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Fall preview 2012: books for young people

The season of high-profile literary awards and author festivals is on its way, and there’s no shortage of new releases from marquee names. In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at some of the fall’s biggest books.

Series fiction is a mainstay of the YA canon, but this October Orca Book Publishers is trying something new with the Seven series. Each book, penned by a different author, is a thematically linked, standalone tale chronicling the adventures of seven boys, each of whom must complete a task, from climbing a mountain to getting a tattoo, in honour of their late grandfather. Kidlit juggernaut Eric Walters spearheaded the project, and contributes one of the titles, Between Heaven and Earth ($9.95 pa.). The other books, which will be released simultaneously, are by Sigmund Brouwer, Norah McClintock, Shane Peacock, Richard Scrimger, Ted Staunton, and John Wilson.

HarperCollins Canada presents the first book in a new series from Lesley Livingston. Starling ($17.99 pa., Aug.) tells the story of Mason Starling, who triggers a series of wondrously strange occurrences when she rescues a young man from a wicked storm, opening a rift between the mortal world and Beyond Realms in the process.

From Groundwood Books comes the latest addition to Deborah Ellis‘s lauded Breadwinner series. In My Name Is Parvana ($16.95 cl., Sept.), the Afghan heroine, now 15, is held as a suspected terrorist when American troops find her hiding in a bombed-out school. ¢ Multi-talented radio broadcaster turned author and illustrator Kevin Sylvester brings back his precocious chef for another course (sushi, perhaps?) in Neil Flambé and the Tokyo Treasure (Simon & Schuster, $14.99 cl., Oct.), which has Neil travelling to Japan to investigate his cousin Larry’s mysterious death.

Rebel Heart (Doubleday Canada, $19.95 cl., Sept.), the continuation of Moira Young‘s post-apocalyptic Dust Lands series, sees the return of the indomitable Saba as she faces a new enemy and a dark secret. ¢ The well-travelled Philip Roy adds a fifth instalment to his Submarine Outlaw series with Outlaw in India (Ronsdale Press, $11.95 pa., Sept.), wherein Alfred and his shipmates fall in love with the ancient land, despite the hardship they encounter there.

Kit Pearson follows up last fall’s The Whole Truth with the sequel And Nothing But the Truth (HarperCollins Canada, $19.99 cl., Aug.), which sees 13-year-old Polly heading off to boarding school. Susin Nielsen‘s Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom was a bittersweet comedy, but the Vancouver author tackles more serious subject matter in The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen (Tundra Books, $19.99 cl., Sept.), in which the titular character must deal with his brother’s suicide.

The Boy in the Box: Master Melville’s Medicine Show (Puffin Canada, $17.99 cl., Sept.) features a 12-year-old protagonist who gets swept away by a travelling caravan in this first instalment of a new series by much-loved author Cary Fagan. ¢ Nicki Haddon is the 16-year-old Nancy Drew for a new age “ with martial arts skills, no less “ in The Scratch on the Ming Vase (Second Story Press, $11.95 pa., Sept.) by Caroline Stellings. Using free verse, Geoffrey Bilson Award winner Valerie Sherrard relates the story of a teenage girl who discovers her deceased father was having an affair in Counting Back from Nine (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $9.95 pa., Oct.).

Sex, politics, and friendship are the overarching themes in Brenda Chapman‘s Second Chances (Dundurn Press, $12.99 pa., Sept.), in which a 1971 summer in cottage country forms the backdrop to 15-year-old Darlene’s coming of age. It’s taken 11 years, but Primrose Squarp is finally back in a sequel to Polly Horvath‘s Everything on a Waffle. In One Year in Coal Harbour (Groundwood, $14.95 pa., Sept.), Primrose’s parents are home, but new problems keep her busy.

Copyright activist and BoingBoing.net co-editor Cory Doctorow dives into the near future for his dystopian tale of a British boy who harnesses the power of images and movies to fight the tyrannical forces that control the Internet. Pirate Cinema (Tor/Raincoast, $21.99 cl.) appears in October. ¢ B.C. screenwriter Don Calame‘s Call the Shots (Candlewick Press/Random House, $20 cl., Sept.) takes a much more lighthearted look at teenage filmmaking, as wannabe horror movie scribe Sean is suddenly bombarded by female attention when he begins working on a script with his buddies.

A Quebec teen and his bandmates learn valuable lessons about life and the tricky business of professional musicianship in Millions for a Song (Red Deer Press, $9.95 pa., Oct.) by André Vanasse, translated from the French by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli.

Shane Peacock was ahead of the curve when he released his first Boy Sherlock Holmes book in 2007. The successful series wraps up in October with the release of the sixth instalment, Becoming Holmes (Tundra, $21.99 cl.), in which our hero engages in a final battle of wits with his nemesis, Malefactor.

Such Wicked Intent (Harper­Collins Canada, $19.99 cl., Aug.) is the sequel to Kenneth Oppel‘s Frankenstein-inspired This Dark Endeavor (a Q&Q book of the year for 2011), which sees 16-year-old Victor swearing off alchemy and magic, until he and his cohorts stumble upon a portal to the spirit world and things go awfully awry. ¢ Coteau Books will release the first of a new series in September. Shade and Sorceress: The Last Days of Tian Di ($12.95 pa.) by debut fantasy novelist Catherine Egan is about Eliza’s quest to rescue her father from an Arctic prison, where he is being held by an evil witch.

Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s literature in its original French, The Adventures of Radisson: Hell Never Burns (Baraka Books, $19.95 pa., Oct.), by historian Martin Fournier, introduces young readers to 15-year-old coureur de bois Pierre-Esprit Radisson, who was initially captured, then adopted, by the Iroquois in 1650s Quebec. Peter McCambridge translates.

Larry Loyie drew on childhood experiences for The Moon Speaks Cree (Theytus Books, $14.95 pa., July), a wintertime adventure story about a boy who spends the season learning traditional Cree ways of life, as well as universal lessons of respect and kindness. Heather D. Holmlund provides illustrations. ¢ Also drawing on true events, The Lynching of Louie Sam (Annick Press, $21.95 cl., $12.95 pa., Aug.) by first-time Vancouver novelist Elizabeth Stewart recounts the racism-fuelled murder of a native Canadian boy in the late 1800s.

The latest entry in the I Am Canada series is A Call to Battle (Scholastic Canada, $14.99 cl., Sept.) by Gillian Chan, in which 13-year-old Sandy resents being left behind when his father and brother enlist to fight in the War of 1812. ¢ The daughter of Estonian immigrants, Urve Tamberg shines a light on a seldom mentioned aspect of Second World War history in The Darkest Corner of the World (Dancing Cat Books, $14.95 pa., Sept.), in which Madli and her family are forced to choose allegiance to either Stalin or Hitler when their Soviet-occupied Estonian village is invaded by Nazis.

Toronto-based screenwriter Michael Betcherman‘s YA debut, Breakaway (Razorbill Canada, $14.99 pa., Sept.), is about how 16-year-old Nick’s life is thrown into a tailspin when his father, a hockey player with the Vancouver Canucks, ends up in jail. Only a quest to prove his dad’s innocence keeps Nick going. ¢ Girls like sports, too. In Hockey Girl (Fitz & Whits, $9.95 pa., Oct.), from Saving Armpit author Natalie Hyde, Tara and her softball team trade their cleats for skates as they attempt to beat the boys’ team that challenged them to take to the ice.

In The Secret Life of a Funny Girl (Flanker Press, $16.95 pa., Sept.) by Susan Chalker Browne, class clown Maureen isn’t laughing when her mother is admitted to a psychiatric hospital. ¢ Michael Harris‘s Homo (Lorimer, $16.95 cl., Aug.) tells the story of a gay teen who looks for love in all the wrong places, and ends up finding it in Riley, an older, HIV-positive man. ¢ From Second Story Press comes the tale of a 13-year-old Afghan girl named Rabia, whose plane from Pakistan is diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, amid the horrors of 9/11. A Long Way From Home ($11.95 pa.), by East Coast author Alice Walsh, ships in September.

Q&Q‘s fall preview covers books published between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2012. ¢ All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. ¢ Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.