Recommended YA books, news & resources for June

We’ve got stories strange and otherworldly this month. Sinking islands, mysterious sisters, splintered narratives and trippy parties all have a place on our reading shelf in June.

Find our June picks for kids books here.


SIX YA BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH


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The End of the World Is Bigger than Love by Davina Bell

Identical twin sisters Summer and Winter live alone on a remote island, sheltered from a destroyed world. They survive on rations stockpiled by their father and spend their days deep in their mother’s collection of classic literature - until a mysterious stranger upends their carefully constructed reality. At first, Edward is a welcome distraction. But who is he really, and why has he come? As love blooms and the world stops spinning, the secrets of the girls' past begin to unravel and escape is the only option.

Davina Bell is well-known as a picture book, junior fiction and middle grade author, and this is her first YA book. Atmospheric, strange and tinged with fabulism, this is an exhilarating and unique story from an established author branching out into new territory.


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The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

The island of Caldella is sinking, and every year on St. Walpurga’s Eve the Witch Queen sacrifices an innocent life to keep the tides at bay. When her secret crush Thomas is chosen as sacrifice, Lina Kirk pleads to take his place at the palace. The sacrifice only works if the queen truly cares for the sacrificed, but the current queen Eva, has renounced her grief-stricken heart after the death of her sister, the previous Queen.

With the tide rising and the islander’s whispering that Eva’s magic is failing, she’s willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, the two girls find themselves falling for each other. A dark and lush adaptation of the legendary ballad of Tam Lin (which originates from the Scottish Borders), The Dark Tide tells a thoroughly subtle and satisfying enemies-to-lovers tale, from the perspectives of two headstrong young women.


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Again Again by E. Lockhart

After having her heart summarily broken by her boyfriend Mikey, Adelaide Buchwald faces a summer walking vacationing professor’s dogs and working on a set design project in an effort to avoid academic probation. When she spots Jack at the dog run and falls head over heels in instant love, Adelaide is catapulted into a summer of wild possibility – and potential disappointment.

Again Again is a raw and funny novel that offers multiple different ways each scene can play out; a playful format that perfectly matches the uncertainties of teenage life. It’s a strange and wonderful book that tackles big themes of love, family and addiction.


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Wonderland by Juno Dawson

Smart and lonely Alice is a student at the elite private girls school St Agnes. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: an exclusive three-day party - organised by the cool girls, of course - that is rife with destructive levels of alcohol, drugs, sex and secrets. Will Alice find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself?

Taking part in the same universe as Dawson’s prior novels, Clean and Meat Market, Wonderland is a dizzying contemporary take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Dawson has a knack of tapping into the teen zeitgeist, and this is a gritty and surreal read for older teens that explores mental health, gender and privilege.


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Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty

For a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, 15 year-old Dara McAnulty spent the seasons writing vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world. Diary of a Young Naturalist portrays Dara’s intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning.

Dara’s love for nature, his activism and his honesty about autism, has earned him a huge social media following from across the world and many accolades. This beautifully written book is full of keen observations, emotional candour and small moments of family life, and ranges from farming and conservation to the difficulties of bullying and moving home.


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Period Queen: Life Hack Your Cycle and Own Your Power All Month Long by Lucy Peach

Folk singer, performer, sexual health educator and author Lucy Peach is passionate about periods. So passionate that she has toured her stage shows My Greatest Period Ever and How to Period Like a Unicorn all over the UK and Australia. This is a practical and humourous guide to the menstrual cycle, with a focus on the four hormonal phases. Each phase bears its own gifts and ways of making us feel: a time to dream, a time to do, a time to give, and a time to take.

Peach’s aim is for menstruating teens to become experts in recognising what they need at different times of the month, and learn how every cycle gives them a chance to cultivate the most important relationship of their life: the one with their precious self.


NEWS, RESOURCES & RECOMMENDATIONS


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 collection of books for teens with First Nations themes.

Consider this your last-minute exhortation to attend tomorrow’s (Thursday 4 June) #LoveOzYA All Stars panel. Join authors Sarah Epstein (Deep Water), Poppy Nwosu (Taking Down Evelyn Tait), Kay Kerr (Please Don’t Hug Me) and Anna Whateley (Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal) online at 6:30pm for a lively conversation. This is an online event and free to attend. Please find more information and book here.

If you are too late for this event, fear not! Instead you can listen to the live recording of the wonderful chat we had with Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff about Aurora Burning, the second book in their epic sci-fi series, The Aurora Cycle.

June is Pride Month. Peruse our list of eight great new queer YA books, and be sure to check out our up-to-date collection of LGBTQIA+ books for teens.

The Hay Festival happened recently in Hay-On-Wye, Wales, and there was an all-star lineup of guests. If you’re a keen YA reader, you’ll love the series of video talks available from the Schools Program. Authors include Patrice Lawrence, Muhammad Khan, Laura Bates, Michelle Paver and Dean Atta.

And looking back – May was Asian Pacific Islander American Book Month, with the Asian Author Alliance holding a month-long digital festival of panels featuring some great YA authors. The far-ranging program covered topics such as food and identity, worldbuilding in sci-fi and fantasy, fandom, mental health and more, and is now available to watch on YouTube. You can find the program details 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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Diary of a Young Naturalist

Diary of a Young Naturalist

Dara McAnulty

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