Children's Books for Younger Readers
Patrick Ness (author) from an idea by Siobhan Dowd
Jim Kay (illustrator)
Walker Books, UK: 2011; 214pp
Genres: realistic fiction, surreal
Issues: death, family, grief, guilt, identity, loss
When the monster finally shows up it isn't the one that Conor's been expecting. Instead it's a great Yew come to life, with all its strength, poisonous berries and great age. Still, Conor's seen worse. Was expecting worse, in fact. So why has the Green Man walked into his life?
Jackie French (author)
Bruce Whatley (illustrator)
Scholastic Press, Australia: August 2011
Genres: picture book, realistic fiction
Issues: environment, community
The rain keeps falling and children can't play outside; the ground becomes saturated; the rivers rise: flood is imminent. In stark, concise prose, Jackie French captures the terrifying and devastating enormity of the 2011 Queensland floods. 'Trees and sofas sucked and swirled into the torrent. Boats tore from their jetties. A cafe, wrenched from its foundations, was captured in the river's surge.' A surge so unstoppable that inside and outside become one and humans cling to wreckage.
Cornelia Funke (author)
Chicken House Press, UK: October 2011; 166pp
Genres: adventure, realistic fiction
Issues: family, friendship
Charlie, Hannah, Izzie and Xa (Alexandra): four friends-most-of-the-time girls who would like their summer to be a little more interesting. Forming a gang seems like a good start – but how do you find an adventure?
Barbara Else (author)
Gecko Press, NZ: April 2011; 295pp
Genres: adventure, fantasy
Issues: choices, family, friendship, identity, responsibility
Jasper Ludlow is twelve. So why do his parents keep insisting to the Provisional Monarch that he's only ten? Left behind when his family tries to escape the dangerous attention of the ambitious Lady Gall and her spy ring, Jasper joins the Travelling Restaurant, a truly remarkable boat.
Michael Streich (author/illustrator)
Allen & Unwin, Australia: October 2011
Genres: allegory, picture book
Issues: ethics, greed, war
The grumpy little king is tired of being a small king of a tiny nation so he decides to go to war. Battle will bring glory, honour and fame, he is advised.
Mary Hooper (author)
Bloomsbury, UK: Australian release September 2011; 336pp
Genres: historical fiction
Issues: friendship, identity
Velvet is employed in a steam laundry in Victorian England. For an orphan such as herself it is one of the few respectable places for a young woman to work. A tendency to faint in the heat and humidity puts her place at risk. When Velvet convinces her boss to give her a chance at a less unhealthy location within the laundry, little does Velvet realise that her whole life is about to change.
Tony Lee (author)
Sam Hart (illustrator)
Walker Books, UK: Australian release March 2011;160pp
Genres: adventure, graphic novel, myth/legend
Issues: choices, ethics, friendship, identity
As Uther Pendragon, King of Albion, is dying, he thrusts his magic sword, Caliburn, deep into a stone in order to stop his murderer and one-time friend, Ulric, from claiming it. Merlin, great wizard and advisor to Uther, then prophesied that one would come who would draw the sword from the stone and become 'the once and future king'.
Colin Thompson (author/illustrator)
Julie McRae Books, Random House, Australia: 1993
Genre: picture book
A young boy is mourning the loss of his grandfather, who died after living a long and full life on the high seas. Trying to follow his grandfather's last advice, the boy searches for Atlantis. 'You have to learn how to look for it,' his grandfather had said.
Marjolijn Hof (author)
Translated by JH & JW Prins
Allen & Unwin, Australia: June 2011: 128pp
Genres: realistic fiction
Issues: ethics, service, war
'Every now and then [my father] went off to war. At least once a year. You're heading the wrong way when you go off to a war. It's better to stay as far away from wars as you can. But my father is a doctor and they need doctors in a war. My father likes to be needed.' (p1)
Janet Foxley (author)
Chicken House Press, Scholastic, Australia: July 2011; 206pp
Genres: adventure, humour
Issues: differences, family
Mt Grumble is the home of the giants, who have hidden from Smallings (humans) ever since their tiny foes developed the 'magic sticks' that enabled them to kill their gargantuan neighbours. Muncle is a very small giant. Human-sized, in fact.
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Did you know?
Gifted children vary a lot. Some are great at sports. Some have disabilities. Children can be gifted or not along one or more of a large number of dimensions. Labels like "gifted" need to be used carefully as all children are different.