YA books, events & news for June

This month – a contemporary road trip turns contemplative, a school leaver is forced to write a food journal, history gets rewritten, and a charismatic YA author manipulates a group of young fans.

You can find some of our best kids reads of the month here.


Changing Gear by Scot Gardner

In the wake of his beloved grandfather passing away, teenager Merrick lies to his separated parents and heads off for a road trip on his old postie bike. New experiences, greater wisdom and healing arrive slowly on the road, especially when Merrick joins forces with seasoned traveller, Victor. Merrick’s deep and philosophical conversations with Victor and the vastness of Australian nature gradually bring him to a point where he feels ready to return home.

Changing Gear comes highly recommended by our reviewer Dani, who says: ‘There is something about the emptiness of the land that fills Merrick up, and as a reader you feel filled up too.’ Read her full review here.

For ages 14 and up.


Big Bones by Laura Dockrill

Bluebelle (or BB) is absolutely sure she wants to leave school at sixteen. To calm her mum down, she agrees to keep a food diary (at the suggestion of the local nurse) and start going to the gym. BB’s journal is a hilarious and passionate chronicle of her love of cooking and eating, the time she spends with her best friend Camille and her sister Dove, the confusing torture of spin class and her part-time job at Planet Coffee. Though when an accident affects her family, confident BB finds herself confused, shaken and strangely vulnerable.

In my review of Big Bones I called it ‘a funny and heartfelt story full of smart, snarky humour, and thoughtful commentary on what it is to be a teenage girl in the modern world’. Read my full review here.

For ages 13 and up.


All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Miri, Soleil, Penny and Jonah are utterly obsessed with the novel Undertow, and can’t believe it when they manage to befriend its charismatic author, Fatima Ro, after a book signing. Their elation dulls though when Ro’s bestselling new book comes out, and it becomes obvious that the author has blatantly mined their real lives and secrets for her own ends. Ro disappears, leaving the four teens to fend for themselves in the spotlight.

Presented as a series of interview transcripts, emails, articles, journal entries and book excerpts, this is compulsive and unpredictable reading. Our reviewer Kim was mightily impressed by this YA novel that ‘explores the ethical responsibilities of writers and raises questions about celebrity worship, fandom, and boundaries’. Read her full review here.

For ages 13 and up.


The Radical Element by Jessica Spotswood

Take an exhilarating ride through history (from 1838 to 1984) with young women who defy rules and expectations. Twelve accomplished authors have contributed to this joyful and entertaining story anthology, offering up a wide variety of tales: an aspiring Latina actress uses magic to circumvent Hollywood norms of race and appearance; a turn-of-the-century daredevil escapes an abusive patriarch to join the circus; a Hawaiian-Chinese girl competes for Miss Sugar Maiden to a backdrop of racist taunts; an I-Love-Lucy-inspired screenwriter battles to break into the male-dominated industry.

This excellent collection resists genre – many of the stories blend history with elements of fantasy and magic realism – and it also creates space for women of colour and LGBTQIA voices.

For ages 12 and up.


Tradition by Brendan Kiely

US author Brendan Kiely tackles privilege, sexism and consent head-on in this novel set in the elite boarding school, Fullbrook Academy. Presenting the alternate perspectives of scholarship student Jamie, and fed-up and fired-up feminist Jules, the story explores the corrosive ‘traditions’ of the Academy, and the fallout over an accusation of sexual assault.

Athlete Jamie wants to fly under the radar at his new school, but he can’t bring himself to participate in or condone the toxic jock culture that runs rampant at Fullbrook. Instead he finds friendship and strength in an alliance with Jules to fight for change at their school.

For ages 14 and up.


Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Words and Phrases by Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson

Nganga is an essential guide to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander words and phrases that encourages the reader to be curious about culture, language, history and politics. With a clear and well-designed layout, each page devotes attention to a broad variety of words or phrases, such as cleverman, land rights, deadly, self-determination, tidda, sovereignty and many more.

This amazing resource is co-authored by Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir, an Elder and Traditional Owner of Boon Wurrung Country, and the senior linguist at the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.

For ages 10 and up.


Get set for the next round of screen adaptations inspired by books…

A movie adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian, book-burning classic, Fahrenheit 451, recently aired at the Cannes Film Festival and on HBO. As far as I can decipher, it will frustratingly air in Australia on paid TV networks (boo). Also available on a paid TV network is the new small screen adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock.

And hopefully getting a cinema release in Australia later this year is the much-anticipated feature-length film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s excellent short story, How to Talk to Girls at Parties which is included in this comic collection, Fragile Things.


We couldn’t be more excited about the shortlist for this year’s Readings Young Adult Book Prize! This is the second year of the Prize, which celebrates the best new writers in Australian Young Adult literature, and considers first and second YA books.

The six shortlisted novels are:

Nina Kenwood, Readings' Marketing Manager and Chair of the Judging Panel, comments: ‘The stories in this year’s shortlist range from romantic comedy to post-apocalyptic plague, and inspire everything from creeping horror to sheer joy. The six books are of an exceptionally high standard, demonstrating the extraordinary depth of talent to be found amongst debut and early-career Australian YA authors.’

You can find out more, and read the judges' comments here.


Bookish teens, we need you!

The Readings Teen Advisory Board is a volunteer group of teenagers that meets at Readings head office once a month to chat about recent and forthcoming young adult books, write blog posts and short reviews, learn about careers in the book industry, and provide feedback to Readings staff members on a range of subjects.

We’re currently looking for a new intake of teenagers (aged 14 -19) to join our advisory board starting in July 2018. The board meet on the third Monday of each month at 4.30pm in Carlton. Sadly, we do not currently have facilities to enable remote access for board members.

If you, or a teen you know, is interested, please find out more here. Applications close at 5pm on Friday 15 June, 2018.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Words and Phrases

Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Words and Phrases

Aunty Fay Muir, Sue Lawson

$16.99Buy now

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