action in Chase begins on the first page and doesn’t let up in this new thriller from Linwood Barclay  . . . readers will enjoy the twists and turns of the action and will relate to all three main characters.” – CM Magazine

#1 Honour Book
Elephant SecretElephant Secret
Written by Eric Walters
Published by Puffin Canada
Hardcover
“Walters interweaves his beautiful family story with a thorough description of elephant behavior—their intellect, compassion, and loyalty—and factual scientific possibilities of cloning an extinct species…A must-read for anyone with an interest in elephants and their welfare.” – Booklist

Red Maple Non-Fiction Award
#2 Honour Book
Innovation NationInnovation Nation: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, Happier
Written by David Johnston and Tom Jenkins
Illustrated by Josh Holinaty
Hardcover
Published by Tundra Books
“[R]eminds us just how ingenious Canadians are, despite our golly-gosh-shucks tendency to downplay our accomplishments… Bright illustrations by Josh Holinaty swirl around each page of text to evoke the brilliance of fun and curiosity.” – Quill & Quire

Red Maple Fiction Award
#2 Honour Book
Fourth DimensionFourth Dimension
Written by Eric Walters
Hardcover
Published by Penguin Teen Canada
“I recommend Fourth Dimension to fans of The Rule of 3 series as well as those readers who enjoy action/adventure, realistic, or post-apocalyptic stories. Emma and her mother are strong female characters who are great role models for teenage girls. . . . Recommended.” – CM Magazine

White Pine Award
Winner
The Agony of Bun O'KeefeThe Agony of Bun O’Keefe
Written by Heather T. Smith
Hardcover
Published by Penguin Teen Canada
“Although Bun is 14, she possesses the endearing naiveté and honesty of a child, but her first-person narration isn’t sappy or immature. . . . Bun O’Keefe will settle comfortably at home in readers’ hearts.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

The Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program. This initiative of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) offers seven reading programs to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages. The Forest helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors and illustrators. More than 270,000 readers participate annually from their School and/or Public Library. All Canadians are invited to participate via their local public library, school library, or individually.

The 2019 OLA Forest of Reading® Nominees

2019ForestOfReading
The Forest of Reading® is Canada’s largest recreational reading program. This initiative of the Ontario Library Association offers seven reading programs to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages. The Forest helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors, and illustrators. More than 270,000 readers participate annually from their school and/or public library! Here at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, we’d like to congratulate our nominated authors and illustrators.

2019 Blue Spruce Award™ Nominees:

The Magician's SecretThe Magician’s Secret
Written by Zachary Hyman
Illustrated by Joe Bluhm
Hardcover
Published by Tundra Books
“The conversational tone draws the reader through the story. The remarkable art work by Joe Bluhm showcases the relationship between Charlie and his grandpa and transports the reader into each adventure, providing glimpses of how the imagination can make a dream a reality . . . this book is best shared as a read-aloud. Any adult will be equally thrilled by the story, its rich language and the wonderful illustrations.” – CM Magazine

Where Oliver FitsWhere Oliver Fits
Written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson
Hardcover
Published by Tundra Books
“Find room on the shelves for this picture book, because feeling like you don’t belong is universal. . . . A solid choice for discussion, and one-on-one or small group sharing.” – School Library Journal

2019 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Nominees:

Chase - paperbackChase
Written by Linwood Barclay
Published by Puffin Canada
Paperback
“The action in Chase begins on the first page and doesn’t let up in this new thriller from Linwood Barclay  . . . readers will enjoy the twists and turns of the action and will relate to all three main characters.” – CM Magazine

Elephant SecretElephant Secret
Written by Eric Walters
Published by Puffin Canada
Hardcover
“Walters interweaves his beautiful family story with a thorough description of elephant behavior—their intellect, compassion, and loyalty—and factual scientific possibilities of cloning an extinct species…A must-read for anyone with an interest in elephants and their welfare.” – Booklist

2019 Silver Birch Award® Express Nominees:

BloomBloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli
Written by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Hardcover
Published by Tundra Books
“Julie Morstad’s delicate art brings the vibrancy of flowers and 1920s and 1930s frock fashions alive. . . . Bloom takes a contemplative step back from the purely biographical and becomes a gentle ode to self-expression.” – Starred Review, Quill & Quire

2019 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Nominees:

Fourth DimensionFourth Dimension
Written by Eric Walters
Hardcover
Published by Penguin Teen Canada
“I recommend Fourth Dimension to fans of The Rule of 3 series as well as those readers who enjoy action/adventure, realistic, or post-apocalyptic stories. Emma and her mother are strong female characters who are great role models for teenage girls. . . . Recommended.” – CM Magazine

The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony GrayThe Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray
Written by E. Latimer
Hardcover
Published by Tundra Books
“An action-packed adventure that is lightly laced with horror, there is a little something for everyone in this middle grade debut. Recommended.” – CM Magazine

2019 Red Maple Award™ Non-Fiction Nominees:

Innovation NationInnovation Nation: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, Happier
Written by David Johnston and Tom Jenkins
Illustrated by Josh Holinaty
Hardcover
Published by Tundra Books
“[R]eminds us just how ingenious Canadians are, despite our golly-gosh-shucks tendency to downplay our accomplishments… Bright illustrations by Josh Holinaty swirl around each page of text to evoke the brilliance of fun and curiosity.” – Quill & Quire

2019 White Pine Award™ Nominees:

The Agony of Bun O'KeefeThe Agony of Bun O’Keefe
Written by Heather T. Smith
Hardcover
Published by Penguin Teen Canada
“Although Bun is 14, she possesses the endearing naiveté and honesty of a child, but her first-person narration isn’t sappy or immature. . . . Bun O’Keefe will settle comfortably at home in readers’ hearts.” – Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews