Recommended kids books, news & events for February
This month in children’s books you can celebrate nature, animals and Country, embark on magical adventures to distant lands and strange cities, figure your feelings out, and learn about Martin Luther King and David Attenborough.
Find our February picks for YA books here.
KIDS BOOK OF THE MONTH
A new picture book from acclaimed author and illustrator Bronwyn Bancroft is always a treat! Coming Home to Country follows the narrator home to Country and explores her connection to the land and her ancestors. The book uses spare and poetic text to great emotional and atmospheric effect, encouraging the reader to be attentive to the beauty and meaning in nature.
Our reviewer Dani loved this picture book, and praised its painterly illustrations as ‘stunning and true representations of Country and its spirit, bright and bold, and delicate and intricate all at once.’ You can read her full review here
Ideal for ages 2 and up.
RECOMMENDED PICTURE BOOKS OUT THIS MONTH
For the younger kids in your life, two board books stand out in February.
Counting Our Country is a bright bilingual Ritharrnu-English counting book from Jill Daniels, a Ritharrnu and Madarrpa artist from South East-Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Babies will be entranced by her bold paintings of animals; toddlers and preschoolers will love counting the animals from 1 to 10 and learning the Ritharrnu animal names. And it might just be the adorable avocado on the cover, but You Complete Me by Thomas Elliott really tickles my fancy. With cute characters and oodles of puns, this peek-through board book takes a playful approach to matching pairs. Both these titles are brilliant for ages 0 and up.
There are some gorgeous picture books out this month. Japanese author-illustrator Shinsuke Yoshitake is a Readings' favourite, for his quirky, funny and philosophical picture books, such as The I Wonder Bookstore, What Happens Next?. For ages 3 and up, Why Do I Feel Like This? follows a child’s hilarious, wildly inventive train of thought as she walks home in a bad mood. Our reviewer Kim said: ‘If you feel like Godzilla and could crush a whole city, or have a crabby little Godzilla in your life, spend some time with this book and you’ll soon be smiling for sure.’ You can read her full review here.
Izzy and Frank by Katrina Lehman and Sophie Beer is a lovely story about the friendship between a girl and a seagull for ages 2 and up. The story tackles moving to a new place, loneliness and making new friends. Our reviewer Alexa says this is a ‘bright and energetic picture book with lovely alliterative language that kids will adore.’ You can read her full review here.
Philip Bunting always delights, when he’s flying solo (How Did I Get Here?), or when he creates with his partner-in-crime, Laura Bunting (Liarbird). His latest solo effort The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants manages to be funny, silly, fascinating and informative, all at once. Young readers of ages 3 and up will lap up everything about ants and their lifestyle, from colonies, to eating habits, to interesting stats and more.
RECOMMENDED JUNIOR FICTION BOOKS OUT THIS MONTH
Two notable new junior fiction series fire their opening salvos this month.
Tania McCartney is already well-known for her sumptuous illustrated non-fiction (Fauna), but her brand-new Evie and Pog books sees her move in a new direction. In this series for ages 7 and up, she follows the zany mishaps of best friends Evie (a girl) and Pog (a pug) who live in a treehouse. Our reviewer Athina greatly enjoyed the first book Take Off! saying that ‘an abundance of slapstick humour is sure to engage children and keep them reading while laughing out loud.’ You can read her full review here. And book two, Puppy Playtime!, is also out now.
Aussie Kids is a new chapter book series for ages 6 and up. Exploring diverse experiences in the lives of children all around Australia, this series has a planned eight characters, eight stories, eight authors and illustrators from all eight states and territories. Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo by Belinda Murrell and David Hardy is a delightful depiction of a day in the life of best friends Zac and Zoe who live at the zoo and spend a whole day helping Zoe’s mum with feeding lions, giraffes and meerkats. Our reviewer Angela rates this story highly: ‘Engaging characters and story, simple vocabulary, short chapters and large print with lively colour illustrations will have junior readers hungry for more.’ You can read her full review here.
RECOMMENDED MIDDLE FICTION BOOKS OUT THIS MONTH
Two of our favourite new releases this month are for good readers of ages 10 and up.
Sara Pennypacker’s Pax is a book that many Readings booksellers like to recommend, so it’s wonderful that her new offering, Here in the Real World, is finally out. When his parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, introverted and withdrawn Ware must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities so-called ‘normal’ kids do. Escape comes in the form of a nearby abandoned church and a new friend in gutsy and spirited Jolene. Our reviewer Natalie recommends this sensitive and intuitive book, saying ‘Ware’s story is about personal transformation, knowing who you are and finding value in difference.’ You can read her full review here.
Tiger Heart by Penny Chrimes is a magical tale of a bold young chimney sweep and a remarkable tiger, a dangerously hypnotic ruby and a mystical land found across an ocean and through a storm. Street smart Fly is a ‘gutterling’ in London when she encounters a tiger who informs her that she is, in fact, royalty. Fly vows to set the tiger free and the two embark on a perilous journey back to the tiger’s homeland. Our reviewer Claire rates this beautifully written middle fiction debut: ‘You feel as if you have been whisked away into a classic fairytale with all the key elements – the magic, the emotion, the adventure.’ You can read her full review here.
Orphans of the Tide is an exciting and accomplished debut from Scottish author Struan Murray, a dark and atmospheric fantasy set in the last City of the world. When an enormous whale washes up on the edges of the City and disgorges a boy with no memories, the superstitious citizens reacts with suspicion – he must be the Enemy, the god who drowned the world, who periodically returns to inhabit a human body. Smart and brave orphan Ellie comes to his aid, but she also has her own secrets to keep. This book is ideal for ages 9 and up.
Other notable recent releases include award-winning Erin Entrada Kelly’s new novel, Lalani of the Distant Sea (for ages 9 and up), and Jeremy Lachlan’s much-awaited sequel to his mind-bending Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds , Jane Doe and the Key of All Souls (for ages 10 and up).
RECOMMENDED CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION BOOKS OUT THIS MONTH
The wonderful Little People, Big Dreams series continues expanding its range of picture book memoirs that highlight the lives of notable historical figures for ages 4 and up. Both Martin Luther King, Jr. and David Attenborough are covered this month.
Hazel Flynn’s Ninja Bandicoots and Turbo-Charged Wombats introduces Australia’s rarest and most endangered animals to readers aged 9 and up, and tells the story of the extraordinary efforts made by zookeepers, scientists and even ordinary citizens to conserve them. This is the perfect book for all the aspiring young zoologists and veterinarians out there, and contains practical advice on how kids can contribute to conservation efforts.
Celebrate the achievements of LGBT people through history and from around the world with the beautiful and bold Queer Heroes: Meet 53 LGBTQ Heroes From Past and Present! by Arabelle Sicardi and Sarah Tanat-Jones. This rainbow tome for ages 9 and up features full-colour portraits of a diverse selection of 52 role models accompanied by short biographies that focus on their incredible successes, from Freddie Mercury’s contribution to music to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
NEWS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Term 1 is underway, but you might still need our recommended books to helps kids (and parents) with first days of school, kinder or childcare.
If you have littlies at home, we’ve made reading together easy, with a list of eight books to read aloud with preschoolers. Our list includes longer picture books, highly illustrated chapter books and simple treasuries for ages 3-7.
We looked into our crystal ball and divined what exciting children’s books are ahead of us in 2020. We’ve covered some of the biggest releases that we know of (for now), covering buzzy picture books, junior fiction, middle fiction and non-fiction titles.
The winners of the 2020 Caldecott, Newbery & Printz awards, awarded annually by the American Libraru Association, were announced. It’s the first time a graphic novel – New Kid by Jerry Craft – has been awarded the Newbery Medal.
And in the wake of summer’s extensive bushfires and the effect on our animals, we put together some of our recommendations of kids books that highlights Australia’s unique wildlife.
BUSHFIRE FUNDRAISER: HOW TO TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT THE BUSHFIRES
We’re hosting a special event this month, dedicated to helping families discuss the impact of the Australian bushfires.
Join us at 6pm on Thursday 20 February, at Readings Kids to hear Angela Crocombe, children’s book specialist, and Professor Harriet Hiscock, Director of Health Service Research Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital, discuss ways to talk to your children about the Australian bushfires. They will explain why talking matters, as well as share recommendations for books to generate conversations.
This event is suitable for parents of children of any age, from toddlers to teenagers.
Entry is $5 per person and all funds raised from this event will be donated to Wildlife Victoria. Please book here.
JOIN READINGS FOR STORY TIME IN 2020
Readings is pleased to offer a free weekly half-hour children’s story time at our Doncaster, Kids and Malvern shops this year. Story time is suitable for ages 2-5 year old. No booking is required but we do ask that parents please stay with their children for the duration of the reading. You can find out all the details here.