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

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Amari Peters misses her older brother Quinton, who has been missing for six months. When Amari receives a mysterious delivery, supposedly from Quinton himself, it seems like she might be getting clos…

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Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson

When Nala sees Tye Brown on stage at an open mic night run by youth activist group Inspire Harlem, she’s instantly smitten by his good looks and his caring manner. Nala is there for her ‘cousin-siste…

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The F Team by Rawah Arja

Tariq Nader is lucky enough to have a close group of friends in his life – dubbed ‘The Wolf Pack’ – but his under-resourced high school is struggling. Constant negative media attention has whipped up…

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The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Flora has been living on the pirate ship Dove as the boy Florian, along with her brother Alfie, her only living family. Life on the Dove is brutal – for the well-heeled passengers, who are informed m…

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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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News

Perfect reads for the tween years

by Leanne Hall

Too old for middle grade, but too young for YA? If you know a reader aged 10 - 13 years who wants to engage with more mature issues, here are some books that cater perfectly to the tween years.

Tiger Daughter by Rebecca Lim

Thirteen-year-old Wen is the first-generation daughter of Chinese immigrants, and lives in a house governed by rage and fear. Wen and her friend, Henry - whose mum and …

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So you want to start a YA bookclub?

by Leanne Hall

New year, new bookclub? YA fiction could be your best friend in 2021 - it’s plot-driven, explores big themes, covers many genres and is at the forefront of inclusion and representation. Here are our suggestions for recent YA reads that are sure to kickstart conversations with teens (or adult YA fans). Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter’s dad is in prison, his …

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Funny Australian kids books to brighten your summer

by Leanne Hall

What better way to spend your summer holidays than getting some giggles and belly laughs? Here are our picks of funny books for kids aged 7-12. The Odds by Matt Stanton

Kip is a quiet and shy kid who struggles to fit in at school. She’s easy to miss and that’s the way she likes it. But when ten characters from her favourite comics, picture books, TV shows and video games – and her nightmare…

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My five favourite reads of 2020

by Leanne Hall

Online bookseller and kids and YA author Leanne Hall shares five of her favourite reads from 2020, including an enthralling middle grade fantasy, a gripping crime debut, a highly imaginative anthology of terrific Australian writers, and more. The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller

This atmospheric middle grade fantasy contains many of my favourite things: folk tales, sentient animals, maps…

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Kids books that were perfect for 2020

by Leanne Hall

It’s been an unpredictable and challenging year, but somehow, children’s book were there for us all the way. Here’s a list of kids books that were perfect for the events of 2020. Change Starts with Us by Sophie Beer

This uplifting and colourful board book by award-winning Australian author-illustrator Sophie Beer is full of suggestions of simple, achievable things that young ones can do to …

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Non-fiction books to give curious kids

by Leanne Hall

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been compiling a host of gift guides to help you with your Christmas shopping. Children’s non-fiction books have never been more fascinating and more stunning. Here are our recommendations for books that will thrill young and curious minds this festive season. The Big Book of Blooms by Yuval Zommer, Elisa Biondi, Scott Taylor & Barbara Taylor

This big and bea…

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