Kids books, events & news for May
This month we’re reading picture books for laughs and remembering Australian history. We’re also enjoying two unique and fantastical Australian middle grade adventures, and getting messy at the kitchen table with science experiments.
You can find some of our best teen reads of the month here.
SIX KIDS BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH
Square by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen
Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen fans rejoice. The Triangle dream team is back with Square. Circle is convinced that Square is an artistic genius, but Square is full of well-founded self doubt. Full of pathos and dry humour, Square delighted our reviewer Morgana who writes: ‘Barnett writes a lovely lesson that things aren’t always as bad as they seem and our perception of ourselves isn’t always the same as other people’s.’
You can read Morgana full review review here.
Sorry Day by Coral Vass & Dub Leffler
This moving picture book follows two timelines to explore the ramifications of the Australian government’s treatment of Indigenous Australians. Maggie and her mum listen as Prime Minister Rudd delivers the landmark apology to the Stolen Generations. Scenes of Maggie accidentally letting go of her mum’s hand and becoming lost in the crowd are interspersed with resonant historical scenes of Indigenous children running away from the white men who want to take them away from their families. Our reviewer Dani recommends Sorry Day as ‘a great way to start conversations with kids aged 5+ about our nation’s past’.
You can read Dani’s full review here.
Shine Mountain by Julie Hunt
Ellie’s grandfather reveals a secret magical object on his deathbed – a button-box and musical instrument from the far-off land of Gleam. When the effects of the box are proven to be disastrous, and Ellie’s Oma falls gravely ill, Ellie sets off on a hair-raising and fantastical adventure to return the box to Gleam and save the people and land she loves. Julie Hunt was the winner of our inaugural Readings Children’s Book Prize for the wonderful Song For a Scarlet Runner, and our reviewer Alexa promises that this new ‘magical tale of courage and perseverance is sure to be a hit with ages 8 to 12’.
You can read Alexa’s full review here.
The Orchard Underground by Mat Larkin
Pri Kohli is The Face of the overly-planned town of Dunn’s Orchard, appearing on billboards, TV ads and at events lauding the benefits of its manicured and controlled lifestyle. When mysterious and precociously confident newcomer, Attica Stone, arrives in town and starts asking all sorts of questions, Pri is reluctantly dragged into a weird and wonderful exploration of the outer edges of town, the secrets of its despotic mayor, and the thefts of all the town’s doors and lamps. Our reviewer Angela says: ‘Peopled with quirky characters and featuring some fascinating inventions, this Australian debut is a funny, mysterious adventure story that will be enjoyed by readers aged 9+.’
You can read Angela’s full review here.
Under the Canopy by Iris Volant
A wide variety of amazing trees are uncovered through a very unique lens in Under the Canopy, which shares facts about food and shelter, as well as the countless myths and legends that have sprung up around our favourite trees. Coupled with jaw-dropping design, hand-lettering and gorgeous illustrations, you’ll pore over elms, olive trees, cherry trees, baobabs and more. Our reviewer Athina advocates the family reading this together, saying: ‘Through these many stories we find that trees have become symbols of knowledge and wisdom, the spirit of freedom, hope and resilience.’
You can read Athina’s full review here.
Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder by Alom Shaha
Get hold of this colourful and truly unique science book, and watch the experiments unfold in your kitchen. This highly illustrated tome uses words and pictures to create clear steps and explanations for 15 experiments, thanks to an author who is a parent, science writer, teacher and filmmaker. Scientific method, theory and invention are laid out in an engaging and inviting way. Make your wine glasses sing, watch a fizz rocket fly, power a car with a balloon (!) and more, using objects and ingredients easily found at home. Readers are encouraged to reflect, question and explore further, leading to a very fun, independent and curious learning experience. For ages 8 and up.
RECENT NEWS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Jo Sandhu was revealed as the winner of the 2018 Readings Children’s Book Prize for Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile, the first book in an epic prehistoric adventure. Congratulations Jo! You can read the judge’s glowing report here, and you can even buy the complete trilogy in a specially priced pack.
If you have beginner readers in your household, and love to provide homegrown books, we’ve compiled some of the best Aussie books for beginner readers, with a broad range of recommendations from funny, to sporty, to sci fi. We also highlighted some great stories that have characters living with a disability – including the sweet graphic memoir El Deafo, and verse/prose hybrid Forget Me Not. You can find even more recommendations here.
This past month, we also interviewed emerging children’s book illustrator Sophie Beer about her creative process, love of picture books and favourite illustrators. Her latest book, Love Makes a Family, is a cheerful rainbow explosion of family time and it’s in-store now.
Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday 13 May. We’ve shared some great books for mothers and daughters to read together, including picks for ages 8 through to adults children. A picture book biography can also be beautiful for reading together, and a lovely way to learn about history and amazing people. We’ve put together a list of our favourite visual biographies for kids, including gems like Hidden Figures, Radiant Child and The Girl Who Ran.
UPCOMING EVENTS FOR THE KIDS
Come by Readings Kids at 2pm on Saturday 12 May and joins us for the launch of Mat Larkin’s explosive, suspenseful and utterly brilliant middle-grade mystery, The Orchard Underground. This event is free and there’s no need to book.
Also at Readings Kids, we’ll be celebrating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at 6pm on Thursday 17 May. Jess Bram, the curator of ACMI’s new exhibition Wonderland, and Dan Koerner, the designer of the digital experience Lost Map of Wonderland, will be joined in conversation by comic book artist Bernard Caleo. This event is free but bookings are necessary. Find out more and book your spot here.
Bab Sharkey and the Animal Mummies: The Weird Beard is the first book from Australian comedian Andrew Hansen and it was co-written with his wife, designer Jessica Roberts. Bring the kids by Readings Kids at 10.30am on Saturday 26 May for a special story time. This free event is suitable for all primary-school aged kids, and there’s no need to book.
And, plan ahead for one of the kids book events of the year. On Tuesday 10 July we will host the utterly madcap launch of The 104-Storey Treehouse with Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Andy and Terry promise to deliver one hour of complete and total madness at this book’s launch. Entry is $28 per person. Each ticket includes the event and a signed first edition of The 104-Storey Treehouse, which will be given out at the event. Find out more here.