Frederick lives a sheltered (and boring) life in a mansion surrounded by lakes & forests. When Emily invites him to play outside Frederick refuses—what if he hurts himself? Much better to stay safely indoors. But she’s not about to take no for an answer. A series of funny letters between Frederick and Emily interweave the colourful, adventurous world of Emily with Frederick’s drab life of boredom and safety—all illustrated by the wonderful Emma Chichester Clark of Plumdog/Love is My Favourite Thing fame ($25, HB
Terribly Friendly Fox by Susie Lloyd & Ellie Snowden
In this hilarious picture book for 3yrs old and up, a charming fox who claims to have changed his name to Gerald and become a vegetarian, gatecrashes The Annual Woodland Creatures Ball. It’s agreed by all that he’s the life of the party, but as the guests gradually disappear, Gerald’s waistcoat begins to pop its buttons. The joke is delivered subtly and not all little children will get it on their own, but the language is delightfully old-fashioned and the illustrations gorgeous. ($15, PB) Morgan
Theodore the Unsure by Pip Smith (ill) Beau Wylie ($18, PB)
Lion King Theodore is the ruler of all he surveys. He has only two problems. The first is that his kingly mane keeps growing ever larger. The second? Theodore cannot decide whether to have it cut off. In fact, Theodore has trouble deciding pretty much anything. Such as what colour socks to wear or what to eat for breakfast. As his mane grows ever larger, King Theodore is advised to hold a worldwide vote of all members of the Animal Kingdom to decide if he should shave it off. A good ruler should listen to his subjects. This is where the fun—and confusion—starts. All the animals have conflicting views and ideas. The Snakes are in favour of him keeping his Mane (‘What a Mane, What a Mane, What a Mighty Good Mane’). The Penguins have no idea what a Mane is. The Donkeys (of course) make a Donkey Vote. After the votes are counted, Theodore must make his BIGGEST decision, for the good of all… A charming, funny story about good leadership and about believing in oneself. Beau Wylie’s delightfully hilarious illustrations—I love the one showing the cockatoos demonstrating stylish Mane alterations—perfectly compliment Pip Smith’s clever text. More Theodore adventures, please. Stephen
Oi Puppies! by Kes Gray & Jim Field
Dog is looking after some puppies. Quite a few puppies, actually, and none of them will sit! Not even on guppies, like they’re supposed to! They’re getting a little out of hand—but luckily Frog’s got a cunning plan. Another funny, rhyming read-aloud picture book, jam-packed with cute puppies and silliness from the multi-award-winning creators of OI FROG! ($25, HB)
The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals by Sami Bayly ($33, HB)
Sami Bayly is a natural history illustrator based in Newcastle loves all things weird and wonderful and she thinks it’s time for ugly animals to shine! With more than sixty ‘ugly’ animals to explore she debates their relative ugliness and merits—with illustrations and facts about the thorniest species the animal kingdom has to offer, from the naked mole rat to the goblin shark, aye-aye, sphinx cat, blobfish and many more ‘ugly’ beauties.
James Rhodes’ Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound ($50, HB)
Concert pianist introduces classical music to first-time listeners and long-time fans in this exquisite slip-cased volume, with a large fold-out poster included. ‘Bach. Mozart. Beethoven. Old guys with curly wigs, right? But trust me: those composers were the original rock stars. Let me introduce you to some of the most breathtaking and magnificent pieces of music ever created. We’ll meet the rebels and revolutionaries who wrote them—did you know Beethoven peed into a chamber pot he kept under his piano?—and find out why they’re responsible for every track on your phone today. The world of classical music is going to blow your mind. So take some time out to read listen to the online playlist I’ve curated for you. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, Rachmaninoff and Ravel: the perfect introduction to classical music.’
Eddie Woo’s Magical Maths
There’s magic in maths—if you know where to look says head mathematics teacher at Cherrybrook Technology High School, Sydney, Eddie Woo, and here he offers up another bumper book of fun with maths stuffed with things to draw, puzzle, invent, order, unscramble, code, decode for kids aged 7+. ($20, PB)
Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo
Beverly, Right Here is the latest book in Kate DiCamillo’s Raymor Nightingale trilogy. Set in Florida in the 1970s, the books are about a trio of friends, Raymie, Louisiana and Beverly. They are all children with family backgrounds that are difficult in varying degrees, Beverly’s being the worst. There is a theme of abandonment, loss and leaving throughout these books, and in this final book, It’s Beverly who up sticks and just leaves her negligent mother after the death of her beloved dog Buddy. If this sounds depressing, it’s not – it’s a heartfelt book, but full of poetry and humour and an undeniable belief in goodness and hope. All the characters are interesting; Beverly is in fact quite a girl, and the secondary characters are all extremely well written, vivid and believable. It’s also refreshing to read these books set not so long ago, but in such a different world – no mobile phones, no personal computers and mercifully free of social media. I highly recommend these books to good readers aged 10-12, but they would be enjoyed by many older readers as well. ($20, PB) Louise
The Golden Butterfly by Sharon Gosling ($15, PB)
It’s 1897 and since the Magnificent Marko’s death, no magician has come close to performing a trick as spectacular as ‘The Golden Butterfly’. When the menacing leader of the Grand Society of Magicians tries to uncover the secret of Marko’s trick, Luciana (alone in a city that believes women incapable of magic) realises that she must act to protect her grandfather’s reputation. But as she is drawn further in to the mysterious magical world her grandfather left behind, Luciana realises that among his many secrets may be one about her past……
A Tale of Magic… by Chris Colfer ($27, HB)
14-year-old Brystal Evergreen has always known she was destined for great things—if she can survive the oppressive Southern Kingdom. Her only escape are books, but since it’s illegal for women to read in her country, she has to find creative ways of acquiring them—like working as a maid at her local library. But one day Brystal uncovers a secret section of the library and finds a book about magic that changes her life forever. A new series set in the Land of Stories universe from Glee cast member, Chris Colfer.
Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell ($18, PB)
In the sequel to Carry On ‘chosen one’ Simon Snow is puzzled—he beat the villain, won the war and even fell in love. So why in the ‘happily ever after’ can’t he get off the couch? His best friend suggests a change of scenery—time to grab a vintage convertible, a couple of friends—Penny and Baz—and tear across the American West. They find trouble—dragons, vampires & such—and they get so lost, they start to wonder whether they knew where they were headed in the first place.
The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring ($28, HB)
At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi, fleeing the military regime that took her mother, it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumours of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.
SLAY by Brittney Morris ($18, PB)
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is a college student, and one of the only black kids at Jefferson Academy. By night, she joins hundreds of thousands of black gamers who duel worldwide in the secret online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer—not even her boyfriend, Malcolm. But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, the media labels it an exclusionist, racist hub for thugs. With threats coming from both inside and outside the game, Kiera must fight to save the safe space she’s created. But can she protect SLAY without losing herself?