Leanne Hall

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Twitter: lilymandarin

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

Reviews

Again Again by E. Lockhart

Adelaide Buchwald has just been dumped by Mikey, who has gallivanted off to Puerto Rico for the summer, leaving Adelaide behind at Alabaster Preparatory Academy. Adelaide plans to spend her holidays …

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Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath Moore

Her mother has passed away, and now Dylan has to leave her small rural home town of Beyen, in the company of her mother’s boyfriend, Pat. Dylan and Pat drive towards the ocean and the boat that Dylan…

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Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister by Jung Chang

British–Chinese writer Jung Chang (Wild Swans, Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China) is well-known for writing intimate biographies set against some of the world’s most turbu…

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The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chaim

Anna Chiu and her younger siblings Lily and Michael are very familiar with the ups and downs in their mother’s mental health, but that doesn’t make their family life any easier. Year Eleven student A…

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Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories by Helen Milroy

Wombat helps Mother Earth recover the eternal flame in her belly. Mudlark discovers the reason for Sun’s burning anger and soothes him. Clever Penguin stops Whale from stealing from Sky, and finds hi…

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Lizard’s Tale by Weng Wai Chan

Lizard is a street-smart twelve-year-old who lives in tiny quarters above a tailor’s shop in Singapore’s Chinatown, and ekes out a bare living with legitimate odd jobs, and a few slightly shady ones …

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We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

This moving novel creates the claustrophobia and snowy hush of seventeen-year-old student Marin’s winter break, which she’s chosen to spend in the empty dorms of her upstate New York college. This de…

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Meet Me at the Intersection by Rebecca Lim & Ambelin Kwaymullina

Masterminded by authors Rebecca Lim and Ambelin Kwaymullina, Meet Me at the Intersection is a highly successful and much-needed anthology of Australian Own Voices writing – stories about marginalised…

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The Relic of the Blue Dragon by Rebecca Lim

Harley Spark isn’t sure why he’s drawn to the dusty vase sitting outside the local antique warehouse. Harley’s mum, Delia, has always counselled him to be honest, not least because his dad Ray’s crim…

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Real Pigeons Fight Crime by Andrew McDonald & Ben Wood

The Real Pigeons are a crimefighting squad of city birds, each with a unique Pigeon Power. Grandpouter is the patriarch in charge of super-strong Frillback, extra-bendy Tumbler, navigational expert H…

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Big Bones by Laura Dockrill

I first came across Laura Dockrill’s unique voice with her wildly poetic mermaid duology, Lorali and Aurabel, and Big Bones is another addition to her marvellous body of work about young people who g…

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Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland

I’m a known collector of fancy editions of timeless tales, and a sucker for all things mythological, so I was very excited to pick up Kevin Crossley-Holland’s illustrated Norse Myths: Tales of Odin,

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Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Vivian is one of the ‘nice girls’ at East Rockport High. She has a small group of friends, and her main mission is to fly under the radar and not draw too much attention to herself. Her grandparents …

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The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Matthew hasn’t left the house for quite some time. Instead he sits in his bedroom (very clean and disinfected) or the study (within the acceptable limits of cleanliness, if he’s careful about what he…

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The Fighting Stingrays by Simon Mitchell

Adventure, Australian history and the power of friendship come together in this extremely engaging novel about a trio of boys living on Thursday Island during World War II. Charlie, Alf and Masa spen…

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Marsh and Me by Martine Murray

Joey M. Green is a boy with ‘sensitivities’, who rarely has the right words at the right time. He’s a deep thinker, part of a loving family; he wonders about his place in the world. He plays his guit…

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Living on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren

Living on Hope Street is the impressive debut novel of Turkish–Australian writer and co-editor of the acclaimed Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia anthology, Demet Divaroren.

Brothers Ka…

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Do Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak & Julian Frost

Do not lick this book doubles as a fun interactive picture book, and a fascinating science lesson about microbes. Readers are introduced to Min, a cartoon microbe, and encouraged to press the page wi…

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Somewhere in the world (or perhaps another world), a mythical and wondrous city closed its borders to outsiders, had its name stolen, and is now only known as Weep. Weep is the obsession of choice of…

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Valentine by Jodi McAlister

Traditional fairy lore is transplanted into a small-town Australian location in Jodi McAlister’s debut novel, Valentine, and given a thoroughly contemporary spin.

A frightening black horse appears a…

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My First Lesson by Alice Pung

Teenagers are often written at by adults, but My First Lesson is a rare opportunity for twenty-five teenagers to tell their own stories in their own inimitable ways. Keen young writers were invited t…

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The Book of Pearl by Timothee De Fombelle

A fourteen-year-old boy runs through the forest – bleeding, heartbroken and confused – before stumbling across a welcoming hut belonging to an elderly saviour, Joshua Pearl. So begins a mystery that …

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Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

Prepare to be taken uncomfortably deep into the Third Reich. Our narrator, Konrad, begins his story in utero – immediately demonstrating an ambitious nature and unswerving devotion to the Führer. Kon…

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Momo by Michael Ende

German author Michael Ende might be better known for his novel The Neverending Story, but it is the sweet and magical Momo that holds first place in my heart. Momo is a surreal (and at times creepy) …

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Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw

In Five Star Billionaire a large cast of migrants battle to find security and happiness in a New China that is hurtling into the future. Malaysian author Tash Aw skilfully juggles the perspectives of…

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Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Alif is an Arab-Indian hacker-for-hire in an unnamed Middle Eastern emirate with a digital policing system so effective it’s referred to as the Hand of God. In an already rightfully paranoid communit…

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The New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers

A new Oliver Jeffers picture book is always a cause for celebration, and The New Jumper is a gem. The Hueys are a large group of egg-shaped creatures who look, think and act identically. When one of …

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News

Recommended YA books, news & resources for July

by Leanne Hall

Lovers of heartfelt contemporary YA are spoilt for choice this month, but if you like action-packed sci-fi, verse novels or gentle touches of magic, then you’re also in luck. Find our July picks for kids books here. YA BOOK OF THE MONTH The Lost Soul Atlas by Zana Fraillon

Twig is all alone after his dad goes missing, but when he meets cheerful pickpocket Flea, the pair become fast frie…

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Recommended kids books, news & resources for July

by Leanne Hall

This month in children’s books we have real friends, imaginary friends, not-imaginary monsters, heartfelt family dramas and pint-sized pranking activists. Find our July picks for YA books here. KIDS BOOK OF THE MONTH

When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin

Lissa is home on her own one afternoon when Reed turns up on the doorstep carrying an unwell five-month-old baby. He’s trying to fin…

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Brilliant inclusive middle fiction fantasy

by Leanne Hall

Magical powers, mythical monsters and strange other worlds are popular with young readers aged 8-12, who seek adventure, wonder and understanding through fantasy stories. Fantasy books can also be a great vehicle to represent a full and inclusive range of relatable characters and diverse mythologies. Here are some of our favourite fantasy books that champion cultural and LGBTQIA+ inclusivity. …

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Funny books for beginner readers

by Leanne Hall

Working towards independent reading can be slow and painstaking work. Beginner books with silly characters, outlandish scenarios, funny dialogue, and comic illustrations can help create enthusiastic and entertained readers. Here are some of the recent junior fiction books for readers aged 6-8 years that made us laugh.

Timmy the Ticked-Off Pony and the Poo of Excitement by Magda Szubanski &…

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Recommended YA books, news & resources for June

by Leanne Hall

We’ve got stories strange and otherworldly this month. Sinking islands, mysterious sisters, splintered narratives and trippy parties all have a place on our reading shelf in June. Find our June picks for kids books here. SIX YA BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH

The End of the World Is Bigger than Love by Davina Bell

Identical twin sisters Summer and Winter live alone on a remote island, shelter…

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Recommended kids books, news & resources for June

by Leanne Hall

This month we have some wonderful new Australian picture books, Melina Marchetta writing for a new age group, a magical illustrated novel, and a must-have book that illuminates the Uluru Statement from the Heart for young readers. Find our June picks for YA books here. SIX KIDS BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH

The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson & Rovina Cai

A giant stands on the shore, wa…

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