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PRHC June 2022 Kids Key Titles (Western)

The Surprise
By (author): Zadie Smith By (author): Nick Laird Illustrated by: Magenta Fox
Zadie Smith , Nick Laird ,

Illustrated by :

Magenta Fox


Tundra Books



Product Form:



Children: Age (years) 3 - 7, Grade (US) P - 2
Jun 28, 2022
$23.99 CAD


11.31in x 8.75 x 0.38 in | 0.9 lb

Page Count:

32 pages


Tundra Books
JUVENILE FICTION / Social Themes / Bullying
Kate Greenaway Medal 2022, Nominated
Celebrating the quiet power of being different, The Surprise is the children’s debut from acclaimed authors Zadie Smith and Nick Laird, with art from exciting newcomer Magenta Fox.

Meet Maud: a guinea pig who inexplicably wears a judo suit—and not everyone understands or approves. When Maud is thrown into a new and confusing situation, it takes brave decisions and serendipitous encounters for her to find her place and embrace her individuality.

The Surprise is an endearing story about the quiet power of being different by two veteran writers, and introduces an exciting debut illustrator. Together they have created a picture book that adults and children alike will treasure.

STAR CREATIVE TEAM: Zadie Smith is one of most beloved and lauded bestselling authors of our generation, and this book shows that she speaks to the hearts of audiences of all ages. Co-written with Nick Laird and introducing debut illustrator Magenta Fox, The Surprise hails a new chapter for a powerhouse team.

BE YOURSELF: After a bit of a bumpy ride, the Surprise learns that there’s nothing more important than being yourself and embracing what makes you different (and, ideally, odd!)

BULLYING AND EMPATHY: The other pets the Surprise encounters learn that making someone feel singled out for their differences is unkind—everyone wins from having a rich friend group, full of varied interests and personalities.

HUMOR: Smith, Laird and Fox use humor as a tool to open up a conversation about loving what makes you different.

ADORABLE ART: With charming characters, energetic depictions of apartment life and gentle colors, Fox’s illustrations have wide appeal and complement the warm, wry prose perfectly.

STRONG PUBLISHING PARTNERS: We’ll be co-publishing with Viking in the U.S., and Puffin published The Surprise as Weirdo in the U.K. in April 2021.

Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW and Swing Time, as well as three collections of essays, Changing My Mind, Feel Free and Intimations, and a collection of short stories, Grand Union. Zadie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002, and was listed as one of Granta’s 20 Best Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013. White Teeth won multiple literary awards including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award. On Beauty was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and NW was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of fiction at New York University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Nick Laird is the recipient of many prizes for his poetry and fiction, including the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Ireland Chair of Poetry Award, the Betty Trask Prize, a Somerset Maugham award, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. He is on faculty at New York University and Professor of Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University in Belfast. His latest collection Feel Free was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Award and the Derek Walcott Prize.

Author Residence: New York, New York

Magenta Fox was born in southwest London in 1994. She studied English at the University of Exeter and since moving back to London in 2015, has been working as a children's book designer. These days she works freelance—illustrating, writing, and designing children's books from her flat in south London.

Illustrator Residence: London, UK

Publicity: Pursue virtual media

#TundraTime activity sheet

School & library focus title

Author Website: www.zadiesmith.com / www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/nick-laird / www.magentafoxillustration.co.uk

Author Social Media: @madge_fox (Instagram)

“Adorable and sweet…. A fun story of friendship and acceptance.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[A] tonally freewheeling picture book whose chatty narration and dialogue are anchored by precise, fine-lined art and vivid characterizations.” —Publishers Weekly

“This charming story embraces friendship, self-discovery, and fun…. [A] good addition to a classroom, library, or school counselor’s anti-bullying picture book collection.” —School Library Journal

“The wholesome conversations between Emily and Maud about being different spur Maud’s growth, as she moves from defeated self-doubt to joyful confidence, giving the hopeful message that ’life’s too short not to be an oddball.’” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Having been thrown into an unfamiliar situation, Maud finds her place and embraces her individuality by making courageous decisions and meeting interesting people.” —CityParent

“[A] delightful tale for little oddballs everywhere.” —Entertainment Weekly

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