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

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chaim

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall

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

Reviewed by Leanne Hall, Readings Carlton

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

Teen classics paired with their contemporary YA soulmates

by Leanne Hall

Inspired by Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ‘80s and ‘90s Teen Fiction, I’ve been reflecting on my own favourite teen reads. Here’s my best attempt at pairing some of these retro delights with their contemporary YA fiction counterparts. Read the teen classic! (In some cases, find it at the op shop.) Read the new book! Or best of all, read both!

If you loved the Sweet Valley

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Recommended August YA books, news & events

by Leanne Hall

August sees us awash in sharp and timely contemporary fiction, darker witchy and dystopic tales, and looking forward to a busy teen-friendly events schedule. Find our August picks for kids books here. YA BOOK OF THE MONTH

It Sounded Better In My Head by Nina Kenwood

Eighteen-year-old Natalie has just finished year twelve and is enjoying one final summer with her best friends Zach and L…

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Recommended August kids books, news & events

by Leanne Hall

This month we’ve got anatomy! imagination! a lizard journalist! a baby that disgusts monsters! a very gorgeous cookbook! and more. Be prepared, because August is eclectic. Find our August picks for YA books here. KIDS BOOK OF THE MONTH

You Might Find Yourself by Tai Snaith

This gorgeous new picture book from Australian artist Tai Snaith (The Family Hour in Australia, Slow Down, World) …

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Celebrate the moon-landing anniversary with kids books

by Leanne Hall

Fifty years ago is ancient history to contemporary kids – but luckily there’s a plethora of children’s books bringing to life the wonder and awe of 1969’s Apollo 11 Moon mission and the moment Neil Armstrong took that first step. Here are some of our favourites.

Where’s Mr Astronaut? by Ingela P Arrhenius

If your baby is showing early signs of a future career in space exploration, you may…

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Kids books to make you giggle

by Leanne Hall

It’s the depth of winter, so what better time to snuggle up with a funny book? We recommend some of our favourite kids reads that are guaranteed to make you laugh and lift your spirits.

Brenda Is a Sheep by Morag Hood

Brenda says she’s a sheep, but to be honest, Brenda’s a little shady. She has a pointy snout, pointy canine teeth, she doesn’t enjoy eating grass, and her baa is non-existent…

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Indigenous words & languages in children’s books for NAIDOC Week

by Leanne Hall

The theme for NAIDOC Week 2019 is ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth’ – the three key elements set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. In honour of this, and also of the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, we recommend six children’s books that contain Indigenous words and languages, and give voice to the rich lore, culture and knowledge of our First Nations Australians.

M

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