SUMMER READING GUIDE 2021 - 2022
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The books featured in the Better Read Than Dead Summer Reading Guide have all been hand-selected and many have been reviewed by our Better Read Than Dead and Better Read Kids booksellers, as well as kids ages 5-17. Prices, publication information, event dates and event details are correct at time of publication.
Front Cover Illustration by Samuel Leighton-Dore
Back Cover Illustration by Sally Ann Conwell
BABY BOOKS Boo! | Janik Coat & Bernard Duisit (illus.) | $17.99 | Thames and Hudson | 10+ Young readers will be startled by some scary-looking sights... then delighted to discover that there’s no need to be afraid - it’s only friendly animals having fancy-dress fun! These pages are packed with treats, flaps to lift, tabs to pull and plenty of surprises.
Peekaboo Moon | Camilla Reid & Ingela P. Arrhenius (illus.) | $14.99 | Allen & Unwin | 1+ With a cute cast of characters, easy-to-use sliders, and an adorable mirror ending, this stylish little book is the perfect bedtime companion. A joy to read aloud, it has all the makings of a future classic.
Dog’s First Baby | Natalie Nelson | $29.99 | Random House | 2+ Welcoming a new baby to the family isn’t always easy. When his humans bring home someone new, Dog is determined to sniff out the truth. Is this arrival another dog, or something else? As Dog investigates, he might just find a new friend in this loud, silly creature.
Together | Mona Damluji and Innosanto Nagara (illus.) | $19.99 | Penguin | 2+ Alone you can have an impact on the world, but what happens when someone else joins you and you work together? The power of collective action is portrayed in this awe-inspiring poem for young readers. Innosanto Nagara’s art and Mona Damluji’s words share a message of unity, hope and a future full of possibilities. - Reem
Also by Innosanto Nagara; A is for Activist
Rhyme Hungry | Antonia Pesenti | $19.99 | Penguin | 2+
Families Can | Dan Saks | $12.99 | Penguin | 2+
Are you ready spaghetti for some deliciously cheesy word-play? Well look no frankfurter! With fold-out pages and a colour palette Piet Mondrian would envy, this is an absolute must for babies looking to hone their humour and those wontoning a good laugh, from the author of Rhyme Cordial. - Anabelle
This charmingly heartfelt board book is for families: families who cook together and families who sing together, families with lots of members and families with a special few, families who live together and families who live separately--for all families.
We Found a Cat | Heidi McKinnon | $17.99 | Scholastic | 2+ Look! We found a cat. It has whiskers and a long tail, it has to be a cat... doesn’t it? The perfect picture book for children with a BIG imagination, We Found a Cat is a laugh-out-loud story full of creativity.
The Curiosities | Zana Fraillon and Phil Lesnie | $26.99 | Hachette | 3+ This story is about a boy who sees things differently. He is special. I liked the pictures in this book. I especially liked the picture where the Curiosities made lots of noise. My favourite Curiosities shape is the horse. Other children will like this book because it’s adventurous. Reviewed by Adelaide M. age 7
Awesome Emu | Gregg Dreise | $24.99 | Magabala Books | 3+ The emu in this book really is awesome! Just like the cunning crow, kookoo kookaburra and mad magpie from the other books, Dinewah the emu lives up to his name! He is tall and colourful and wants to be the fastest emu there it, but he can’t reach the sun. Now you can see the emu in the real night sky if you know where to look. This is an exciting and funny Dreaming story. Reviewed by Emily H. age 6
I’m Sticking With You Too | Smriti Halls, Steve Small | $19.99 | Simon and Schuster | 4+ Wherever you’re going, I’m going too. Whatever you’re doing, I’m sticking with you. It’s wonderful to have good friends to see you through the good times and the bad. But sometimes, friends can also be a bit... well... overbearing.
The Boy and the Elephant | Freya Blackwood | $24.99 | Harper Collins | 3+
Tomorrow is a Brand-New Day | Davina Bell & Allison Colpoys (illus.) | $24.99 | Penguin | 4+
The boy lives in a city, where everything is fast and loud. But amidst the bustle, the boy hides a secret in the overgrown lot next to his apartment building. One day progress arrives, and the boy must find a way to save his friend before it’s too late...
Good or bad, the things you do are all a part of being you - of learning how to take your boat on stormy seas and stay afloat. A healing and uplifting tribute to learning and growing - to making mistakes and making amends.
Survivor Tree | Marcie Colleen & Aaron Becker | $26.99 | Hachette | 4+ Beneath the Twin Towers, a pear tree once stood. It still grows there today. This is its story. One September day, the perfect blue sky exploded. Dust billowed. Buildings crumbled. And underneath it all, a tree sprouted green leaves in its distress. Pulled from the wreckage, the tree saw many seasons pass as it slowly recovered far away from home. Until one day, forever scarred and forever stronger, it was replanted at the 9/11 Memorial.
Stellarphant | James Foley | $29.99 | Fremantle Press | 3+ This was an amazing book about an elephant who wanted to be an astronaut and who did everything she could to be one, but still a person didn’t want her to be one. She kept trying and trying and trying. I really liked it. It has a good meaning to it about how you can do anything if you keep studying, learning and getting stronger. There were really nice drawings. I loved the pictures. Reviewed by Evelina O. K. age 6
Minty Mae Gray and the Strangely Good Day | Fifi Box | $19.99 | Hardie Grant | 3+ This magical story takes Minty and her unicorn to meet some famous artists, artworks and a goddess who all have complaints about their looks. Minty convinces them that they are all perfect in their own ways and realises the same is true for her. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, she’s still perfect. The story has a good message and made me feel perfect too. I enjoyed reading some challenging words and learning their meanings. Mini and Hardly and the Big Adventure | Catherine Rayner | $26.99 | Pan Macmillan | 3+ Mini and Hardly are fed up of being small. Being grown-up would be so much better! They could eat what they want, stay up all night, and go on adventures. So... why wait? But it’s not long before the two little unicorns find themselves on an adventure a little bigger than they’d bargained for, and learn that perhaps being small isn’t so bad after all.
Bella the Brave | Rebel Wilson | $19.99 | Hachette | 4+ Bella the Brave is about a shy girl who then turned into a brave girl who faced her fears. She did it by listening to her dear mum who said “Bella be brave”. I loved it because it was about a strong girl who faced her fears. I would think that mums and girls would like it. Boys can read it too. Reviewed by Bernadette E. age 5
Reviewed by Sierra D. age 7
Alex and Alex | Ziggy Hanaor & Ben Javens | $24.99 | Thames and Hudson | 3+ Alex and Alex have lots of things in common, but are also very different; Alex is messy and Alex is tidy, Alex likes running and kicking a ball and Alex likes reading and dreaming. After a trip to the museum goes a little bit awry, they have some cooling off time. But they always make up!
Aaron Slater, Illustrator | Andrea Beaty and David Roberts (illus.) | $24.99 | Thames and Hudson | 3+ Aaron loves listening to stories and dreams of one day writing them. But when it comes to reading, the letters just look like squiggles. He is sure his dream of being a storyteller is out of reach... until he finds a way to spin a tale in a way that is uniquely his.
Inside the Suitcase | Clotilde Perrin | $29.99 | Walker Books | 4+ Away behind the hills you’ll find a charming little house. Who’s inside? Knock knock... A boy packing his suitcase. Lift the flaps to see what he takes, and travel with him over oceans and mountains, under water and into the forest. Delve deeper into each page and remember to use what’s in the suitcase! Born to Run | Cathy Freeman | $17.99 | Penguin | 5+
As a little girl, Cathy only had one dream – to win a gold medal at the Olympics. At twenty-seven, that dream came true. A gorgeous picture book based on her original biography that will inspire kids everywhere to chase their dreams.
The Underdogs #2 | Kate and Jol Temple | $12.99 | Hardie Grant | 6+ It is a really cool and creative mystery and I really, really like the last bit. I like the characters a lot, they were funny but mostly mysterious. Make sure you read book 1 too!
Real Pigeons #8 | Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood | $14.99 | Hardie Grant | 6+ I like the Real Pigeons because it has interesting clues and pigeons with powers. Rock is my favourite and he has a disguise and a pet twig. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, I’ve read them all over-and-over again.
Reviews by Obie A. age 7
Barkly Mansion and the Weirdest Guest | Melissa Keil | $14.99 | Hardie Grant | +6 A book about dogs that have very funny, but very complicated adventures. I loved the book and I think that other people - adults as well as kids - who like dogs and funny books would love this book too. Reviewed by Pia H. age 7
See the Dog | David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka | $16.99 | Walker Books | 5+ What happens when a cat tries to be a dog? With this second wry primer, the creators of See the Cat return to demonstrate that standing in for a friend can be trickier than expected. Also available: See the Cat
Ginger Green’s Big Book of Friendship | Kim Lane and Jon Davis | $24.99 | Hardie Grant | 5+ Ginger Green is brimming with excitement, bursting to dance and busting to play with her friends. Join Ginger and her friends on eight different play-dates in Ginger Green’s Big Book of Friendship.
Tiger Warrior Series | M. Chan | $12.99 each | Hachette | 6+ I liked Tiger Warrior because it was an action-packed Zodiac themed book. Every page I was more excited to read than the last. I can’t wait for the third one to come out, and honestly the idea of a boy who can turn into the zodiac animals and travel to this new Jade Kingdom just amazes me. Also the fact that in the Jade Kingdom he teams up with a completely random person who just happens to fly along is just so adventurous. I think I found one of my new favourite series. Reviewed by Patrick E. age 8
Zoo Crew | Guy Edmonds and Matt Zeremes | $15.99 | Scholastic | 6+ Zoo Crew is the story of athletics carnival day at Bazooglyville Primary School. Principal Phaart and Evil Echo Eagle try to beat Mable Mouse, Eddie and Princeton Pig to the grand prize – a year’s worth of gelato! There were lots of jokes about farts and pus and pimples and laughs about the antics of silly sidekicks Mumu and Mario the Meerkats. A book full of laughter with lots of ridiculous action and funny pictures. An easy read, first chapter book in the style of the Treehouse and Bad Guys books, recommended for kids just moving past picture books. Reviewed by Cooper G. age 6
GREAT GIFT IDEAS
Happily Ever Afterwards | Shaun Micallef | $29.99 | Thames and Hudson | 9+ I liked this book because it has strong female characters. It reminded me of Chris Colfer’s ‘Land of Stories’ series in the way that it mixes fairy tales and tells his own stories. It’s like both fairy tale and fiction that come together in a fantastic beam of bright colours. The illustrations brought the stories to life. The author makes the fairy tales more civilised. They don’t just have males rescuing females. It is clever and funny, sometimes a little sad, but just brilliant. Reviewed by Hamish E. age 12
The Secret Life of Dragons | Professor Zoya Agnis & Alexander Utkin (illus.) | $34.99 | Walker Books | 7+ This book contains everything you need to become an expert Drackenosopher. Soon you will be able to identify dragon families, name the most fearsome dragon slayers and the bravest scholars, and know everything there is to know about dragons.
The Art in Animals | Bronwyn Bancroft | $29.99 | Hardie Grant | 1+ In this collection of four beautiful books, Bancroft pairs numbers and words with our remarkably unique animals. From seven turtles plodding to twelve emus running, this treasury is a celebration of country that is perfect for young Australians.
Lyra’s Oxford | Philip Pullman & Chris Wormell (illus.) | $29.99 | Penguin | 10+ A full-colour gift edition of the magical story featuring Lyra and Pan, set in the world of Philip Pullman’s groundbreaking His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust. Illustrated for the first time by Wormell.
The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers and Other Gruesome Tales | Adam de Souza (illus.) | $29.99 | Thames and Hudson | 8+ Brothers beware. But for sisters who are keen to continue reading… this is a delectable collection of chilling fairy tales from all over the world, told as they were around the fireplace. Happy endings were never guaranteed, and the more gruesome the better. Whether it’s about a wife who can remove her head or a sister with a penchant for her brothers’ livers, these tales will make you scream with delight! - Anabelle
Beasts and Beauty | Soman Chainani | $29.99 | Harper Collins | 10+ This book was enjoyable! The stories are fairy tales, but realistic. The writing style is evasive, skipping around detail, leaving many inferences, but, in a way, also very obvious and straightforward. The fairy tales themselves are much less happy, bright sunshiny and a bit more sinister and dark, but in an extremely entertaining way. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes darker books. Beasts and Beauty was captivating and interesting, Reviewed and I enjoyed by Isla G. reading it a lot. age 12
Pax: Journey Home | Sara Pennypacker | $19.99 | Harper Collins | 9+ A loving and sad tale of a boy and a fox. After being separated, Peter and Pax now live VERY different lives. Pax is now a proud father. Peter tries to forget about Pax, as the thought gave him pain after abandoning him. But destiny brings them back. Pax and Peter have a very strong relationship that never breaks. Reviewed by Sophia M. age 10
There’s a Ghost in this House | Oliver Jeffers | $29.99 | Harper Collins | 3+ Oliver Jeffers has done it again, this time bringing us book-thirsty vampires a true Halloween treat - and a trick for that matter! For what seems like your average Victorianstyle home (despite its unsettling reminiscences of the movie Psycho), is in fact haunted. The trick? You can only see what the ghosts are up to if you dare muster the courage to turn each transparent page... This book is a brilliant and unique concept that remains true to Jeffers’ iconic style and wit. It is bound to be a Halloween classic for many years to come!
DEAN’S PICK Bear and Rat | Christopher Cheng and Stephen Michael King | $24.99 | Penguin | 2+ How could this not be my book of the year? I have never been so moved by a picture book. This touching story is made all the more real knowing Christopher Cheng wrote this for his late partner. The stunning illustrations blend harmoniously with the moving spirit of language, and I am still brought to tears after each reading. An awe-inspiring story about a deep pure love and sure to be an adored family favourite!
CATEGORY OUR FAVOURITE KIDS BOOKS OF 2021
Day Break | Amy McQuire and Matt Chun | $24.99 | Hardie Grant | 3+ January 26th is not a day of celebration, and in Amy McQuire’s perfect picture book, this idea is brought to the forefront when an Aboriginal family journeys back to Country to commemorate the day. Matt Chun’s illustrations brilliantly capture the natural environment. Read it to children, read it with teenagers as I did or read it yourself as an adult - this is an important, moving read that forms part of a greater decolonial narrative (all the while remaining a totally accessible and engaging story of resilience for children).
A Weekend with Oscar | Robyn Bavati | $16.99 | Walker Books | 12+ I just loved this book and read it in one sitting! Jamie has a younger brother with Down syndrome whom he loves dearly. He is also trying to cope with the recent death of his father. When his mother, also grieving, goes to visit her sister in WA for the weekend, he offers to look after Oscar. The weekend turns into days and even weeks and Oscar is a boy with many evening pursuits! Zara is the new girl at school who is in a similar family situation and offers to help. I don’t want to spoil the ending but it fits and works well.
KATE’S PICK House of Hollow | Krystal Sutherland | $19.99 | Penguin | 14+ House of Hollow is a haunting mystery thriller crossed with a supernatural fairytale! It’s centred around the three enigmatic Hollow sisters as they grapple with who they are as teenagers after their mysterious disappearance and reappearance as children. Embracing the Gothic with its visceral descriptions of the natural world in all its wildness and decay, part of the enchantment of this novel is the atmosphere that creeps under your skin the further you go. Full of uncanny and unexpected twists and turns.
Wishyouwas | Alexandra Page | $14.99 | Bloomsbury | 8+ In this smog filled London, the Sorters, small rat-like creatures, work delivering lost letters to the addressees. They follow the Law of the Letter. One of the Sorters, Wishyouwas, meets a girl called Penny, and together they must escape from the evil Scrawl and his rats, their enemies. I loved this book because it was so exciting and I think that anyone who likes the ‘Dragon Keeper’ series will enjoy this book too. Reviewed by Mina M. age 10
Worst Week Ever! Monday | Eva Amores and Matt Cosgrove | $15.99 | Scholastic | 8+ Have you ever had a bad week? Justin sure has and THIS is it! His mum has just married a vampire. His dad is driving a toilet on wheels. A psychotic bully is making his first day at a new school miserable. And right now, he’s hanging off the edge of a 10-metre high diving tower, wearing nothing but rapidly disappearing swimmers. And it’s only... MONDAY!
Kaleidoscope | Brian Selznick | $29.99 | Scholastic | 8+ A ship. A garden. A library. A key. In Kaleidoscope, the incomparable Brian Selznick presents the story of two people bound to each other through time and space, memory and dreams. Kaleidoscope is a feat of storytelling that illuminates how even the wildest tales can help us in the hardest times.
Reviewed by Holly C. age 8
Reviewed by Chloe D. age 11
Dragon Skin | Karen Foxlee | $19.99 | Allen and Unwin | 10+ Ever since her best friend Mika left, Pip doesn’t feel happy anywhere - apart from when she’s at her waterhole. Even school is better than home, where she’s forced to turn off her light and pretend she doesn’t exist. Dragon Skin captivated me from the very first sentence. Karen Foxlee writes simply and truly, and the way she spins her tales makes me want to beg for more. Now I have just one thing to ask. “When’s the sequel coming out?!”
The Song of Lewis Carmichael | Sofie Laguna | $16.99 | Allen and Unwin | 8+ I would have liked to runaway with Matthew and Lewis the talking crow, on their amazing adventure in a hot air balloon to the Arctic. Matthew thought his parents didn’t want him. Lewis was strong and brave, and had a good impact on Matthew, and helped him learn he just needed to be himself. I learnt a lot about loneliness and how it can really affect people and I loved the beautiful and realistic illustrations.
The Beatryce Prophecy | Kate DiCamillo | $24.99 | Walker | 8+ In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at a monastery. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and holding the ear of Answelica the recalcitrant goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret – one that imperils them all.
Seven Wherewithal Way | Samantha Ellen Bound | $17.99 | Affirm Press | 9+ In the book, Celeste and her younger sister Esme are very bored when suddenly a flying bus crashes down from out of the sky, it’s their cousin Ferd. They fly to their cousin Ferd’s house ‘Seven Wherewithal Way’ and their adventure starts. They go through portals into different realms. It was a good book but it wasn’t really for me. I would recommend this book to anyone from the age 9-12 who likes adventure, fantasy stories. Reviewed by Zaria S. age 10
Silas Bird watches powerlessly as three strangers take his father away, left scared and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool the ghost. But then a mysterious pony shows up at his door, and so begins a perilous journey to find his father.
Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat | Monica McInerney and Danny Snell | $19.99 | Penguin | 9+ Marcie hasn’t had a great start to the holidays. Her parents aren’t talking and the family business is in trouble. But then something magical happens. Marcie is about to discover that if you wish hard enough, dreams can come true.
Pony | R. J. Palacio | $26.99 | Penguin | 10+
Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief | Katrina Nannestad | $19.99 | Harper Collins | 10+
Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief is about a sixyear-old boy whose village is invaded by Nazi soldiers. Thankfully he gets rescued by Red Cross Soldiers and becomes their junior officer. I loved this book because it shows there is love and faith even in the darkest times. Katrina Nannestad has outdone herself again. It is similar but different to We Are Wolves (another good book by Katrina) but just as good. The story is quite mature and sad. Reviewed by Abbey C. age 11
Reviewed by Mira N. age 11
Reviewed by Elyssa G. age 12
The Chime Seekers | Ross Montgomery | $18.99 | Walker Books | 9+ When an evil faerie steals Yanni’s baby sister and swaps her for a Changeling, Yanni is swept into a dangerous race against time to get her back. Yanni will need every drop of courage and even a few tricks of his own, if he’s to outwit the faerie and save his sister. The magical world of British folklore comes to life in this contemporary fantasy novel.
The Astonishing Chronicles of Oscar from Elsewhere | Jaclyn Moriarty | $22.99 | Allen and Unwin | 10+
Julia and the Shark | Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston | $19.99 | Hachette | 10+
This page-turning story whisks you through the world of elves, witches, and more extraordinary magical beings. Oscar finds himself in another world, where he escapes a narrow shave of death, and meets five other children. Astounded by the magic in this world, Oscar is now part of an adventure to save the elves. I adore this book for its adventurous spirit, and how it is written through two different perspectives.
An amazing tale of family, love, and friendship - themes as big as the Greenland shark Julia’s mum so desperately wants to find. It takes an endearing turn when Julia moves to Unst with her parents for the summer, will do anything to save her brilliant mother whom she almost loses. This is the perfect read that will let you ride the wave of Hargrave’s enthralling words and de Freston’s alluring illustrations.
Fireborn | Aisling Fowler | $17.99 | Harper Collins | 10+ Fireborn by Aisling Fowler is about a young girl called Twelve who loses her family and sets out to avenge them. I loved Fireborn - it was fun to read yet so sad. Twelve was betrayed, lied to, hurt and suffered the loss of many loved ones but she didn’t let that control her which is what I admired about her. I would love to read it again. Reviewed by Eli G. age 11
Fireborn is a prehistoric fantasy story centred around a girl named Twelve, who is forced to go to a Hunting Lodge after her parents are killed. I liked reading about Twelve’s mission with her worst enemy and loved the twist at the end which was totally unanticipated! I am eagerly awaiting the next book. Reviewed by Noah D. age 10
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MORE REVIEWS FROM BETTER READ KIDS
Time Catchers | Karen Ginnane | $16.99 | Penguin | 10+ In 1858, disappearances plague the city of London where Queen Victoria sits on the throne. Meanwhile, in the mysterious city of Donlon, the ominous Green Witch reigns over her realm, Time. Fourteen-yearold Ava is thrown into the gloomy world of Donlon, where she soon discovers that not all is how it seems. As she struggles to determine the fate of both worlds, she must uncover the truth about her life and those she loves before it is too late. A suspenseful page-turner with secrets around every corner. The characters were believable and took me on a thrilling journey through history. Reviewed by Harper K. age 12
Trick Number Two | Nick Bland | $17.99 | Scholastic | 5+ Trick Number Two was about three little wizards who wanted to learn magic tricks from the Wise Old Wizard. The Wise Old Wizard gave them a string each, asking them to plant the string and wait for spring. Only one wizard could wait, so only he learnt his first magic trick. I like it because the illustrations are really good, and the lines are rhyming. I also like the meaning of the story which teaches the children to be patient. Reviewed by Katherine T. age 7
Reviewed by Frances E. age 10
Reviewed by Yustina Y. age 11
Reviewed by Raihana J. age 9
The Ballad of Melodie Rose | Kate Gordon | $14.99 | UQP | 8+ Melodie is a girl at Direleafe Hall. She meets three ghost girls named, Lucy, Florence and Nell and they all become friends. One day a lady comes to take DireLeafe Hall and Melodie needs to find a way to save the school. Kate Gordon did a phenomenal job writing this book. I really enjoyed reading this book!
Between Sea and Sky | Nicola Penfold | $16.99 | Hardie Grant | 10+
Between Sky and Sea describes a world where everything has gone wrong because of pollution and climate change. The story varies from two different points of view and you get to see the world from their perspective. I really like Pearl and Clover who are sisters, Pearl is an amazing swimmer and secretive, and Clover is enthusiastic and funny. This is a very lovely, exciting and interesting story and I really liked it. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes imaginative stories.
Swarm Rising | Tim Peake | $16.99 | Hachette | 9+ A novel about a young boy named Danny who embarks on an intergalactic adventure with his new friend Adi. They go on this dangerous journey to convince a very powerful group not to eliminate humanity, and give us the chance to protect the Earth from environmental threats instead. Swarm Rising was a fascinating story which captivated me with its detailed character development and cliffhangers. It is perfect for readers who have an interest in topics like space, science and technology!
The Pick-Up | Miranda Kenneally | $19.99 | NewSouth Books | 13+ I don’t normally enjoy teen romance novels however The Pick-up was great! Just a few pages in I was immersed in the unique love story. After meeting in Chicago, Mari and TJ instantly share a connection but fate is not on their side when they find out they only have a few days together. Their story expresses the brokenness of people in a beautiful way, highlighting raw emotions and real issues. The plot isn’t predictable but doesn’t have too many plot twists making it an easy read. It will leave you wanting more. Reviewed by Amaya S. age 14
OUR KIDS BOOKS OF THE MONTH
FEBRUARY BOOK OF THE MONTH Amari and the Night Brothers | B. B. Alston | $17.99 | Hardie Grant | 8+ The story is about an African American girl called Amari, a strong and brave character, who goes through a lot of bullying and racism. Amari discovers that there are actually two completely different worlds, the human world and the supernatural world where her older brother Quinton has gone missing. Amari will do whatever it takes to get him back including going through a series of challenging tryouts. Along the way she discovers she has a forbidden talent.For the first time in her life Amari finds friendship and has support through some tough and not so good experiences. This book has a lot of interesting twists and secrets which are slowly revealed throughout the story. I found the story intriguing, funny and utterly brilliant and cannot wait for the next book in the series. Reviewed by Sienna T. age 11
MARCH BOOK OF THE MONTH Maybe... | Chris Haughton | $27.99 | Walker Books | Mandy’s Review | 3+ One big monkey leaves three little monkeys high up in a tree, warning them not to go down to the mango tree - there are tigers about! But they LOVE mangoes; so sweet, so juicy. Hmm… maybe… just go down a little way, look at the mangoes. A little further, grab that one. Down to the ground, mangoes galore. Suddenly, TIGERS! Quick, quick, quick, run, jump, climb back up to the safety of the treetops. Bold, dynamic illustrations accompany this funny, mischievous cautionary tale about pushing boundaries. Another gem from the talented Chris Haughton!
APRIL BOOK OF THE MONTH The March of the Ants | Ursula Dubosarsky & Tohby Riddle | $24.99 | Peribo | Anabelle’s Review | 4+ This book is a beautifully illustrated treasure trove of the different objects needed for a great quest - from leaves to ant-sized shovels, water droplets, a map and... a book? The leader of the ants is just as surprised as the rest of the colony that the littlest ant is determined to take along a book as their contribution. But as the ants continue along their way and start to run out of supplies, they’r on the verge of giving up. However one night, as the littlest ant pulls out their book and starts reading aloud, the colony is enchanted and inexplicably, through the power of storytelling, find a renewed sense of bravery, strength and the willingness to go on.
MAY BOOK OF THE MONTH The Duck Who Didn’t Like Water | Steve Small | $19.99 | Simon and Schuster | Anabelle’s Review | 3+ Right from the beginning they were an unlikely pair. Duck hated water, Frog loved it. Duck couldn’t wait to get the hole in his roof fixed, Frog liked to sleep under it. A pair such as this could only meet by chance, which is exactly what happened when Frog finds himself lost and looking for shelter on Duck’s doorstep. A charming tale of friendship in a universe where ducks live in houses, beavers fix holes in ceilings and frogs make the unlikeliest of best friends.
JUNE BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Imagineer | Christopher Cheng | $24.99 | NewSouth | Anabelle’s Review | 4+ Penny is an imagineer who likes to hand-make all the wanderings of her imaginations. From spaceships with interstellar communicators to submarines with aqua sonic visualisers, Penny’s creations soon become too great for a house that is just too small. That is, until she goes to visit grandpa in his great big house. Together they are transported back in time as they explore grandpa’s old treasures and antique contraptions. With each discovery, the ideas of the past soon merge with the present to create Penny’s most fantastical invention of all.
Sun and Moon | Lindsey Yankey | $24.99 | Affirm Press | Anabelle’s Review | 3+ This story is a dreamscape of frolicking foxes, fireflies and moonlight. Where Moon yearns to be freed from the monotony of night to witness the wonders that Sun sees beneath his brilliant rays. But be warned, cautions Sun, if we trade it will last forever and not just a day. A timely, heartwarming fable that reminds us to look for and appreciate the beauty all around us - even if we can’t see it at first glance. The illustrations are an absolute standout, too!
AUGUST BOOK OF THE MONTH Exit Through the Gift Shop | Maryam Master | $16.99 | Pan Macmillan | Mandy’s Review | 10+ I love this debut by Sydney author Maryam Master – it’s funny, philosophical, sad and full of love. Ana is 12.5 and dying of cancer – but don’t let that put you off! Ana and her bestie, Al, are determined to make the most of the time she has left, and make Alyssa (Queen Mean) cease her bullying ways. The graphic novel style illustrations are a perfect complement.
OUR KIDS BOOKS OF THE MONTH
JULY BOOK OF THE MONTH
SEPTEMBER BOOK OF THE MONTH The Forevers | Chris Whitaker | $19.99 | Allen and Unwin | Kate’s Review | 14+ What would you do if an asteroid was about to destroy the earth in 30 days? That is the premise posed in this fantastic YA novel. The characters are beautifully drawn and the writing will captivate you and make you care. Would you show love, be accepting of the inevitable and of your true self even at the end as the protagonists do? You will laugh and cry but I can guarantee you will love it. Spoiler alert! The ending is perfect!
OCTOBER BOOK OF THE MONTH Wandi | Favel Parrett | $19.99 | Hachette | 8+ Wandi is the story of a dingo cub lost without his family who has to overcome his fears and make friends among strangers. The story can be a little sad and scary at times but I recommend it for independent readers age 8 and up or as a read aloud for younger children. I like that Wandi had to find other things to bring him joy after he lost his family and that he didn’t give up when other dingo cubs bullied him. It was nice to read a story about such an iconic Australian animal and I hope you enjoy it. Reviewed by Allegra G. age 9
NOVEMBER BOOK OF THE MONTH Big Love | Megan Jacobson and Beck Feiner (illus.) | $25.99 | Walker Books | 4+ I enjoyed reading this book because the author chose many examples showing how big the universe is but it still didn’t compare to the love one special person has for another, for example, the love a mum will have for a newborn baby or the love the dad will have for his daughter. Simply perfect!
Reviewed by Catherine V. age 7
Aliens and Other Worlds | Lisa Harvey-Smith | $29.99 | Thames and Hudson | 8+ If you want to know all about Aliens, our own planet or other worlds then this is the book for you. It is filled with lots of facts and answers questions like “Why are there 140 000 types of mushrooms?” and “Do Aliens have big googly eyes?”. It is very interesting and you will learn lots if you get this book!
Reviewed by Safiya J. age 7
Spacewarp | Fred Watson | $27.99 | NewSouth | 10+ Why do stars twinkle? How’s the best way to start spotting constellations and comets? Is there life beyond Earth? With incredible illustrations by Fred himself, and a quirky mix of mind-boggling facts, Spacewarp is a fascinating book that kids will love — and parents and friends will undoubtedly learn a thing or two as well!
The Greatest Mistakes That Went Right | Maddy Mara & Cheryl Orsini (illus.) | $19.99 | Affirm Press | 6+ Are you in a hurry to wonder and worry that new things you try won’t go right? Mistakes can grow wings and take flight. In fact, some of the best inventions started out as gigantic slip-ups. A reminder to all kids scared of trying something new!
The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature | Sami Bayly | $32.99 | Hachette | 7+ Discover 60 of the most peculiar pairs in nature and learn how plant and animal species rely on each other for survival. Whether it be a tick living in the fur of a pygmy possum or a stick insect hiding out amongst the Melaleuca, incredible natural relationships deserve to be explored and celebrated.
Run Like a Girl | Danielle Brown | $24.99 | Peribo | 10+ I think this is a good book because it is about real, brilliant women who are very talented and motivated to achieve their sporty goals. It inspires girls like me to follow our own big dreams. It has illustrations of the athletes and lots of words. I think older children would enjoy this book lots! Reviewed by Amber G. age 7
Somebody’s Land | Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing | $24.99 | Allen and Unwin | 3+ Somebody’s Land is an invitation to connect with First Nations’ culture, to acknowledge the hurt of the past, and to join together as one community with a precious shared history as old as time. A perfect introduction to colonisation and Terra Nullius.
Australian Animals | Matt Chun | $39.99 | Hardie Grant | 6+
Magpies, sharks, eels, quolls, wallabies, stingrays and lots more mammals, reptiles, birds and even coral - this book has EVERYTHING! There are about 45 amazing Australian animals illustrated in it with a full page image and just the right amount of information about each one. You will learn a lot and also its a good book to just look through too. You can share it with your siblings and see what their favourite animals are. Mine are the quokka and weedy sea dragon (and so many more)! Reviewed by Zachary D. age 8 Also available; Australian Mammals, Australian Sea Life and Australian Birds
In this book you’ll find colourful feathers alongside peculiar beaks, beady eyes and funny-coloured feet. You’ll read of dangerous birds, fast birds, awkward birds, massive birds and tiny birds. Most of all, you’ll learn that birds are awesome!
Wiradjuri Country | Larry Brandy | $24.99 | NewSouth Books | 6+ Welcome to Wiradjuri Country (central NSW). Come with Uncle Larry Brandy on an enlightening journey through his Country’s rivers, woodlands, grasslands and rocky outcrops, as well as the murri-yang (sky world).
How Was That Built? | Roma Agrawal and Katie Hickey (illus.) | $29.99 | Bloomsbury | 8+ The world is full of incredible structures. Skyscrapers soaring up to the clouds, bridges reaching across the widest rivers, tunnels boring deep into the earth. Have you ever stopped to wonder how they were built?
Book of Curious Birds | Jennifer Cossins | $26.99 | Hachette | 5+
The History of Everywhere | Philip Parker and Liz Kay (illus.) | $39.99 | Walker Books | 7+ This book is about things that happened throughout history at the same time. The book was so interesting to read especially learning all the different things that happened during the various decades and centuries. I particularly like how the book has illustrated these moments in history and how it shows the effects across various parts of the world. The colourful illustrations and drawings are really appealing and makes reading the stories exciting. The“Key events” and the “Did you know” sections are great also as it gives you a snapshot of a memorable moment in history. This was a great book to read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Reviewed by Bella S. age 11
The History of the World in 100 Animals | Simon Barnes and Frann Preston-Gannon (illus.) | $34.99 | Simon and Schuster | 7+ This outstanding gift book proposes the 100 animals who have had the greatest impact on humans and the way we view the world around us. A fun, fact-filled guide!
Jumping Joeys | Sarah Allen | $19.99 | Affirm Press | 2+ Journey through the night with some of Australia’s most fascinating furry friends. Meet waddling wombats, bounding bilbies, peculiar possums and daring devils in this delightful introduction to our cute and quirky marsupials.
Oceanarium | Teagan White and Loveday Trinick | $45.00 | Hardie Grant | 7+ Step inside the pages of Oceanarium to enjoy the experience of a museum from the comfort of your own home. Explore the world’s oceans, from sandy shorelines to the deepest depths.
Click | Kayla Miller | $24.99 | Walker Books | 8+ This book is about a girl who feels left out. Her friends split into different groups and she is not part of them. In the end, she finds her courage and works out where she belongs. I liked the main character, she was someone I could relate to; she is kind of funny and she gets inspired by things. I enjoyed the drawings, attention to detail and colour, and how the script was written. Click would suit fans of Raina Telgemeier or who enjoy graphic novels about growing up. The sequel Camp will be out in January. Reviewed by Emma D. age 9
When Pigs Fly | Rob Harrell | $16.99 | Harper Collins | 8+ Gary Yorkshire was your perfectly average, fuzzy pink pig who loved hanging out with his friends Carl the fish and Brooklyn the bat. Now, he’s an unstoppable super-swine hero who boldly fights for justice Will Batpig prevail?
Other Boys | Damian Alexander | $29.99 | Pan Macmillan | 10+ Damian is the new kid at school, and he has a foolproof plan to avoid bullying: he’s going to stop talking. A moving middle grade graphic memoir about his struggles with bullying, the death of his mother, and coming out.
Just Roll With It | Veronica Agarwal and Lee Durfey-Lavoie | $18.99 | Penguin | 8+ Starting middle school is hard when you’re shy. A touching middlegrade graphic novel that explores the complexity of anxiety, OCD, and learning to trust yourself and the world around you.
History of Western Art in Comics | Marion Augustin & Bruno Heitz (illus.) | $21.99 | Random House | 10+ Written by a tour guide for museums and historic landmarks, the text is designed to entertain (with many funny asides and jokes) as it informs. The illustrations accurately portray the art and the artists described, with flavour and humour added to keep readers turning the page. Reproductions of the featured artworks and information about each piece are included in the back, along with a glossary of terms.
Otto: A Palindrama | Jon Agee | $16.99 | Penguin | 10+
Otto is not like other books you find in the bookshelf. It is a written as a graphic novel using a palindrome structure. What is that, you ask? A palindrome are phrases that are read exactly the same forwards and backwards. The structure and idea was very clever, and I thought the story had alot of heart to it. I also liked how the story was able to tell you something just using a simple picture. I think a lot of kids 10 and up would be interested in this! Reviewed by Corey B. age 11
Mason Mooney: Paranormal Investigator | Seaerra Miller | $29.99 | Walker Books | 8+ Paranormal Investigator Mason Mooney is heartless, both figuratively and literally. He’s on a mission to prove to the Society of Peculiar Paranormal Phenomena that he’s the best Paranormal Investigator around, but they’re not so sure. A spooky, ghost-filled and hilarious adventure awaits you!
If Not Us | Mark Smith | $19.99 | Text Publishing | 13+ Hesse lives in a small coastal town, where a coalmine and power station are a part of the ever-growing problem of climate change. When Hesse agrees to speak at a protest meeting he has no idea of the storm he is about to unleash. This novel features an engaging and relatable protagonist, as well as an impassioned plea for climate-change action that will inspire readers.
self/less | Aviva | $29.99 | Pan Macmillan | 14+ Teddy lives in the walled-in city Metropolis. Radical laws condemn all forms of self-expression and creativity, and lives are controlled by the City Council. When Teddy finds out the truth behind one of the City’s biggest lies, she slips out after curfew and discovers that there is a world beneath the Metropolis. A captivating dystopia from a great multidisciplinary artist!
What Big Teeth | Rose Szabo | $19.99 | NewSouth Books | 14+ A dark fantasy novel following Eleanor Zarrin’s return to her family after a mysterious incident occurs at boarding school. She navigates the peculiarities of her family while simultaneously attempting to fulfil her promise to look after them. Sazbo’s writing is captivating and immerses you in the fantastical world of the Zarrin family as you unravel the mystery of what it is, exactly, that Eleanor must protect them from. I couldn’t put it down! Reviewed by Callia S. age 17
Reviewed by Ovindee Medusa | Jessie Burton | $22.99 | Bloomsbury | 13+ A. age 13 Medusa is an empathetic novel addressing issues facing our society. This story puts a modern twist on a traditional myth. When a boy is washed up onshore and the truth of his journey is revealed, how can Medusa love herself again? From identity to defining beauty and coping with changing emotions, this story sums up difficult topics into a pleasing read. A great read for Mythology lovers!
White Smoke | Tiffany D. Jackson | $19.99 | Harper Collins | 14+ Marigold is running from ghosts... metaphorically, right? The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. A chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story.
Dark Rise | C. S. Pacat | $19.99 | Allen and Unwin | 13+ The ancient world of magic is no more and Will is on the run from the men who killed his mother. In this stunning new fantasy novel heroes and villains of a longforgotten war are reborn and begin to draw new battle lines.
YOUNG ADULT FICTION
Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World | Benjamin Alire Sáenz | $17.99 | Simon and Schuster | 14+ Diving takes practice, patience, persistence. So does love. In this highly anticipated sequel following the high-school love story between Aristotle and Dante, the two boys must learn to keep their relationship afloat in a world where AIDS is on the rise and their love is constantly misunderstood. A tender, heartfelt tale set in the 1980s. - Anabelle
Gilded | Marissa Meyer | $22.99 | Text | 13+ Long ago, cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller’s daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue. Or so everyone believes. What if Rumpelstiltskin isn’t the villain of the story? A haunting fairytale retelling!
ACTIVITY BOOKS SNAP! Series | Megan McKean | $17.99 | Thames and Hudson | 4+ Meet 52 Aussie fish, reptiles, mammals and birds in this great new card game series! Each deck can be played on its own or combined to create one create big game of SNAP!
The Goods | McSweeney’s | $19.99 | Allen and Unwin | 8+ Prepare to be entertained (and informed)! Featuring some of children’s literature’s best-known and loved authors and illustrators, The Goods is STUFFED full of games, puzzles, comics, and other diversions... guaranteed to keep you entertained for hours!
Alice’s Food A to Z | Alice Zaslavsky | $19.99 | Walker Books | 8+ Dip in and taste this edible adventure by Alice Zaslavsky, host of TV quiz show Kitchen Whiz. Packed to the brim with funny food facts, clever cooking tips and kid-friendly recipes, this is a book for the fact-hungry, food-obsessed or those who like to mess about in the kitchen.
301 Things to Write and 301 Things to Draw | Bushel & Peck | $24.99 each | NewSouth Books | 6+ Keep your boredom at bay and get your creative brain whirring! These are not your average how-to activity books. Instead, young minds are given a collection of 301 prompts to spark their creativity! From drawing ‘a machine that ties your shoes’ or ‘the first chicken President of the United States’, to writing ‘the TRUE story of Goldilocks’ - you can’t help but start thinking! - Anabelle
Hidden in Space | Peggy Nille | $16.99 | Affirm Press | 6+
Ada Twist, Scientist: Brainstorm Book | $19.99 | Thames and Hudson | 4+
Take your ship and visit unknown planets, let yourself be carried into the black hole and find twenty characters lurking in ten stunning galaxies! Can you spot a sick martian? Do you see the juggling robot? What about the two seater rocket? Find all these and more in Hidden in Space.
A collectible package filled with tons of colorful stickers of Ada Twist, her friends, and some of her wackiest science experiments! The book also includes fun activities for young scientists and colourful posters, based on the new Netflix series and bestselling series by Andrea Beaty.
Frozen Mountain | Emily Hawkins and R. Fresson (illus.) | $35.00 | Murdoch Books | 7+ Discover real-life survival tips and stories as you navigate your own perilous journey through the wilderness guided by your decisions and the removable Survival Spinner. Have you got what it takes to survive?
BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS
Little Santa | Jon Agee | $24.99 | NewSouth | 4+ I liked it a lot! I liked the pictures! The book was about Santa and his family. Santa’s family wanted to move away, and Santa wanted to stay. I liked it because the reindeer and family were in it. I liked that it was set in the snow because ice sculptures are there. Reviewed by Frankie S. age 4
An Aussie Christmas Gum Tree | Jackie Hosking and Nathaniel Eckstrom | $24.99 | Walker Books | 3+ This book was about animals in the Australia decorating a Christmas tree. I really liked this book because there were so many of my favourite animals in the book. And I really like Christmas and I really like how the animals wanted to decorate a tree all together for Christmas.
Reviewed by Katerina S. age 5