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Spring preview 2013: fiction and picture books for young people

Rumours to the contrary notwithstanding, publishing is alive and well moving into spring. In the January/February issue, Q&Q looks ahead at some of the spring’s biggest books.

Fiction

Judging by the titles coming out this spring, dystopian fiction may be finally releasing its death grip on the world of YA publishing. Fantasy (urban, historically inspired, or otherwise), old-fashioned narrative fiction, and coming-of-age and issue-driven stories are represented in a big way. Which isn’t to say we won’t be seeing more tales of post-apocalyptic mayhem, just maybe we’re ready to focus on something else for a while.

Leading the pack of highly anticipated releases is Lesley Livingston’s tongue-twistingly titled Every Never After (Razorbill Canada, $15 pa., March). In the follow-up to 2011’s Once Every Never, Al finds herself “shimmering” back in time after touching a skull at an archeological dig in Glastonbury Tor, and ends up getting caught in the middle of a battle between Roman soldiers and rampaging Celts. Best-friend Clare and new beau Milo race against the clock to get Clare back to the here and now before it’s too late – or, wait … maybe that should be too soon?

Hunted by two powerful Cabals, Maya and her friends are quickly running out of places to hide, and their powers are getting harder to control, in The Rising (Doubleday Canada, $19.99 cl., April), the final entry in the Darkness Rising trilogy by horror-­fantasy master Kelley Armstrong. • Journalist-turned-poet-turned-author Michelle Barker’s dark debut fantasy novel is The Beggar King (Thistledown Press, $15.95 pa., March). To save his mother and other political prisoners in the lands of Katir-Cir from the clutches of the invading Brinnian forces, 14-year-old Jordon must learn to master the “undermagic” that has long been hidden because of its dangerous unpredictability.

Kidlit multi-tasker Vikki VanSickle wraps up her debut trilogy with Days that End in Y (Scholastic Canada, $8.99 pa., Feb.), in which Clarissa’s feeling of abandonment by her buddies is only intensified when her mother announces she’s getting remarried. Clarissa embarks on a search for answers about her absentee father, but discovers her mom’s teenage secrets in the process. • Truths I Learned from Sam (Dundurn Press, $12.99 pa., March), from veteran B.C. author Kristen Butcher, follows the up-and-down summer of 17-year-old Dani after being shipped off to a town she’s never heard of to stay with an uncle she’s never met while her mom and new stepfather jet off on a European honeymoon.

A spate of books arriving this season will tackle heavy topics, from bullying to sexual abuse to physical and mental disability. From Lorimer’s Sidestreets series comes Touch ($9.95 pa., April), by Calgary writer Kim Firmston, which tells the story of Ethan, whose attempt to impress his IT security dad by creating a computer virus goes horribly wrong when he hacks into his father’s computer and discovers evidence backing up his stepsister’s claims of abuse. • In Shadow Girl (Tundra Books, $12.99 pa., Feb.), debut author Patricia Morrison tells the story of a young girl who, left to fend for herself by neglectful parents, spends days on end at the mall until an observant saleswoman intervenes, providing the girl with a real home and sense of self worth. • Told entirely through dialogue, The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley (Great Plains Publications, $14.95 pa., Feb.) by Jan Andrews is about a boy who becomes so frustrated with being shuffled from one foster home to another that he stops speaking. • Fostergirls author Liane Shaw brings readers The Color of Silence (Second Story Press, $11.95 pa., March), the tale of a troubled 17-year-old girl named Alex who is sentenced to community service and meets a young woman whose active mind is trapped in a body she can’t control.

Sharon E. McKay has built a career writing the kinds of books that take readers by the shoulders and give them a shake. In February, the PEI-based author will release a graphic novel adaptation of her 2009 Arthur Ellis Award–winning novel, War Brothers (Annick Press $24.95 cl., $14.95 pa.). The new edition, illustrated by cartoonist Daniel Lafrance, follows a 14-year-old Ugandan boy who is abducted and forced to become a child soldier in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

Set in a Nova Scotia coal-mining town in the 1960s, The Power of Harmony ($12.95 pa.) tells the story of Jennifer, who is taunted by school bullies until a native girl transferred from a recently closed residential school becomes their primary target. Red Deer Press will release the middle-grade novel by Jan L. Coates in May. • Caroline Adderson showcases her subtle hilarity in Jasper John Dooley: Left Behind (Kids Can Press, $16.95 cl.), in which our hero discovers that every day is an adventure. Ben Clanton provides spot illustrations in this second instalment of the series, due in March. • From Simon & Schuster comes The Awesome, Almost 100% True Adventures of Matt & Craz ($18.99 cl., April) by former Disney Channel and Nickleodeon screenwriter Alan Silberberg. In this novel with cartoon-like spot illustrations, best buds and avid cartoonists Matt and Craz discover a magical pen that brings whatever they draw to life. Not surprisingly, zany shenanigans ensue. • In a fantastical tale from the multi-talented Cary Fagan, a boy finds himself trapped at the bottom of a construction pit that he must find his way out of with only his backpack, his wits, and a poetry-­reciting mole for assistance. Oh, and there’s a snake down there, too, but he’s not overly helpful. Danny, Who Fell in a Hole (Groundwood Books, $16.95, cl.) ships in April.

Debut author S.M. Beiko presents the story of 16-year-old Ash, who discovers more than books in the library of a mysterious condemned building on the outskirts of town. In The Lake and the Library (ECW Press, $14.95 pa., May), a charming mute named Li resides in the library, and Ash must choose between him or getting back to her own reality. • In The Metro Dogs of Moscow (Puffin Canada, $12.99 pa., Jan.), embassy dog JR (short for Jack Russell) explores the Russian capital while his human performs diplomatic duties, and uncovers a mystery involving disappearing dogs along the way. Author Rachelle Delaney works as a writer and editor for the David Suzuki Foundation when she’s not writing novels.

Hannah and the Salish Sea (Ronsdale Press, $11.95 pa., Feb.), the second instalment of Carol Anne Shaw’s series, sees Hannah investigating poachers with her friend Max and a Métis girl named Izzy Tate, who bears a striking resemblance to the Cowichan girl Hannah met two years before. • Family tragedy, misogyny, bullying, racism, and high school football play central roles in Living with the Hawk (Thistledown, $15.95 pa., March) by Saskatchewan author Robert Currie.

Maxine Trottier’s contribution to Scholastic’s I Am Canada series is Storm the Fortress: The Siege of Quebec, William Jenkins, New France, 1759 ($14.99 cl., Feb.). In the book, a 14-year-old boy signs up to serve on a warship during the Seven Years’ War in a story that culminates in the battle of the Plains of Abraham. • The second instalment of Patrick Bowman’s Odyssey of a Slave trilogy is Cursed by the Sea God (Ronsdale, $11.95, pa., Feb.), in which Homer’s classic is reimagined from the point of view of a young Trojan boy captured by Odysseus after the fall of Troy.

Beth Goobie tells the story of Meredith, whose quest to claim the “cool” seat in her grade 10 homeroom puts her in the bad books of the school’s “kingpin of the underworld,” a guy known for holding a grudge. The Throne (Red Deer, $12.95 pa.) lands in May. • In Vancouver author Shelley Hrdlitsckha’s Allegra (Orca Book Publishers, $12.95 pa., April), a dancer thinks attending a performing-arts high school will change her life for the better. But the pitfalls of teendom still reign, and Allegra finds unlikely refuge in a music theory class – and her young, good-looking teacher. • In The Fall, (Great Plains, $14.95 pa., March) by Colleen Nelson, three boys choose vastly different methods of coping when their friend dies in a tragic accident. • Three O’Clock Press will publish the debut novel by Suzanne Sutherland in April. When We Were Good ($14.95 pa.) tells the story of a high school senior who embarks on a journey of self-discovery that leads her to explore the underground music scene in Toronto.

Picture Books

Inhabit Media introduces a new imprint this season called Inhabit Community, which celebrates the cooperation of the Inuit community in the publishing process. The first book released under the label is Nala’s Magical Mitsiaq ($10.95 pa., May), illustrated by Qin Leng. The story, based on the experiences of author Jennifer Noah, tells of Nala and Qiatsuk, who become sisters through Inuit custom adoption – a traditional practice that sees Nunavut families place children with adoptive parents within their own community. • Known for her free-verse YA novels, Alma Fullerton moves further into picture book territory with the publication of Community Soup (Pajama Press, $19.95 cl., May), about Kenyan children who must fend off a herd of goats to gather the vegetables they need to make soup.

The reptiles in veteran author Hazel Hutchin’s What the Snakes Wrote (Annick Press, $21.95 cl., $9.95 pa., Feb.) enlist a dog to help them save their farmyard home. Tina Holdcroft illustrates • Here’s hoping there aren’t any slithery creatures around when Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping (Kids Can, $16.95 cl., April), Mélanie Watt’s latest in the popular franchise.

Barbara Reid has received every major Canadian children’s book award over the course of her prestigious career. So, you know, her new board book, Welcome, Baby (Scholastic Canada, $9.99, Feb.), might also find a receptive audience. • Author Hélène Boudreau issues a challenge to readers in her first picture book, I Dare You Not to Yawn (Candlewick/Random House, $18 cl.), a fun, frolicking bedtime read that lands in March. • Dan Bar-el takes a more subdued approach to bedtime in his poetic ode to sleepiness, Illustrated by Vancouver’s Kirsti Anne Wakelin, Dream Boats (Simply Read Books $19.95 cl.) docks in May.

Current “it boy” Jon Klassen illustrates the new Lemony Snicket book, The Dark (HarperCollins, $19.99 cl., April), in which a young boy named Lazlo is forced to face his biggest fear when his nightlight burns out. • Mr. Flux (Kids Can, $18.95 cl., April) sounds like a book Mr. Snicket would approve of. Once again drawing inspiration from an unlikely source, author Kyo Maclear bases her tongue-in-cheek tale, illustrated by Matte Stephens, on the 1960s art movement known as Fluxus.

Stephanie McClellan’s Hoogie in the Middle (Pajama Press, $17.95 cl.) is about an adorable monster who isn’t big like her sister Pumpkin or tiny like her brother Tweazle, but thanks to her mom and dad she discovers being in between might not be so bad after all. The book, illustrated by Dean Griffiths, comes out in April.

For the littlest bibliophiles, Tundra has the second and third board books in a series by author J. Torres and illustrator J. Lum coming in May. The black-and-white colour scheme of Checkers and Dot at the Beach and Checkers and Dot on the Farm ($8.99) should hold great appeal for babies. • Richard Van Camp’s Little You (Orca, $9.95, April) is a delightful board book that celebrates the child within us all. Julie Flett illustrates.

There’s a party going on in Newfoundland, and author Gerald Mercer asks, What’s Going on at the Time Tonight? (Nimbus Publishing, $19.95 cl., April). Bookish Jill-of-all-trades Holly DeWolf illustrates the rollicking rhyme about a “time” (or party) with an underwater setting that sees jellyfish and sea lice having a ball. Yup, partying sea lice. • Diana Bonder takes her readers on a musical underwater alphabet adventure in A, B, Sea (Whitecap Books, $19.95 cl., May). • Mother and daughter team Marthe Jocelyn and Nell Jocelyn play with words and images, using detailed collage illustrations to spark interest in Where Do You Look? (Tundra, $17.99 cl., Feb.).

Q&Q’s spring preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 31, 2013. • 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.

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Book Pictures

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Lesley Strutt, Dean Steadman, Amanda Earl, Alastair Larwill and Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt and Alastair Larwill

Amanda Earl

Jewel of the Thames launch

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