Writer & Poet


End-of-2018 book tag: children’s books


Back in July I tagged myself to share a post about my favourite books from the first half of 2018. So it seems like a good idea to tie off 2018 with my favourites from the second half.

If you’re new here: I focus on books for under 12s. (I just don’t get through many books for grown-ups — or young adults — in 6 months.)

* = I borrowed the book from the library

**= I received a review copy of the book (but not for this blog, I wear a lot of booky hats out there in the real world)

Currently reading:
Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr.

Favourite picture book read in the last 6 months
Maya and Cat by Caroline Magerl
A gentle story with divine illustrations. The text is like poetry and there are themes of friendship and resilience. This book is good for your soul.

Favourite fiction book read in the last 6 months
Louisiana’s Way Home* by Kate DiCamillo.
This revisits a character from DiCamillo’s earlier book Raymie Nightingale. Louisana’s grandmother wakes her in the middle of the night and they leave home, never to return. A novel about finding your place in the world and your sense of self. Bring tissues.

Favourite nonfiction book read in the last 6 months
Zeroes & Ones ** by Cristy Burne.
The history of technology. Which sounds dry when you say it like that, but this book is not dry! Facts are given in small sections and illustrations are in a graphic style. Burne uses amusing (true) anecdotes, quotes and weird facts, and there  are old photos with humorous captions. Read with pizza close by.

Favourite poetry book read in the last 6 months
H is for Haiku by Sydell Rosenberg, illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi
Poems (haiku) on everyday topics. Fun and appealing visually and poetically. (I bought this as part of my masterplan to buy children’s poetry books when I see them in local bookshops to prove there is a demand for children’s poetry books. This one was purchased at Paper Bird Books and Arts.)

Favourite new-to-me author discovered in the last 6 months
Tamara Moss (Lintang and the Pirate Queen)*
This was a rollicking fantasy adventure on a pirate ship. I couldn’t put this book down. This is book 1 in a series.

Favourite new-to-me illustrator in the last 6 months
Ronak Taher (Sonam and the Silence, by Eddie Ayres) A beautiful picture book about the power of music for a girl in Afghanistan, when music is forbidden. Written in a folktale/fable sort of style. The illustrations are layered and textured and collage-y … and wonderful.

Favourite picture book I read aloud to children in the last 6 months
Aunt Amelia* by Rebecca Cobb. Aunt Amelia is an unusual babysitter, and awesomely subversive. (The parents leave a DO NOT list, which the children and Aunt Amelia systematically flout.) This book is so. much. fun. I read it aloud to a class of 5 year olds and a class of 6 year olds and it took each class about two pages to cotton on to the joke. And they found it hilarious. Plus: Rebecca Cobb illustrations. So joyful.
(NB: official sources advise that Aunt Amelia is a lizard and not a crocodile. This was good for some heated discussion.)

A book that made me cry in the last 6 months
Louisiana’s Way Home* by Kate DiCamillo. (See ‘Favourite Fiction Book’ earlier in this post)

A book that made me laugh in the last 6 months
Gastronauts ** by James Foley. Okay, maybe more groans than laughs. This book has more poo puns than you could ever want. No, really. An entertaining comic-book style novel with a bit of gastro-science sneaking in as a bonus. It’s book three in a series of graphic novels.

A book that surprised me
Watch this! A book about making shapes by Jane Godwin, Beci Orpin and Hilary Walker. This is a seriously fabulous book about shapes, and instead of illustrations there are bright photographs of a group of children making the shapes with their bodies. Brilliant for the Under 6 crowd, but I’m 45 and I read it several times just because I love it so much. It would be excellent to re-create in small groups in a classroom. Or at playgroups. Or in your backyard with all the small cousins etc etc.

A book I’ve bought as a gift in the last six months
Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford, illustrated by Sarah Davis. Violet is the sort of child who ponders life’s mysteries, and notices details, and likes to collect small things. The entire series is a delight.

Most beautiful book covers seen in the last 6 months
Sonam and the Silence, by Eddie Ayres, illustrated by Ronak Taher.
The cover is debossed (I think that’s the right word), matt-finished (not shiny) and grainy-textured when you run your hand over it. Lovely.

The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Walls* by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby. (This middle-grade series has gorgeous covers and the books are chunky and a pleasure to hold.) The book cover shown here doesn’t properly show off the metallic foiling on the cover. It’s even better in real life!

Most anticipated new releases in the first half of 2019
Fiction: Catch a Falling Star by Meg McKinlay (out February)
Picture book: I would Dangle the Moon by Amber Moffatt (Out June)
Nonfiction: Kids Who Did by Kirsty Murray (Out April)

Three books waiting on my TBR
Lenny’s Book of Everything * by Karen Foxlee
Wundersmith * by Jessica Townsend
IF: A Treasury of Poems for Almost Every Possibility edited by Allie Esiri & Rachel Kelly

A girl can never have too many books on her TBR. Give me your recommendations for my 2019 bedside pile!

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