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Fall preview 2013: fiction and picture books for young people

In the June issue, Q&Q looks ahead at fall’s most anticipated books for young readers.


In August, Scholastic Canada offers up a brand new YA series from the prolific Gordon Korman. In The Hypnotists: Book 1 ($18.99 cl.), young Jackson Opus discovers the explanation behind his inherent persuasiveness “ it turns out his ancestors were powerful hypnotists. But when things get out of control after he’s accepted to a special program at the Sentia Institute, he has to work to save everyone he cares about. ¢ Following last year’s The Taming, Governor General’s Literary Award nominee Teresa Toten is back with a new teen novel. In The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B (Doubleday Canada, $14.95 pa., Aug.), Adam and Robyn, two 14-year-olds struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder and their burgeoning relationship, discover that Adam’s mother has begun to receive threatening letters from an unknown person.

Having conquered YA, Lesley Livingston has teamed up with Jonathan Llyr for her first middle-grade novel. In How to Curse in Hieroglyphics (Puffin Canada, $14.99 pa., Oct.), Cheryl and Tweed are 12-year-old cousins who each had an identical twin before a mysterious incident took away their families. Now raised by their grandfather, the two girls bond amid some weird and extraordinary happenings. ¢ Speaking of YA, Livingston will release Descendant: A Starling Novel (Harper-Collins Canada, $19.99 pa.) in August. In this second instalment in the Norse-themed Starling series, the raven-haired protagonist, Mason, must find her way home without setting in motion a terrible prophecy.

Chantel Guertin, beauty expert and best-selling author (as Chantel Simmons) of the adult novels Stuck in Downward Dog and Love Struck, is making her first foray into YA with The Rule of Thirds (ECW Press, $9.95 pa., Oct.). Sixteen-year-old Pippa Greene dreams of being a successful fashion photographer, while her best friend Dace is an aspiring supermodel. But their friendship is tested by new love interests and a major photography competition. ¢ Following the release of last year’s Seven series, Orca Book Publishers is set to release three books in a new YA series called Limelights ($9.95 each pa., Oct.), focusing on kids involved in the performing arts. The first titles on deck are Robin Stevenson‘s Attitude (about ballet), Tom Ryan‘s Totally Unrelated (about playing guitar in a band), and Karen Krossing‘s Cut the Lights (about a high-school play).

School friends Marty Apostrophes and Bill Brown “ a.k.a. Nothing Man and the Purple Zero “ become instant celebrities after a video of the pair foiling an attempted robbery goes viral in Richard Scarsbrook‘s Nothing Man and the Purple Zero ($14.95 pa), due from Dancing Cat Books in September. ¢ Also in September, Annick Press will release a graphic-novel version of Australian author Anna Fienberg‘s 2002 swashbuckler Horrendo’s Curse ($24.95 cl., $14.95 pa.), adapted by Toronto’s Alison Kooistra with illustrations by Rémy Simard. The story features young Horrendo, a boy whose politeness gets him in hot water when a gang of unruly pirates invades his village.

Novels exploring native culture continue to be popular. Readers will learn about the North American way of life prior to European conquest in Rick Revelle‘s I Am Algonquin: An Algonquin Quest Novel (Dundurn Press, $12.99 pa., Nov.), which is set in the 14th century and describes one tribe’s search for moose and woodland buffalo, conflicts with other nations, and coming-of-age rituals. ¢ Lesley Choyce, author of countless titles for children and adults, tells the story of a First Nations boy and a troubled girl brought together by spirits from the past in the free-verse novel Jeremy Stone (Red Deer Press, $12.95 pa., Sept.). ¢ Sixteen-year-old Darrah is given a lesson in restorative justice when she is ordered to help an elderly lady after running afoul of the RCMP. Whatever (-Ronsdale Press, $11.95 pa.), the latest novel by Ann Walsh, ships in September.

This fall sees several new instalments in established series. In Maureen Fergus‘s  The Gypsy King (Book Two): A Fool’s Errand (Razorbill Canada, $19.99 cl., Oct.), Persephone and Azriel go in search of the mythical healing Pool of Genezing “ with dire consequences if they fail. ¢ Toronto author and illustrator Evan Munday‘s morbidly playful series is back. In The Dead Kid Detective Agency #2: Dial M for Morna (ECW, $11.95 pa., Oct.), October Schwartz and her five dead friends must solve not one, but two new mysteries: the 1914 death of Morna MacIsaac and who’s behind a harassment campaign at school. ¢ The 14-year-old protagonist of Catherine Egan‘s The Unmaking: The Last Days of Tian Di: Book 2 (Coteau Books, $12.95 pa., Sept.) must master Ancient Magic to defeat the evil sorceress Nia.

Multiple Silver Birch Award“winning author Eric Walters offers up another round of adventure with Camp X: Enigma (Puffin Canada, $14 pa., Nov.). In the sixth series instalment, brothers Jack and George are aboard a merchant ship with their parents when disaster strikes, and the boys must help unravel a Nazi plot against British intelligence. ¢ Canadian cartoonist Seth once again provides illustrations for one of Lemony Snicket‘s new titles. In When Did You See Her Last? All the Wrong Questions, Book Two (HarperCollins Canada, $16.99 cl., Oct.), young apprentice Snicket and his chaperone are hired to find a missing girl.

Debut author and television writer Gail Gallant presents a supernatural love triangle in Apparition (Doubleday Canada, $14.95 pa., Sept.). In this romantic thriller, we meet Amelia Mackenzie, a clairvoyant 17-year-old torn between her recently dead best friend Matthew (whom, naturally, she can still see), and Kip, the sceptic helping her solve the mystery of the haunted barn where Matthew died. ¢ Cole is eager to escape his hometown following the death of his mom “ until he discovers a secret that could keep him there forever. Anywhere But Here (Pulse/Simon & Schuster, $19.99 cl.), by B.C.’s Tanya Lloyd Kyi, ships in October.

Set during the Second World War, Kid Soldier (Dundurn, $12.99 pa., Aug.) by Jennifer Maruno is about fatherless 15-year-old Richard Fuller, who hastily (and illegally) enlists in the army after hearing war stories from Mr. Black, the local baker. ¢ Search and Rescue: Powderhounds (Lorimer, Sept.), by B.C.’s Heather Kellerhals-Stewart, promises an adrenaline-filled story about efforts to find a couple that goes missing while skiing out of bounds.

Picture Books

This fall will see the return of a couple of beloved and wacky characters from Kids Can Press, not the least of which is Mélanie Watt‘s famously fearful rodent. Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween ($18.95 cl., Sept.), the second in a series of safety guides, will help kids navigate the spooky October holiday. ¢ Binky: License to Scratch ($16.95 cl., $8.95 pa., Sept.), from author and illustrator Ashley Spires, follows the latest exploits of Binky the Space Cat. In the final instalment of the Binky Adventures series, our feline friend and his team uncover a secret experiment at the vet’s office.

Calgary author and illustrator Dave Whamond had a hit on his hands with 2011’s Oddrey. That picture book’s quirky titular protagonist returns for another adventure in Oddrey and the New Kid (Owlkids Books, $17.95 cl., Sept.), which takes place at the zoo. ¢ The red-haired heroine of Marie–Louise Gay‘s much-loved Stella series is back in Read Me a Story, Stella (Groundwood Books, $16.95 cl., Aug.), in which the precocious bookworm introduces her younger brother, Sam, to the pleasures of reading.

The Raven and the Loon (Inhabit Media, $16.95 cl., Sept.), by husband-and-wife team Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, and featuring illustrations by Kim Smith, tells the traditional pan-Arctic story of how the titular birds’ white feathers turned into their present colours. ¢ A little dragon tries to learn to contain his flame in Spark (Simply Read Books, $12.95 cl.), forthcoming in October from author Kallie George. The book “ the first in the Tiny Tails series “ features illustrations by Geneviève Côté.

Nicholas Oldland‘s Up the Creek (Kids Can, $16.95 cl., Sept.) is a very Canadian story about three best friends: the bear, the moose, and the beaver. Things get rough when the pals can’t agree on a plan during their canoe trip, and the trio must find a way to get along before the river sweeps them away. ¢ Ruth Ohi leaves Chicken, Pig, and Cow in their Popsicle-stick barn in favour of a weightier story, but one that is told with a light touch. Kenta and the Big Wave (Annick, $19.95 cl., $9.95 pa., Sept.) tells of a boy whose beloved soccer ball is washed away in the Japanese tsunami, and the surprising journey it takes before being returned to him.

In October, the queen of nonsense verse, Sheree Fitch, brings us Singily Skipping Along (Nimbus Publishing, $19.95 cl.), a body movement multi-sensory inventive language poem for very young kids. The poem, which shows preschoolers how to move their bodies (like a tree, a whale, or a spider), includes hooked-rug illustrations by Deanne Fitzpatrick. ¢ Jean Little‘s On a Snowy Night (Scholastic Canada, $19.99 cl., Oct.), with illustrations by Brian Deines, is about a young boy who becomes too busy to play with his pet rabbit, Rosa, and one day accidentally leaves her outside.

Griffin Ondaatje (son of Michael) presents a retelling of a hadith, a traditional Muslim story the author first heard in Sri Lanka. The Camel in the Sun (Groundwood, $17.95 cl., Sept.), with artwork by Linda Wolfsgruber, tells of a man named Halim who learns to care for his exhausted camel after encountering the Prophet in the city of Medina. ¢ When children are nestled all snug in their beds, let visions of Barbara Reid‘s latest book dance in their heads. This new edition of The Night Before Christmas (Scholastic Canada, $19.99 cl., Oct.), featuring the Order of Ontario recipient’s intricate Plasticine images, gives Clement Clarke Moore‘s timeless holiday poem a twist.

Kass Reich follows up her beloved counting book Hamsters Holding Hands with another board book featuring the adorable critters. This Little Hamster (Orca, $9.95), a colour primer, ships in October. ¢ More cute animals star in Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That (Pajama Press, $19.95 cl., Sept.), about a day (and night) in the life of a drowsy cat and rambunctious kitten. The picture book by Victoria Allenby features illustrations by Tara Anderson.