Leanne Hall

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Twitter: lilymandarin

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

Reviews

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

Our favourite worlds in middle grade fantasy

by Leanne Hall

One of the joys of reading fantasy is being transported to other worlds that are breathtakingly different – and fascinatingly similar – to the our own regular human world. Here are some favourite books for children that take us to places strange and wonderful. All these picks are suitable for ages 9 to 12.

Dragon’s Green by Scarlett Thomas

The first book in Scarlett Thomas’s amazing World

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Recommended kids books, news & events for March

by Leanne Hall

This month in children’s books we have inventive historical fiction, Pippi Longstocking’s successor, atmospheric fantasy novels and intriguing mysteries galore. Find our March picks for YA books here. KIDS BOOK OF THE MONTH The Ghost of Howlers Beach by Jackie French

Butter O'Bryan lives in a small but comfortable castle with his father and three aunts. When a scruffy three-legged dog d…

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Recommended YA books & news for March

by Leanne Hall

This month we have atmospheric fantasy novels with unique settings, heartfelt contemporary YA and a sprinkling of romance. Find our March picks for kids books here. YA BOOK OF THE MONTH

Our YA book of the month is Astrid Scholte’s The Vanishing Deep – a standalone fantasy murder mystery set in a flooded post-climate change world.

When seventeen-year-old Tempest’s older sister Elysea my…

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YA books to gift your crush

by Leanne Hall

Let’s celebrate love and friendship in all its forms! We recommend our favourite warm, fuzzy and loved-up books that are suitable to give your crush, or a cherished friend, or even yourself.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed

Love blossoms during a political campaign in this sweet cross-cultural romance, which also happens to be our YA Book of the Month.

Jamie Goldberg is c…

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Books to help explain Australia’s history to kids

by Leanne Hall

The immense popularity of Bruce Pascoe’s Young Dark Emu: A Truer History has demonstrated a thirst for true and balanced accounts of Australian history. Here are some of our favourite books to help explain Australian history to kids.

Young Dark Emu: A Truer History by Bruce Pascoe

This young reader’s version of Bruce Pascoe’s seminal and award-winning work Dark Emu explains that Australian…

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Recommended YA books & news for February

by Leanne Hall

The YA reading year is off to a great start. In February, we’ve got a sweet political rom-com, a playlist of love stories, gripping sci-fi adventures, and unique fantasy reads that span from gentle to sinister. Find our February picks for kids books here. YA BOOK OF THE MONTH

Two big-name authors come together in Yes No Maybe So, a heartwarming cross-cultural political rom-com that uses al…

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