Our 2018 Christmas Gift Guide: What to buy for hard-to-buy-for children
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be compiling a host of gift guides to help you with your Christmas shopping. Here is a list of suggestions for the tricky young people in your life.
THEY DON’T LIKE READING
- Hilda and the Hidden People – Based on the Hilda series of graphic novels and backed up by the new Netflix series, this novelisation sees Hilda encounter trolls and elves, and fight against a move to the city. For ages 7 and up.
- Girltopia – When a mysterious virus sends all the men and boys to sleep, Clara embarks on a forbidden rescue mission/road trip with her friends. For ages 8 and up.
- Frankie Fish and the Viking Fiasco – In this comical, breakneck adventure, Frankie and Drew accidentally travel back into the present with some angry Vikings in tow. For ages 8 and up.
- The Relic of the Blue Dragon – Dragons, ancient vases, kung fu and crime syndicates come to life in this readable fantasy set in modern day Melbourne. For ages 9 and up.
- Zeroes and Ones – Learn all about the creators of today’s computing and digital technology in this enormously engaging history full of interesting facts and anecdotes. For ages 9 and up.
- Be Prepared – Nine-year-old Vera has a tough time fitting in at Russian Orthodox summer camp in this gorgeously illustrated graphic novel full of funny, embarrassing and touching moments. For ages 9 and up.
- Brontide – Formatted in a readable interview style, this coming-of-age story weaves the perspectives of four very different teenage boys living on the Sunshine Coast.
- Am I Doing This Right? – Popular YouTuber and radio/TV presenter Tanya Hennessy has written a super-funny, refreshingly honest A - Z guide to almost being an adult.
- All of This Is True – In this snappy novel told via internet articles, emails and interview transcripts, a group of friends infatuated with cult author Fatima Ro find themselves allowed entry into her inner circle, with disturbing results.
- Lifel1k3 – Scavenger Evie and her best friend Lemon Fresh find an outlawed ‘Lifelike’ android called Ezekiel, setting Evie on a path to discover disturbing truths about her own past.
If they’re the arty, creative sort, you might want to sling one of these their way…
- Street Fonts: Graffiti Alphabets from Around the World
- Warhol A to Z: The Life of an Icon from Adman to Zeitgeist, Desperately Seeking Banksy
- The Short Story of Photography
- This is Not Fashion: Streetwear Past, Present and Future
Screen adaptations of books always have a big impact on teens, often convincing reluctant readers to give them a go. Recent popular adaptations have seen these following titles fly off the shelves…
- Love, Simon (originally titled Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda)
- The Hate U Give
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
- Ready Player One
Another area of keen interest for teens in recent years is poetry – likely sparked by the popularity of contemporary Instapoets. If you’ve got a young poetry-lover on your hands, you can view our collection of Instapoetry here.
THEY’VE READ LITERALLY EVERYTHING
Here are some fantastic but lesser-known kids titles that have impressed us enormously this year…
- If I Was Prime Minister – This colourful picture book asks Aussie kids from all walks of life what they’d do if they led our country, leading to an exploration of ideas from the whimsical to serious. For ages 3 and up.
- Bad Nana – Bad Nana dresses with a punk rock edge, has an attitude to match and loves pranks. A cheeky and bright chapter book for ages 6 and up.
- The Orchard Underground – Two kids explore the outer regions of their picture-perfect town, Dunn’s Orchard, and discover a wild and whimsical world of despotic mayors, stolen lamps and doors, and subterranean secrets. For ages 8 and up.
- Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers – Eleven-year-old Tilly discovers an amazing new ability to travel into the world of her favourite books and meet famous characters from children’s literature. For ages 9 and up.
- Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt – Ottilie poses as a boy to rescue her younger brother Gully, and instead winds up training to fight a range of fearsome monsters as part of the mysterious Narroway Hunt. For ages 9 and up.
- His Name Was Walter – This fresh new novel from beloved Australian author Emily Rodda is a story within a story; a school excursion and the discovery of a strange book turns into a fantastical mystery blending folk tale and history. For ages 9 and up.
Another surefire gift-giving tactic is to get keen readers the latest hot-off-the-press book in a bestselling series. Here are some recent favourites…
- Camping Time! (Hotdog! Book 5)
- Lord of the Fleas (The Adventures of Dog Man Book 5)
- The Bad Guys Episode 8: Superbad (The Bad Guys Book 8)
- The Bolds in Trouble (The Bolds Book 4)
- The Meltdown (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 13)
- Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor Book 2)
- Wakestone Hall (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue Book 3)
- Death in the Spotlight (A Murder Most Unladylike Book 7)
- 9 From the Nine Worlds (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard)
You might also be interested to browse our collection of kids and YA box-sets. Or if they’re a big Harry Potter fan, we have a wide range of titles on offer. Find some of our best suggestions here and here.
Here are some certified high-quality YA fiction that we think haven’t seen enough love yet…
- A Winter’s Promise – Quiet and unassuming Ophelia, reader of objects, is betrothed against her will and enters a world of secret identities and political intrigue in the distant floating city of Citaceleste.
- Meet Me at the Intersection – A stellar anthology of stories from writers who are First Nations, People of Colour, LGBTIQA+ or living with disability, covering memoir, poetry, historical fiction, speculative fiction, even an ode to Harry Potter!
- Shadow of the Fox – Enter the magical world of an alternate Japan, and follow half-kitsune, half-girl Yumeko and lethal shadow warrior Tatsumi as they search for fragments of a powerful scroll, while dark forces gather around them.
- And The Ocean Was Our Sky – The inimitable Patrick Ness takes on the perspective of the whale Bathsheba as her pod trails fabled whale hunter Toby Wick in this surreal and lyrical illustrated story with themes of war, ethics and violence.
- Hive - One water drop captures the attention of Hayley, a young beekeeper living in the structured and insular world of the Hive, setting off a chain of events that make her question everything she’s ever been taught.
- Catching Teller Crow – Police detective Michael Teller and his ghostly daughter Beth investigate a fatal fire in a small town of Australia, leading them to the wild, verse-filled account of witness Isobel Catching.
THEY ARE SUPER-SPORTY
- The Mix-up (soccer, for ages 6 and up)
- Patty Takes Charge! (basketball, for ages 6 and up)
- Speccy-tacular AFL Stories (AFL, ages 8 and up)
- Grace on the Court (netball, ages 9 and up)
- Sidetracked (running, for ages 9 and up)
- Big Bash Superstars (cricket, ages 9 and up)
- Women In Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win (all sports, for ages 9 and up)
- Sportopedia (all sports, ages 9 and up)
- Shoe Dog (written by the founder of Nike, ages 10 and up)
- Rebound (basketball)
- Just Breathe (running)
- Footy Dreaming (AFL)
- Roar (AFL Women’s League)
- Girl On Pointe (dance)
THEY ARE INTO FACTS & REAL-LIFE STORIES
- The Upside Down History of Down Under – Get stuck into this comprehensive and lively history of Australia from prehistoric Gondwana to Federation, packed with funny, tragic and heroic stories and illustrations from Terry Denton. For ages 8 and up.
- Rivers – A sumptuous journey along some of the world’s most famous rivers, with sweet and funny illustrations, and oodles of interesting and odd facts about nature, culture, historical events and notable people. For ages 6 and up.
- Planetarium – Produced by London’s Science Museum, this is a stunningly illustrated large-format guide to the planets, comets, meteors, exoplanets, black holes, the Big Bang, constellations and more, presented in a series of galleries for budding astronomers to wander. For ages 7 and up.
- The Short and Curly Guide to Life – Based on the popular ABC podcast, this great book on ethics walks young readers through curly situations, covering topics such as fairness, bullying, bravery, friendship and choice. For ages 8 and up.
- Robotpedia – A highly visual guide to everything you need to know (scientifically and culturally) about robots, from ancient Greek inventions through to the most recent breakthroughs, and even some predictions about the future. For ages 8 and up.
There has also been a wonderful range of picture book biographies released this year, including the very popular Little People, Big Dreams series.
- Nganga – This simple and elegant dictionary contains a wide variety of words used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, touching on history, culture, politics and more.
- Unmasked – This young adult edition of Turia Pitt’s autobiography takes teens through her life before and after the fire that changed her life, describing the places, friends and family that have supported her, and detailing her continued determination to push her physical limits and raise money for charity.
- Woo’s Wonderful World of Maths – Well-known maths teacher and internet celebrity Eddie Woo has written an engaging book about the place of maths and patterns in everyday life, using things like teacups, lightning, conspiracy theories, card tricks and more to illustrate.
- How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation – This rousing anthology collects interviews, essays, reflections illustrations and poems by 30 notable people about the ways in which they have fought injustice in their lives.
- Before I Had the Words – Prominent YouTuber Skylar Kergil has openly documented his gender transition online, and continues that candour with this memoir that explores his early childhood and behind the scenes.
- I Am Sasha – This gripping memoir, based on the wartime experiences of the author’s father, details a Jewish mother’s successful plan to disguise her son as a girl in German-occupied Poland.
THEY ARE QUIRKY
- Upside Down Sid – Poor Sid is an upside-down kind of guy in a right-side-up kind of world, but luckily he finds the kind of friends that show him it’s OK to be different. For ages 3 and up.
- The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty – Do you know Murray from Flight of the Conchords? He’s written a children’s book and I think that’s all I need to say. For ages 7 and up.
- The Restless Girls – A thoughtful feminist retelling of the Brothers Grimm tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, in a beautiful illustrated hardcover edition. For ages 8 and up.
- Inkling – A magical ink blot, Inkling, comes to life and transforms the Rylance family, in this unique story about grief, friendship and ethical decisions. For ages 8 and up.
- Famous Family Trees – Pore over twenty-five extensive illustrated family trees, branching from renowned historical figures such as Cleopatra, Genghis Khan, Charlotte Bronte and more. For ages 8 and up.
- The Book of Trees – Explore everything about trees – natural history, mythology, symbolism, practical uses – in this large-format, illustrated book that will captivate curious minds. For ages 8 and up.
- Limelight – Young Australian champion slam poet Solli Raphael has written a very inspiring and readable guide to writing and performing your own poetry, with some of his own poems included.
- Tales from the Inner City – This masterful series of short stories accompanied by dreamlike oil paintings examines the relationship between humans and animals, as seen through Shaun Tan’s surreal lens.
- Honor Girl and Lost Soul, Be At Peace – In both these books, graphic memoirist Maggie Thrash displays a real knack for capturing those transitional or difficult moment of the teenage years, with dry humour, pathos, and, in Lost Soul, Be At Peace, a touch of otherworldiness as well.
- Big Bones - Tasked with writing a dreary food diary, Bluebelle instead pens an account that celebrates food and espouses body positivity in this funny, touching novel that captures perfectly the pressures modern teens face.
- To Kill a Mockingbird (graphic novel) – Artist Fred Fordham has captured the spirit of Harper Lee’s seminal novel and the atmosphere of 1930s Alabama in this sensitive graphic novel adaptation.
THEY ARE LEARNING TO READ
- Lemonade Jones – Curious, adventurous, boundary-pushing Lemonade Jones has relatable scuffles and escapades in this warm new junior fiction series from accomplished Australian author Davina Bell.
- Real Pigeons Fight Crime – Follow a team of crime-fighting park pigeons in this action-packed, funny and highly-illustrated series of short mysteries.
- Molly the Pig – Take the pressure off and experience the playfulness of language with this cute picture book story about a beloved pig, told in Kriol and English.
- The First Adventures of Princess Peony – Princess Peony is smart, bossy, opinionated and has a great sense of imagination, which all comes in handy when dealing with trolls, dragons and bears.
- The Big Book of Billie Volume #1 and Jack’s Super Stories – Two of Sally Rippin’s enormously popular series for beginning readers, featuring Billie B Brown and Jack, are now available in bind-up editions, meaning you get more stories in the one book.
THEY ARE TWEENS
- Wraith - I defy anyone not to enjoy this homegrown superhero adventure, that has flying, gadgets, dastardly baddies, a hidden city in the clouds and an Aboriginal Australian hero.
- Lenny’s Book of Everything – Cry, laugh and laugh-cry through this heartwarming novel about two siblings in the 1970s who explore the possibilities of the world through an instalment-by-instalment encyclopedia.
- Black Cockatoo – This tender illustrated novel about a young girl nursing a black cockatoo back to health touches on themes of family, responsibility, culture, and tradition.
- A Song Only I Can Hear – Rob is a thirteen-year-old on a double-mission: to catch the eye of Destry Camberwick, and to become a braver, more authentic version of himself.
- Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghosthunter – This immersive graphic novel sees two adventurous tourists travel to a seaside town in Japan, hoping to capture evidence of ghosts and spirits.
THEY’RE TOO OLD FOR THIS
- Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia – An illuminating and wide-ranging anthology of stories and experiences from Aboriginal Australians, containing powerful and honest coming-of-age accounts.
- No Country Woman – A smart and personal collection of essays by young Australian writer Zoya Patel that focusses on her teenage years and young adulthood, immigration, identity, race and feminism.
- Prize Fighter – A powerful debut novel about a young man fleeing war-torn Congo for Australia, where he returns to boxing as a way to cope with the loss of his brother and the trauma he has experienced.
- Challenge Accepted! – Instagram-savvy teens will already know Celeste Barber for her hilarious, celebrity-parodying photos, and now they can read her comic memoir that contains some pretty sound life advice.
- Bridge of Clay – A far-reaching family saga focussing on the five wild and troubled Dunbar brothers, from acclaimed Australian author Markus Zusak of The Book Thief fame.
WHO ARE THEY EVEN?
- Under the Southern Cross – Journey around Australia at night in this delightful and colourful picture book that depicts Ferris wheels, fireworks, penguins, outdoor cinemas and starlit cricket matches. For ages 3 and up.
- The Ice Monster – Is there a child alive who doesn’t want to receive the brand spanking new David Walliams novel? Probably not. This is an epic Arctic adventure involving a ten-year-old orphan and a 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth. For ages 8 and up.
- Stories for Kids Who Dare to be Different – Here are the extraordinary and inspiring stories of 100 accomplished people – like Andy Warhol, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Hans Christian Andersen, Gertrude Stein and more – in a nice giftable hardcover edition with fantastic illustrations. For ages 8 and up.
- Atlas of Adventures: Wonders of the World – Who doesn’t love poring over an atlas to fuel dreams and curiosity? This illustrated extravaganza takes the reader on a tour of amazing wonders on every continent, covering places like Angkor Wat, Yosemite Valley, Ngorongoro Crater, the Great Wall of China. For ages 8 and up.
- Build the T.Rex and Build the Shark – Combine model-building and fact-learning with these incredible T.Rex and shark models that come with great interactive guides. The resulting models are huge and impressive. For ages 7 and up.
- After the Lights Go Out – Three sisters have to make difficult choices about their, and their small town’s, survival, when all power goes out in a serious global event.
- Mortal Engines – Soon arriving as a film directed by Peter Jackson, Mortal Engines is a wild ride of a novel, taking place in a destroyed world where whole cities are mobile, and roam the planet attempting to subsume each other.
- Impostors – Frey, the secret twin and highly trained body double, of her sister Rafia, must pose as her sister in this absorbing, page-turning thriller set in a believable futuristic world.
- I Am Out With Lanterns – A group of interconnected young people narrate this story that weaves together themes of family connection and dysfunction, bullying, love and crushes, and identity.
- Mercy Point – Five teenagers, friends online but uneasy IRL, take on small town family secrets and conspiracies in this tense Australian thriller.