Summer Reading Highlights for Kids and Teens

Our children’s book buyers share some of their literary highlights from summer – picture books, junior fiction, young adult and ones parents might need to borrow from their children’s bookshelves.

Angela Crocombe from St Kilda recommends…

I adored Maude, the Not-So-Noticeable Shrimpton by Lauren Child. The Shrimpton family are all fabulously eccentric, dazzlingly beautiful, and spectacular show-offs. All, that is, except Maude. She’s more of a blender, but this works to her advantage when the family decide to add a live tiger to their menagerie. This over-the-top story is funny, cheeky, and a little bit scary, with vivid, beautiful illustrations by Trisha Krauss. My daughter and I love reading it together.

I Am an Artist by Marta Altes only arrived this week but I adore it already and everyone was laughing at storytime. Every child thinks they’re an artist, but this kid really does have a lot of talent. Unfortunately, his domestic art is driving his mother crazy. There are some delightful nods to famous artists and styles, and some hilarious uses for ordinary household objects. But when his mother sees the installation he has created for her while she’s napping, she may really have a heart attack…

Alexa Dretzke from Hawthorn recommends…

The fun read for me was Jen Storer’s Truly Tan; a ripper story and delightful illustrations make it perfect for 7 to 10 year olds. Another junior novel I loved is Ruby Red Shoes by Kate Knapp. This story begs to be read over and over again as the cosy life Ruby shares with her grandmother is sweetly accompanied by illustrations that shine with warmth and love.

Two YA novels made summer reading very enjoyable. The Convent by Maureen McCarthy tells the story of three women who stories share a connection with the Abbotsford Convent. From its formidable early days to its recent arts-based transformation it provides the atmospheric backdrop to a tale of secrets and young love. My other YA pick is a rereading of the wonderful Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares which has the endlessly entertaining David Levithan co-writing with Rachel Cohn and doing it brilliantly. Lily would have to be one of the best YA characters & Dash is funny and clever and how they get together is unconventional and for a bookseller, pretty rewarding.

Lastly, as a dog lover, I fell in love with Archie by Domenica Mole Gordon. A wordless picture book but certainly not expressionless. This charming tale of Archie and his Westie friend will beguile doggy fans from ages three and up.


[Athina Clarke](http://Athina Clarke from Malvern recommends…

One of my young customers recommended the Madame Pamplemousse series by Rupert Kingfisher (a little trilogy of the most delectable books) when she asked me to order them for her friend’s 7th birthday. She and her mum also enjoyed reading them aloud to each other.

Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles is the first book in this delightful series. Our little heroine, Madeleine, stumbles across Madame Pamplemousse’s store of ‘Incredible Edibles’ – a treasure trove of the most unusual delicacies created by Madame and Camembert the cat!

Just like Madeleine, I was in awe of the enigmatic Madame and her persnickety cat! The Paris setting was perfectly imagined (and I suspect experienced by the author) and I loved the vivid descriptions of all those delightfully imagined concoctions! These gorgeous little stories with their pretty pastel covers and sprinkling of lovely black and white line drawings will delight young sophisticated 7 to 9 year olds.

Another pick of mine is The Storm Makers by Jennifer E Smith. What begins as an ordinary summer develops into a mystery adventure for twelve year old twins Ruby and Simon when freak weather patterns seem strangely linked to Simon’s feelings. And when a stranger reveals the existence of people who can influence weather patterns, the story becomes eerily suspenseful. I found myself engrossed in the twin’s dilemma as they struggle to trust complete outsiders. The story kept me guessing right up until the end. Masterful descriptions (and Brett Helquist’s great illustrations) of wild rainstorms and tornadoes serve to heighten the fear in this exciting adventure.

I’d recommend it for 9+.

Kim Gruschow from Hawthorn recommends…

Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner is a hilarious and mysterious adventure starring Emily Vole, an orphan whose world changes when she becomes keeper of some magic keys. She is accompanied by Fidget, an architect who was turned into a cat by supreme baddie Harpella, and a whole lotta bunnies! Accompanied by David Roberts’ riotous illustrations Operation Bunny is a perfect family read-aloud and will be adored by independent readers aged 8 and up.

Emily Gale from Carlton recommends…

Over summer I read Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Parks. It was only my first reading of this Australian classic, about an unhappy girl in Sydney who is transported back to 1873 and colonial life in the poverty-stricken Rocks district. That she falls in love while she’s there is really secondary to what she discovers about herself. It’s so atmospheric that I’m determined my next reading of it will take place at The Rocks. I also picked up Sea Hearts by Australian author Margo Lanagan and while this was my first taste of what Margo is capable of it won’t be my last. I was completely taken in by this story of maligned Misskaella who sells enchanting sea-wives to all the men on remote Rollrock Island. A magical tale with so much to say about the real world.

Like Sea Hearts, the prose in Freaks Like Us really floored me. A very intense story told from the point of view of a schizophrenic teenager who is uncertain about his own involvement in the sudden disappearance of his best friend. Joshua Dread by Lee Bacon was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did but I giggled all the way through chapter one as it became clear that this is a fun take on superhero stories. Joshua’s parents have superpowers but use them for evil instead of good. This is seriously embarrassing for poor Joshua who just wants a normal life.

My last pick is for The Big Big Big Book of Tashi by Anna Fienberg which I read aloud to my 6 year old son. One adventure per night was ideal for him, and through his eyes I understood the huge appeal. In his words:

“I love Tashi’s stories because even though they’re super dangerous you always know he’s going to find a clever escape and everything will be okay.”


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