Recommended kids books, news & resources for June

This month we have some wonderful new Australian picture books, Melina Marchetta writing for a new age group, a magical illustrated novel, and a must-have book that illuminates the Uluru Statement from the Heart for young readers.

Find our June picks for YA books here.



The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson & Rovina Cai

A giant stands on the shore, watching the sea. She never moves, never speaks, until the day she turns to a little girl and says, ‘The sea is rising.’ The brave girl takes the message to the town. But when the people refuse to listen, the giant must find another way to save them.

This atmospheric debut picture book by fantasy author Trent Jamieson is a lyrical and deeply moving story about climate change, standing up for what you believe in, and the power of hope. Illustrator Rovina Cai is one of Australia’s most exciting artists, who has previously illustrated works by Patrick Ness, Margo Lanagan and Sally Gardner.

For ages 4 and up.


Littlelight by Kelly Canby

When bricks start to go missing from the town’s four walls, the mayor whips his citizens into a frenzy about all the strange, unusual, unfamiliar and offbeat people, things and behaviour that lie outside. But when the town’s people find the thief, and her motive, they discover perhaps it is the mayor who is the problem.

This wonderful picture book has a distinctive colour scheme, varied language and lots of satisfying little clues about the brick-stealer. It’s a great conversation starter to explore curiosity, difference, acceptance and tolerance.

For ages 4 and up.


What Zola Did on Monday by Melina Marchetta & Deb Hudson

Beloved and bestselling Australian YA and adult author Melina Marchetta has moved into junior fiction with this delightful first book in a seven-book series, each named for a day in the week.

Cheeky Zola loves living on Boomerang Street with her mum and her nonna, and close to her cousin Alessandro and other neighbours. This charming first story has naughty dogs, a garden-proud Nonna, and lovely themes of community and multi-generational families. Beginner readers are very, very lucky to have these new illustrated stories to encourage and entertain!

For ages 5 and up.


Finding Our Heart by Thomas Mayor & Blak Douglas

Since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was formed in 2017, Thomas Mayor has travelled around the country to promote its vision of a better future for Indigenous Australians. This is a young reader’s edition of Mayor’s bestselling book Finding the Heart of the Nation: The Journey of the Uluru Statement towards Voice, Treaty and Truth.

It’s a richly illustrated picture book that uses clear language to introduces the idea that listening to First Nations voices is the way to find the heart of the nation. It elaborates how Indigenous Australian culture is a gift to the whole country, and the importance of stories, songs, dances, language and caring for the environment. Younger children will warm to the ideas in this book, and there are many details that older children can delve into and be curious about, such as the Constitution, the full text and artwork of the Statement, and important historical events. At the end is a more substantial explainer of the Uluru Statement, some relevant concepts and practical things for children to do next.

For ages 5 and up.


Shoestring, the Boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt & Dale Newman

The creators of the award-winning illustrated novel, Kidglovz, come together again for a thrilling companion book. Twelve-year-old thief and tightrope walker Shoestring is leaving behind his life of crime and starting afresh with the Troupe of Marvels. He has the starring act with an invisible tightrope, but the cursed white gloves that caused so much turmoil for his musician friend KidGlovz are back.

When he’s wearing the gloves, the world is at Shoestring’s fingertips. It’s so easy to help himself to whatever he likes - even other people’s hopes and dreams. But when he steals his best friend’s mind, he’s at risk of losing all he values most. Another unique and transporting tale of ambition, friendship and magic for readers who love vivid visuals and dark-tinged fantasy.

For ages 8 and up.


Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell

When Arthur, Ren and Cecily investigate a mysterious explosion on their way to school, they find themselves trapped aboard The Principia - a pirate-research ship sailing through hazardous waters, captained by one Isaac Newton.

Lost in the year 2473 in the Wonderscape, an in-reality role-playing game, they must call on the help of some unlikely historical heroes, to play their way home before time runs out. But the Wonderscape is full of secrets and not everyone is who they seem. This fast-paced adventure leaps around from location to location, sets intriguing puzzles and challenges, and is a really unique mash-up of time travel and gaming, with large doses of friendship thrown in.

For ages 9 and up.


If you’re enraged or distressed by world events at the moment, the awesome American literary organisation We Need Diverse Books has an excellent page devoted to resources for Race, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion, which includes reading lists. You could also look at our collections of Black voices for kids and teens, as well as our collections of First Nations children’s books.

June is Pride month, so what better time to read some kids books that delve into themes of pride and self-acceptance? Find some of our best suggestions here.

It’s also World Environment Day this Friday (5 June). The Wilderness Society has recently announced their shortlist for the 2020 Environment Award for Children’s Literature - a great list of recommended books to foster a love of nature and the environment. You can also find ideas by browsing our own curated collection of children’s books about the environment.

Have you watched the stellar bunch of celebrities serialising Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach yet? Actor/director/writer Taika Waititi is supported by luminaries like Meryl Streep, both Hemsworths, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o and more. Find all episodes here.

The Hay Festival happened recently in Hay-On-Wye, Wales, and there was an all-star lineup of children’s book authors and illustrators. You can now watch some very entertaining sessions from the program online. Authors include Cressida Cowell, Liz Pichon and Onjali Q Rauf.

Parents of active small children may find what they’re looking for in this collection of interactive picture books, with picks for ages 2 to 8. And they may also enjoy reading about some of the best lessons Readings bookseller and first-time parent Bronte has learned from mums and grans in picture books.

We didn’t let isolation get in the way of recording our latest episode of the Readings Kids book podcast, which included a chat about home schooling and quarantine reading, as well as a chat with The Republic of Birds author Jessica Miller. You can listen to episodes of the Readings Podcast on Souncloud, or find via iTunes

Finally… Please join us online on Wednesday 1 July 2020 at 6:30pm for digital launch of a brand-new children’s book from Jane Godwin. Opening with a runaway boy, a baby and a whole lot of question – When Rain Turns to Snow is a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story about finding out who you are in the face of a crisis. Teacher librarian and author Megan Daley will join Godwin to launch the book. This is a free online event and and you book and find out how to attend here.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

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The Giant and the Sea

The Giant and the Sea

Trent Jamieson, Rovina Cai

$26.99Buy now

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