Kids and YA July Round-up

As the start of a new school term draws near, our kids and YA books selection is full of last-minute rabble-rousers and rebels!


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Recent law graduate Skye Melki-Wegner decided to meld her love of fantasy with the Human Rights element of her degree to create Chasing the Valley, the first story in a trilogy, which follows the trials of a group of teenage refugees fleeing a fictional homeland where magic is used as a tyrannical weapon. You can read my review here .

In the UK, American writer Maureen Johnson was voted Queen of Teen for 2012, with one of the results being that newbies Hot Key Books acquired Maureen’s first novel (that’s 9 novels ago!), The Key To The Golden Firebird, which hadn’t been published there before.

Here it is in its new jacket.


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Maureen Johnson is a prime example of authors using Twitter very well indeed - find her at @maureenjohnson. If sales of fellow American John Green’s backlist are anything to go by, since they were bolstered by his most recent novel, The Fault In Our Stars, this could be a great opportunity for new fans to get to know Maureen Johnson’s comedic, smart backlist.

For slightly younger readers, 9 and up, our book of the month is The Extincts. Sworn enemies George and Prudence are thrown into the deep end when they both get a job at Wormestall Farm, which is populated by some highly unusual creatures. Great fun and plenty of action.

It’s good to see that old-fashioned stories are not extinct in Australian author Katrina Nannestad’s new book, The Girl Who Brought Mischief, about a spirited girl who brings a sleepy island back to life. My children will be rolling their eyes as I tell you that this book made me shed one or two tears, but there is as much upbeat and slapstick humour in the story as tenderness. As I say in my review, think Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables.

Re-imagining popular stories can be hit-and-miss but in Mo Willems' hands, Goldilocks gets a brilliant revamp when instead of bears she gets involved with dinosaurs in, you’ve guessed it, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.


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You’ll know Mo Willems from his previous picture books including Knuffle Bunny, or his Elephant and Piggie series. And if you don’t know those, please rectify this sad situation immediately. His simple comedy is perfectly pitched.

Finally, as if one genius picture book creator were not enough, Oliver Jeffers has a new offering - The Day The Crayons Quit - this time illustrated by him but written by newcomer to children’s books Drew Daywalt. Daywalt is in fact a filmmaker who specialises in Horror but there’s nothing horrifying in his story about rebellious crayons. Our reviewer Alexa Dretzke called it “imaginative and hilarious”. Read the rest of her review here.

Enjoy the rest of the school holidays, everyone.


Emily Gale is a Children’s & YA Specialist at Readings Carlton, and a Children’s & YA writer the rest of the time.