Joey and Riley by Mandy Foot ($16, PB)
Joey lives on a farm with his mum, his grandad, and his best friend—Riley, a working dog. Joey & Riley are inseparable, but when Joey and his mum have to move to town so that she can find work the only way he can in touch with his beloved dog is through his grandad’s letters. Until the day Grandad writes to say Riley has gone missing in a big storm. Joey is devastated—but things might not be as they seem. Mandy Foot’s naturalistic illustrations beautifully capture Australian rural life.
Storm & Sun by Sam Usher ($17, PB)
From the best tradition of children’s literature—books based in reality but that take a flying leap into fantasy—these two picture books are a celebration of different weathers, and where your imagination can take you. A little boy and his grandfather travel to the most unlikely places in both these books, the dynamic watercolour illustrations are full of fun details, with lots of colour and movement. There are also two other books in this series, Rain ($17, PB) and Snow Day ($20, HB), and they are both equally exciting. Louise
Baby Business by Jasmine Seymour ($25, HB)
Jasmine Seymour is a primary school teacher in the Hawkesbury area of NSW. She is also is a Darug woman and a descendant of Maria Lock, daughter of Yarramundi, the Boorooberongal Elder who had met Governor Phillip on the banks of the Hawkesbury in 1791—and her hope is that through her books, everyone will know that the Darug mob are still here, still strong. This book tells the story of the baby smoking ceremony that welcomes baby to country. The smoke is a blessing—it will protect the baby and remind them that they belong. Seymour tells this beautiful ritual in a way that young children will understand and relate to.
Hello, Horse ($17, PB) by Vivian French (ill) Catherine Rayner
In this Nature Storybook Vivian French & award-winning illustrator create a warm and witty introduction to horses—from the safety of the page! Children unfamiliar with, or a little nervous of, these large, beautiful creatures are introduced to Shannon, a friendly chestnut mare—the text giving practical tips like the right way to offer an apple, and explanations about their life cycle, and horse behaviour, like their need for company.
How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet: A Garbological Adventure
by Lee Constable (ill) James Hart ($20, PB)
Lee Constable dives into the rubbish bin, delves into landfill, rummages through the recycling and digs about in compost to give waste warriors in training an understanding of waste management and the impact their household rubbish is having on the (stinkin’) planet. Kids get to earn badges as they work their way through each chapter, completing activities, DIYs and eco-experiments.
Beastly Puzzles: A Brain-Boggling Animal Guessing Game by Rachel Poliquin ($25, HB)
Rachel Poliquin’s concept is a spin on early natural histories, which introduced new animals by describing them as a hodgepodge of parts—eg a beaver was described as flounder, otter, goose feet, squirrel paws & a rabbit’s front teeth. Poliquin’s book asks children to guess which animal a given list of features makes. Clues like: ‘3 billiard balls,’ ‘dinosaur feet’ and ‘five feather dusters’ are further complicated by being presented in scenarios like a ‘gentlemen’s den’ or a spy submarine. Once the kids make a guess (or if they get stumped!), they can open the gatefold to reveal the animal, with each clue explained and lots of additional fascinating facts.
The Race to Hornswaggle Rock by Ruth Quayle (ill) Philip Davenport ($17, PB)
Vic is from a family of pirates, and they are preparing to enter the Race to Hornswaggle Rock, the hardest, most dangerous pirate contest in the country. But the dastardly Captain Guillemot has stolen their ship and thrown their parents overboard. Together with siblings Bert and Maud, and annoyingly resourceful friends Arabella and George, Vic must come up with a plan to steal the ship back from their arch-enemy, join the race and win victory. But there are fearsome pirate crews, hungry sharks and some lovesick parrots in the way—will they be the rulers of the seven seas or the scurviest losers to ever walk the plank?
Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway ($13, PB)
When young Anna inherits a dilapidated once-grand hotel from her Great Aunt Mathilde, she’s determined to restore it to its former glory. However, it turns out that all of her staff and guests are animals! But she rises to the challenge—and whether it’s a flamingo, a penguin or a hippo knocking at the door, she is ready to welcome them all, with the help of T Bear the doorman, Squeak the friendly mouse, and Lemmy the lemur receptionist. The first part of an enchanting four-book series featuring the adventures of Anna and her animal friends
Vincent and the Grandest Hotel on Earth by Lisa Nicol ($17, PB)
Perched high on the snowy slopes of the Mabombo Ranges lies The Grandest Hotel on Earth. It’s wilder than the African savanna, more fantastical than Disneyland and more magical than Shangri-la. So when 11-year-old Vincent meets the hotel’s young Florence he sets off on a path leading into his most wondrous dreams. But of course, dreams have a funny way of taking strange and surprising turns and, before long, Vincent is torn between right and wrong, friendship and family and the most enticing of desires—to see into the future. A warning- this book includes insanely cute pocket dogs, travelling by llama or jet pack, chocolate fountains and shoes that play Bach.
Lizard’s Tale by Weng Wai Chan ($17, PB)
In 1940 Singapore 12-year-old Lizard doesn’t know war is just around the corner. He lives in Chinatown above a tailor’s shop, surviving on his wits and hustling for odd jobs. When he steals a small teak box containing a Japanese code book from a Raffles Hotel suite, he finds himself mired in wartime spycraft. How is the mysterious book inside the box connected to his friend Lili, a girl full of secrets and fighting skills? Can he trust her, or will she betray him?
To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolizer ($17, PB)
Told as an email conversation by two 12 year old girls, Avery and Bett, this very contemporary book is like a modern day Parent Trap. Avery and Bett are the daughters of single (gay) fathers who are dating. At first they don’t know each other, and their fathers are trying to change that by sending them to the same Enrichment Summer Camp. Machinations by both the girls ensue, some of them very funny. Goldberg Sloan and
Wolizer have succeeded in creating very different voices for the characters, and I’m finding them extremely credible. I would have loved this book when I was 9 or 10, I still enjoy rereading the original Parent Trap by Erich Kästner. Louise
Girl Geeks 1: The Hackathon ($15, PB)
Girl Geeks 2: Game On by Alex Miles ($15, PB)
A Hack-a-what?! Hamsa doesn’t know anything about tech or coding! Can she & her team come up with the goods. Skateboarder & gamer Niki is the first to enter biggest esports tournament announced in her town—and it’s Game On. Get your geek on with this girl gang as they design, make, game, hack, code and more! This series was developed in partnership with Girl Geek Academy. Check it out and get your daughters coding, communicating and doing yoga! You don’t have to be white & pasty and live in the basement to master the hack!
I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall ($18, PB)
Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded. With her cabin burned to the ground, she knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. So with only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy ($17, PB)
Ari Helix has been an illegal immigrant in the galaxies for as long as she can remember. But when her spaceship crashes on Old Earth and she pulls a magic sword from an ancient willow, her destiny becomes set in stone. As the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur she must save humanity from tearing itself apart, with only the help of an adolescent wizard named Merlin. This female king must battle for her right to be herself, take down totalitarian governments and unite the world. How hard could that be?