Recommended kids books, news & resources for August
This month in children’s books we have a post-climate crisis adventure, a stunning allegorical picture book, a lovable cat with a very long name, sensitively illustrated stories about unique kids, and a tweenage classic.
Find our August picks for YA books here.
KIDS BOOK OF THE MONTH
Across the Risen Sea by Bren MacDibble
Neoma and Jag and their small community are ‘living gentle lives’ on high ground surrounded by the risen sea, that has caused widespread devastation. When strangers from the Valley of the Sun arrive unannounced, the friends find themselves drawn into a web of secrecy and lies that endanger the entire community’s way of life. Soon, daring and loyal Neoma must set off on a solo mission across the risen sea, determined to rescue her best friend and find the truth that will save her village.
Our reviewer Bianca points to the relevance of this post-climate crisis story: ‘For readers who might be feeling worried about the future, this adventure with courageous, loyal and resilient characters will help explore human impact on our planet.’ You can read our full review here.
For ages 9 and up.
FIVE KIDS BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH
Found by Bruce Pascoe & Charmaine Ledden-Lewis
A calf in the Australian outback is scared to discover he can’t find his family. A man in a truck comes along and rounds up the calf, along with other terrified cows. The calf escapes, but realises that his mother has been captured. He wanders the landscape, finding other animals, but it’s not until he hears a familiar moo that he can be safe with his family once more.
Written by award-winning author Bruce Pascoe, and illustrated by the winner of the Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award, Charmaine Ledden-Lewis, this is a beautiful and allegorical picture book with vivid illustrations of the Australian countryside. Our reviewer Dani highly recommends it, finding it to be ‘a very gentle introduction to a very difficult and painful part of our nation’s history, the Stolen Generations.’ You can read our full review here.
For ages 3 and up.
I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me by Maggie Hutchings & Evie Barrow
Everyone walks right past Pete - except for one little boy. He notices Pete’s lovely drawings on the footpath, and his big smile, and soon he has a new friend. When Pete gets sick, the boy wants to help. But how do you help someone get better when they don’t have a home? The boy’s enthusiasm for Pete’s art soon makes others around him stop and appreciate what Pete has to offer.
Maggie Hutchings, who brought us the fabulous Your Birthday Was the Best!, has written a story of kindness and paying attention to your surrounds. Our reviewer Claire loved how it showed ‘a sense of hope and resilience through a simple yet powerful friendship.’ You can read our full review here.
For ages 3 and up.
Marshmallow Pie The Cat Superstar by Clara Vulliamy
Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington-Fitz-Noodle is a big, fluffy (and grumpy) cat. He loves the easy life at home with his new owner Amelia and her dad: lazing in the sunshine, eating Shrimp Crunchies and annoying Buster, the dog in the apartment downstairs. But when Amelia develops a grand plan to turn her cat into a pet celebrity, Marshmallow must summon up the old razzle dazzle and defeat his nemesis Buster at an important audition.
Clara Vulliamy (Mango & Bambang, Dotty Detective) writes and illustrates quirky and fun junior fiction that provides true reading pleasure for young readers. Our reviewer Kim says: ‘This is the kind of sweet and funny chapter book that new readers and young cat lovers are very hungry for!’ You can read our full review here.
For ages 6 and up.
Annie Lumsden, the Girl from the Sea by David Almond & Beatrice Alemagna
Annie has never been like the other girls. Her mam tried sending her to school when she was small, but Annie couldn’t seem to make words or numbers stick. She prefers instead to be swimming in the sea, or sunbathing on the shore at Stupor Beach, her head full of tales. She should have been a fish, her mam always tells her, and Annie knows the truth of it. Then a stranger who comes to town is struck by the beauty and the wonder of her, and Annie Lumsden realizes that perhaps she really is half a creature from the sea.
This gorgeous illustrated book is a wonderful collaboration between two award-winning and respected creators. Our reviewer Athina can’t recommend this book highly enough, describing it as ‘a beautifully tender coming-of-age story of unconditional love and acceptance, difference and belonging, of finding our place in the world, our connection with all living things and ultimately, what it is to be human.’ You can read our full review here.
For ages 9 and up.
The Bird Within Me by Sara Lundberg & B.J. Epstein
Based on the life, art and letters of Swedish artist Berta Hansson, this is the story of a young woman with the bravery to live her own truth and follow her own path, despite the protests of her father and society at the time. Berta is a young girl with an artistic soul growing up on a farm in the Swedish countryside at the beginning of the 20th century. Her father doesn’t understand her and her mother is dying of tuberculosis. But Berta longs to be an artist and can’t stay on the farm forever.
With pared-back words and intimate paintings, this highly illustrated biography will be loved by artistic young readers with an independent streak. Our reviewer Alexa says: ‘This beautiful is a sensitive rendition of Berta’s life, and shows how inspiringly brilliant books can be, particularly illustrated biographies for children.’ You can read our full review here.
For ages 9 and up.
KIDS CLASSIC OF THE MONTH
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Can you believe this book is fifty years old this year? Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume has been a hugely important book for generations of girls, well beyond those who were tweens in 1970, its year of first publication. Late developer Margaret is anxious about her new school, new friends, her religion, fitting in, and also anxious about bras, periods and everything that adolescence will bring.
Our reviewer Kealy took a trip down memory lane to read this modern classic, saying: ‘Blume writes frankly about sex, faith, and puberty, in a way that still feels very much relevant.’ You can read our full review here.
For ages 10 and up.
INDIGENOUS LITERACY DAY
It’s Indigenous Literacy Day on Wednesday 2 September 2020.
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation is holding a special 30-minute virtual celebration for pre-school and primary students at 2pm on the day that promises to be a real stay-at-home party.
It’s a time to move, shake and dance with a book reading in Kriol by Cheryl Lardy and in English by Justine Clarke. Pop star Jessica Mauboy will sing a catchy melody with children from Tiwi and Jilkminggan remote communities in languages. The event will be hosted by acclaimed Indigenous author and performer Gregg Dreise.
Subscribe now to ILF’s YouTube channel and set a reminder for 2pm, Wednesday 2 September. Children are encouraged to donate a gold coin on the day of viewing. Funds go towards the purchase of books and learning resources for children in remote communities.
CELEBRATE FATHER’S DAY
It’s Father’s Day next month and what better way to celebrate fathers, uncles, grandpas and any other important family figures than a good book?
For a fun look at parenting in the animal world, pick up Philip Bunting’s Wild About Dads and find out what foxes, flamingos, water big and gorilla dads do for their young ones. How (Not) to Annoy Dad is a hilarious look at everyday family life, with some koala kids attempting (we think?) to do the right thing by their dad. For interactive silliness, My Dad Is… has a spinner on the front that helps you choose between different descriptions of Dad, including ‘the best storyteller’ and ‘the loudest farter’.
You can also find our full selection of Father’s Day picture book recommendations here, with something for every family situation.
THE WINNER OF THE READINGS CHILDREN’S BOOK PRIZE
We were very thrilled to recently announce that the winner of this year’s Readings Children’s Book Prize is The Girl, The Cat & the Navigator by Matilda Woods. This thrilling high-seas tale will enchant readers of ages 7–12 years. Woods is a gorgeous storyteller and her book will be eagerly devoured by independent readers, as well as being a perfect choice for a family read-aloud.
You can read all about Woods' win here.
NEWS, RESOURCES & RECOMMENDATIONS
If you’ve been hoovering up episodes of The Baby Sitter’s Club small-screen adaptation like we have, perhaps you might also like to ponder what the current 2020 members of the BSC might be reading.
Celebrate creative and fun uses of language with our hand-picked recommendations of books that use onomatopoeia, puns, homophones, word play and more to foster a love of words.
We LOVE Yarra Libraries Stay At Home Sensitive Storytimes! These are video storytimes aimed at helping children navigate difficult emotions and sensitivities. A schedule board lets kids know exactly what’s up next in the video, and there’s stories, songs, toys, roleplays, activities and more.
Melbourne Writers Festival is on again, from the 7-16 August via a wonderful online program, MWF Digital. There are some cute kids sessions for the general public, and as always, an excellent schools program (10-28 August) that could work in very well with schooling from home.
Get ready for some bookish couch travel (if you can handle the time zone differences)! From 15-31 August you can attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival online for free, including the very extensive Baillie Gifford Children’s Program, which caters for ages 0-14 years. Events include a conversation with Eoin Colfer and Cressida Cowell, all things Gruffalo with Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler and Nick Sharatt, and an inside look at Oliver Jeffers' world.