Welcome back for another peek into the world of Children’s and Young Adult books! It’s a particularly strong month, so let me dive in.

wombat warriors wheelerChildrens

It is a real pleasure to open this round up with a review from 10 year old Niahm, possibly the youngest reviewer we’ve had. She reviewed Wombat Warriors, the latest book from Samantha Wheeler. Niahm found the book, about a girl who has to move to live with her aunt and becomes passionate about wombats, to be well written, exhilarating and fascinating. She was particularly impressed by the lead character:

“Somehow, Sam has managed to include art and drawing in this novel – I love that because not a lot of books I’ve read have a character who is so passionate about art like I am, and I like that in this book, art is used to solve a problem.”

Marie made me want to join her reading time with her 11 year old son with her review of the MapMaker Chronicles, particularly the fourth one, Beyond the Edge of the Map. This series (which is apparently great for Book Week costumes!) follows a boy-hero who has been entrusted to map the world:

“So well-written is this book that it was easy to engage in short, subtle, side discussions with my son about the author’s techniques in building tension, raising stakes and blending in backstory (the prior three novels were woven in seamlessly). And again, the vocabulary is fantastic”

secret aurelie abelaA couple of our reviewers explored children’s books as audio books. Louise from A Strong Belief in Wicker listened to The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen by Deborah Abela while Amy from Lost in a Good Book listened to The Shadow Thief and The Lampo Circus, both by Alexandra Adornetto. Amy was particularly taken with the use of language in the two books:

“She uses big, wonderful, words that are so eloquent, and ones that give the story such a wonderful tone. It suits the strange surreal, British nature of this book (despite Adornetto being Australian) that is absurd and outlandish, that of course there will be beautiful and clever words in it as well.”

I’d also recommend going to check out

And, I missed it while I was on holiday, but don’t forget to check out short list for The Readings Children’s Book Prize shortlist 2017

Young Adult

where streets name abdel fattahGlaiza reviewed Randa Abdel-Fattah’s Where the Streets Had a Name, a story focused on 2 teenagers living in the West Bank who journey into Jerusalem. Glaiza found it to be a beautifully told and nuanced book which looked at family and relationships:

“Hayaat is a relatable heroine with an independent spirit. Her best friend Samy brings a playful dynamic to the story. Even though Hayaat embarks on a reckless quest, she has a friend by her side for the lighter moments.”

Nadia looked at Night Swimming, the third book from Steph Bowe, which mixes a rural setting, a pet goat, crop circles and being a teenager:

Night Swimming is an example of all that is best of YA Fiction. It celebrates diversity in an authentic way, and explores complex issues such as sexuality, mental health, family dynamics, friendship, and rural life.”

Rochelle read This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton, a book about music, authenticity, working in the music industry and being suddenly famous:

“I just loved everything about this book. Amelie, Max and the music. They both belonged to worlds outside of the realm of the norm, but they were so normal and so real and so human, you couldn’t help but fall in love with them.”

Ashleigh read The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarskyblue cat Dubosarsky, a historical fiction novel set in Sydney in 1942 looking at the way children see war:

The Blue Cat combines history with a sense of dreaming, placing the characters in a world where sometimes their imaginations help to get them through the day, but at the same time, the reality of war will always be there.”

Isobel reviewed Cassandra by Kathryn Gossow which is an intriguing mix of rural Queensland and prediction and prophesy.

“Cassandra is laced with evocative descriptions of rural Queensland. Gossow’s characterisations are convincing and her pacing measured . . . Cassandra rises and flows, rises and flows, the reader held in a deep ocean swell. When the end of the novel is sensed on the horizon, this swell breaks into great waves that eventually deposit the reader on the shore of normality, somewhat transformed by the experience.”

It’s always interesting to see how different reviewers review the same books. Emily and Cassandra both looked at Jaclyn Moriarty’s A Tangle of Gold, both producing fascinating glimpses at what worked for them – and didn’t. Cassandra also reviewed the third book in the series The Cracks in the Kingdom.


Finally, the CBCA 2017 Short list was revealed recently – it’s great to see so many wonderful Australian Women Writers on the list – now to read and review as many of them as I can!

About Melina – Despite others hinting that I am supposed to ‘grow up’ at some point, books for young people continue to play a huge part in my reading life. This has served me well – as a teacher, book recommender, parent and resource designer. I’m currently writing novel studies as teaching resources, enjoying the rich world of picture books with my four-year-old and baby, revisiting some of my favourite authors and reviewing books