Stuck for ideas for a curious child this Christmas? Make sure you shop our ‘recommended’ section where we have handily popped all of the best books to make your Christmas shopping that little bit easier. Ho Ho Ho.
Looking to give the gift of inspiration this year?
Make sure you shop our ‘recommended‘ section where we have handily popped all of the best books to make your Christmas shopping that little bit easier. You’re welcome.
We are still pinching ourselves that it is somehow October already! Wow the year has whizzed by. With the end of the year looming and Christmas (ahem) just around the corner we thought we would round up the best books that the Booko Team has read this year.
The team has a wide and mixed bunch of titles so find yourself somewhere comfy to sit and get ready to be inspired to sink yourself into some fabulous stories.
From the Founders:
Riina’s Pick: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
I have been meaning to read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ever since it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2017, and finally managed to read it this year. Though the story takes place in an unnamed city, it bears much resemblance to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. I was firstly drawn to the book because of the refugee theme, but ended up finding much more than a refugee story: a thought-provoking story about belonging, prejudice, loyalty and love.
The story is of young lovers who are forced to leave the city of their birth due to escalating violence and civil war. They hear rumours of mysterious doorways that open up in random places and that take those who can pay the price to some far-flung place that is safer than the place they leave behind. The couple end up going through two more doorways in search of a place they can feel safe in. By inventing these “magic doorways” Hamid is removing the journey from the refugee story, instead focusing on the experiences of leaving and arriving, and how such events shape and change a person. This way the story is in some ways relatable to anyone who’s ever migrated for one reason or another.
As events unfold, Hamid pays homage to various humanitarian crises across history, showing the reader how easy it is for history to repeat itself; how close we are to losing our humanity. Fear, prejudice and “otherness” are never far below the surface.
Though the book was not a pleasant or easy read, it made it to one of my most favourite this year due to the thoughts it left me with for days after I had finished reading the story.
Dan’s Pick: Practical Object-Oriented Design by Sandi Metz
I first heard the name Sandi Metz at a programming conference I was attending in Sydney. My friend had bought a ticket and flown from Melbourne to see her speak. Sandi was the keynote and the subject was on persuasion. My friend, the Sandi fan, convinced me to watch a few of her programming videos and on the strength of those, I bought her latest book, ‘Practical Object-Oriented Design’.
It’s a dry sounding subject, but I was hooked immediately. Like me, Sandi is a Ruby programmer and like me, she builds systems in Ruby. The strength of the book is the way it introduces and discusses problems in designs of systems. Sandi identifies problems in design with straightforward examples. There were many moments during the book, when a problem was introduced that I immediately recognised and had struggled with. The main difference is that rather than move on to the next issue, Sandi reduces the problem to its kernel, then deftly brings a few tools or patterns to bear on the problem. It’s like watching a tangled cord be unknotted.
I’m not sure I’d have been so engrossed in this book had I not, quite literally, struggled with the exact problems presented. This book has improved me as a programmer and I would highly recommend it to any developer with a few years under their belt.
From our youngest reviewers:
Niko’s Pick: Brotherband by John Flanagan
A series I recommend is Brotherband. It is by John Flanagan, and exists in the same world as his international bestselling series “Ranger’s Apprentice,” which is about the Rangers of Araluen, and Will, the ranger Halt’s apprentice. Brotherband’s events happened shortly after Ranger’s Apprentice, where Gilan is actually a character in both of the series.
Brotherband is set in Skandia, a land of sea wolves and democracy (as in they vote for their leader, the Oberjarl, instead of having a royal bloodline, like Araluen). The main characters are a Brotherband called the Herons (named after the bird) and they are led by Hal. They fight bad guys and do missions for the Oberjarl, Erak.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes Vikings and battles and action and many other things I forgot to name. This book is good for anyone older than 8, but really, it’s good for all ages as long as you can read. It’s that good.
Elora’s Pick: Smile by Raina Telgemeier
I made a book report for a Book called Smile. I recommend this book for 6+! This book was written by Raina Telgemeier. She also wrote some books called Sisters, Ghosts, Drama and Guts. Those are all the books by her that I know of. I thought it was a good Graphic Novel. The good things about it are: it actually happened, it’s funny and all other emotions including the sad emotion 😭 Sad😢. Her so called annoying sister named Amara says “You’re gonna be a METAL-MOUTH” when she gets braces from tripping over and losing 2 fully grown teeth! The dentist was nice so he gave her fake teeth to make her look normal and she ends up with a good life.
From the Marketing Team:
Cheekily, Marie has two favourites and because they are so different from each other we thought we’d let that slide and let her review two.
If you like to sink your teeth into fascinating stories and learn practical tips at the same time, then this book is for you. A great friend recommended this to me and I loved it (and have since recommended it to a number of other people).
After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his career as a hostage negotiator brought him face-to-face with a range of criminals, including bank robbers and terrorists. Reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. in his chatty style, Voss takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into his head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In addition to the unbelievable stories, this is a practical guide of tactics and strategies that you can use to become more persuasive in both your professional and personal life.
Educated by Tara Westover
I still think about this book regularly after finishing it a few months ago, I think it is haunting me. With three little girls of my own and being brought up in a home where education was highly valued, I was intrigued when hearing about this story. I couldn’t imagine a world more different from my own and was so moved by the account of Tara’s life as she gets to the heart of what an education is and what it has to offer. I’m putting the blurb for the book below as I couldn’t describe it any better. However, prepare yourself because it is an exceptionally sad tale.
Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist. As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties.
As a child I spent many hours snuggled up under the covers reading a book with a flashlight late into the night. I remember wanting be Harriet the Spy when I grew up, or living on a farm like Fern with a talking pig.
What was your favourite book that you read at school?
Each year across Australia, the CBCA brings children and books together by celebrating CBCA Book Week. During this time schools, libraries, booksellers, authors, illustrators and children celebrate Australian children’s literature. Keep your eye out for Karen’s post this Thursday where she shares her learnings from attending library school and how it helped with raising her children to be readers.
Australia punches well above its weight when it comes to children’s literature – so it is particularly fitting that we devote an entire week to celebrating this each year. This year’s CBCA Book Week theme is “Escape to Everywhere”, which perfectly describes what great writing means to me: whether it takes you to a fantasy land within your mind, or offers a glimpse of life elsewhere on Earth – a great book stretches your imagination and broadens your horizons. Drumroll please for this year’s winners…
One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn
Claire Zorn is a YA force to be reckoned with – all three of her novels are award-winners, including two CBCA Book of the Year awards (The Protected won in 2015). One Would Think the Deep is about Sam, whose mum dies suddenly, shockingly, in his arms. Having no options, he moves to the coast to live with his estranged aunt and cousins. In this new environment, he struggles to process his grief, shock and anger – but also finds some solace in the surf. One Would Think the Deep is almost painful to read, but Claire Zorn’s complex characterisation and raw, visceral portrayal of grief draws you in and doesn’t let go.
Book of the Year: Younger Readers
Rockhopping by Trace Balla
Trace Balla is another rising star, with both Rockhopping and its prequel, Rivertime, winning major awards. Having travelled down the Glenelg river together in Rivertime, Uncle Egg has finally agreed to take Clancy hiking to the Glenelg’s source in Gariwerd (the Grampians). During their five days in the wilderness, they see lots of flora and fauna, meet other hikers, have some scary moments – and Clancy grows up a little. Trace Balla shows her love of nature through her incredibly detailed illustrations; she also conveys some beautiful messages about slowing down, living in the moment and respecting indigenous culture.
Book of the Year: Early Childhood
Go Home, Cheeky Animals! by Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley
Inspired by life in Tennant Creek, Go Home, Cheeky Animals! is a great book for reading aloud (loudly!), with lots of opportunities for audience participation. There are too many cheeky dogs in Canteen Creek, but when the weather changes and more cheeky animals arrive, chaos begins! The lively rhythm of the text and child-like illustrations combine to present a hilarious and riotous scenario that will appeal to both school-aged and younger children.
Picture Book of the Year
Home in the Rain by Bob Graham
“Delightful” and “heartwarming” are no exaggeration when it comes to Bob Graham’s books – he is an expert at showing the humour and joy in the minutiae of life. Home in the Rain starts with a little red car stuck in traffic – Francie, her mum and her baby sister (warmly tucked inside Mummy’s tum) face a long drive on a rain-sodden day. From such an ordinary premise, Bob Graham has crafted a tender story that makes your heart glow. Home in the Rain is his eighth CBCA win – and a compelling example of why Bob Graham is one of our most beloved and awarded authors.
Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks by Gina M. Newton
Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks showcases more than 120 animals from 55 National Parks around Australia – from our national icons, through birds, to fish and insects. The book is divided into seven sections, each exploring a different habitat; thus offering additional insights into geography and ecology. Gina M. Newton and NLA Publishing have done a terrific job in making a wealth of information accessible rather than overwhelming, using a range of colour coding, charts, maps and photos. Perfect for browsing as well as for reference.
The Crichton Award for New Illustrators
The Patchwork Bike by Van T. Rudd (text by Maxine Beneba Clarke)
A streetwise gang of children build a patchwork bike using what they can find – branches for handlebars, a flour sack for a flag. This exuberant story highlights the joy of making your own fun using creativity and imagination. The setting is hugely different from suburban Australia, emphasising how play is universally valued by kids, whatever their circumstances. The street-art style of Van T Rudd perfectly matches the rhythmic text of slam-poet Maxine Beneba Clarke.
Bringing books to life for children is a lot of fun and a wonderful learning opportunity for young minds. Reading aloud, drawing pictures and imaginary play are just a few ways you can do this at home which gives children an opportunity to work on reading comprehension, creative thinking, recognising letters, numbers, colours, shapes and patterns, listening, exploring social and emotional skills and sharing and taking turns.
As we grow older our books can also come to life through audio books where the author is reading us their book with amazing inflection and passion, or through television and movie adaptations.
Here are a few of our favourite children’s books that have come alive.
Books we can watch…
Charlotte’s Web written by E.B White
An affectionate, sometimes bashful pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. A prancing, playful bloke, Wilbur is devastated when he learns of the destiny that befalls all those of porcine persuasion. Determined to save her friend, Charlotte spins a web that reads “Some Pig,” convincing the farmer and surrounding community that Wilbur is no ordinary animal and should be saved. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, E.B. White reminds us to open our eyes to the wonder and miracle often found in the simplest of things.
The DVD is available here.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are a prize-winning team and the creators of many bestselling books for Macmillan. Julia Donaldson was a songwriter before becoming an author, and music continues to play an important part in her life. She is always much in demand for her brilliant events at schools and literary festivals. Axel Scheffler is a star illustrator within the children’s book world, and his books have been translated into over 30 languages. His bright, humorous illustrations are a perfect complement to Julia’s lively songs.
The DVD is available here.
Books we listen to…
Road Dahl’s Phizz-Whizzing Audio Collection by Roald Dahl
Spread over eight CDs, these three sumptuous recordings are complete and unabridged, allowing listeners to enjoy Dahl’s work word for word. The stories in this collection have all been skilfully brought to life. ”Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” read by James Bolam (Abridged): Charlie Bucket thinks he is the luckiest boy alive when he wins an amazing tour of Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. It’s a tour of a lifetime that changes his life beyond belief! “The BFG” read by Geoffrey Palmer (Abridged): The BFG is a Big Friendly Giant who spirits Sophie out of bed one night. Together, Sophie and the BFG cook up an ingenious plan to rid the world of child-eating giants forever! “James and the Giant Peach” read by Andrew Sachs (Unabridged): James lives a lonely life with his two beastly aunts.Then one day, something very peculiar happens, something magical that will take him on the most amazing journey …
The books are available here.
Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter
This is a fabulous six-CD audio box-set containing the entire collection of stories by Beatrix Potter, complete and unabridged. The twenty-three tales have never lost their popularity, and sell in their millions all over the world. Meet the famous characters that children love and adore: Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, The Flopsy Bunnies, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Tom Kitten, Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck and many more. These stories are beautifully brought to life by a talented cast of readers, including Patricia Routledge, Timothy West, Michael Hordern, Janet Maw, and Rosemary Leach.
The books are available here.
Books we can colour and play with…
I Completely Must Do Drawing Now and Painting and Colouring by Lauren Child
Even the rainiest of days is no match for the wonderful imaginations of Charlie and Lola! It may be dull outside, but Charlie and Lola’s world is full of colourful adventure, and with this unique colouring book, kids can join in on the fun. With simple text on the page, activities, and tons of space to draw, the possibilities are endless! It’s the perfect way to bring imagination to life – rainy day or any day!
Maisy’s Farm by Lucy Cousins
This is a huge favourite in our house. This pop-up-and-play book opens up with a free-standing model of Maisy’s barn, garden and farmyard. It comes with a sixteen-page full-colour booklet that features learning activities based on Maisy’s day on the farm. In each room, there’s a sheet of card pieces to press out, tabs to pull, doors to open and more…so much fun!
Keep an eye out for the new initiative from Play School. In celebration of Children’s Book Week this year there will be a delightful new Play School series featuring some of Australia’s much loved celebrities as they snuggle up on the couch and read entertaining picture books written by Australian authors and they will be accompanied by Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima, Humpty and Joey.
It’s no secret that the books we read can help to shape our lives. As we move through different stages there are often a handful of key books and characters that we relate to and help us make sense of the people and world around us.
One particularly ‘testing’ time is between the ages of 8 and 12. These young adults face a variety of hurdles and curveballs as they grow up and learn to find their place in the world. Sometimes listening to yet another tale from mum and dad is just too much to handle and so they turn (hopefully) to books.
Filled with characters working through life defining experiences such as gaining independence, forming friendship, going on adventures and growing curiosity the genre of Young Adult is fast becoming literature which is adored by readers of every generation.
The Chronicles of Narnia, the 13th Story Treehouse series, the Harry Potter books, and just about anything by Roald Dahl are just a few examples of titles that aid a 8 -12 year old through this exciting period of their life.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Journeying into magical realms, battles between good and evil and talking creatures await and delight every reader who settles in to enjoy these books.
The Narnia Chronicles, first published in 1950, have been and remain some of the most enduringly popular children’s books ever published. The best known, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been translated into 29 languages and hit the big screen in a film edition.
The 13 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths
Andy and Terry live in a treehouse. But it’s not just any old treehouse, it’s the most amazing treehouse in the world! This treehouse has thirteen stories, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a secret underground laboratory, and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you are hungry.
This is the start of a series of treehouse stories with Terry and Andy who enjoy completely nutty adventures because ANYTHING can happen in a 13-storey treehouse.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling
We very much doubt any of these series need an introduction, especially Harry Potter…but here goes.
Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels chronicling the life of a young wizard, and his friends, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry’s struggle against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrowing the Ministry of Magic, and gain control of all wizards and Muggles (non wizards). There are many themes within this series including fantasy, drama, prejudice, madness, coming of age and elements of mystery, thriller, adventure, horror and romance. According to Rowling,however, the main theme is death.
Come and join us on Facebook to share what your favourite books were for getting through this phase of your life.
Young Adult (YA) fiction is the most exciting book category right now, with booming sales leading to a proliferation of genres and topics. The YA fan-base is also broadening, with a significant and growing proportion of adult readers (who are loud and proud, and fast destroying any stigma about preferring YA over “grown up” books. With strong narratives, intense feelings and the poignancy of coming-of-age, what’s not to love? Here are some of the best YA, past and present:
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Outsiders is iconic YA, being one of the first stories written by, for and about teenagers. (The Catcher in the Rye may be better known, but was written as adult fiction.) The Outsiders follows the conflict between the Socs and the Greasers, rival teen groups distinguished by their socioeconomic status. Its gritty realism and depictions of violence and delinquency revolutionised the genre by creating a demand for authentic, un-moralistic stories, although it continues to be controversial to this day. The Outsiders is also one of the best YA books turned into movies, with director Francis Ford Coppola, and a cast of emerging superstars including Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Another YA bestseller with an acclaimed movie adaptation is John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Named as Time Magazine’s #1 fiction book in 2012, The Fault in Our Stars cemented John Green’s reputation as a top YA author. The Fault in Our Stars is about Gus and Hazel, teens who meet and fall in love through a cancer patients’ support group. John Green has achieved a skilful balance of tragedy, comedy, romance and sentimentality, and the cancer setting makes this classic doomed-romance fresh and bold. The Fault in Our Stars is moving and romantic without being saccharine; Gus, Hazel and their friends, worldly-wise beyond their years, are witty and irreverent without sounding annoying. A contender for best YA of all time, The Fault in Our Stars can make grown men (and women) laugh and cry – sometimes all at once.
Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
The recent popularity of dystopian YA might make you think it’s a new trend – but not so! A generation before The Hunger Games readers were gripped by Tomorrow, When the War Began. This 7-novel series starts with Ellie and her friends going bush camping. When they return several days later, their town is eerily quiet – their families captured by foreign military in a “peaceful invasion”. Ellie and her friends must use all their wits and strength to adapt, survive and to fight against the invaders. Classic coming-of-age themes are given urgency by the war scenario. A live-action film and a new 6-part TV drama offer to bring new fans to this hugely beloved and acclaimed series.
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
My Sister Rosa is shaping up to be one of the best YA in 2016. It is a deeply unsettling story about 17-year-old Che and his younger sister Rosa. Che realises that, behind her charming facade, Rosa is a psychopath – manipulative and devoid of empathy. Their parents are oblivious to Rosa’s true nature, so Che becomes her self-appointed minder – monitoring her behaviour and preventing her from hurting others. Following the success of Liar and Razorhurst, Justine Larbalestier shows her prowess in psychological thrillers once more. My Sister Rosa is a tense and absorbing read, supported by brilliant characterisation.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Carry On is the latest hit by Rainbow Rowell, whose popularity and critical acclaim have been snowballing since her YA debut in Eleanor & Park. Carry On is about Simon Snow, a magical Chosen One in his final year of wizarding school, as he comes to terms with his destiny, juggles relationships, solves mysteries and fights evil. It is a story-within-a-story, with Simon and his friends first appearing as the book-obsession of the titular Fangirl of Rainbow Rowell’s previous novel. Carry On is one of the best YA of 2015, richly-layered with magic, ghosts, vampires, friendships, romance, humour and teen angst; it is also a loving tribute to fandom and the Harry Potter universe (which shares similarities with Simon Snow’s world).
As January hurtles along, many families will be preparing for a big milestone – the First Day of School. To help both kids and parents prepare for this exciting event, we present our favourite books on starting school. The big kids have not been forgotten – we have included books on starting secondary school, because we understand that this is a big challenge too. Hopefully this list will also help any families starting school later in the year!
For Young Kids
Many picture books talk about starting school. A good place to start may be your child’s favourite book or TV character – many of them, including Hugless Douglas, Maisy, Charlie and Lola and Peppa Pig, offer stories about starting preschool / kindergarten / primary school. Other great stories (and conversation starters) include:
Starting School by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker
This gentle and sympathetic book follows five children – Tim, Hannah, Sunita, Joe, and Polly – on their first day of school. The children have different personalities and experience the day differently. The story is engaging and also informative, since it highlights the many predictable events of orientation, such as finding your way around, getting to know people, and learning new routines. From the team that bring us the equally gorgeous and popular All Through the Year (about the months of the year) and Today We Have No Plans (about the days of the week).
Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril
This is a good introduction to the Amelia Bedelia series, which can grow with your child through their primary years – the series range from picture books to early readers and chapter books. Amelia Bedelia is a very literal-minded girl who gets confused by common sayings. Her misunderstandings land her in many funny situations! Here, Amelia Bedelia learns to enjoy her first day at school despite feeling nervous and having a very eventful time.
First Day by Andrew Daddo and Jonathan Bentley
First Day gives “first day nerves” a little twist when it’s the parent, not the child, who is feeling them! This is a joyous, affectionate look at the excitement of getting ready for school on The First Day. The excitement may be tempered by a little sadness, but that’s okay, because “the best bit about waving goodbye is the next wave will be hello”. Andrew Daddo and Jonathan Bentley is a great team who is adept at capturing the moods and behaviours of young children.
The Terrible Suitcase by Emma Allen and Freya Blackwood
The combination of Freya Blackwood’s illustrations and a grumpy main character made me smile and smile as I read The Terrible Suitcase. The little girl longs for a red backpack with yellow rockets to take to her first day of school, but all she has is a Terrible Suitcase. She feels so mad that she hides in a big cardboard box in her classroom. Luckily, friendliness and imagination turns this terrible day into something magical. I love how real the characters seem, and how inventive this story is.
Ready, Set, Go? How to Tell if your Child’s Ready for School and Prepare them for the Best Start by Kathy Walker
Deciding when to send your child to school can be daunting, particularly when present-day ideas about “school readiness” focus on emotional and social maturity (which can be hard to recognise), rather than the more clear-cut criteria of age or intellectual development. Kathy Walker, a leading parenting and education expert, is here to help you with this guide. Based on her experiences working with families and educators, Kathy explains what school readiness means and how to assess it; she also describes how schools work, and gives advice on how to choose a school that suits a child and their families. Finally there are tips on preparing children for school, both in the lead-up and in the early weeks of term. Readable and highly informative.
High School Rocks: Make Starting High School an Awesome Experience by Jenny Atkinson
Jenny Atkinson is a former teacher who now specialises in helping students, parents and staff achieve a confident, happy transition to high school. Based on survey feedback from over 1600 students, High School Rocks addresses the challenges that concern students the most – including friendships, independence, time-management and bullying. A mix of tips, stories and advice will help families develop their own coping strategies, and improve resilience. High School Rocks is currently available only from the Kindle Store or the author’s website.
For Big Kids
Many stories aimed at upper-primary or early teen readers explore themes of dealing with change, loneliness and understanding oneself, issues also relevant to the transition to secondary school. Some novels that specifically mention school transition include:
New Boy by Nick Earls
Herschelle and his family have just moved from South Africa to Australia, and despite his careful study of Aussie slang, he is struggling to fit in. At school, he is lumped in with the nerds, though he was one of the cool kids back in Cape Town. Nobody understands his accent or his Aussie-isms, and both he and his family make gaffes because they are confounded by local customs. Things come to a head when Herschelle is picked on for being different. New Boy has great messages about diversity, racism and bullying – especially because it offers the interesting twist of having a bullying-victim who is white. This is Nick Earls’ first book for younger readers, after a string of successes for teens and adults.
Pea’s Book of Best Friends by Susie Day
Life changes for Pea and her sisters when their ditzy mum becomes a successful author. Her new glamorous image means they have to relocate from a ramshackle flat in Wales to a house in London. Pea is excited about London’s various attractions – and even likes her new school uniform, “in a masochistic Malory Towers sort of way” – but she really misses having a best friend. Catastrophes ensue as Pea hunts for a new best friend while her sisters plot to return to their former lives. Pea’s Book of Best Friends is a fun read with likeable, quirky characters. The first in an ongoing series.
How to be Happy: a Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion by David Burton
For mature readers, or with adult guidance – How to be Happy is an award-winning memoir that has been variously praised as hilarious, heartbreaking, and important. It follows David’s life as he enters high school, through his attempts to fit in both at home and at school, and into his early twenties. How to Be Happy tackles many confronting topics – including depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, love and academic pressure – with sincerity and honesty. It is ultimately uplifting as David realises that life can be okay even when it is not happy 100% of the time.