Best Kids' and Young Adult books of 2010

Our children’s and young adult book specialists have gotten together and worked out Readings' best books of 2010 for kids and young adults, including the best picture books, junior fiction, middle fiction, non-fiction and young adult fiction.

Best Picture Books of 2010


Jeannie Baker

These collages tell the everyday stories of two Australian families living vastly different lifestyles. Our reviewer said, ‘A new Jeannie Baker is cause for excitement, and her stunning latest shows an artist and storyteller at her masterful best … the cultural respect and humanity in this book make it shine.’

seasons Seasons

Our reviewer said, ‘Everything about Seasons is enticing. It’s a gorgeously presented book with thick art-paper pages, rich colour and superb illustrations. One for artists, book designers and oh yeah, I forgot, children!’

im-the-best I’m the Best
Lucy Cousins

A boastful Dog gets his comeuppance from his friends in this characteristically charming and picture book from Lucy Cousins. Our reviewer said, ‘With bold lines and vivid colours, the creator of Maisy shows how everyone has strengths and weaknesses.’

all-through-the-year All Through the Year
Jane Godwin & Anna Walker

A heart-warming journey through an Australian year, showing one family celebrating our months, seasons and holidays. Our reviewer said, ‘The delights of each month are depicted with evocative, lilting verse; this is a nurturing, sparkling world that children can explore and will happily identify with and be inspired by.’

a-bit-lost A Bit Lost
Chris Haughton

With heart-melting illustrations, this is a timeless story of separation and reunion. While Little Owl is sleeping, he rolls out of his nest and lands with a bump. His new friend Squirrel helps him look for his mummy, and they meet other animals on their journey.

up-and-down Up and Down
Oliver Jeffers

A heart-warming story about friendship and attempting the impossible. A penguin runs away in a huff after his best friend tells him his dream of flying is impossible. He manages to fly, but misses his friend – and wonders if he misses him, too.

yumi Yumi
Annelore Parot

Quirky, cute and original, these gorgeous little books follow the adventures of kimono-wearing Japanese girl Yumi, the youngest of the Kokeshi – a family of traditional Japanese dolls.

there-are-no-cats-in-this-b There Are no Cats in This Book
Viviane Schwartz

Tiny, Moonpie and André are back – and off an adventure that will need the help of the reader – in this fun, charming sequel to There Are Cats in This Book. Includes amazing pop-up features that will delight children.

leo Leo the Littlest Seahorse
Margaret Wild & Terry Denton

This impressive author-illustrator team tell the story of the littlest of 101 baby seahorses. Leo’s always a bit behind on fluttering his fins and other seahorse skills, but when a hungry groper approaches, Leo proves that he, too, is capable of big things.

april-underhill April Underhill Tooth Fairy
Bob Graham

It’s fairy April and her sister Esme’s first delivery, and their parents are worried they’re not up to it. Our reviewer said, ‘Such adventure, such heart-stopping tension, and such parental pride when the mission is accomplished. A book to share again and again.’

Best Junior Fiction Books of 2010

little-else Little Else series
Julie Hunt & Beth Norling

Our reviewer said, ‘Little Else is a Pippi Longstocking of the Australian bush. Seven years old, feisty and brave-hearted, she defies injustice and creates adventure.’ She joins the circus as a stunt rider and horse whisperer, forms her own gang of bushrangers, and searches for mythical treasure.

mr-badger Mr Badger and the Missing Ape and Mr Badger and the Big Surprise
Leigh Hobbs

Mr Badger, special events manager of London’s Grand Boubles Hotel, is a new creation from the fabulous Leigh Hobbs, creator of Old Tom. In these enticing books, Mr Badger solves the mystery of the missing ape and prepares for an eventful seventh birthday party.

violet Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot
Anna Branford

Violet Mackerel thinks she would QUITE LIKE to own the blue china bird at the Saturday markets. This is not just a SILLY WISH. It is instead the start of a VERY IMPORTANT idea. But what she needs is a PLOT. A BRILLIANT plot.

astroblast Astroblast Code Blue
Bob Kolar

Our reviewer said, ‘A brilliant early reader with nifty rhyming text and fun activities that sneakily involve simple literacy and numeracy, as well as shape matching and the always fun maze puzzle … children will love Radar and his space mates’ world.’

lulu Lulu and the Brontosaurus
Judith Viorst & Lane Smith

Lulu wants a pet brontosaurus for her birthday, but her parents say it’s not possible. So she takes matters into her hands … and finds a brontosaurus who agrees that having a pet is a great idea. The problem? He wants Lulu to be his pet.

Best Middle Fiction of 2010

three_loves_of_persimmon The Three Loves of Persimmon
Cassandra Golds

Our reviewer said, ‘Quite literally enchanting. I read it almost holding my breath as an ordinary, grubby railway station and neighbouring park in a big city seemed to shimmer with light and meaning.’

when_you_reach_me When You Reach Me
Rebecca Stead

This Newbery Medal winning novel is set in 1970s New York. When Miranda receives a strange note in a library book, tragedy seems to loom … Our reviewer said, ‘Rebecca Stead manages to be nostalgic and fresh all at once … the final few pages are world-shatteringly good.’

red_pyramid The Red Pyramid: The Kane Chronicles Book One
Rick Riordan

Our reviewer said, ‘Riordan wrote the Percy Jackson series, which is one of the funniest, most thrilling series I have ever read. The Kane Chronicles veer off into the world of Egyptian mythology and start with a certain character accidentally blowing up the British Museum. Wowser.’

grimsdon Grimsdon
Deborah Abela

Grimsdon is in ruins. Three years ago a massive wave broke its barriers and the sea flooded this grand city. Isabella Charm and friends have clung on, living together in an opulent castle, but a thrill-seeking newcomer, prowling bounty hunters and other threats loom large.

keepers The Keepers: Museum of Thieves
Lian Tanner

Street urchin Goldie Roth discovers the mysterious Museum of Dunt, a strange, secretive place that requires the only the most courageous of thieves to stop its powers being used for all kinds of evil. Part thrilling adventure, part fantasy and part mystery.

mortal_coil Mortal Coil: Skulduggery Pleasant Book Five
Derek Landy

A ripping dark adventure series with gothic overtones. Skulduggery has been reunited with his head, but his troubles are far from over. There’s a conspiracy brewing between foreign powers, the Midnight Hotel remnants have escaped, and Valkyrie is off on her own quest.

red_wind The Red Wind: The Kingdom of the Lost Book One
Isabelle Carmody

Two brothers are threatened by an unnatural storm. Our reviewer said, ‘Carmody relentlessly builds the sense of foreboding with her wonderful storytelling, and – as in the Little Fur series –with her ethereal illustrations. This lovely little hardback is a perfect gift for children eight and up.’

halo Halo
Zizou Corder

Washed ashore as a baby in ancient Greece, Halo is discovered by a family of centaurs. Although her true identity remains a mystery, she is loved as one of their own. But when Halo is dragged away by fishermen, her wild adventure begins.

very_bad_book The Very Bad Book
Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton

The irrepressible Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton have been longtime collaborators – but they delighted kids and shocked the odd parent with the controversial smash-hit The Bad Book. This follow-up is just as deliciously bad – so bad it’s very, very good indeed.

midnight_zoo The Midnight Zoo
Sonya Hartnett

Two young Romany gypsy brothers, escaping war, find themselves in a zoo, at night, amid a war-ravaged village. The starving, woebegone animals tell the story of what has happened. Our reviewer said, ‘As always, Hartnett’s prose weaves its magical, poignant spell.’

Best Young Adult Books of 2010

six_impossible_things Six Impossible Things
Fiona Wood

Fourteen-year-old Dan’s life is a mess, but he’s concentrating on six impossible things, including new school hell and a crush on the girl next door. Our reviewer said, ‘One of the stand-out young adult novels of this year … I didn’t want it to end.’

monsters_of_men Monsters of Men
Patrick Ness

Our reviewer said, ‘Following on from the events in The Ask and the Answer, Monsters is a gripping read that sees Todd and Viola forced into a war they never wanted … Ness never flinches away from how horrific war is, and how frustratingly slow progress can be.’

mockingjay Mockingjay: The Hunger Games Book Three
Suzanne Collins

This gripping adventure series about a deadly reality game show has been a word-of-mouth bestseller – and this final instalment doesn’t disappoint. Twice, Katniss has been forced to participate in the brutal Hunger Games. Twice, she’s survived against the odds. But the Capitol are looking for revenge.

this_is_shyness This is Shyness
Leanne Hall

Shyness is a suburb where it’s always night. Wildgirl is a visitor from across the border. And the charismatic Wolfboy is her guide for a night they’ll never forget. Our reviewer said, ‘It’s easy to see why This is Shyness won the 2009 Text Prize. In a word, it’s amazing .’

will_grayson Will Grayson, Will Grayson
John Green & David Levithan

This fabulously schizophrenic novel tells the story of two Will Graysons, exploring the dichotomy we all struggle with within ourselves. Our reviewer said, ‘A laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud story about love and connection in all its forms: romantic, platonic, gay, straight and most importantly, musical.’

sky_is_everywhere The Sky is Everywhere
Jandy Nelson

Seventeen-year-old Lennie’s older sister has suddenly died, leaving her with her Gram and pothead uncle Big. Our reviewer said, ‘Lennie narrates in spirited, sprawling, idiosyncratic prose that speaks perfectly of her age and her highly unconventional family life … I can’t recommend this book highly enough.’

white_cat White Cat
Holly Black

Cassell is uncursed – a straight kid in a crooked family of magicians and mobsters. Our reviewer said, ‘Nothing is as it seems in White Cat. Black edges towards perfection with this uncanny tale that’s part Harry Potter, part Sopranos. Full of a slimy, creeping kind of magic.’

lips_touch Lips Touch Three Times
Laini Taylor

Our reviewer said, ‘One of those books that turns people who don’t like short stories into believers. This gorgeous book contains three short stories complete with goblins, a curse and lifelong secrets, and all revolving around a kiss.’

ash Ash
Malinda Lo

Our reviewer said, ‘Malinda Lo has taken the familiar tale of Cinderella and retold it with the weight of its original intention as a cautionary tale and the added evocation of the grief of a young girl who loses her family and way of life.’

pipers_son The Piper’s Son
Melina Marchetta

Saving Francesca’s Tom Mackee has been damaged by the past five years, and wants to leave the friends and family who tie him to grief. Our reviewer said, ‘There is darkness in this book: the darkness of real life, real pain. But there is warmth and light too.’

Best Novelty & Non-Fiction Books of 2010

in_the_garden In the Garden: Life for Beginners
DVD & flashcards boxed set

Our reviewer said, ‘A rare and lovely thing. A DVD that encourages children to turn off the box and go out and explore their own backyard! Set to music and animal sounds – almost no words are used, but the graphics tell it all.’

and_picasso And Picasso Painted Guernica
Alain Serres

A fascinating account of Picasso’s life and career, with a particular focus on the painting of Guernica, Picasso’s response to the bombing of the Basque town during the Spanish Civil War. Our reviewer said, ‘Sensitive, detailed, and beautiful to look at.’

greek Greek Myths
Ann Turnbull & Sarah Young

The Bookseller said, ‘This beautiful and lavish collection is a wonderful introduction to Greek mythology. Turnbull retells the carefully selected stories in a clear and simple style. The myths range from the gentle to those featuring battles and monsters.’

i_love_ollie I Love Ollie Activity Book
Anna Walker

Ollie is a gorgeous, lively zebra who loves to make and do. In this book, award-winning author and illustrator Anna Walker has created wonderful activities for children aged three and up, from colouring-in to craft.

movie_maker Movie Maker
Tim Grabham & Gary Parsons

This dynamic little kit contains all any aspiring film director might want (well, apart from the camera). There’s a director’s handbook with shooting techniques, special effects and storyboard book, a sound effects CD, stickers and press-outs. A terrific way to encourage creativity.

Check out all our kids and young adult books and our suggested reads for boys and girls of different age groups too.