Best Books of 2018 – Carissa Mason

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For Young Readers

Favourite picture book – How Did I Get Here? – Philip Bunting

This book is brilliant, thoughtfully explaining the evolution of our planet from the big bang to the arrival of our littlest readers. It’s a must read, putting everything into perspective in an entertaining way that can be read over and over again. The pictures are bright and fun and I love the humour. There’s just the right amount of factual information about how babies are made and the ending will make you laugh and perhaps draw your own version.

Favourite non-fiction – Do Not Lick This Book – Idan Ben Barak and Julian Frost

This book is engaging, playful and educational, teaching us about tiny germs, what they look like magnified and how easy they are to move around. It’s a bit disgusting too, particularly when you read the page after the story that the cute main character, is actually an E.coli. Ewww. Don’t be put off by the gross though, it’s a great book. And a CBCA award winner. 

For just learning to read – When I’m Older – Neil Flory

This book is fantastic for kids just learning to read. It keeps repeating four of the first batch of sight words kids are given at school (I, can, be, a), so they can really read it. That’s a huge confidence boost. It’s a cute story too. A ball of bright blue and black clay ponders what he may be when he grows up – and the possibilities are endless (particularly if you are clay!). Each suggestion is illustrated with a creative clay creation, which gives little readers a clue to work out the new word on each page. The rhyming helps too.

For ‘tween girls

His Name Was Walter – Emily Rodda

My 10-year-old twins and I loved this story within a story. A group of kids on a school excursion find a notebook in an old desk and start to read it. They’re riveted by the handwritten fairytale with its lifelike painted illustrations – and so were we! There’s magic, love and friendship and fantastic messages about being brave, kind and doing what’s right, but it’s a bit spooky too – perfect to share as a read aloud. It’s a beautifully designed book, with shiny red foil on the cover and thoughtful endpapers.

Fairytales for Feisty Girls – Susannah McFarlane

Four beloved fairytales are thoughtfully rewritten to retain the classic fairytale feeling, but with a modern, empowering twist. Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Thumbelina make their own fortune using their courage, determination and brains. I love the cover, with its whimsical forest feel and magical gold foil vines which will appeal to older girls. Inside there’s illustrations on every page, making it a perfect read aloud for youngsters too.

The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars – Jaclyn Moriarty

This author has a knack for pulling us in, writing short chapters that make my kids beg for “just one more”. The story is told from the point of view of two children – Finlay from the Orphanage School and Honey Bee from the snobby private boarding school – and my girls love taking turns reading each character. There’s mystery, magic and adventure and a war going on where the children are eager to help. There’s great messages about family, friendship, sportsmanship and teamwork too. It’s a beautiful illustrated hardcover with shiny gold foil, illustrated endpapers and charming black and white pictures throughout.

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