The best kids' books, news & events for July

This month we have a picture book ode to fashion and style, thrilling action adventures with heart and social commentary, sweet stories of animal and nature, and a beloved classic about a very special pig.

Find our July picks for YA books here.



Fashionista by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke has already given us such great books as The Patchwork Bike, Wide Big World and The Hate Race, among others, and now she’s turned her attentions to writing and illustrating the fabulous Fashionista. Using rhythmic text that begs to be read out loud and colourful textured collages, Fashionista celebrates style icons like Beyoncé and Prince, as well as more everyday kinds of clothes.

Our reviewer Claire loved this ‘vibrant book that encourages everyone to embrace their individuality…it’s the kind of book I wish I had seen more of when I was growing up.’ For ages 3 and up.

You can read our full review here, and attend one of our two crafting workshops – at Readings Doncaster or Readings Kids – with author Maxine Beneba Clarke!



Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories by Helen Milroy

This delightful collection of eight stories, written by respected Indigenous doctor and child psychiatrist Helen Milroy, shows animals as protagonists and heroes, and elements of nature (rocks, trees, moons) as possessing personalities and feelings. Told in the style of traditional teaching stories, young readers are introduced to the dramas, dreams and struggles of a lonely whale, an ailing Mother Earth, an angry Sun, a very brave gecko, a lost star, and many more characters.

I wrote in my review of this wonderful collection that ‘these simple and direct stories demonstrate huge amounts of emotional intelligence.’ For ages 5 and up.

You can read my full review here.


Into the Wild (Wolf Girl, Book 1) by Anh Do

After fleeing from an undisclosed dangerous event with her family, among hordes of others on the road and on the run, Gwen finds herself alone in the wilderness. Luckily she is approached by a friendly wolf puppy, a Labrador, a Chihuahua, and a greyhound. Gwen gradually forms a new family ‘pack’ and accesses talents, strengths and skills she had no idea she possessed.

Our reviewer Natalie loved this first instalment in the new action adventure series from beloved Australian author Anh Do, praising the ‘feisty and resourceful’ Gwen. This is the perfect fast-paced and accessible read for lovers of animals and action. For ages 8 and up.

You can read our full review here.


The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

Vita Morgan travels with her mother from England to New York, to stay with her grieving grandfather, and to win back the family home which has been seized by well-connected conman, Sorrotore. Vita – brave, sharp-witted and a polio survivor – gathers together a group of skilled children who are adept at knife-throwing, circus tricks and pickpocketing and goes after the bad guys.

Our reviewer Morgana highly recommends this atmospheric Prohibition-era read: ‘Fabulous, interesting and genuine characters paired with a clever edge-of-your seat plot make this one a cracker!’ For ages 9 and up.

You can read our full review here.


Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

Eleven-year-old Casper becomes the timid and unlikely hero of this magical story when he stumbles upon Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts. Rumblestar is in the grips of the evil Morg who is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to cause mayhem and steal magic. Casper reluctantly joins forces with the inimitable Utterly Thankless and her dragon, Arlo, in a desperate race to prevent the destruction of both of their worlds.

Our reviewer Alexa adored the extraordinary inhabitants and creatures of Rumblestar, and the hair-raising tests of courage and loyalty in this story, saying: ‘you are in the hands of a masterful storyteller.’ For ages 9 and up.

You can read our full review here.


Detention by Tristan Bancks

Afghani refugee Sima is in a detention centre with her family. After being told they will be deported that night, her father organises a daring escape with the help of activists protesting outside. When the escape goes very wrong, Sima is separated from her family and flees on foot. Schoolboy Dan discovers Sima hiding at his school and has to decide whether to report her to Border Security, or help her.

With a fast-paced cascade of events, Detention is written with thrilling urgency, and brings issues of equality and human rights into stark relief. Our reviewer Angela was impressed with Bancks’s complex characters – ‘strong individuals who have agency and, most importantly, compassion for one another.’ For ages 11 and up.

You can read our full review here.



Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Our reviewer Athina revisited one of her favourite books, the beloved children’s classic that introduced a little girl called Fern, a pig called Wilbur and the gorgeous spider Charlotte to the world. Full of love, friendship and loyalty, Charlotte’s Web has been making young readers laugh and cry for over sixty years. Athina says: ‘From the bottom of my heart I believe there isn’t a reader (child or adult) who won’t be a better person for reading Charlotte’s Web.’

You can read our full review here.


words0407 The winners of the 2019 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have been announced. The Carnegie Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book written in English for children and young people. The Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal has been awarded to The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris, and the CILIP Carnegie Medal has been awarded to The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.


Join us (and a giant flower!) as Caz Goodwin reads from her gorgeous new picture book, Lazy Daisy. This special story time takes place on Friday 5th July 2019, 10:00am at Readings Doncaster. Free, but please book here.

Budding artists can flex their collage skills at the two workshops we’re running with the one and only Maxine Beneba Clarke (Readings Doncaster, 10:30am on Tuesday 9th July 2019 and Readings Kids, 10:30am on Monday 8th July 2019). Maxine will take your 3–8 year old through a crafting exercise using her gorgeous new picture book Fashionista as a starting point. Tickets are $20 per family and include a signed copy of Fashionista. Bookings are essential.

We’re thrilled to host Bruce Pascoe for a talk about his landmark children’s book Young Dark Emu: A Truer History on Wednesday 10th July 2019, 2:30pm at Church of All Nations (180 Palmerston St, Carlton VIC 3053), during NAIDOC week. This young reader’s edition of the bestselling Dark Emu has been adapted for young readers and, as with the original, offers a different version of Australia’s history before European colonisation. Tickets are $5 per person or $10 per family (all funds will be donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation) and bookings are essential. Please book here.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. To celebrate, picture book author Pilgrim Lee will host two kaleidoscope-making workshops (Readings Kids at 10:30am on Tuesday 9th July 2019, and Readings St Kilda at 10:30am on Thursday 11th July 2019. This workshop is suitable for children aged 4–8 years old. Tickets are $5 per child and bookings are essential.

Come along on Thursday 11th July 2019, 10:30am at Readings Kids to hear local author and illustrator Nicki Greenberg reading from Bitsy, her delightful new picture book. This event is suitable for children aged 3–6 years old. Free, but please book here.

On Tuesday 23rd July 2019, join us at another utterly madcap event as Andy Griffiths shows us what happens when you get higher and higher in the sky in The 117-Storey Treehouse! This event is being held at Deakin Edge at Federation Square in Melbourne’s central business district. Entry is $25 per adult and $20 per child. Find all of the event details here; limited seats are available and bookings are essential and can be made here.

Take a look at our full events schedule 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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Maxine Beneba Clarke

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