Our 2017 Christmas Gift Guide: What to buy your children
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be compiling a host of gift guides to help you with your Christmas shopping.
GIFT IDEAS FOR AGES 0 - 2
In the first year of a baby’s life, you can’t go wrong with a cloth or board book. In A Tiny Little Story: Park and A Tiny Little Story: Zoo, Baby Boo goes on relatable excursions using in basic language and bold illustrations. You can find plenty more suggestions for newborns and babies here.
Mopoke is a bird who loves peace and quiet, but unfortunately he is about to be put through a series of funny and absurd versions of himself. With stylish illustrations and silly wordplay that involves two pokes, slowpokes, mo’ pokes, ‘fropokes and more, toddlers will ask for Mopoke to be read over and over. For ages 1 and up.
Tim Minchin’s delightful song from Matilda: The Musical has been turned into a picture book. When I Grow Up features Minchin’s wistful and humorous words, given new meaning by three young gambolling children who are enjoying the delights of childhood, while fantasising about the freedoms of adulthood. For ages 2 and up.
In The Perfect Thing Lily has a long list of reasons why she can’t go to the park with her grandfather. Unfortunately for her, her grandfather keeps coming up with the ‘perfect thing’ to solve her problems. His suggestions are abstract and wonderful and he turns out to be right about the park after all. For ages 2 and up.
A visit to the bustling fresh food market sees a cute little baby plied with all sorts of treats from adoring vendors in Baby Goes to Market. Busy Mama has no idea at all that this gifting is going on, so she worries about poor Baby’s empty tummy by the end of their shopping trip. Ages 2 and up will love this repetitive and gentle story, with vibrant illustrations, numbers and delectable snacks.
Lucy Cousins is the creator of everyone’s favourite mouse, Maisy, and her bold illustrations paired with exuberant words have won her many young fans. Hooray for Birds is a joyful picture book that features every possible bird you could think of. The birds come appear with plenty of sounds that you can join in on, making this book great fun to read aloud with kids of ages 2 and up.
GIFT IDEAS FOR AGES 3 - 4
A family learn to slow down in the Margaret Wild’s The Sloth who Came to Stay. When Amy brings home a stray sloth, her household gradually learns to appreciate a more considered approach to their daily lives. The retro illustrations are a treat, especially the very handsome and charismatic sloth checking out his hairstyles in the mirror. For ages 3 and up.
Book-loving Franklin the dragon can’t understand why the town is so quiet whenever he strolls the streets. Desperately wanting for company, he finally meets brave fellow bookworm Luna and their firm friendship results in the eponymous Franklin’s Flying Bookshop – a unique airborne mobile library. For ages 4 and up.
Bored with gum leaves for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a young koala goes in search of gastronomic delights in Koalas Eat Gum Leaves. Nothing seems quite right, until he sees an enticing ice cream van. Young readers will love the boggly-eyed koala and learning what happens when he goes overboard with his favourite new food. For ages 2 and up.
A young princess refuses to speak in Neil Gaiman’s unique fairytale, Cinnamon. The king and queen invite citizens to teach her to talk, but in the end it’s the surprising techniques of a fierce tiger that inspire the girl. The illustrations of the south Asian setting are lustrous, and the ending to this modern take on a fairytale is pleasantly unconventional. For ages 4 and up.
Mini Grey’s picture books are always something to look forward to and The Bad Bunnies' Magic Show is no exception. When magician Hypno is unable to perform, his rabbits Abra and Cadabra take over the stage for their own style of mischievous and dastardly magic tricks. Each trick is cleverly revealed with a fold-out page. This is a hilarious, satisfyingly naughty story. For ages 3 and up.
Jump in the ute with your friends and head out to the desert in The Rabbit Hole Golf Course. A group of kids search for bush tucker and pet rabbits in this rhythmic read-out-loud delight. This joyful adventure brings to life the red dirt, plants and animals of the Australian desert. For ages 3 and up.
GIFT IDEAS FOR AGES 5-7
Books in the Super Moopers series are perfect for young readers transitioning from picture to chapter books. Meet four characters from Moopertown, each with their own personal traits and idiosyncrasies to come to terms with: Musical Markus, Nervous Nellie, Dramatic Dom and Giggling Gertie. Kids will love the lively and colourful illustrations of Moopertown, and take heart in these uplifting stories of self-acceptance. For ages 5 and up.
World-famous magician Consentino is captured by an evil king and thrown into a magical dungeon in The Missing Ace, the first book of a new junior fiction series. This funny escape adventure blends action and magic tricks in an engaging illustrated format, and contains magic trick tutorials at the end. For ages 6 and up.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls has been one of the biggest sellers of 2017. This illustrated anthology presents the fascinating life stories of 100 varied and accomplished women. Subjects include Serena Williams, the Brontë sisters, Joan Jett, Queen Elizabeth I, Amna Al Haddad, Jane Goodall, Hillary Clinton, Virginia Woolf and many more. For ages 5 and up.
And if you’re interested in even more stories about incredible women, you can find more recommendations here.
The Ruby Red Shoes books are ideal for animal lovers and readers who like gentle and whimsical tales. Each new story sees Ruby head off on marvellous adventures with her grandmother Babushka. And all of their sweet travel stories are now available in a slipcase collection. The Ruby Red Shoes Story Treasury contains Ruby Red Shoes, Ruby Red Shoes Goes to Paris and Ruby Red Shoes Goes to London. For ages 5 and up.
Learn about space exploration in Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover – a fascinating and informative picture book told from the perspective Curiosity, a robot vehicle that has roamed Mars since 2012. Curiosity explains to the reader all about the development of the rovers, the space program, the equipment and techniques necessary to land the rover on the red planet, and what the Mars environment is like. The book uses a winning combination of scientific rigour and accessible language, illustrated in stark red, blue, purple, pink and black hues that create the Mars setting magnificently. For ages 6 and up.
Read 11 and ½ short-and-sweet stories about housemates Fox and Rabbit, whose main problems in life are finding imaginative new ways to wish each other goodnight, and figuring out how to get to sleep. Good Night Sleep Tight contains playful and quirky stories about a group of country animals are great to read aloud with the whole family, or for newly independent readers. Aged 5 and up.
GIFT IDEAS FOR AGES 8-12
The always-surprising Shaun Micallef has written his first book for kids! Tales from a Tall Forest is a collection of very silly and entertaining fairy tales that will make children and adults laugh together. These illustrated stories are a hilarious mash-up of well-known and lesser-known characters and plots, delivered in true absurd Micallef style. For ages 8 and up.
Large format and beautifully illustrated, every nature-loving kid would adore receiving Nicola Davies' The Variety of Life. This attractive nature book explores a huge range of living things – penguins, mushrooms, beetles and bears are just the beginning – to reveal the fascinating variations of the world, dishing up amazing facts throughout. For ages 8 and up.
Brother and sister Max and Anna visit notorious Transylvania in the spooky The Vampire Knife where they are ill-advisedly left by their father at a creepy inn, under the care of the innkeeper and her daughter, Isabella. When Max is snatched away by a vampire, it’s up to Anna and Isabella to save him. This book has just the right amount of scares for readers aged 8 and up.
Four kids battle for survival after their plane crashes deep in the Amazon jungle in The Explorer, and end up uncovering an eccentric man of mystery and a well-kept secret. Full of realistic details about finding shelter and food, dodging perilous wildlife and forging trust and friendship in perilous circumstances, this story of friendship and battling adversity is full of heart, wit and the antics of an extremely cute baby sloth. For ages 9 and up.
Charlie, Alf and Masa are three best friends living on Thursday Island during World War II. They spend their time playing war games as the fictional RAAF crew, The Fighting Stingrays. When Japanese forces bomb Pearl Harbor though, their games become reality, and they have to act to protect one of their group. The Fighting Stingrays is a thrilling survival and action story, with great themes of loyalty and friendship. For ages 9 and up.
12-year-old Rose Raventhorpe is spurred into action by a string of murdered butlers in Black Cats and Butlers, a lively and gothic mystery novel set in nineteenth century York. Two plucky child sleuths, a secret society of crime-fighting butlers, bodysnatchers and a labyrinth make for a plot with plenty of twists and turns. For ages 9 and up.
A dazzling combination of visual storytelling and text make Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic a great pick for readers who love adventure and imagining other worlds. A Time Collision has resulted in humans, dinosaurs, robots and spaceships all co-existing. Diego and his friends must use what powers they have to stymie the plans of an evil group looking to destroy society. For ages 9 and up.
The first book in a magical new series, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow tells the story of a cursed 11-year-old girl who is whisked off to the enchanting and odd city of Nevermoor to compete for membership of the mysterious Wundrous Society. Funny, magical and truly exciting, gift this book to any kid who has enjoyed Harry Potter. For ages 9 and up.
Lovers of quirky stories and unconventional families will thoroughly enjoy The Girl the Dog and the Writer in Rome. Freja has had an exciting, nature-filled upbringing with her zoologist mum, but now her mum is sick and she’s been sent to live with her mum’s old friend Tobias, a comically-absentminded crime writer. This is a heartwarming and funny story about a brave and idiosyncratic girl forging new friendships and having unexpected adventures. For ages 9 and up.
Learn all about the Norse Gods Odin, Thor, Loki and more in the wonderful Norse Myths. Illustrated boldly, with a cast of characters, a map of the worlds and rollicking retellings of the ancient Prose Edda stories, this is a great keepsake for any myth-obsessed youngster. For ages 10 and up.
Colin Meloy returns with the 1960s crime caper, The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid. 12-year-old American Charlie joins the cosmopolitan Whiz Mob of Marseille, a gang of Robin Hood-style child thieves, only to be drawn into a dangerous international mystery. For ages 10 and up.
Philip Pullman’s first graphic novel, Mystery of the Ghost Ship is a cinematic and fast-paced thriller, with a supernatural twist. Modern-day Serena is sailing with her family when she is flung overboard and rescued by John Blake, a sailor on the Mary Alice , a time-travelling ghost ship. For ages 10 and up.
GIFT IDEAS FOR AGES 13 AND UP
An 11-year-old boy comes to the rescue of six-month-old baby Lyra in the gripping first book of a new Philip Pullman trilogy, La Belle Sauvage. Plucky inn-keeper’s son Malcolm recognises that baby Lyra is sought by sinister forces and whisks her away on a flood-swollen river in his beloved canoe, La Belle Sauvage. Sophisticated readers who like page-turning fantasy and big ideas will flock to this epic beginning. For ages 13 and up.
A talented gene-hacking teenager must race against time to decode the vaccine her late father developed to combat a deadly plague. This Mortal Coil takes place in a futuristic world where gene manipulation is commonplace, evil corporations conspire and hackers fight back. Readers who love techno-thrillers, conspiracies, political espionage and the future possibilities of science will love to receive this. For ages 13 and up.
Sweet and witty romance abounds between two very different Australian teens in The Secret Science of Magic. High-achieving Sophia is cracking under extreme pressure and definitely not in the mood for the strange occurrences that are aggregating around her. Sophia’s classmate Joshua has been smitten with her a very long time, and is using his magic skills in one final, elaborate ploy to gain her attention and heart. For ages 13 and up.
It’s The Breakfast Club but with more murder… A contemporary closed-room killing takes place in detention in the enormously fun One of Us is Lying. The four student suspects take turns to narrate the action and band together, as secrets unravel and the murderer is revealed in a satisfying twist. Smart, intriguing fun for ages 13 and up.
If the teen you know likes Buffy-esque stories full of ghosts, swords, wisecracks and young people striking out on their own, mistakes and all, Gap Year in Ghost Town could be the perfect gift. Anton has deferred his first year of uni to see if he can be happy working in the family’s independent ghosthunting business – but he hasn’t reckoned on the scary breed of aggressive new ghosts hitting the streets of Melbourne, or crack establishment ghosthunter Rani arriving on the scene. For ages 13 and up.
A quiet teen accidentally sparks a grassroots movement when she creates a zine that speaks out about sexism at her high school. Moxie is thought-provoking and highly entertaining, presents realistic young female and male characters, champions DIY culture and activism, and features some great hand-drawn zines on its pages. For ages 13 and up.