Tundra Telegram: Books to Verse-Shift-fy Your Shelf

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, a column in which we look at the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

One movie we can’t stop thinking about – and neither can some of our fellow readers and authors – is the Michelle Yeoh-starring, Daniels-directed action movie, Everything Everywhere All at Once (or EEAAO, for short). The frenetic action-drama-comedy is unlike much else currently on movie screens, but we’re thinking some page-turners might be able to fill the gap. Whether it’s the multiple parallel dimensions, the over-the-top martial arts action, or the multigenerational family conflict that appeals to you most about the film, we’ve got a few book recommendations that “every rejection, every disappointment has led you” to.

PICTURE BOOKS

Let’s face it, there aren’t a ton of picture books about alternate dimensions (yet), but a book that combines family with something a little superhuman – and one that mixes a few tears with laughs and a comic-booky premise, is Minh Lê and Dan Santat’s The Blur, in which a superhuman child zips and zooms through her childhood, with her parents frantically trying to keep up.

If your picture book story times could use a little more fight choreography, you’ll want to check out The Rise (and Falls) of Jackie Chan, a picture book biography of the inimitable action star by Kristen Mai Giang and Alina Chau. Read this book closely enough and you might be able to do what Waymond Wang does with a fanny pack.

And this may be a stretch, but if your favorite part of the movie involved a rock with googly eyes, you should definitely check out Marianna Coppo’s Petra, a picture book about a rock willing to just roll with the circumstances.

MIDDLE GRADE

S. G. Wilson’s Me vs. the Multiverse series (Pleased to Meet Me and Enough about Me) follows Meade Macon, a young boy who learns about the mysteries of the multiverse (and the many Meades), as first revealed to him in the form of a note written on an origami octopus.

Christopher Edge’s science-fiction adventure, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright follows a young boy who grieves the death of his astrophysicist mother by searching for her by universe-hopping to alternate timelines. And in his search, he stumbles upon the answers to life’s most challenging questions. (Seems like a positive side effect.)

For a little Canadian content in your multiverse meanderings, read Downside Up by Richard Scrimger. In it, Fred isn’t grieving his mother, but his dearly departed dog Casey, when he falls down a sewer grate into an alternate universe. In this other version of life, his dog is alive, his mom and sister are happier, and the version of him is happier, too. But something’s not quite as it seems.

We consider tax returns the adult equivalent of homework, so Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend by Katie Zhao, featuring a girl tackling school projects, family troubles, and otherworldly chaos follows EEAAO pretty closely plot-wise. Add to that a heroine who must quickly embrace new powers to save the world and you have a legendary book recommendation.

If the blend of family history, queer coming-out story, and the fantastic most appealed to you in the movie, you might like the widely acclaimed graphic novel The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen. Not only are those elements present, so is the generational conflict between first- and second-generation Asian immigrants – and the imagery is just as (googly) eye-opening!

YOUNG ADULT

If, like Evelyn Wang, you have lived a life of some regret, wondering how the many small choices you’ve made led you to where you are now, you’ll want to check out Kristin Cashore’s Jane, Unlimited. The book by the author of the Graceling series follows Jane, a girl with no direction a year out of high school, who is invited to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens. What she doesn’t know is Tu Reviens is a world of infinite choices that will ultimately determine the course of her currently untethered life.

If the Sliding Doorsesque idea of the parallel worlds created by seemingly simple choices intrigues you, may we also suggest Again, Again by TikTok’s favorite author, E. Lockhart? What if there were alternates universes and different version of you, who acted differently and made different choices to the same trying circumstances in life? Could you be braver, happier, lonelier? More in love? Questions that lie at the heart of both the film and this book.

And for reasons that will be clear only to those who have seen Everything Everywhere All at Once in all its bananas glory, we also suggest Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan. (IYKYK!)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: