Looking back on 2018 it’s been an amazing year, full of wonderful reads for kids and young adults. Before we start looking to the future, we thought you might enjoy a round-up of the highlights.
We were blessed in 2018 to have new books from some stand-out authors, such as His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda, Kate Camillo’s Louisiana’s Way Home, And the Ocean was our Sky by Patrick Ness, Cicada by Shaun Tan and new books from Matt Stanton, Felice Arena and Jessica Townsend.
The list below features the books that you liked the most, based on our Better Reading Facebook page so if you need a recap of the year that was before heading out for Christmas shopping, then this is the list for you.
Go Go and the Silver Shoes by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Anna Walker
Sharing and friendship are the winners at the end of this warm and charming read, and as with all of the picture books this pair produce, children and parents alike will find much to discuss and enjoy together. Read our review here
Cicada by Shaun Tan
Fans of Shaun Tan – and there are many – will love his latest creation. For newcomers, there’s a whole, new, beautiful world to explore. Read our review here
Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks
This inspirational book belongs on the bookshelves of every little boy’s house. It’s a timely reminder that these positive stories of real-life male role models should be shared with our young boys in a time when there are plenty of negative examples in the media. Read our review here
Amazing Australian Women by Pamela Freeman, illustrated by Sophie Beer
In the style of the wildly popular Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and Boys Who Dare to be Different, Amazing Australian Women takes us through the stories of twelve women who have made a significant impact on Australian history. Covering a broad range of women from the arts, business, politics and sport, and the list doesn’t stop there. Read our review here
Kensy and Max by Jacqueline Harvey
Kensy and Max are a charming, confident and debonair pair and young readers will wish they were travelling around European cities in luxury with them. The twins’ relationship with their patient and enigmatic Nanny, Fitz, is great fun and Harvey has allowed space for readers to solve the clues and puzzles alongside the two amateur sleuths. Read our review here
His Name was Walter by Emily Rodda
Emily Rodda’s intricate story within a story is guaranteed to capture the imaginations of 8+ mystery lovers. The pages are filled with twists and turns and there is suspense right up to the end. Along with all the fairy tale style drama, there are positive messages reminding young readers not to under-estimate others, the toxic nature of greed and the rewards you receive from showing loyalty and selfless love. Read our review here
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Many interesting ideas are introduced in this book, with a few unanswered questions allowing readers to fill in the missing pieces. Louisiana’s Way Home is a whimsical tale of self-discovery which will be much enjoyed by 10+ booklovers – and their parents – and proves yet again: you can’t go wrong with a Kate DiCamillo. Read our review here
Wakestone Hall by Judith Rossell
The first two books in the Stella Montgomery series, Withering-by-Sea and Wormwood Mire are multi award winning and the book itself is a stunning hardback with beautiful illustrations throughout – also by the author, Judith Rossell. 9+ readers who favour mysterious adventure with a bit of fantasy, those who enjoyed A Series of Unfortunate Events, and existing fans of the Stella Montgomery series will love Wakestone Hall. Read our review here
Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend
Wundersmith will keep 8 +readers on the edge of their seat – our advice is to just let them keep reading until they finish as their heads will be off on the brolly rail, hanging out with the Magnificats or wondering how it feels to ride a dragon. Read our review here
Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein
Small Spaces is a clever, highly entertaining, impressive debut from a thoughtful writer who knows how to weave contemporary concerns of mental illness through a story with stampede intensity. It has all the atmospheric paranoia of exhilarating horror writing without any of the predictability that tends to water the genre down. Small Spaces also has charm in spades and a daub of teen angst with poor Tash falling helplessly in love with Morgan, who is in turn totally unaware of how complicated that makes everyone’s lives. Read our review here
I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness
It’s clear that as a teacher and champion of local youth, Australian debut author Meg Gatland-Veness has first-hand experience with teenagers and it really shows in this, her impressive debut novel, I Had Such Friends. This is apparent in the authentic voice of Hamish that provides insight into a multitude of teen struggles. Isolation, bullying, grief and self-discovery, are just a few of the areas that she explores. Read our review here
Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare
Queen of Air and Darkness is the eagerly awaited third and final instalment in the Dark Artifices Trilogy, a Shadow Hunters novel and sequel to Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows by the prolific Cassandra Clare, New York Times bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments.
Clare set out on her writing journey with a desire to tell a story about characters at a crucial stage in their life where the action and important choices lie ahead of them, rather than adults reflecting on their choices and that holds immense appeal to the 15+ reader and beyond. Read our review here
Fearless Frederic by Felice Arena
Fearless Frederic is high adventure, fast paced and hard to put down. Dealing with courage, loyalty, integrity and true friendship, this book offers many valuable lessons for kids to take away while enjoying the entertaining, fast-moving plot. It’s easy to see why Felice Arena, author of the huge bestselling Specky Magee series, is a hit with young readers. Read our review here
Jane Doe and the Cradle of all Worlds by Jeremy Lachlan
The first instalment in a new four book series, described as His Dark Materials meets Mad Max, Jane Doe and the Cradle of all Worlds is an epic adventure that is filled to the brim with exotic characters and eye-popping adventures. The reader will find themselves digging through snow, riding rapids, avoiding booby traps and bounty hunters. Read our review here
100thAnniversary Edition of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs
Synonymous with many Australian childhoods, the much loved Snugglepot and Cuddlepie follows the two gumnut babies on their adventures through the Australian bush. The pages are filled with kookaburras, fantails, koalas, goannas, nuts and blossoms – these small creatures bring magic and intrigue to the Australia bush.
In this new edition all of the original artwork has been sourced and re-scanned, so the full colour illustrations look stunning. It also includes a comprehensive history with additional images and illustrations by May Gibbs scattered throughout. Read our review here
100thAnniversary Edition of The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsey
The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay is another famous Australian classic. Bunyip Bluegum, Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawn off along with their Magic Pudding have been familiar characters for generations of children over the last 100 years and their magic will inevitably endure for many more.
This new edition has also had the original artwork re-scanned so that the reader not only enjoys this wonderfully Australian story – with its traditional Australian brand of humour – but also enjoys Norman Lindsay’s world-famous artwork. Read our review here
Just for Laughs:
Fart Monster and Me by Tim Miller Matt Stanton
Filled with lots of colour and fun these books will be grabbed and devoured by the 5+ reader. Large text and great illustrations will make sure that little ones new to reading will feel comfortable tackling it on their own. Expect to have the kids quoting lines such as ‘smell you later’ and ‘gotta get downwind’ for weeks after reading – a small price to pay to get them reading and loving it! Read our review here
Funny Kid Get Licked by Matt Stanton
Last we heard from Max he was in a prank war but this time it’s an animal war – rescuing puppies, fundraising for endangered animals, creating vegan cafes and with more hilarious escapades bursting out of the fourth instalment in the Funny Kid series, they just keep getting more entertaining! Read our review here
The Extremely Weird Thing that Happened at Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece
The Extremely Weird Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls is inventive, original and will engage even the most resistant middle-grade readers with its fast pace and hilariously ‘weird’ characters. This is the first in a planned trilogy, so expect a lot more weirdness to come. Read our review here
Bab Sharkey and the Animal Mummies: The Weird Beard by Andrew Hansen and Jessica Roberts
Tapping into the love that kids have for Egypt and mummies along with the love of gross things like a brain sucking machine, Bab Sharkey is perfect for the 8+ reader. The book is also filled with illustrations that set the tone for this quirky plot and will have the kids in fits of laughter – think someone with mini corns stuffed up their nose. Read our review here