This week on the blog Karen’s sharing the latest YA titles hitting the market. It’s a hugely popular genre and one we can’t get enough of. What was your fav book as a teen?
Australians are spoilt for choice when it comes to children’s literature – Aussie authors have been punching above their weight for decades, creating iconic works, and winning literature awards from around the world. From Ivan Southall, Libby Hathorn and Mem Fox; to Bob Graham, Shaun Tan, Sonya Hartnett, Philip Bunting and many more, Australian authors have been capturing funny, beautiful and distinctly Australian stories for and about our children. Here are some latest ones worth celebrating, from both established and emerging authors:
My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart
This warm story about a father-and-son uses lively rhymes to introduce big topics to a young audience – being true to yourself, challenging stereotypes, and celebrating differences. Our main character is a young boy with a pink shadow – unlike the rest of his manly relatives, whose shadows are blue. His pink shadow loves ponies and sparkles and things “not for boys”, which worries the boy because he so wants to fit in. One fateful dressup day, everything changed… Scott Stuart wrote this story based on his experiences supporting his young son, who loves the character Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He now actively promotes self-expression and challenges gender stereotypes as an author/illustrator and via Tiktok.
Hello Jimmy! by Anna Walker
Hello, Jimmy! works on so many different levels – it is a warm story about a father-and-son rediscovering their emotional connection to each other; it is a sensitive portrayal of a family going through separation, and is a good conversation starter about sadness, loneliness, navigating change, and diverse families; and Jimmy the parrot , being a cranky and irrepressible character, makes this a lively read-aloud. Once again, Anna Walker has taken familiar events from daily life, and used her distinctive style to create jewel-like moments brimming with drama and emotion.
Sing Me the Summer by Jane Godwin and Alison Lester
What a partnership! Jane Godwin and Alison Lester are successful and beloved authors in their own right; in Sing Me the Summer they have combined their powers to produced a wonderful ode to the seasons. The gentle rhymes and bright pictures celebrate the changing colours and fun activities of different seasons – picnicking on the beach, stomping through fallen leaves, bonfires on cold nights, and playing in lush springtime grass. Also watch out for cameo appearances by beloved characters Noni the Pony, and My Dog Bigsy!
The Fire Wombat by Jackie French and Danny Snell
Jackie French knows a lot about wombats, as her bestselling Diary of a Wombat series can attest. The story of Fire Wombat was inspired by a wombat she saw during the devastating 2020 bushfires. In the hot dry countryside, the bush animals can see and sense the encroaching smoke and flames. Led by a small wombat, they eventually find safety in the cool underground tunnels of a wombat burrow. Fire Wombat has vivid imagery and is an ultimately hopeful story about resilience, courage and friendship. It is also a great conversation starter about bushfires and their aftermath.
Our Home, Our Heartbeat by Adam Briggs, Kate Moon and Rachael Sarra
Our Home, Our Heartbeat celebrates Indigenous achievements across different eras, professions and communities. Adam Briggs, better known as Briggs, is a rapper/comedian/writer/actor from the Yorta Yorta nation. He wrote this story, based on his song “The Children Came Back”, to normalise Indigenous success, inspiring and informing all children of the contribution of Indigenous people to Australia. Like many of great stories, this is one Briggs wished he had when he was growing up. The vibrant illustrations show children doing the things they love, and convey a huge sense of fun and energy.
Bluey: The Creek by Bluey
Bluey is the little Aussie series turned worldwide phenomenon, for all the best reasons. It has been praised for its relatable characters, realistic storylines, and for healthy depictions of emotions, gender identity and parenting behaviours – and last but not least, for being funny and adorable! The Creek is inspired by an episode of the same name. When Dad takes Bluey, Bingo and Mackenzie to the creek to play, they discover that it is a beautiful place with lots to discover and explore. Enjoy the story for itself, or use it to inspire your little ones to enjoy and investigate nature.
Imagining a near future Australia The Mother Fault is an addictive thriller portraying the lengths a mother will go to save her family.
There are so many fantastic Australian books that have been published. Some are sweet, others insightful and some rattle us to the core. Which is your favourite?
The Australian Book Industry Awards Longlist has just been announced and it is a fabulous round up of what this country has to offer the literary world. It is with this in mind that we thought we would spend March celebrating and showcasing the Australian book industry. This week we are focusing on our favourite new fiction titles and in coming weeks we’ll explore non-fiction, beloved children’s books and inspiring Australian business stories.
Make yourself a cup of tea and settle in, you’ll be making a list of your next-read books for Autumn.
Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Something wicked is taking hold of Nevermoor. In Morrigan Crow’s third Wundrous adventure (the first two books are Nevermoor and Wundersmith), she faces her most dangerous challenge yet. Morrigan Crow and her friends have survived their first year as proud scholars of the elite Wundrous Society, helped bring down the nefarious Ghastly Market, and proven themselves loyal to Unit 919. Now Morrigan faces a new, exciting challenge: to master the mysterious Wretched Arts of the Accomplished Wundersmith, and control the power that threatens to consume her. Meanwhile, a strange and frightening illness has taken hold of Nevermoor, turning infected Wunimals into mindless, vicious Unnimals on the hunt. As victims of the Hollowpox multiply, panic spreads. There are whispers, growing louder every day, that this catastrophe can only be the work of the Wundersmith, Ezra Squall. But inside the walls of Wunsoc, everyone knows there is a new Wundersmith – one who’s much closer to home. With Nevermoor in a state of fear and the truth about Morrigan threatening to get out, the city she loves becomes the most perilous place in the world. Morrigan must try to find a cure for the Hollowpox, but it will put her – and everyone in Nevermoor – in more danger than she could have imagined.
The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor
Pearl and Vally Cole live in a bookshop. And not just any bookshop. In 1893, Cole’s Book Arcade in Melbourne is the grandest bookshop in the world, brimming with every curiosity imaginable. Each day brings fresh delights for the siblings: voice-changing sweets, talking parrots, a new story written just for them by their eccentric father. When Pearl and Vally learn that Pa has risked the Arcade – and himself – in a shocking deal with the mysterious Obscurosmith, the siblings hatch a plan. Soon they are swept into a dangerous game with impossibly high stakes: defeat seven challenges by the stroke of midnight and both the Arcade and their father will be restored. But if they fail Pearl and Vally won’t just lose Pa – they’ll forget that he and the Arcade ever existed.
The Survivors by Jane Harper
This is the compelling new novel from Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry. Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away.
The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey
Caitlin is convinced she’s going to die. Two years ago she was a normal twenty-something with a blossoming career and a plan to go travelling with her best friend, until a fatal car accident left her with a deep, unshakeable understanding that she’s only alive by mistake. She deals with these thoughts by throwing herself into work, self-medicating with alcohol, and attending a support group for people with death-related anxiety, informally known as The Morbids. But when her best friend announces she’s getting married in Bali, and she meets a handsome doctor named Tom, Caitlin must overcome her fear of death and learn to start living again.
Honeybee by Craig Silvey
‘Find out who you are, and live that life.’ Late in the night, fourteen-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below. At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette. The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other. Honeybee is a heartbreaking, life-affirming novel that throws us headlong into a world of petty thefts, extortion plots, botched bank robberies, daring dog rescues and one spectacular drag show. At the heart of Honeybee is Sam: a solitary, resilient young person battling to navigate the world as their true self; ensnared by loyalty to a troubled mother, scarred by the volatility of a domineering stepfather, and confounded by the kindness of new alliances. Honeybee is a tender, profoundly moving novel, brimming with vivid characters and luminous words. It’s about two lives forever changed by a chance encounter — one offering hope, the other redemption. It’s about when to persevere, and when to be merciful, as Sam learns when to let go, and when to hold on.
All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
The bestselling author of Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton, returns with All Our Shimmering Skies which is a glorious novel destined to become another Australian classic. Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain overhead, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: a razor-tongued actress named Greta and a fallen Japanese fighter pilot named Yukio. ‘Run, Molly, run,’ says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia’s wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber’s coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run. All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. It is an odyssey of true love and grave danger; of the darkness and the light; of bones and blue skies. A buoyant, beautiful and magical novel abrim with warmth, wit and wonder, a love letter to Australia and the art of looking up.
It’s raining here in Melbourne and will be for the next few days which means we can all snuggle up with a great book for the whole weekend with no guilt! Yippee! Enjoy a safe and cosy weekend.
What does “holiday reading” mean to you? Does the slower pace of summer make you reach for light, breezy reads; or is this the time when you can finally commit to that big, substantial book? I do a bit of both – my Holiday Brain craves cheerful reads, but I always pack a variety just in case. I hope you can find YOUR perfect holiday read from this selection of recent bestsellers:
The Grand Tour by Olivia Wearne
When longtime friendly-neighbours Ruby and Angela set off for Adelaide in their campervan, little did they know what’s in store. These Grey Nomads became unwitting kidnappers when they discovered a little stowaway, and they also crossed paths with Angela’s estranged brother Bernard, a C-list celeb with his own troubles. Not only is The Grand Tour a quirky and very Aussie adventure, it is also a story about families – the ones you have and the ones you make. The laughter and heart just draws you in. The Grand Tour is Olivia Wearne’s debut novel, but she has a background in screenwriting and it shows – her descriptions are cinematic, the characters are well-developed, and the dialogue zings.
Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory
If you like holiday reads that sweep you off to a different time and place, then Dark Tides is for you. This atmospheric tale, set in London in the 1670s, is the sequel to Tidelands. We meet again with Alinor, a poor, hardworking woman who now owns a warehouse on the Thames riverbank. On Midsummer Eve, she receives two unexpected visitors, who set off a chain of events amidst the poverty of early Restoration London, the splendour of Venice as well as the wild frontiers of colonial America. Philippa Gregory is best known for her novels about Tudor royalty; her assured writing has translated equally well to this immersive series about a commoner family in a later era.
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
All Adults Here is the ironic title of this gentle black comedy about an extended family from upstate New York – think Something’s Gotta Give crossed with The Royal Tenanbaums. The most grownup member of the Strick clan is probably 13-year-old granddaughter Cecelia – her parents, aunts and uncles, and even her grandmother still struggle with insecurity and adulting from time to time. Emma Straub writes affectionately about her cast of flawed characters, creates much humour from their interactions, and grounds their personal challenges in current issues including abortion, bullying, IVF, gender identity and sexual predators.
Because of You by Dawn French
On New Year’s Eve, as a new millenium arrives, two women are in the same hospital, giving birth. Only one of them will bring a baby home. Seventeen years later, the consequences of what happened that night slowly unravel, with surprising and poignant results. Five long years after her last novel, Dawn French has given birth to her latest hit, Because of You. This is a story about mothers and daughters, nature and nurture, mistakes and regret. Dawn French’s wit adds richness and lightness to an emotional and thought-provoking story; the rich characterisation and multiple points-of-view will draw you in and keep you hooked till the last page.
Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos
Another strong literary debut rewarded by bestselling status. Lucky’s is a big, multigenerational family saga about the rise and fall of Lucky Mallios, a Greek-American who settled in postwar Australia, and his eponymous chain of cafes. Sharp, vivid vignettes tell a story that spans almost a century, across several continents; yet this vastness telescopes into a finely interwoven web, where each character’s actions affect others in unforeseen and pernicious ways. Informed by Andrew Pippos’ personal history, the post-war migrant experience, and the iconic Greek-Australian cafe scene, both play important roles in this immersive story.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Richard Osman joins a long list of successful comedians-turned-authors – but he stands out by debuting with a murder mystery. The Thursday Murder Club is a quartet of residents in an upmarket retirement village, who meet weekly to pore over unsolved crimes. This seems a fun but academic pastime – until the day a murder happens close to home. Richard Osman’s clever, deadpan personality, as seen in TV shows such as Taskmaster and QI, also shines through in his writing. He skilfully balances distinctive and recognisable characterisation with a pinch of Miss Marple, a smidge of the Ealing comedies, and balances everything with poignant asides on ageing and the end of life. No wonder that The Thursday Murder Club has become the fastest-selling adult crime debut ever in the UK.
It’s the start of another week and the weather is meant to be glorious. To help you keep the holiday vibes going we are sharing the best summer reads on the blog later this week. Be sure to check it out.
This warm, wise, highly entertaining twenty-first century love story is about what happens when the person who makes you happiest is someone you never expected. Just Like You is the perfect summer read.
Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story, Before The Coffee Gets Cold, explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time?