The best kids' books, news & events for June

This month we have a landmark book by Bruce Pascoe, a how-to by legendary Jeannie Baker, a sweet graphic novel/prose hybrid, and excellent contemporary fiction for middle grade readers.

Find our June picks for YA books here.



Young Dark Emu: A Truer History by Bruce Pascoe

This is the much-needed children’s version of Bruce Pascoe’s seminal and award-winning Dark Emu – a book that explains that Australian Aboriginals at the time of British colonisation were not only hunter-gatherers, but also people who made agricultural use of their land. They were people who settled and built villages – something the British denied in order to establish their own claim over the land.

Adapted for a primary-school-aged audience aged 9 and up, Young Dark Emu: A Truer History uses diary entries from settlers, well-pitched text, fascinating illustrative material and a colourful graphic design to explore farming methods, aquaculture, food storage, housing, sustainability and the devastating effects of European colonisation.

Our reviewer Dani highly recommends this book as the perfect way to start conversations with kids about Australia’s history, saying: ‘ Young Dark Emu will give your child a thirst for our Indigenous cultures and I cannot think of a better reason to buy a book.’

You can read our full review here.



Kind by Alison Green and Axel Scheffler

We’ve noticed the theme of kindness appearing in several kids books recently, and Kind is a beautifully illustrated exploration of the topic. Author Alison Green imagines a world where everyone is kind, showing small and achievable acts of kindness: sharing toys, holding hands, welcoming newcomers, treating animals well and more.

The book is illustrated by thirty-eight different renowned artists from around the world, and our impressed reviewer Alexa describes it as ‘bursting with inclusion and acceptance.’ For ages 3 and up.

You can read our full review here.


Playing with Collage by Jeannie Baker

Jeannie Baker is a legend of Australian picture book making – her detailed collages have wowed generations of kids and she is truly a master of the form. In Playing with Collage Baker generously shares some of her techniques, allowing youngsters to make their own creations. Dried flowers, shells, pasta, stamps, stones, leaves, paper and spices all take on beauty and life in her hands, as she shows young readers in clear, approachable steps how to play with these materials.

Our reviewer Dani loved this visually-rich how-to guide: ‘This is an excellent and very simple breakdown of Jeannie Baker’s process and I highly recommend it for any of her fans and any budding artists out there aged 5+.’

You can read our full review here.


Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai

When Jingwen (and his mother and adorably pesky little brother, Yanghao) move to Australia, it literally feels like landing on Mars. Jingwen has to navigate a new language, school, taking care of Yanghao and realising that they’re the ‘aliens’ in this scenario. The two brothers miss their dad, who had dreams of starting his own fancy cake shop in Australia, so they start to bake his cake recipes (against their mum’s instructions not to use the oven without her).

This hybrid graphic/prose novel by a talented debut author is funny, moving and will make you very, very hungry for cake. Our reviewer Kim was highly impressed, saying: ‘Looking at immigration, family and grief, this is an exceptionally sweet book, featuring exceptional sweets.’ For ages 9 and up.

You can read our full review here.


Asha & the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan

Asha’s father has been living and working in the big city, but when he stops sending money and debt collectors come knocking, young Asha leaves the Himalayan foothills and embarks on a dangerous journey. Accompanied by her best friend Jeevan, and guided by a bird that she believes to be the spirit of her grandmother, Asha faces up to hazardous mountain terrain, unforgiving blizzards, ravenous wolves and the unfamiliar perils of the city.

Our reviewer Athina loved this ‘captivating adventure with lovable protagonists and a perfectly happy ending, celebrating friendship and tenacity, and allowing human kindness to prevail.’ For ages 9 and up.

You can read our full review here.


Sick Bay by Nova Weetman

In this beautifully written dual-narrative story, two very different Grade Six girls meet in sick bay at school. Meg is looking for escape, from her difficult home situation and from the kids who pick on her. Her father has passed away and her mother has fallen into a deep depression, unable to take care of Meg. New girl Riley is trying to fit in with the popular girls; hiding the fact that she has to carefully manage her type 1 diabetes. Meg and Riley don’t think that they have much in common, but as they get to know each other better they realise that true friends are worth keeping, and that there isn’t really anything such as ‘normal.’

Our reviewer Angela recommends this as an ‘emotionally intelligent novel by the author of The Secrets We Keep that will resonate powerfully in the hearts and minds of readers aged 10–13.’

You can read our full review here.



Skellig by David Almond

When twelve-year-old Michael, his parents and his premature newborn sister move into a dilapidated fixer-upper new house, Michael discovers a dusty, emaciated man-creature living among the boxes and clutter. The creature is demanding, asking for Chinese food, beer and aspirin. As Michael befriends the curious creature and his young artistic neighbour Mina, his friendships at school deteriorate and his baby sister becomes dangerously ill. The creature’s true nature comes to the fore, restoring hope and healing.

Originally published in 1998, Skellig is David Almond’s enormously successful first children’s book that won a Carnegie medal and spawned a stage play, radio play, opera and feature film. Our reviewer Natalie rates this unique and mythical story, describing it as ‘strange, beautiful and lyrical storytelling for the empathetic reader aged 10+.’

You can read our full review here.


The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) was celebrated recently as a day to stand with the LGBTIQ+ community, celebrate LGBTQI+ people, champion inclusion and build a better world for the LGBTQI+ community. We put together some of our favourite children’s books to read on IDAHOBIT, or any other day of the year.

We spoke to speech pathologist Alison Clarke about how to get beginning readers off to a flying start. She shared some of her best strategies that help children read and spell effectively, right from the start.

Did you know our Doncaster shop runs a fantastic Middle Fiction Book Club that meets every fortnight? Recently the club met author Mat Larkin (The Orchard Underground), and they have read some fantastic books in their inaugural term. The club’s upcoming program is listed here.


June is a little quiet for kids events, but we have some blockbusters right around the corner in July. Consider this your advance warning, and save the date!

We are completely and utterly thrilled to have the best-selling, award-winning Sally Rippin joining us to talk all things Polly and Buster with our very own Dani Solomon on Thursday 4th July 2019, 10:30am at Readings Kids. They’ll be celebrating the release of The Search for the Silver Witch, the third Polly and Buster book. 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.

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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Young Dark Emu: A Truer History

Young Dark Emu: A Truer History

Bruce Pascoe

$24.99Buy now

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