Best Books of 2018 – Gaby Meares


The Lifters by Dave Eggers

I loved this book! Written for upper primary school aged readers, this book has it all! There’s mystery and adventure and a tinge of sadness and plenty of surprises and lots of magic!

I loved Eggers’ ability to create a story that is timeless. There is a passing mention of mobile phones, but this story could be set in any time frame. Clever Mr Eggers. 

The plot is so unusual – I don’t think anyone has thought of this one before (not saying what I’m talking about – you’ll have to read it!)

The story is well paced, and the wonderful illustrations by Aaron Renier are perfect.

Above all,the book has heart – and a clear message that needs to be repeated in this age of ‘me, me, me’: … if you know sadness, you understand sadness in others. And if you can understand sadness in others, you’re obligated to help.”

I know some kids who’ll be receiving this cracker of a book for Christmas this year!

Highly recommended. 

The Road to Ever After by Moira Young (originally published in 2016)

I must confess I bought this book because I loved the cover. I know this is against all the rules, but there it is! However, this book lived up to its cover.

We meet Davy in the early dawn, creating pictures of angels in the dirt. He lives in Brownvale, a town that appears to be controlled by the fearsome Parson Fall. Davy is an orphan, living rough, dodging the menacing Mr Kite who rounds up the homeless and sells them on, no matter what their age (a nod to Mr Dickens’ Fagan?). Davy has few friends; Mr Timm the librarian offers him sanctuary and it is here that Davy finds inspiration for his drawings from a book of Renaissance Angels. Davy’s world is turned upside down when he meets Miss Flint, the old ‘witch’ who lives in the ruined remains of the town museum.

There is a timelessness to this novel, which references classic films, but never mentions modern technologies. In fact, Young plays with time, defying the science, making time fluid. You sense that there is magic in the air, and it’s this magic that leads Davy to Miss Flint, and together they embark on a journey that will transform both their lives. 

I’m finding it hard to communicate how wonderful I think this book is. It has so much heart and I hope that it finds the audience it so deserves.

And I must make special mention of the illustrations by Hannah George that are the icing on the cake-just perfect!

Highly recommended for upper primary to lower secondary school readers.

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, illustrated by Nicholas Gannon

As a child,one of my favourite books was E. B. Nesbitt’s Five Children & It. This book reminded me of that classic novel – and in a very good way!

I cannot imagine any child not being enchanted by this delightful story.

Livy can’t remember the first time she visited her grandmother in Australia – after all,she was only five years old. 

Livy’s now eleven and she’s visiting again with her mum and new little sister. Imagine her surprise when she discovers a little green creature named Bob living in her closet. She may not remember him, but he’s been waiting for her to return for five years!

Livy and Bob set out to discover where Bob really belongs and return him to his real home.

This is a heart-warming story about friendship and loyalty.

Highly recommended for young readers aged from middle primary and up.

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson (originally published in 2017)

Think The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time for younger readers. This is such a winner for readers in upper primary & lower secondary. It’s a mystery, but is about much more than merely solving a crime. 

Matthew is house bound, crippled by severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and fearful of germs.

From his bedroom window, he watches the comings and goings of his neighbours, keeping a detailed diary of all their activities. When a toddler next door goes missing, Matthew finds himself compelled to investigate, and in doing so, has to face,and overcome, his fears.

Matthew is a believable and appealing narrator. His battle against his OCD is convincing, and the reader empathizes with him and his parents, who are trying to understand and help him. All the characters in this book are well developed. Melody, the girl who hangs out in graveyards, and Jake, who at first glance appears to be a bully, but really isn’t, are real kids, with real issues.

I consumed this book in one sitting and highly recommend it for readers who love a mystery, told by a complex, but likeable, narrator.

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