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Spring preview 2014: fiction for young people

This season, shelves will groan under the weight of titles from some of kidlit’s most beloved Canadian authors. Fresh off her Norma Fleck Award win for her non-fiction title Kids of Kabul, Deborah Ellis will release a novel in April with Pajama Press. In Moon at Nine ($19.95 cl.), Ellis reaches back to 1988 Iran to tell the story, based on true events, of Farrin and Sadira, two teenaged girls whose love for each other is illegal ““ and punishable by death. “¢ The Boundless (HarperCollins Canada, $19.99 cl.) is the first book in a new fantasy adventure series from Kenneth Oppel. Young Will Everett must use all his wits to evade a murderer while travelling on the longest train in the world. Will 987 cars (including a circus car) be enough to protect our hero? Find out in April.

Governor General’s Literary Award winner (and Q&Q contributing editor) Sarah Ellis‘s forthcoming novel is Outside In (Groundwood Books, $16.95 cl., May), in which Lynn’s normal life changes completely when she meets Blossom, whose family lives off the grid in a secret bunker. “¢ Charles de Lint once again ventures into Tanglewood Forest in Seven Wild Sisters (Little, Brown/Hachette, $20 cl., Feb.). This time, Lillian is the wizened aunt to Sarah Jane, whose six sisters have been kidnapped by warring fairy clans. Charles Vess, de Lint’s long-time collaborator, provides spot illustrations. “¢ Another forest features in the first instalment of a new supernatural trilogy by everyone’s favourite doyenne of darkness, Kelley Armstrong. In Sea of Shadows (Doubleday Canada, $19.95 cl., April), twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and the Seeker, respectively, tasked with quieting the enraged souls of the damned who haunt the Forest of the Dead. “¢ Described as “A Visit from the Goon Squad for teens,” Marthe Jocelyn‘s latest YA novel, What We Hide (Tundra Books, $21.99 cl., April), is told from the multiple perspectives of a group of teens at a Quaker boarding school in 1970s England.

Playwright, poet, and author of the Man Booker Prize”“long­listed historical novel Consolation, Michael Redhill releases his YA debut, Saving Houdini (HarperCollins Canada, $19.95 cl.), in March. In the book, young Dashiel Woolf finds himself transported back in time to 1926 after helping a famous magician perform a trick. “¢ Toronto author Megan Crewe wraps up her Fallen World trilogy with the February release of The Worlds We Make (Disney-Hyperion/Hachette, $17.99 cl.), in which Kaelyn and her weary companions continue their search for a cure to the deadly virus that has decimated the world’s population. “¢ Moira Young concludes her popular Dust Lands trilogy this spring. In Raging Star (Doubleday Canada, $19.95 cl., April), Saba attempts to defeat DeMalo with an inexperienced guerilla army and the help of her brother, Lugh.

Jonathan Auxier‘s The Night Gardener (Puffin Canada, $19.99 cl., May) promises to be another marvellous adventure from the author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. The middle-grade novel tells the story of orphaned Irish siblings Molly and Kip, who discover some sinister secrets in the creepy old English manor where they’ve been hired to work as servants. “¢ April sees the release of The Shadow’s Curse (Doubleday Canada, $19.95 cl.). In this sequel to Amy McCulloch‘s fantasy debut, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, war is brewing in Darhan as Raim sets out to discover who is responsible for a mysterious oath made on his behalf. “¢ The latest instalment in Scholastic Canada’s Dear Canada series is Jean Little‘s All Fall Down: The Landslide Diary of Abby Roberts ($16.99 cl., Jan.), which recounts the story of a young survivor of an Alberta landslide considered to be the deadliest natural disaster in Canadian history.

Dancing Cat Books will release Bye-Bye, Evil Eye ($12.99, pa.), the sophomore novel from Deborah Kerbel, in May. When 13-year-old Dani takes a summer trip to Greece, she hopes to soak up the rays and maybe land her first kiss. But when things begin to go seriously awry, Dani wonders if she’s literally been cursed. “¢ Following a disastrous year, things are finally looking up for Ella, until her relationships with two different boys threaten to overwhelm her. Capricious (Orca Book Publishers, $19.95 cl., April) is the follow-up to Gabrielle Prendergast’s verse-novel debut, Audacious. “¢ In Year of Mistaken Discoveries (Simon & Schuster Canada, $19.99 cl., Feb.), from Vancouver author Eileen Cook, Avery and Nora share a childhood bond over the fact that they were both adopted. Now in high school, loner Nora overdoses, and popular Avery decides to honour her friend by searching for her own birth mother.

Two books featuring the doomed ocean liner Empress of Ireland will arrive this spring. In February, Sylvia McNicoll‘s Revenge on the Fly ($12.95 pa.) will be released by Pajama Press. Leaving behind England (and the graves of his mother and baby sister) 12-year-old William sails to Canada with his father, where he joins the campaign to eradicate flies in cities and stop the spread of deadly diseases. “¢ In Unspeakable (Puffin Canada, $14.99 pa., May), Caroline Pignat tells the love story of Ellie, a young stewardess undertaking her maiden voyage on the Empress, and Jack, the handsome fire-stoker she fears has been lost when the ship sinks.

Toronto author Richard Scrimger brings the funny in Zomboy (HarperCollins Canada, $14.99 pa., March), in which Bob and his best friend, Evil-O, find themselves in disagreement when an undead student joins their class. “¢ In Jasper John Dooley: NOT in Love (Kids Can Press, $16.95 cl.), our hero finds himself the object of Isabel’s affections, much to his chagrin. Caroline Adderson ““ no slouch in the humour department herself ““ presents this third instalment of her acclaimed middle-grade series, with spot illustrations by U.S. artist Ben Clanton, in April. “¢ Best friends Madison and Alyssa get the Hollywood treatment on their summer break when Alyssa’s movie-star mom is summoned to Los Angeles in actor and author Meg Tilly‘s Behind the Scenes (Puffin Canada, $12.99 pa., May).

The prize for best title this season goes to On a Scale from Idiot to Complete Jerk (Orca, $9.95 pa., April) by Calgary writer Alison Hughes. The novel, which takes the form of a science project by 12-year-old J.J. Murphy, includes graphs, pie charts, and case studies, as well as a humorous, touching narrative. “¢ In April, Red Deer Press will publish Nova Scotia writer Jan L. Coates‘s Mr. Invisible vs. the Rocketman ($9.95 cl.), in which Bob hopes his dad will be strong enough to make it to his special basketball game.

Janet Gurtler taps into the popularity of social media in 16 Things I Thought Were True (Sourcebooks/Raincoast, $11.99 pa., March), in which Morgan is a hashtag-happy teen who experiences loss, love, and unexpected friendship. “¢ Arrow Through the Axes (Ronsdale Press, $11.95 pa., March) brings Patrick Bowman‘s Odyssey of a Slave trilogy to a close. The series, based on Homer, traces the path of Alexi, a slave who, now freed, seeks to avenge his father’s death and find his missing sister. “¢ From debut author Jennifer Gold comes Soldier Doll (Second Story Press, $11.95 pa., March), a coming-of-age novel that weaves contemporary and historical narratives about war in the 20th century, linked by a hundred-year-old doll. “¢ Set in the late 1800s, Jennifer Dance‘s Red Wolf (Dundurn Press, $12.99 pa., Feb.) tells the story of friendship between an orphaned timber wolf and a boy who is forced into a residential school. “¢ Arsenal Pulp Press will release multimedia artist Vivek Shraya‘s previously self-published story collection, God Loves Hair ($18.95 pa.), in April. The stories, with illustrations by Juliana Neufeld, follow a curious child as he explores issues of diversity, gender, politics, and sexuality.

A number of interesting illustrated novels are on the way, including Gottika (Dancing Cat, $14.99 pa., May), a novel/graphica hybrid from the prolific and charming Helaine Becker. The middle-grade book, with illustrations by Alexander Griggs-Burr, is a futuristic fantasy retelling of a Jewish legend, complete with corrupt rulers, kidnapped teenaged girls, and a terrifying creature known as a Gol. “¢ In Jamie’s Got a Gun (Great Plains Publications, $14.95 pa., June), Spyder Yardley-Jones provides black-and-white illustrations for Gail Sidonie Sobat‘s gritty story about an aspiring young cartoonist who must choose the direction his life will take after he finds a semiautomatic machine gun in a dumpster. “¢ Joe Shuster Award winner Scott Chantler adds a fourth title to his Three Thieves series in April. The King’s Dragon (Kids Can, $17.95 cl., $8.95 pa.) sees Topper, Fisk, and Dessa on the run after attempting to rob the royal treasury. “¢ Marthe Jocelyn and Richard Scrimger team up with illustrator Claudia Dávila on Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book (Tundra, $19.99 cl., May), a zany adventure that sees Comicon attendees Wylder Wallace and Addy Crowe getting a little more into the latest issue of Uncle Viminy’s steampunk comic than intended.

Q&Q‘s spring preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2014. “¢ 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.

This feature appeared in the January/February 2o14 issue of Q&Q.