In Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe explains things using only drawings and a vocabulary of just our 1,000 most common words to show how important things work: from the nuclear bomb to the biro.
Founded in 2007, the Inky Awards celebrate the increasingly popular Young Adult (YA) genre. Each year, Australia’s young adults are given the opportunity to vote for their favourite YA release of the year. The awards are divided into two categories: the Gold Inky is for Australian fiction and the Silver Inky is for International fiction. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic the awards will not run this year so we are going to dive a little deeper into the 2019 Gold Award shortlist and its winner.
After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson
This is a gripping tale that was super popular. Seventeen-year-old Pru Palmer lives with her twin sisters, Grace and Blythe, and their father, Rick, on the outskirts of an isolated mining community. The Palmers are doomsday preppers. They have a bunker filled with non-perishable food and a year’s worth of water. One day while Rick is at the mine, the power goes out. At the Palmer’s house, and in the town. All communication is cut. No one knows why. It doesn’t take long for everything to unravel. In town, supplies run out and people get desperate. The sisters decide to keep their bunker a secret. The world is different; the rules are different. Survival is everything, and family comes first.
Hive by A.J. Betts
This one is for all of the science fiction lovers. Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known. Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling. A drip? It doesn’t make sense. Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it. Curiosity is a hook. What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.
You can find Rogue, the sequel to Hive, here.
Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman
This story is a heart-pounding adventure with magical inventions about finding one’s place in a sharply divided world.
Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragons are sworn enemies who live deeply separate lives.
So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form and his twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he has to question whether they are even related. Still, whether or not they’re family, Anders knows that Rayna is his best and only true friend. She’s nothing like the brutal, cruel dragons who claimed her as one of their own and stole her away.
In order to rescue her, Anders will have to enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else. But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than blind obedience, and friendship is the most powerful shape-shifting force of all.
You can find the whole Elementals series on Booko.
The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot
Lottie collects dead creatures and lovingly cares for them, hoping to preserve them, to save them from disintegration. Her father understands; Lottie has a scientific mind, he thinks. Her aunt wants it to stop, and she goes to cruel lengths to make sure it does. And her mother? Lottie’s mother died long ago. And Lottie is searching for a way to be close to her. The Art of Taxidermy is a heartbreaking verse novel exploring love and death, grief and beauty, and the ways we try to make sense of it all.
Whisper by Lynette Noni
Whisper won the Gold Inky Award in 2019.
Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people, they told me. It’s for people just like you. I believed them. That was my mistake. There isn’t anyone else in the world like me. I’m different. I’m an anomaly. I’m a monster. For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four, Jane Doe, has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word. Life at Lengard follows a strict, torturous routine that has never changed. Until now. When Jane is assigned a new and unexpectedly kind evaluator, her resolve begins to crack, despite her best efforts. As she uncovers the truth about Lengard’s mysterious program, Jane discovers that her own secret is at the heart of a sinister plot and one wrong move, one wrong word, could change the world.
Jane Doe’s story finishes in the sequel, Weapon.
White Night by Ellie Marney
In Bo Mitchell’s country town, a ‘White Night’ light-show event has the potential to raise vital funds to save the skate park. And out of town, a girl from a secretive off-the-grid community called Garden of Eden has the potential to change the way Bo sees the world. But are there too many secrets in Eden? As Bo is drawn away from his friends and towards Rory, he gradually comes to believe that Eden may not be utopia after all, and that their group leader’s goal to go off the grid may be more permanent – and more dangerous – than anyone could have predicted.
We have an inspiring Ted Talk for you today. Gever Tulley uses engaging photos and footage to demonstrate the valuable lessons kids learn at his Tinkering School. When given tools, materials and guidance, these young imaginations run wild and creative problem-solving takes over to build unique boats, bridges and even a roller coaster! It’s a short, but great talk.
We have found a lovely way to spend your evening with today’s download: take your bedtime stories virtual with Oliver Jeffers.
We have found a super fun way to spend the evening with your children: exploring your inner artist with free Ken Done worksheets.
There has never been a better time to get reading – reading can provide entertainment, knowledge and comfort, and is a perfect thing to do at home! We know that many of you are having more time to kill, and are asking for suggestions of series books – something substantial that can hold your attention for longer. So this week we are showcasing some of the most popular multi-volume children’s books, guaranteed to give kids hours of reading pleasure – even those who are usually reluctant to pick up a book!
Wings of Fire 1-5 Boxed set by Tui T Sutherland
This fantasy series, set in a world of dragons, has enormous word-of-mouth cred amongst upper-primary aged readers. Five young dragonets strive to fulfil a prophecy that they will end an ancient war and finally bring peace to the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. What sets Wings of Fire apart is that its dragons are the main characters, with a rich and complex civilisation, whilst humans are considered “scavengers” and peripheral to the story. Tui T Sutherland’s impressive world-building has now grown beyond the 20+ books into a big and active fandom. The first three books are now available in graphic novel format.
Slime by David Walliams
Slime is hot off the presses and sure to delight David Walliams’ many fans (as well as creating many more). Inspired by the recent craze for slime, this story sees young Ned discover the origins of slime, and use it to wreak revenge on the horrible grownups who love nothing more than making children miserable. David Walliams is often compared to Roald Dahl and it is easy to see why – his stories are funny, with touches of the grotesque and the fantastical, all underlaid with a call for empathy. David Walliams has published 18 children’s novels. While these are mostly standalone, there are recurring characters to spot, such as Raj the newsagent.
WeirDo 1-9 Boxset by Anh Do
Weir Do is a thoughtful boy with a weird name and a weirder family. The WeirDo books are slice-of-life stories that are packed with illustrations and laugh-out-loud funny – perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The latest is #14 – WeirDo: Vote WeirDo! where Weir’s chances of being elected class captain may be derailed by an EPIC HAIR DISASTER. WeirDo is the first children’s series written by the multi-talented Anh Do, who has gone on to create other bestselling series including Hot Dog, Ninja Kid, Wolf Girl, as well as Mythix.
Kensy and Max 5: Freefall by Jacqueline Harvey
You may already know Jacqueline Harvey from her delightful Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda series; now she is trying her hand at spy thrillers aimed at both boys and girls. Kensy and Max are twins whose lives are turned upside-down when they are whisked off to London and discover their parents are missing. The race is on to understand the strange things happening around them, and find their parents! There’s mystery, spy craft, exotic locations and lots of chases. Volume 5, Freefall, sees Kensy and Max as agents-in-training, struggling with ethical dilemmas while trying to capture a master criminal in New York.
Welcome to the Brilliant World of Tom Gates box set by Liz Pichon
This is a box set of the first 12 books in the Tom Gates series. (We’re now up to Book 17.) Tom Gates is a series of illustrated diary stories about an endearing but chaotic boy and his family. The pages are heavily illustrated with distinctive doodles and funny little details, the tone is chatty, and the situations are funny and totally relatable. What’s more, Tom Gates is a tried-and-true recommendation for reluctant readers and those who need extra reading support – perhaps Tom Gates books are so accessible because Liz Pichon is herself dyslexic, and she has written these stories to be just what she would have loved to read as a child. The illustrated diary format might even inspire young fans to create their own Tom Gates-style stories!
The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier
The Last Kids on Earth is dystopian fiction with a twist! Unlike dystopian YA, which tends to be dark and grim, this tweens-and-early-teens series shows that a zombie apocalypse can be pretty funny. 13-year old Jack recruits four of his classmates to fight off a succession of monsters after a zombie outbreak hits his hometown. They have to learn to work as a team to stay alive, and they are the world’s last chance against the evil overlord Rezzoch! This Wimpy-Kid-meets-Walking-Dead series has zombies, monsters, wisecracks, and crazy gadgets – no wonder it’s a New York Times bestseller. Now also an animated series on Netflix.
We’ve found quite the Ted talk in light of schools returning today. Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a shift from standardised schools to personalized learning by creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish.
Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, The Babysitters Club, anything by Roald Dahl – how much fun was it diving into books when you were young?!
Which books did you love reading when you were younger?
The secret is out – YA (Young Adult fiction) is one of the most exciting and popular book categories at the moment. Gone is the stigma of grownups reading ‘kids books’ – readers of all ages are attracted to YA for its strong narratives, awareness of social causes, and championing of diversity and the authenticity of #ownvoices experience. With strong new releases every season, we’ll take a look at some recent hits:
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Virtue and Vengenace is the highly-anticipated sequel to Children of Blood and Bone, one of the strongest YA debuts ever. Having brought magic back to the kingdom of Orisha, the feisty heroine, Zelie Adebola, finds out that the unexpected consequences of her actions may derail her fight against oppression. This fantasy trilogy is set in West Africa, with inspiration from Harry Potter, West African mythology and the Black Lives Matter movement. Tomi Adeyemi deftly uses her fictitious realm to explore issues of racism, oppression and slavery. Children of Virtue and Vengeance is a solid second instalment, leading up to a huge finish in the third and final volume.
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for one of the wealthiest families in Atlanta. By night, she moonlights as Miss Sweetie, the author of a newspaper advice column. When her column becomes popular, she uses it to challenge society’s ideas about race and gender, and must step up to overcome the backlash that follows. Stacey Lee is a Chinese-American writer whose stories reinterpret historical events from a Chinese-American perspective. Downstairs Girl is a powerful novel about identity, betrayal and the meaning of family.
Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto
If you love High Fantasy with mythical creatures then be sure to check out The Crown of Feathers saga. Heart of Flames is the second instalment, continuing this story about siblings Val and Veronyka, who dream of joining the Phoenix Riders, a disbanded band of elite warriors who have empathic links to the phoenixes they ride. Within the political machinations and tensions of an unstable world, Val, Veronyka and their friends discover their distinct identities, fall in love, and strive towards their goals. Nicki Pau Preto does a great job of world-building, and of fleshing out her characters, by telling the story from multiple perspectives.
Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan
Award-winning author Renee Watson teams up with poet Ellen Hagan to give us a stirring story about feminist activism and empowerment. Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends attending a social justice-focussed high school in New York. When they realise that sexism and racism are rife even in their progressive school, these strong-willed teens fight hard to make sure their voices – and those of other young women – can still be heard. Watch Us Rise is a dynamic, complex story with a multidimensional, diverse cast. The use of a dual narrative, and the inclusion of art, poetry and blogs to drive the story, add extra interest.
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
We Hunt The Flame is a new quest adventure set in a realm inspired by ancient Arabia. Zafira is a strong, skilled hunter tasked to bring back a magical artefact in order to save her world. Disguised as a man for self-protection, Zafira is pursued by, but eventually forms an uneasy alliance with, the King’s Assassin. Will they succeed on their perilous journey? We Hunt the Flame is a story of conquering fear and creating your own destiny; of morality and understanding. Hafsah Faizal is a debut author who has drawn upon her Arabic and Muslim heritage to craft a rich fantasy world. We Hunt the Flame is a read-alike for books by Tamora Pierce, and perfect for fans of the game Assassin’s Creed.
Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon
Sandhya Menon balances classic tropes of YA romance (an exclusive boarding school, young royals, and uber-rich “beautiful people”) with a dash of fantasy, and an earnest exploration of the issues of loneliness and parental expectations, to give a fresh take on the Beauty and the Beast story. Indian princesses Jaya Rao and Isha have been shipped off to the exclusive St Rosetta’s academy to ride out a scandal surrounding younger sister Isha. Jaya vows to take revenge on fellow student Grey Emerson, whose family has been feuding with the Raos for generations, and whom Jaya believes caused Isha’s scandal. Both Jaya and Grey grow in self-awareness and independence during their funny and romantic enemies-to-lovers journey.