The most anticipated children’s books of 2019

There’s nothing more exciting than looking forward to a year of cramming more kids books on our shelves! Here’s what we’re keen to get our hands on in 2019.


Picture books


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There are some very enticing picture books being published this year, by beloved and familiar creators, all the way through to fresh newcomers.

Australian author Jane Godwin (Go Go and the Silver Shoes) has a unique eye for the inner worlds of children, so we’re pumped that the wonderfully-titled Ivanhoe Swift Left Home at Six will be published in March. In the illustrator chair is A.Yi, who has illustrated for the Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose series.

We’re completely susceptible to the charms of dream-team Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, so we can’t wait for the next instalment in their shapes series, with Circle (March) adding to the already existing Triangle and Square.

The Little People, Big Dreams series continues to be very popular, with the winning formula of a different illustrator for every book + simple text detailing the lives of incredible people. 2019 will see the series branch out and also celebrate men – with Stephen Hawking and Muhammad Ali first men off the ranks (February). Vivienne Westwood and Maria Montessori will also be out in March.

Journey the length of the Yarra River in Wilam: A Birrarung Story (April), which brings together award-winning Welcome to Country author/illustrator team Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy with Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly. This picture book will be an ode to Australian rivers, the flora and fauna that live on them, and the function they perform as a part of modern day life, bringing Aboriginal life, culture and language right in to the heart of the city.

A new picture book from prolific and award-winning author Sally Morgan is always a treat, and Little Bird’s Day (April) looks set to be gorgeous. Illustrated by the inaugural Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award-winner Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr, this is the simple, universal story of a day in the life of Little Bird as she interacts with Cloud, Wind and Moon.

My Culture and Me by Gregg Dreise (May) promises to be a sensitively written and illustrated story about pride, respect and maintaining Indigenous culture. Dreise is an accomplished storyteller, musician and educator from Queensland, with Kamilaroi and Euahlayi heritage. His previous books include the picture books Silly Birds, Mad Magpie and Kookoo Kookaburra.

Maxine Beneba Clarke has a new picture book coming out, and this time she’s written and illustrated! Fashionista (June) is an ode to embracing individuality and expressing yourself, and little peeks we’ve seen show bold and iconic illustrations and fantastic rhyming text.

Aaron Blabey’s lovably naughty Pig the Pug returns in Pig the Tourist (July). When Pig goes on holiday you can pretty much guarantee that chaos is going to ensue. Gus Gordon can do no wrong in our eyes; I Am Alice (August) reportedly features piglets, and is about friendship and family. Margaret Wild fans have Boo! (September) to look forward to.

Who doesn’t love Mr Chicken? He’s been to Rome, Paris, London, and now he’s back in Mr Chicken All Over Australia (release date TBC). After receiving lots of letters from Australia, Mr Chicken decides he wants to see all of the big sights Down Under.

We love Heidi McKinnon’s quirky and devilish stories, so Baz and Benz (March) already has our attention; we’re avowed Doodle Cat supporters, so we’re ecstatic about Doodle Cat Wears a Cape (May); and Sophie Beer is rapidly building a very deserved following for her bright and inclusive picture books, so we have our eyes peeled for Arthur and the Tiger (May). Illustrator, designer and craftsperson Beci Orpin’s Move Your Body (July) will be a vibrant and graphic board book detailing fun and interesting ways to use your body.

Some debuts that we’ll be avidly reading will be Our Little Inventor by Sher Rill Ng (April), and Wrestle! (February) by Gayby Baby director and producer, Maya Newell.


Junior fiction


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We’re excited about Australian YA author Gabrielle Tozer’s jump into junior fiction with the charmingly titled Melody Trumpet (February). Melody’s parents are musical superstars, but it becomes very clear early on that Melody doesn’t have a musical bone in her body and must search for her hidden talents. For ages 7 and up.

Nicki Greenberg’s The Cursed First Term of Zelda Stitch had us laughing and commiserating as Zelda struggled to make her mark as a teacher and keep her magic under wraps. The second Zelda book, Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch (February) sees Zelda juggling mysterious smells, a mean PE teacher, school camp and more. For ages 7 and up.

Charming hotel guide dog ambassador Mr Walker continues his furry adventures in Mr Walker and the Dessert Delight and Mr Walker Gets the Inside Scoop by Jess Black and Sara Acton (May). Kids aged 7 and up will love the hijinks that ensue when Mr Walker’s nose detects something interesting…

Our favourite crime-fighting pigeons are back with Real Pigeons Nest Hard (May) by Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood. Rock, Frillback, Tumbler, Homey and Grandpouter have their hands (wings?) full with three new mysteries to solve in this funny and highly illustrated series. Someone’s birdnapping and stealing from a vulture, and the Pigeons are on the case. For ages 6 and up.

There are some great junior fiction series in full swing and 2019 will see many new instalments, such as:


Middle fiction


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Bren MacDibble’s How to Bee was an award-winner and a real favourite, so we’re waiting patiently for The Dog Runner (February). This sounds like another gripping and thoughtful near-future story – siblings Ella and Emery leave the chaotic and starving city with a pack of dogs to make it to their mother in the country. For ages 10 and up.

Felice Arena writes another gripping war-time adventure, this time set in Cold War Germany. In A Great Escape (March) Peter is separated from his family by the Wall, and embarks on a dangerous plan to be reunited with them. For ages 9 and up.

We pretty much love anything Davina Bell does (Lemonade Jones or All The Ways to be Smart for example) so we are counting the days until Sophia and the Corner Park Clubhouse (May). Four friends that have drifted apart find themselves drawn back together when their beloved childhood clubhouse is under threat from development. For ages 8 and up.

Oliver Phommavanh always delivers funny, relatable contemporary stories and Don’t Follow Vee (May) sounds great. Vee is reluctantly internet famous due to her Mum’s Instagram that chronicles her life. Her Mum’s social media obsession used to be fun, but ever since the account reached 100,000 followers, Vee has been plotting to get her Mum an interesting life and take the pressure off herself. For ages 9 and up.

After patiently waiting for the final instalment of the Ubby’s Underdogs trilogy, keen graphic novel readers will be over the moon about Ubby’s Underdogs: Return of the Dragons (May). Brenton McKenna’s graphic novels bring to life post-WWII Broome and weave together Aboriginal and Chinese mythologies in stories that are unique and exciting. The final novel will test Ubby and her gang of Underdogs to the max as they battle an evil and unearthly enemy. For ages 10 and up.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree is a book that we love to recommend in our shops. Her next book Shouting at the Rain (May) is a compelling story about perspective and learning to love the family you have. For ages 10 and up.

Whimsy and Woe author Beck McRitchie’s next book, Cora and the Jinx (September) is about an eleven-year-old orphan who somehow summons a sinister monster, discovers her true identity and negotiates a world full of magic, necromancers, shapeshifters, fairies, witches and giants. For ages 9 and up.

We must of course mention Readings bookseller Fiona Hardy’s as-yet untitled middle grade book (September) that follows 11-year-old Hayley as she tries to turn her idea for a horror movie into reality over the summer holidays.

Keeping up-to-date with your favourite series can be difficult, but here’s what we know about next instalments due this year:

And if you’re partial to a rumour or two, here are some highly anticipated books that have yet to firm up precise publishing dates or availability in Australia, but which we are sure will hit our shores in 2019:

  • White Bird: A Wonder Story – R.J. Palacio (September)
  • Guts – Raina Telgemeier (September)
  • The Tyrant’s Tomb (The Trials of Apollo, Book 4) – Rick Riordan (September)

Non-fiction


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Real-life kids with courage are the focus of Kirsty Murray’s Kids Who Did: Real Kids Who Ruled, Rebelled, Survived and Thrived (April). Spanning history and the globe, this inspiring and hopeful collection of stories promises to celebrate ‘feral kids, fearless kids, Olympic champions, human-rights-crusaders, climate change activists, princes and prisoners, workers and whiz-kids.’ We’re on board with that!

The host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, tells the story of growing up half black, half white in South Africa under and after apartheid in It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime (April), a young readers’ adaptation of his bestselling adult memoir Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. For ages 10 and up.

In So She Did: The Story of May Wirth (June), author Simi Genziuk and illustrator Renee Treml, celebrate the life of Australian circus performer May Wirth. Wirth was renowned for being the greatest trick rider of her time, and the first ever woman to perform the ‘back across’ trick. This non-fiction picture book is for ages 4 and up.

Former Western Bulldogs AFL player Bob Murphy tells the story of his 17-year-career, with the help of his co-author Tony Wilson in A Boy Called Bob: Becomes an AFL Footballer (July). Written in an accessible narrative format for junior readers, this story follows Bob as he gets drafted to the Western Bulldogs at 17, slogs his guts out at training with the big Dogs, and eventually becomes one of the greatest football captains ever.

Jeannie Baker has been delighting us for 40 years with wonderful collage picture books, such as Where the Forest Meets the Sea and Mirror, and this year will release Playing with Collage (July) – a how-to guide to making your own collages, brimful of fascinating hints and tips from a master of the genre, for readers aged 8 and up.


For all your hotly anticipated YA titles, check out our very comprehensive roundup here.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Brosmind

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