It’s Hungry Ghost Month and thanks to her new ghostly (and actually her only) friend William Xiao, July Chen discovers there’s an opening in her school to the Gates of the Underworld and dangerous ghosts are escaping. July’s yin-yang eyes have enabled her to see ghosts from when she was little, which is why she is able to see William who is a wandering soul, an 'almost ghost' caught between the living and the dead. But July can also see all the other ghosts breaking loose from the Underworld, and these ones are determined to find souls to eat and wreak havoc and mayhem in the human realm. This includes Oxhead and Horseface, the King of the Underworld’s ghostly assistants. Every time the assistants come to collect someone whose name is on the Death Register, William’s name also appears, but vanishes again as soon as it is seen. William enlists July’s help to figure out why this is happening to him, and together they embark on a perilous journey into the Underworld. What they discover is a never-ending supply of dumplings, surprises, unexpected revelations, and the unavoidable impact on both of their lives of what it means when there is a Nobody missing from the Birth Register.
Inspired by Southeast Asian tradition and beliefs surrounding the seventh lunar month commonly known as Hungry Ghost month, this deliciously creepy graphic novel is a must for readers who love books with a supernatural element. Sprinkled with humour, heart, and levity, the writing is clever and crisp, and effortlessly weaves the themes of friendship, sacrifice, and kindness into the storyline. The sometimes dark, spooky illustrations are balanced by those that create lightness and emotional connection to memories and family. Fans of tales like Spirited Away from Studio Ghibli will be spellbound and enthralled by this latest graphic novel from Remy Lai.
Teaching themes could include friendship, family, ghosts, the supernatural, beliefs and traditions, mythology, food, fantasy and resilience.
Find out more about Remy Lai
Published by Allen & Unwin
Release date: 1 August 2023
ISBN: 9781761065477 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 8+
Block out the blood. Remember. Think. I am still here . . . I must hold on.
My name was Rath. This I remember.
Rath had long ago taken his sons Bayat and Oyan to a safe place outside the city when he found out the truth behind his wife’s experiments. Kalina was ruthlessly kidnapping the homeless and using them as test subjects to carry out ideations of the virus she hoped would turn them into some kind of hybrid being that had the heightened senses, awareness, and strength of a cougar-like animal, whilst retaining human emotional capabilities and understanding.
Fast forward to the present where Rath has been infected with the virus by one of the ‘chimera’ or ‘ferals’ as the creatures are called and is struggling to retain his own humanity.
The chimera had eventually broken free from Kalina’s laboratory and infected almost the entire city with the virus. Those who had managed to flee and secretly returned to find a cure, realised they were not safe, for the cure was short lived and the chimera were now creeping ever closer. The River, Mountain and Desert Peoples sought to protect themselves by barricading their villages, but Bayat knew this would not work. Now a grown man, he had seen friends consumed by the virus and die at the hands of the chimera. Bayat and Pandora, the River girl he has come to love, undertake a final journey to the city to find the last of the precious cure ZarVex for their friend Emmaline, in the hope that a high enough dose will kill the virus in her. Bayat is determined that any chimera encountered will be killed on sight. But Pandora, whose visions have both haunted and guided her, has looked into the eyes of the chimera, and seen an empathy others have not. Will they be able to save Emmaline? Will Pandora be able to convince Bayat and the other villagers that there is a way both chimera and humans can survive? Or will all hope for the future be lost?
Set in a post-modern, pandemic inflicted, dystopian world that has collapsed into ruin due to environmental degradation, mismanagement of resources and medical autocracy, City Knife reveals the secrets and truths of those who created the chimera, and the strength and determination of those who came after. This is an intricate and intriguing story of despair and hope, love and loss, and hatred and empathy, told through a series of character driven, interwoven, individual chapters. It is a timely reminder that whatever our future holds, we need to be ready for its challenges and to keep hope alive, no matter how fragile it seems, so that humankind and life on earth, will endure. City Knife will have you on the edge of your seat from the opening lines to the very last pages.
Teaching themes could include dystopian futures, pandemics, environmental issues, medical ethics, family, survival, and relationships.
Find out more about Rachel Hennessy
Published by MidnightSun Publishing
Distributed by NewSouthBooks
Release date: 14 September 2023
ISBN: 9781925227970 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 12+
From the creators of ALLERGIC comes a new graphic novel centered around Avery Lee, an eleven year old from Hibiscus Gardens. Avery loves living there with her mum, dad and six siblings, but the thing she would love even more is to have a room of her own. She shares a room with her younger sister Pearl, and is not happy when her older brother, Theo, gets to have his own room, because that means she'll have to share with her baby brother Max too! After visiting one of her best friends, Cameron, she learns that they are turning his basement into a room for his grandma who is coming to stay. Avery thinks that would be a great idea for the basement at their house too. Avery's mum and dad don't have enough to renovate, so she comes up with the perfect way for an eleven year old to make money - dog walking! But that doesn't work out too well when the first dog she walks runs away. She then decides on a lemonade stand and, with a little help from Pearl, they make some money, but definitely not enough for a room in the basement. Then she discovers that her other best friend Dani, has become close friends with another girl, her brother is being bullied by Dani's older brother AND her mum has got a new job - in Oregon! Worst summer ever! Until two of her younger siblings run away. The whole family searches for them and, when Avery eventually finds them at a neighbours house, she realises that whatever the problem might be, it will be okay, as long as they are all together.
Changing friendship dynamics, moving house, feeling overwhelmed, bullying and sibling rivalry are all touched on in a way that will resonate with young people in all kinds of family situations, big or small. Finding your own way of dealing with, and learning from what can seem like insurmountable problems, is at the heart of this warm and uplifting story about family, friendship, change and resilience. The language and design of the text is engaging and straightforward, making the story easily accessible for the reader. The detail and differences of the family characters in the illustrations really brings out their individual personalities, and the background colours help focus the reader on the situations unfolding in each panel. Another brilliant graphic novel for tweens from this talented duo.
Teaching themes could include moving house, families, siblings, friendship, bullying, feeling overwhelmed, sharing, graphic novels, cartoons.
Find out more about Megan Wagner Lloyd
Find out more about Michelle Mee Nutter
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic
Release date 1 April, 2023.
ISBN: 9781338568936 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 8 - 12.
When a parcel arrives at the Kelly house, no-one knows who sent it or where it actually came from. The card attached simply says ‘Good luck to you all.’ Inside the plain brown wrapping they find a jigsaw puzzle of a beautiful African sunrise. The family sets about putting the pieces together. Dad even sets his watch to Late Autumn to allow everyone time to get all the pieces in their right places. As they work their way through the cycle of the seasons and Autumn returns once more, the colourful dawn of the puzzle emerges and the jigsaw is almost complete. But then Dad discovers that – oh no – the piece for the hippo’s swim shorts is missing! They search everywhere, even under their dog Lucy, but it’s nowhere to be found. Then mum realises that it must have accidentally been put out with the rubbish! ‘We’ll find it,’ Dad says, and they drive to the recycling centre where they are presented with an enormous pile of rubbish. They start searching and, although they don’t find the missing puzzle piece, they do find other pieces of people’s lives like letters from faraway places, bus tickets, wedding confetti, photos, old socks and lots of shopping lists. Without realising it Dad has actually trodden on the missing piece and it’s stuck to the bottom of his boot. As he walks through the house it slips off and onto the carpet where Kitty, the youngest Kelly member, finds it. ‘Must have been there the whole time,’ she says. With Autumn nearly over, Kitty places the final piece and her sister straightens it. The jigsaw is finished. With enough stamps to cover its travels, Katie and Kitty post it back to ‘Sumwear’, with their own message attached.
From my very first encounter of this brilliant Australian author/illustrator with Greetings From Sandy Beach, through Queenie The Bantam, A Bus Called Heaven, How The Sun Got To Coco’s House and all the others in between, Bob Graham’s latest picture book is yet another superb example of masterful storytelling. With his signature style of softly outlined, colourful illustrations, and underlying themes of family and community, JIGSAW: A PUZZLE IN THE POST is in an uplifting tale of hope, togetherness, and perseverance, and of always being found no matter how lost you think you might be.
Supporting teaching themes could include family, recycling, perseverance, community, connections, jigsaws, puzzles, hope, stamps, seasons, waste, letter writing.
Find out more about Bob Graham.
Published by Walker Books
ISBN: 9781529503319 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 3 - 7
This is the tale of a much-loved and adventurous young cygnet who was given the name Ninni Yabini, little star, because she was born on a night when a small star shone brightly in the night sky. Her mother and father, Djidar and Maali, had made a nest of sticks and river grasses for Yabini to keep her safe and warm. They played with her and cuddled her every day. One day, when heavy rain fell, Yabini’s nest was swept away. This made everyone sad, especially Yabini’s mother Djidar, as it was her task to build the nest. But with the help of Yabini’s father Maali, they soon had another, stronger nest built. While Maali and Djidar were putting the finishing touches to the nest, Ninni Yabini saw a willy-wagtail and decided to chase him. She soon became lost and scared, and then night began to fall. That was when Yabini saw a little star shining brightly in the sky and followed it all the way home. Safe and warm in her nest, Yabini feel asleep as her parents sang a lullaby about that same little star. Whenever she was feeling lost and alone, Yabini had her very own star to guide her home.
This dual language picture book for readers aged 2 – 5 years old, is based on a tale from the Wadjuk Noongar people of south-west Western Australia and is told in both Noongar and English. It is set near Derbal Yarrigan, the Noongar name for the Swan River. Author Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker is a Wadjuk Noongar traditional owner and was awarded the Member of Order of Australia in 2020 for her significant service to tertiary education, and to the Indigenous community. Professor Kickett-Tucker has brought this traditional story of family, belonging and identity to life with meaningful yet simple text, so that younger readers will be able to read and understand the story in its original Noongar language, as well as its English translation. Tyrown Waigana is a Wardandi Noongar and Saibai Island artist and graphic designer. His illustrations underscore the essence of the story with their vibrant colours and comic-like quality and are a fresh and dynamic complement to the text.
Ninni Yabini is an enchanting new addition to the small, but growing collection of dual language stories that highlight the incredible culture and history of storytelling of our First Nations Peoples.
Supporting teaching themes and ideas could include family, belonging, identity, seasons, indigenous stories and culture, language, indigenous languages, Noongar language, oral storytelling, water birds and black swans.
Teaching notes and activities are available here Ninni Yabini Teacher Notes
Find out more about Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker
Find out more about Tyrown Waigana
Find out more about Noongar Culture and Language
Release date 16 August, 2022.
Published by Fremantle Press.
ISBN 9781760991210 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 2 - 5
Can you ride a bicycle? Do you remember how exhilarating it felt pumping the pedals and taking off down the street? In this new book by the 2021 Crystal Kite winner Valerie Bolling, we follow a young girl as she attempts to ride her bicycle for the very first time. With help and encouragement from her Dad, she is off and riding until. . . uh-oh, look out! There's a slip, a wobble and a fall. That hurt! After a healing hug from Dad, the young girl has to decide whether to get back on the bike and try again - or not. Knowing that Dad is right there beside her helps make the decision easy, and soon she is back up and soaring! With sparse, rhyming text, every word counts in this heartfelt and empowering story. Coretta Scott King honoree Kaylani Jaunita's illustrations are vibrant and fun, and highlight perfectly the angst and exuberance of trying something for the first time. Together We Ride is a wonderful celebration of family, courage, trust, and that amazing feeling of freedom when you spread your wings and fly for the first time!
Use this in the classroom to explore themes of trust, family, resilience, risk taking and transport.
Find out more about Valerie Bolling
Find out more about Kaylani Juanita
Click here for the author interview on Blog Bites
Release date April 26, 2022. Published by Chronicle Books
Recommended for ages 3 - 5
Isabel and her family couldn't afford a lot of things like heating, going to the cinema, scooters or brand new clothes, but she always noticed the beautiful things around her, like the ice patterns on her window and the snow flakes falling outside. And really she had everything they needed - her books and her family. But when their wasn't enough money to pay rent or bills, they had to move to the other side of the city and for the first time Isabel couldn't find anything beautiful. It seemed people on this side of the city didn't even know she was there. She felt herself becoming more and more invisible as people drove or walked straight past her. Eventually, Isabel faded away altogether. That's when she started to notice the other invisible people around her and decided to help. Soon others joined in and '. . . the more people came together . . . the more they could all be seen.'
This is an important story. It is one that needs to be read to children all over the world. It is a story of belonging, of hope and community, and truly seeing what and who is around you.
There are few picture books that tackle the issue of poverty as well as this one. Tom Percival has written a book that draws from personal experience, and is poignant and beautifully simple, yet conveys such a powerful message of making a difference in the lives of others by just acknowledging they exist.
Kindness, community, poverty, family, relationships and empathy are all topics that can be explored as teaching ideas through this warm, wonderful, and highly recommended picture book.
Find out more about Tom Percival
Published in 2021 by Simon & Schuster UK
ISBN 9781471191305 (PB)
Recommended for ages 4 - 8
I can't tell you how excited I was to find this in my local bookstore the other day! After being totally enthralled and captivated by the first two books - Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning - I couldn't wait to read the final instalment in this thrilling Sci Fi series.
Squad 312 are working together to fight against the destruction of the universe by the Ra'haam - an evil and insidious hive mind organism that not only consumes the bodies but also the minds of those it encounters. This instalment opens with Zila, Finian and Scarlett trying to come to grips with being alive after the Eshvaren Weapon blew itself apart and obliterated anything and everyone in its wake - including them. As the subtitle says 'It's About Time', and they eventually figure out they have been transported back in time but are stuck in a time loop that will soon end, and they have to work out a way to convince their new nemisis, Nari Kim, that they are on the same side.
Meanwhile, Tyler is fighting two of his own battles in two different times - one with Saedii the Syldrathian Templar to take him back to the Aurora Academy and stop its destruction, and the other with Auri (the Eshvaren Trigger) and Kal (Saedii's brother) who have joined forces with Kal's heartless father Caesarn (who also happens to be a Trigger) to keep the last vestiges of life in the universe alive and out of reach of the Ra'haam.
Aurora's End is an intricately woven, fast paced story of space, time, end of the universe, and ultimately love, friendship and family. These two fantastic Aussie authors have delivered yet again with another mind bending, galactic adventure.
Find out more about Amie Kaufmann
Find out more about Jay Kristoff
Published in 2021 by Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781760295752 (PB)
Recommended for ages YA