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Penguin: Young Readers Group Summer 2019

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Zenobia July
By (author): Lisa Bunker
9780451479402 Hardcover English Juvenile: Age (years) from 10, Grade (US) from 5 JUVENILE FICTION / LGBT May 21, 2019
$23.99 CAD
Active 5.75 x 8.56 x 1.05 in 320 pages Viking Children's Books Viking Books for Young Readers
The critically acclaimed author of Felix Yz crafts a bold, heartfelt story about a trans girl solving a cyber mystery and coming into her own.

Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father; now she’s in Maine with her aunts. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she’s coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. People used to tell her she was a boy; now she’s able to live openly as the girl she always knew she was.

When someone anonymously posts hateful memes on her school’s website, Zenobia knows she’s the one with the abilities to solve the mystery, all while wrestling with the challenges of a new school, a new family, and coming to grips with presenting her true gender for the first time. Timely and touching, Zenobia July is, at its heart, a story about finding home.

Story Locale: Portland, Maine

Smart, emotional novel with award potential: Lisa Bunker’s sparkling story combines transportive writing with twists, turns, comedy, and real-life truths, to create a gripping, moving reading experience.

Truthful exploration of trans experience: While never being graphic or too mature, Zenobia’s narrative deftly conveys the nuance and complexity of being a trans tween through loving and authentic prose.

Family at its core: As Zenobia begins her new life in Portland, she finds a new family in her loving aunts, their kooky friends, and the band of misfits she gloms onto at school. It’s a story about finding queer community, with a tender heart.

Activist author: Lisa is a trans woman and activist, whose writerly ambitions include telling stories featuring LGBTQ characters without that being the focus, pushing the boundaries of the word “normal.” An engaging speaker, she’s running for New Hampshire state assembly in November 2018, and she’ll be a strong advocate for Zenobia July and books featuring underrepresented characters in general!

Lisa Bunker lives in Exeter, New Hampshire. Before taking up writing full time, she had a thirty-year career in public and community radio. In November of 2018, she was elected to represent her town in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. She is married and has two grown children. Her geekeries include chess, piano, gender, storycraft, and language.

Author Residence: Exeter, New Hampshire

Author Hometown: Los Alamos, New Mexico

Marketing: Online promotion and social media outreach

Promotion at national school and library conferences

Librarian and educator outreach

Author Website:

Author Social Media: @LisaBunker

Praise for Zenobia July!

“Bunker’s range of self-assured and joyful, yet imperfect, trans and queer characters is most refreshing. This is what visibility and representation can look like. Welcome to the extended family, Zenobia!” - Alex Gino, author of George and You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!

*“Bunker’s portrayal of a trans middle school student grappling with typical tween insecurities while being supported by her family and friends is a welcome and much-needed addition to a limited middle grade canon.” - School Library Journal, starred review

“Bunker (Felix Yz) brings considerable empathy and skill to her authentic, nuanced portrayal, balancing Zen’s darker moments with humor…An accessible and relatable story for anyone who is struggling to fit in.” - Publishers Weekly

“Zenobia is an endearing…trans girl heroine, with an accessible amount of angst and anxiety that never tips over into titillating tragedy…A fun read that manages to feel solidly traditional while breaking new ground.” - Kirkus Reviews

“…Bunker writes with a third-person voice that is intimately acquainted with Zen’s anxieties about how the world sees her without being invasive…” - BCCB

“While her #OwnVoices sophomore title is filled with humor, hope and plenty of joy, Bunker is also age-appropriately revealing about challenges confronting Zen…[but] Zen’s realization that among such ”welcoming hearts“ she can ”just be“ proves to be an empowering lesson for all.” - Shelf Awareness

“Bunker’s characters are written with authenticity and heart…This book is a testament to true diversity.” - VOYA

“Author Lisa Bunker has written a book that will be a welcome addition to the LGBTQ canon in middle schools. The characters are well-rounded and face problems that are very real and important. The writing is quite wonderful and the story compelling. This book deserves wide readership.” - Seattle Book Review

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