Round-up of July Kids' and Young Adult Books
Invention is the theme of this month’s round-up, from picture books right through to YA titles.
In The Magnificent Tree, young Bonny takes after Pop in her love of inventions. She looks on with admiration at everything he does but she’s also bursting with her own, simpler ideas. Both inventors are put to the test when they decide that their mission is to attract birds into the garden.
Nick Bland, who gave us firm-favourites like The Wrong Book and The Very Cranky Bear, was born on a farm in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. The son of an artist, he spent his early childhood climbing haystacks and making mischief in his father’s studio. This latest story shows us the difference between adults who work hard to be creative and the innate creativity of a child. It has heart and invention in equal parts.
In 2011 Bland collaborated with Freya Blackwood in the gorgeous The Runaway Hug, but this month Blackwood is teamed with Emma Allen in The Terrible Suitcase. Feelings run high on the first day of school when the star of the story is given a red suitcase to use as a bag instead of the very exciting rocket backpack she wanted. However, with a bit of imagination she invents her way out of a bad mood and soon that hated suitcase becomes a most precious thing.
This beautifully illustrated story is about making new friends as well as making the most of what you’ve been given.
The Queen of Rhyming Picture Books (that’s her official title, trust me), Julia Donaldson, reinvents the damsel-in-distress story in The Singing Mermaid, in which she’s again teamed up with the bright and quirky illustrations of Lydia Monks.
When a mermaid is lured away from her simple life by the ocean to join a circus, she’s not so much rescued as tutored on how to escape (and not by a prince either!). This is a big bright book containing plenty of glitter.
Children of 8 and over who like to do their own artistic inventing will love this new activity book from Laurence Anholt, already known for many picture books including his artists' series such as Camille and the Sunflowers (featuring Van Gogh). Anholt’s Artists Activity Book is a fantastic opportunity for budding young artists to try their hand at imitating the masters - everything from sculpture to portraits and from charcoal to watercolour is covered.
New books in the Middle and YA sections are just as inventive this month.
If, like me, you cannot resist an inventive title you’ll want to check out Deadweather & Sunrise: The Chronicles of Egg by Geoff Rodkey. This is the first in a trilogy for boys and girls from 8-12, full of swashbuckling pirates and a very authentic voice in Egg, the young hero. Fans of the Percy Jackson series may be interested to know what author Rick Riordan thought of Egg’s first adventure: “I ripped through it in one day, which is really fast for me, and if you like adventure novels, I highly recommend you grab a copy.”
For YA fans there are two particularly inventive books to look out for this month. From a Canadian writer of SF and Fantasy comes the unusual world of Above. Author Leah Bobet has created an underworld called Safe, “a secret community of freaks, ghost-whisperers, and disabled outcasts hidden beyond the subways and sewers.”
Our St Kilda Children’s and YA specialist Angela Crocombe recently reviewed Above. She called it a “unique, but highly engaging” story for readers 12 and over; while Emma Donoghue - who knows about convincing world-building herself having written the New York Times bestseller Room - said: “*Above* pulls off that rare trick of being convincing and utterly magical at the same time.”
Ambelin Kwaymullina, an author who comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia and is already known for her picture books such as The Two-Hearted Numbat makes her YA debut this month.
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is her first novel (and also the first book in a series entitled The Tribe), described as “a dystopian story with an Indigenous twist” and set 300 years after the world has ended in environmental cataclysm. Kwaymullina’s world-building also incorporates the Indigenous themes of spiritual wisdom, the importance of our connection to the environment and notions of social inequality - and on top of that are the elements of mystery and romance that make this an exciting new addition to our YA shelves. Take a few moments to read Ambelin Kwaymullina’s inspiring Story Of My Book.
My final July highlight has got to be the thrilling conclusion to the Artemis Fowl series, Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian. Author Eoin Colfer, dubbed “the Irish JK Rowling”, has said that he definitely won’t be writing any more Artemis Fowl for the foreseeable future - so be sure to savour this gripping conclusion.
It’s a great, inventive month for books and the perfect weather for curling up under a blanket with one or two of them, so I’m off to invent myself some more reading time.
Emily Gale is a Children’s & YA Specialist at Readings Carlton, and a Children’s & YA writer the rest of the time. Her other title is ‘Mum’, or more accurately ‘Muuuuuuuuum!’
Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian
Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony
Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code
Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex
Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox
Artemis Fowl and the Opal Deception
Artemis Fowl #2: The Arctic Incident Graphic Novel
Anholt Family Favourites: We Love Bears
The Magical Garden of Claude Monet
Babies Love Books
Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail: A Story of Pablo Picasso
Camille and the Sunflowers
Sophie and the New Baby
Degas and the Little Dancer
Anholt’s Artists Activity Book