Book of the Year: Older Readers (These books are for mature readers)


Claire Zorn The Protected  pb 9780702250194  $19.95

Sixteen year old Hannah’s story is set one year after a terrible car crash which took her older sister Katie’s life. Devastated by their loss, Hannah’s parents are struggling; her mother is severely depressed, rarely leaving the house, and although her injured father, like Hannah, can’t remember the accident he blames himself. Through a series of flashbacks we learn that Hannah and her sister had a conflicted relationship, as Katie ignored the bullying that plagued Hannah’s existence. Since Katie’s death, however, everyone leaves Hannah alone as she deals with her grief and she becomes isolated both at school and at home, until she strikes up a friendship with Josh, also a bit of an outsider. Through this relationship Hannah feels what it is like to be accepted for who she is, and the school counsellor aids Hannah in discovering the truth about the lead-up to the car accident, the accident itself and the tormenting guilt that she experiences in the aftermath. A beautifully written book that deals with issues of grief, bullying, fractured families and healing. The character development and the complexity of the relationships give the book an authentic and very raw sentiment. (14+ years) JH

Also Winner 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Young Adult


Honour Books

Clare Atkins Nona & Me  pb 9781863956895  $19.99

When they were little girls, growing up in the Aboriginal community outside a mining town in the Northern Territory, Rosie and Nona were like sisters. Yapas. That Rosie is white and Nona is Aboriginal is irrelevant as Rosie and her family are very much a part of the Yirrkala community. Having moved away when the girls were nine, Nona has just returned and things have changed. Now 15, Rosie has all but turned her back on the community, spending most of her time in the mining town where she attends school with the popular Selena and her handsome older brother, Nick. Driven by her need to be accepted, Rosie ignores Nona, who is struggling to find her place at the school. This becomes more heartbreaking as the many flashbacks to the girls’ childhood reveal just how deep their friendship was. Also, as Rosie’s relationship with Nick develops, it is heartbreaking to see Rosie stand idly by while Nick’s racism becomes more demonstrative. When Rosie finally starts to make decisions driven by her heart rather than her insecurity, she is drawn back into the community, back to Nona and her extended family. There are many layers to this novel, with its themes of racism, family, kinship, friendship and first love, set against the backdrop of the effects of government intervention in indigenous communities. (14+ year olds) MC

Diana Sweeney The Minnow  pb 9781922182012  $19.99

I put off reading this novel as the themes – teen pregnancy, loss and grief – did not appeal to me. However, I’m now really glad I finally dived in as it is so unusually and beautifully written! In The Crossing, a small coastal town, 15 year old Tom (real name Holly) loses her sister Sarah and her parents in a terrible flood. Devastated and emotionally disconnected, Tom moves into a room at Bill’s, an unscrupulous man about twice her age who is increasingly gaining the interest of the police. When she becomes pregnant to Bill, she is taken in by her best friend, Jonah, whose parents also died in the flood. Jonah is kind, thoughtful and caring, wanting only the best for her and the Minnow (as Tom calls the baby inside her). This is the sad tale of how Tom navigates her grief, pregnancy and impending motherhood and yet it is unexpectedly uplifting. Tom is close to her Nana, visiting her at the nursing home every day, but she also communes with the ghost of her grandfather Papa, and sometimes her sister and parents, with the fish in the aquarium at the local pet shop and the turtle in the tank at the maternity ward. And the Minnow. This is a compelling, whimsical, beautifully written coming-of-age story with a unique central character. My only criticism is that Bill was never brought to justice and I don’t like the message this sends. (15+ year olds) MC

Winner 2013 Text Publishing Prize



Christine Bongers Intruder  pb 9780857983763  $19.99

Fifteen year old Kat is woken at midnight by an intruder looming over her and when she screams, it is her hated neighbour Edie who comes to the rescue.

Since her mother’s death three years ago, Kat’s dad Jimmy has worked nights, playing keyboards in bars around Brisbane before heading off to his ‘day job’ baking specialty breads and pastries at Crusty’s. Kat’s mum and Edie were best friends and Edie had always been a big part of their lives until Kat cut her off, mistakenly believing Edie betrayed her mum. Despite Kat’s behaviour, Edie has remained loyal to her, and with Kat home alone every night and her safety now at risk, Edie has re-entered her life, along with a lovable slobbering guard dog called Hercules. At the dog park, Kat meets the adorable Al and as their friendship quickly blossoms Kat lets her guard down and she is forced to start dealing with her suppressed emotions: grief for her mum, resentment at her dad’s absence, and hostility towards Edie. With the prowler still in the neighbourhood and closing in on her, Kat must enlist Edie’s help and their uncomfortable alliance leads to Kat finally learning the truth about their shared past. A good read, with themes of grief, healing, friendship and family, with a bit of suspense and a touch of romance. The characters are well-drawn and as the novel takes place over just one week, the pace is fast. (14+ year olds) MC


Darren Groth Are You Seeing Me?  pb 9780857984739  $19.99

Publisher’s description:   Twins Justine and Perry are about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest. It's been a year since they watched their dad lose his battle with cancer. Now, at only nineteen, Justine is the sole carer for her disabled brother. But with Perry having been accepted into an assisted-living residence, their reliance on each other is set to shift. Before they go their separate ways, they're seeking to create the perfect memory. For Perry, the trip is a glorious celebration of his favourite things: mythical sea monsters, Jackie Chan movies and the study of earthquakes. For Justine, it's a chance to reconcile the decision to 'free' her twin, to see who she is without her boyfriend, Marc, and to offer their mother the chance to atone for past wrongs. But the instability that has shaped their lives will not subside, and the seismic event that Perry forewarned threatens to reduce their worlds to rubble . . . (15+ years)


Melissa Keil The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl  pb 9781742978307  $18.95

Publisher’s description:  Seventeen-year-old Alba is an aspiring comic-book artist, pastry enthusiast and eternal optimist. She thinks life in her tiny town is  awesome (if predictable) and she never wants it to change. Unfortunately, Alba's just finished year 12, so the only thing she can predict is that everything's going to change. Even so, Alba didn't see the end of the world coming. Apart from a questionable television psychic, no-one did. And for some reason, the world seems to be taking this guy seriously. As the tiny town is besieged by doomsday enthusiasts, Alba's life is thrown into chaos. The childhood friend she thought was gone forever unexpectedly reappears; the boy who has been her best friend forever is determined to leave; and even her latest comic book creation, Cinnamon Girl, is out of control. It could be the very last summer of Alba's life, but impending Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.* Alba is about to discover that when it comes to her heart, there may not be infinite time to get things right. (*Spoiler alert: the world doesn't actually end).

(14+ years) 


Book of the Year: Younger Readers


Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood (illus) The Cleo Stories: The Necklace & The Present  hardback 9781743315279  $16.99

Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood have collaborated on some lovely, award-winning picture books over the years. They’re a great team. This is their first book in the Cleo series for early fiction readers. In the first story, 6 year old Cleo desperately wants a necklace as all of her friends have one. Mum and Dad say she must wait until her birthday for such a special gift and although Cleo is disappointed she comes up with a very unique idea. In the second story Cleo’s imagination and creativity once again come to the fore as she tries to find the perfect present for her Mum’s birthday. There are lots of colour illustrations throughout and on the gorgeous endpapers. (6-8 year olds). MC


Honour Books

Tristan Bancks Two Wolves  pb 9780857982032  $16.99

Thirteen year old Ben Silver has always wanted to be a detective – his Dad even calls him ‘Cop’. After a visit from the police one afternoon, his parents arrive home, pack the car and tell Ben and his little sister Olive that they’re all going on a holiday. Ben’s suspicion that his parents may be in some kind of trouble is confirmed when, after driving for two days, they arrive at a deserted cabin in the woods and he discovers they have a bag full of money. He doesn’t believe that they sold their ailing wrecking business and starts gathering evidence, making notes in his notebook, but he’s in such a quandary – if he works out what his parents have done, does he keep it a secret or tell on them? When the police turn up at the cabin one night, the family escape through a hole in the floor and Ben, Olive and the money are separated from his parents. After some time in the wilderness, Ben buries the money, taking enough to get him and Olive back down the coast to his Nan’s place, only to find that his parents are there. Eventually, Ben has to stand up to his unpredictable, menacing father when he makes the brave decision to retrieve the money and hand it in to the police. Full of suspense, this high-stakes adventure is a real page-turner. (11 – 14 year olds) MC


Judith Rossell Withering-by-Sea: A Stella Montgomery Intrigue  hardback 9780733333002  $19.99

I loved this atmospheric mystery-thriller set in Victorian England, in and around the grand Hotel Majestic perched on the clifftop at Withering-by-Sea. There is a nice mix of historic detail, unexpected elements of magic and fantasy, a mysterious package, villains, a monster, and our wonderful heroine, 11 year old orphan Stella Montgomery, who is clever, inquisitive, resourceful and far braver than she thinks. The quirky cast of characters is very entertaining: Stella’s three strict, cantankerous aunts, Condolence, Deliverance and Temperance; kind Mr Capelli and his singing cats; and feisty, cheeky Gert, part of a dancing troupe called the Fairy Bells who perform at the theatre at the end of the pier. Then there is poor Ben, an orphan who is bound by dark magic into serving evil Professor Starke. It is Ben and Mr Capelli who come to the rescue when Stella and Gert are kidnapped by the Professor and his henchmen. As well as the satisfying storytelling, this is such an attractive book with its dark blue text and lovely blue ink wash illustrations scattered throughout. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended. (9 – 12 years) MC

Also winner of the 2015 Indie Awards, and shortlisted for 2014 Aurealis Awards and 2015 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA)



Bill Condon & Beth Norling (illus) The Simple Things  pb 9781743317242  $12.99

Stephen’s great-aunt Lola sends him money for his birthday and Christmas every year, but they’ve never met. When he and his parents go to stay with Lola for three weeks in a country town, Stephen wants to go straight back home. There’s nothing to do and Lola is not only really, really old but she’s also grumpy and scary. However, forced to spend time together, Stephen and Lola form a bond, and after an emergency trip to the hospital, Lola shares a long-kept family secret with him.  Stephen learns about the simple things in life, like fishing, cricket and climbing trees, from Lola’s neighbour Norm and his granddaughter Allie, and together they celebrate Lola’s 80th birthday. A gentle, uncomplicated novel about family and friendship. (7-9 years)  MC


Steven Herrick Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain  pb 9780702250163  $14.95

Herrick handles the problems of three students at a very progressive school with sympathetic humour. Hunter appears to be a bully but his main problem is that his father has cleared out and left his mother and himself. Jesse worries too much about so many things, including the starving children in Africa, and Kate wants to save the whales. There are lots of problems in the world and this novel looks at kids who are struggling with knowing what to do with a number of them. Here three kids succeed in getting together and helping each other and others. Herrick tells their story with a lot of humour. (9 – 12 years) KS 


Tamsin Janu Figgy in the World  pb 9781742990453  $15.99

Figgy may be only 8 years old but she’s a very determined, optimistic and spirited young girl. Abandoned as a baby, she’s been raised by Grandma Ama in a small village in Ghana with only intermittent electricity, no running water, refrigerator or TV. Grandma Ama falls ill and so Figgy bravely and naively sets off to America to get medicine for her. She takes Kwame, her pet goat, along for company, with just a little money and some basic supplies in her bag and no idea even which way America is, or how far. After losing her money in a storm she meets a boy, 9 year old Nana, who seems to know quite a lot about The World and volunteers to accompany her to the United Stilts of America (a country where he believes everyone walks around on stilts). During their travels they meet many people, and it is the kindness and generosity of a wealthy man named Kofi who saves the lives of both Nana and Grandma Ama. Although Figgy and Nana don’t even make it out of Ghana, they have journeyed a long way and learnt many things. This is a gentle and uplifting tale of resilience, friendship and family from an author who spent 3 months working at a school and orphanage in Ghana, West Africa. (8-11 year olds) MC


Book of the Year: Early Childhood (Picture Books)


Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood (illus) Go to Sleep, Jessie!  hardback 9781742977805  $24.95

Baby Jessie has moved into her big sister’s room, and when it’s time for bed, Jessie just will not sleep. And neither can her sister, who just wants her own room back. Every night Jessie screams in her cot and throws her pillow on the floor. Her sister coos and cajoles, even handing over her favourite bear, but all her attempts, and those of mum and dad, fail to settle Jessie down. Finally, sisterly love and comfort bring peace to the household, and a lovely resolution to this tale that will be familiar to so many families. The illustrations perfectly capture both Jessie’s upset and the mixed emotions of her sister. (4 – 6 years) MC


Honour Books

Lesley Gibbes & Stephen Michael King (illus) Scary Night  hardback 9781921504631  $24.99, pb 9781921504617  $14.99

Hare with a hat, Cat with a cake and Pig with a parcel. The three friends set out on a journey one scary night, ‘tip-toe creeping in the pale moonlight’, fearful but brave. Over hills, through the woods, across the creek filled with snapping crocodiles and up the mountain where the air is filled with the roars of grizzly bears with sharpened claws. The tension builds, aided by the repetition of questions and answers ‘Where were they going? It was a mystery’ and ‘Were they scared? You bet they were!’, culminating in a terrified screeeeeeaammmm! They finally arrive safely at Goat’s house, with much relief and cries of ‘surprise!’, to celebrate her birthday. Goat was thrilled. In fact, she was tickled pink! This simple picture book is such a treat, with both the language and illustrations giving it a Dr Seuss feel, and would be an absolute delight to read aloud. (3 - 6 years) MC


Alison Lester Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach  hardback 9781743311141  $24.99

Alison Lester’s picture books are always a treat, whether for the very young or for older children. This is the second rhyming pony story about Noni, who spends a sunny day at the beach with her friends Dave the dog, Coco the cat and four cows known as ‘the ladies next door’. They frolic and splash and build a boat out of sand, watch starfish in rock pools and see dolphins and whales, and all head home happy and tired after their wonderful day. (2 – 5 years) MC

See also:

Noni the Pony hardback 9781741758887  $24.99, Board Book 9781743312094 $14.99



Aaron Blabey Pig the Pug  hardback 9781743624777  $16.99

Told in hilarious rhyme with equally hilarious illustrations, this is the cautionary tale of Pig the pug, too selfish to share. When Trevor the sausage dog suggested it might be more fun if they played together, Pig flipped his wig, gathered up all his toys and sat on top of the precarious, wobbling pile. As we all know, ‘pigs can’t fly’ and that pug gets his just desserts! Delightful fun. (3 – 6 years) MC

See also:

Pig the Fibber hardback 9781743629062   $16.99


Jenny Hughes & Jonathan Bentley (illus) A House of Her Own  hardback 9781742974620  $24.95

This warm, whimsical picture book tells the story of young Audrey’s quest for independence following an announcement to her Dad that their house is getting too small for her. Under her specific instructions, her obliging Dad sets about building a house for Audrey at the top of the tree in their backyard. It has a staircase with a banister she can slide down, a suspended bathtub for snorkelling, a blue bed and somewhere to sip tea. Perfect! But when Dad packs away his tools and wishes her goodnight, Audrey realises there’s something missing way up there at the top of the tree: love and security. Dad, of course, welcomes her back home with open arms and soup for two. (3 – 6 years) MC 


Stephen Michael King Snail and Turtle Are Friends  hardback 9781743620236  $24.99, pb 9781743620243  $15.99 (due 1 Jan 2016)

Despite being different, Snail and Turtle love doing things together. They like to walk, run, be creative or just enjoy being quiet together. While Snail prefers eating leaves and painting artistic swirls, Turtle likes flowers and painting shapes and blobs. The message of this gentle, charming book is that differences don’t matter between friends. (2 – 5 years) MC


Picture Book of the Year (Some of these picture books may be for mature readers)



Irene Kobald & Freya Blackwood (illus) My Two Blankets  hardback 9781921714764  $24.95

Fleeing war, a young girl called Cartwheel and her family move to another country where they will be safe. The countries are not named but the pictures show they came from a rural environment with thatched mud huts, depicted in warm orange tones, to a crowded city with buildings and trains, depicted in cold grey-blues. Everything was so strange – the people, food, animals, plants and even the wind – that Cartwheel no longer felt like herself. Worst of all was not being able to understand the strange language. At home she wrapped herself in the familiar comfort of her own words and sounds, like an old blanket. One day in the park a girl smiles and waves, they play together and become friends. Over time the girl teaches Cartwheel new words, which she weaves into a new blanket that becomes as soft and comfortable as her old one. Colour returns to her world as she starts to feel like herself again. A positive story about extending the hand of friendship, fitting in and finding your way in a new world. (5-8 years) MC 



Honour Books

David Metzenthen & Michael Camilleri (illus) One Minute’s Silence hardback 9781743316245  $29.99

I was so surprised when I read this book. The text is simply written and full of humanity. A class of Year 11 or 12 students is asked to imagine, in one minute’s silence, the ANZAC soldiers landing at Gallipoli and struggling to advance under very heavy fire. However, the students are also asked to imagine the Turkish soldiers, looking down on the invading soldiers, and to imagine the Turks’ determination to defend their villages and their country. To imagine both sides of this conflict is in itself very moving. However, Camilleri has added another dimension by taking the young students in the Year 11 or 12 class and embedding them in the scenes of fighting among both ANZAC and Turkish soldiers. It is very effective and gives the illustrations a relevance and immediacy while making us really imagine what it would have been like to be there.   Camilleri also uses strikingly different and imaginative devices such as the close-up of the mechanism of guns, of a moving bullet and of an enormous fly evoking the fly-blown and rotting corpses on the battlefield. The illustrations are beautifully drawn with a black ink pen and contain many other fascinating details. 

I found this an exceptional book, bringing vividly to mind as it does the horror of the loss of so many young men sacrificed, on both sides, in this devastating war.  Text, illustrations and the design of the book are perfectly integrated to give the book its powerful narrative. The book ends with the extraordinary quotation from Ataturk when he says that “there is no difference between the johnnies and the mehmets” and that the fallen “having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well”.  (10 years upwards)  KS


Margaret Wild & Ritva Voutila (illus) The Stone Lion  hardback 9781921894855  $24.95

The stone lion statue outside the library longs to be able to move, to run through the park, prowling, pouncing and leaping. If he desires it enough, and with a generous heart, says the gargoyle, his wish may be granted for a brief time only. One evening, in heavy snow, a young homeless girl collapses with hunger and exhaustion beside the lion, and inside her basket her baby brother cries. The lion feels a flicker of pity, and suddenly his heart starts to beat, he flexes his claws and stretches his legs.  The park across the road beckons but instead he carries the children into the warmth of the library and only just makes it back to his pedestal before he turns to stone again. Both the story and the Depression-era style illustrations give this picture book the feel of a European fairytale.

(4 -7 years) MC



Trace Balla Rivertime hardback 9781743316337  $24.99

Clancy is about to go on a trip down the Glenelg River in Victoria in a canoe with his bird watching Uncle Egg.  The story is told through engaging illustrations and handwritten text with speech bubbles and notes on the many birds they see on their journey.  Clancy is apprehensive and at first finds the trip tiring and boring.   I too suspected that I would find the description of this ten-day journey a bit tedious.   However like Clancy, I too gradually slow down my expectations of fast action or excitement and relax into the slow leisurely pace of paddling down the river where the pleasure is afforded by camping, swimming, watching birds and just observing the various creatures on the river.  Clancy forgets about his computer games and television and settles down to the rhythm of the river and what it brings each day.  This is an excellent book for environmental awareness or as David Suzuki says in his foreword “a delightful story about the joy of the outdoors.”   The book contains through its illustrations and notes a wealth of information about birds and creatures of the Glenelg River.  Australian   (8 – 12 years)  KS


Glenda Millard & Stephen Michael King (illus) The Duck and the Darklings  hardback 9781743312612  $24.99

This unusual picture book is set in a land called Dark, a joyless underground world which people now call home as the surface has become unliveable. Peterboy lives with his beloved Grandpapa, whose eyes light up when he recalls there once was beauty in the world. Foraging on the surface one day, Peterboy finds a wounded duck and tenderly carries it home. Although Grandpapa warns Peterboy not to get too attached, it is he who tells the duck stories of times past when the world was full of beauty and light; that little duck has brought so much joy into their lives that Grandpapa hopes it will be happy to stay. But when the wind whispers her name, they realise they must let her go and are thankful for the sense of hope she created in their darkness. The dystopian theme is offset by the gentle, whimsical illustrations and lyrical language, leaving you with a positive feeling at the end of the book. (4-8 year olds) MC


Jackie French & Bruce Whatley (illus) Fire  hardback 9781742838175  $24.99, pb 9781742838199  $15.99

In Australia, summer is bushfire season. As our summers become hotter, storms more intense and more people and powerlines spread into the bush, the likelihood of fires increases. The destruction of habitat and loss of life, both human and animal, is devastating. Written in rhyming couplets and accompanied by Whatley’s atmospheric illustrations, this picture book captures the horror of such a fire, beginning with one small spark which quickly spreads and grows to a terrifying intensity, a ‘blood-red wall’, engulfing everything in its path and filling the sky with thick, black smoke and singed debris. Homage is paid to the courage, determination and skill of our firefighters and volunteers, and the sense of relief and disbelief of survivors reunited with loved ones is palpable. The book ends on a hopeful note as rain and a little time brings new growth to the blackened landscape. There are notes from the author and illustrator at the end of the book. (5 – 8 years) MC


Eve Pownall Award for Information Books (Some of these books may be for mature readers)


Simon Barnard A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land hardback 9781922079343  $45.00

Publisher’s description: Seventy-three thousand convicts were transported to the British penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) in the first half of the 19th century. They played a vital role in the building of the settlements, as well as the running of the newly established colony. This large format hardback is a rich and compelling account of the lives of the men, women and children who were transported to Tasmania for crimes ranging from stealing bread to poisoning family members. Their sentences, punishments, achievements and suffering make for fascinating reading, and the spectacular illustrations, each one carefully drawn in meticulous detail from contemporary records, bring this extraordinary history to life. (11 years – adults)



Honour Books

James Jolly & Robert Ingpen (illus) Tea and Sugar Christmas  hardback 9780642278630  $24.99

Once a week, from 1915 to 1996, the Tea and Sugar Train travelled from Port Augusta in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, servicing settlements along the 1050 mile long rail link across the Nullarbor Plain. As you can imagine, it was eagerly awaited and enthusiastically greeted by the people living in isolated communities and the workers in the railway camps. As there were no shops or services in these settlements, it was a lifeline. As well as bringing household goods, groceries, fruit, vegetables and meat, there were newspapers and books and the crew brought news from down the line. There was also a Community Welfare car with a nurse. On the first Thursday in December, Father Christmas was on board, distributing gifts to children along the line. This gorgeous picture book tells the story of Kathleen, a young Aboriginal girl, as she waits with barely-contained excitement for the Christmas train to arrive. Robert Ingpen’s black and white drawings and full colour fold-out illustrations are very evocative, realistically portraying the dusty isolation of these communities and the welcome sense of abundance when the Provisions car opens its doors. The last few pages contain photos and notes detailing the history of the train, and on the endpapers is a map showing the route of the train line across the vast Nullarbor Plain. (6 – 9 years) MC


Carlie Walker & Brett Hatherly Audacity: Stories of Heroic Australians in Wartime  pb 9781877007934  $23.00

Publisher’s description: This is the second book in the Century of Service series, and highlights the personal stories of individuals serving in Australian units who have demonstrated extraordinary boldness or courage during wartime. The book tells a wide range of stories: soldiers helping their mates, prisoners of war enduring the challenges of captivity, nurses protecting their patients, airmen defending their country and the empire, and sailors facing the dangers of mines. This image-rich publication draws on the Australian War Memorial’s diverse collection, including private records, and combines stories with interesting fact boxes, educational questions and research activities.  (12 – 14 years)

Also in this series:

Devotion: Stories of Australia's Wartime Nurses by Robyn Siers pb 9781877007835  $23.95




Demet Divaroren & Amra Pajalic (editors) Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia  pb 9781743312926  $18.99

Muslims in Australia come from over 70 countries, representing a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and experiences. Twelve known and unknown Australian Muslims tell their stories in their own voices, offering a different perspective to the often-negative stereotypes portrayed in the media. They explore body image, gender, romance, career, faith, football, friendship and family and the challenges of growing up in multicultural Australia. Their honest and personal stories will resonate with readers from all backgrounds and beliefs, smashing through the myths and stereotypes and celebrating diversity and achievement. Australian. (14+ years) MC


Pamela Freeman Mary’s Australia: How Mary Mackillop Changed Australia (Our Stories series)  pb 9781922077905  $17.95

Presented in picture book format, this is both a brief biography of Mary Mackillop and a social and political history of Australia. It covers the years between 1842 and 1909, the span of Mary’s life, and selects 14 significant dates during this period. Each of these dates is briefly examined in a double-page spread which gives an overview of events and conditions at the time, followed by the story of Mary’s life at that stage. She was a remarkable woman, with a passion for both education and her faith, and established 117 schools in small towns around Australia and New Zealand and 12 shelters housing over 1,000 poor people. She also founded the Institute of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart whose Sisters worked in small schools, homeless shelters and orphanages around the country. Following her death in 1909 her admirers began a campaign for her to be made a saint of the Catholic Church and she was finally canonised in October 2010. Contemporary artworks and photos throughout make this a very accessible book for young readers. (9 - 12 years) MC


Claire Saxby & Graham Byrne (illus) Emu  hardback 9781922179708  $27.95

Narrative non-fiction. In this latest addition to the excellent Nature Storybooks narrative non-fiction series, we learn about one of Australia’s most unusual birds, the emu. Unlike most birds, emus cannot fly so they build their nests on the ground. Once the eggs are laid, female emus have nothing more to do with hatching or raising the fledglings. It is the male who sits on the granite-green eggs for about eight weeks, slowing his metabolism so that he seldom has to leave the nest for food or drink. Once hatched, Emu teaches the lovely striped chicks to forage for fruit, seeds and insects, protecting them from predators such as dingoes and eagles until they become independent at about 6 months old. The story is accompanied by information in a different text style, and the illustrations are excellent. (5-8 year olds) MC

Other titles in the Nature Storybooks series:

Big Red Kangaroo by Claire Saxby & Graham Byrne (illus) hardback 9781921720420  $27.95 (Shortlist: 2014 CBCA Awards, Crichton Award)

Python by Christopher Cheng & Mark Jackson (illus) hardback 9781921529603  $29.95 (Shortlist: 2013 CBCA Awards, Information Books)

Bilby Secrets by Edel Wignell & Mark Jackson (illus) hardback 9781921529320 $29.95  pb 9781922077042  $16.95 (Shortlist: 2012 CBCA Awards, Information)

Just Ducks! by Nicola Davies & Salvatore Rubbino (illus) hardback 9781406327397  $27.95  pb 9781406344776  $16.95

Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber & Brian Lovelock (illus) hardback 9781921529665 $27.95  pb 9781925126266  $16.95  (NZ author and illustrator)


Crichton Award for New Illustrators


David Metzenthen & Michael Camilleri (illus) One Minute’s Silence hardback 9781743316245  $29.99

See Kate’s review above under Picture Book of the Year category.



Trace Balla Rivertime hardback 9781743316337  $24.99

See Kate’s review above under Picture Book of the Year category.


Paul Seden & Karen Briggs (illus) Kick with My Left Foot  hardback 9781743313442  $19.99, pb 9781760112387  $14.99 (due 12 Jan 2016)

A simple, exuberant picture book about a young boy in an Indigenous community warming up to play footy. Watched closely by his dog, he pulls on his left sock, then his right, his left boot, then his right. Then he’s up and running, dodging and bouncing the ball to the left, then the right, chased by his excited dog, eager to join in the fun. When the boy tries to kick with his right foot, he’s disappointed, but with his left foot he’s a winner – goal! This is the first picture book by both the author and illustrator, and was produced through the  Emerging Indigenous Picture Book Mentoring Project. (2-5 years) MC


Corinne Fenton & Robin Cowcher (illus) Little Dog and the Christmas Wish  hardback 9781742032368  $24.95

Set in Melbourne in the 1950s this charming picture book, with its muted ink and watercolour illustrations, is evocative of times past, but the theme is a timeless one. Little Dog and Jonathan are best friends, inseparable, but on Christmas Eve Little Dog is lost in the city. Alone and frightened in the midst of a thunderstorm and rushing shoppers, it seems Little Dog will never find his way home. He walks and walks and eventually, with night falling, sore paws and an empty tummy, things start to become familiar. Home at last, he throws himself into the loving arms of a delighted Jonathan, whose Christmas wish has just come true. Australian. (4-7 years) MC 


Mike Dumbleton & Snip Green (illus) Meet Douglas Mawson  hardback 9780857981950  $24.99, pb 9780857981967  $16.99

Another excellent addition to the Meet…. series, picture books introducing young readers to the extraordinary men and women who have shaped Australia’s history. Mawson led the first Australian expedition to the Antarctic, departing from Hobart in the Aurora in December 1911, sailing through wild storms and pack ice before battling fierce winds to build a base at Commonwealth Bay. Mawson set off to explore the frozen continent with two men and three sledges pulled by teams of huskies. They discovered breathtaking glaciers, drew maps and collected rock samples until, 500 kms from base camp, Ninnis, six huskies and the sledge carrying the tent and nearly all the food plunged into a deep crevasse. Mawson and Mertz had to turn back, but lack of food and sheer exhaustion claimed the lives of the remaining huskies and eventually Mertz as well. Incredibly, Mawson made it back to base camp alive. The straightforward text in boxes at the bottom of each page gives free reign to the excellent, dramatic illustrations. A Timeline rounds off the book. Australian. (5 – 8 years) MC

Shortlist 2015 CBCA Awards, Crichton Award for New Illustrators

Others in this series:

Meet the ANZACS  by Claire Saxby & Max Berry (ill) hardback 9780857981929  $24.99, pb 9780857981936  $16.99

Meet Weary Dunlop by Claire Saxby & Jeremy Lord (ill)  hardback 9780857985361  $24.99

Meet Banjo Paterson by Kristin Weidenbach & James Gulliver Hancock (ill)  hardback 9780857980083 $24.99

Meet Nancy Bird Walton by Grace Atwood & Harry Slaghekke (ill) hardback 9780857983879 $16.99 (hardback at pb price)

Meet Captain Cook by Rae Murdie & Chris Nixon (ill) pb 9780857980182 $16.99

Meet Ned Kelly by Janeen Brian & Matt Adams (ill) pb 9781742757193  $16.99

Meet Mary MacKillop by Sally Murphy & Sonia Martinez (ill)  hardback 9781742757216 $19.99,  pb 9781742757223  $16.99

Meet Sidney Nolan  hardback 9780857985897  $24.99


Ambelin Kwaymullina & Leanne Tobin (illus) The Lost Girl  hardback 9781921529634  $24.95

A young Indigenous girl wanders away from her camp and becomes lost. She curls up in the shadow of a rock, out of the sun, and falls asleep waiting for her brothers and sisters to find her. When no-one comes, she wanders alone, comfortable in her surroundings, drinking from a waterhole and eating bush food berries. Mother Nature is looking after her. As night falls a crow flies by, flapping from tree to tree and calling, so she follows it through the trees, over rocks and hills, right back to her people’s camp. Everyone is so happy to see her that they laugh and cry and cuddle her (but also growl at her for wandering off!) and give her a place by the fire. The illustrations are in rich, earthy tones, showing the abundance of flora and fauna, even in the desert setting, and depicting the girl’s connection to her land. (5 – 8 years) MC 

Reviewers are:

MC      Mandy Clarke

KS       Kate Shepherd

JH        Jodie Hartman


If you would like to order any of the books listed, send your order by email to Austral Ed


All prices are in Australian dollars and include GST of 10%, which is not applicable for overseas schools.