Category Archives: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Picture Books

Picture books were my first introduction to stories, and ultimately played a big part in forming my love of books and stories. To this day, I still love a good picture book and am a firm believer that they are not just for young children! So, here are my Top Ten Picture Books.

pigcover#1 Pig the Pug – Aaron Blabey

I love all of Aaron Blabey’s picture books, but Pig the Pug has to be my favourite. In this book Pig is not willing to share his toys with his friend Trevor the sausage dog. However, Pig soon learns the hard way that sharing isn’t so bad after all! This book is great fun, with rhyming prose that kids love and a moral at the end of the story.

#2 Ida Always – Caron Levis & Charles Santosoida-always-9781481426404_hr

A beautiful and sad tale that is perfect for introducing the concept of grief to young children. Gus and Ida are polar bears who live in a zoo and are best friends. One day Ida gets sick, and Gus learns that she isn’t going to get better. Gus learns that even after Ida is gone, she will always be with him through the memories he has of her. This is a very moving book.

16101018#3 The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers

One of my ’go-to’ picture book recommendations at work, this fantastic book tells the story of Duncan and his crayons. Duncan opens up his crayon box one day, only to find all of his crayons are gone! Each one has left him a note explaining why they have quit. This is a funny story that will have children and adults alike in stitches!

#4 Possum Magic – Mem Fox & Julie Vivaspossum-magic

An absolute Australian classic! Grandma Poss decides to use her bush magic to make Hush invisible in order to keep her safe. However, when Hush wants to be visable again, Grandma Poss can’t remember which specific food Hush needs to eat to break the spell. The two set out on a road trip around Australia sampling Aussie food staples such as ANZAC biscuits and Minties in an effort to find the right food item. This is a fun, whimsical story that beautifully showcases all things Australian.

9780140541120#5 Animalia – Graeme Base

Graeme Base’s books are the kind that can be enjoyed by kids of any age. Animalia is one of my favourites. Animalia creates a fun imaginary world where every letter of the alphabet has a story created out of words starting with that letter. It starts, naturally with “A is for an Armoured Armadillo Avoiding an Angry Alligator”. The fun of this book comes from finding all the hidden objects in each scene that start with the letter being showcased.

#6 Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet & Allan Ahlberg6193c55pyhl

This book has been a favourite of mine from a very young age. This beautiful rhyming book encourages young children to interact with various nursery rhyme and storybook characters, as they try to spy the different characters in each of the gorgeous illustrations. This book is an absolute classic that never gets old!

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#7 The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

Another absolute classic is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This beautiful counting book is a hit with children due to its brightly coloured illustrations and the finger-sized holes for exploring. This book also shows children the life cycle of a caterpillar.

#8 Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Doddcover

This is another classic rhyming story that has long been a favourite of mine. Hairy Maclary decides to go for a walk through town. At each house he passes, one of his canine friends comes out and joins him. Eventually they all encounter Scarface Claw, the toughest, roughest cat in town, and this is where things get interesting. The terrific illustrations really cap off an engaging story.

the-fantastic-flying-books-of-mr-morris-lessmore-9780857079459_hr#9 The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore – William Joyce

This picture book speaks deeply to the booklover in me. It is a beautiful allegory about the healing and curative power of books, and that those who care for them will reap the benefits of them. This is a wonderful story that can be read at face value as a magical, fun story, or can be read with deeper meaning and metaphorical life lessons.

#10 Magic Beach – Alison Lester9781741144888

This book is another childhood favourite of mine. The illustrations are my favourite part of this book, and the story shows the power of the imagination of a child. The rhymes and make-believe stories within the book are lots of fun as well, and the depiction of life by the sea is very typically Australian.

Top Ten Tuesday: #LoveOzYA

When I was in high school, I didn’t read much young adult fiction. This was largely due to the fact that there wasn’t a huge amount of it around. Even more disappointing, very little of it was by Australian authors. Thankfully, times have changed and Australian young adult authors are gaining a lot of recognition, not just in Oz but also on an international stage. Check out the #LoveOzYA hashtag on social media for more Aussie YA goodness!

N.B. The following list is in no particular order.

illuminae-files#1 The Illuminae Files Series by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

So, this trilogy currently only has two of the books published, but if the first two are anything to go by, the third is going to me AMAZING! Each book in this series focuses on a different teenage duo (male/female) who are living through and experiencing the same invasion in outer space, but from a different aspect. This series, apart from having an amazing story with lots of twists, is brilliant because it is not told in the traditional narrative format – each book is a report/dossier that is made up of various documents, dossiers, pictures and transcripts. In this way, the story is told in a very unique and engaging way.

#2 Frankie by Shivaun Plozza27193294

As I previously outlined in last weeks Top Ten Tuesday post, this book follows the story of its titular character, Frankie. She is a sassy, bad-ass character who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and the people she loves. The story itself is a real page-turner as Frankie tries to track down her missing half-brother. The characters felt real and the whole story felt uniquely Australian. A brilliant Oz YA read!

the-sidekicks#3 The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

I loved the idea of this story – three main characters who share a best friend, Isaac, but who aren’t really friends themselves. So what happens to them when Isaac dies? How do they cope when they don’t have anyone else apart from each other? Just like Frankie, this novel felt very Australian. There were many aspects of Sydney school life portrayed in the book that I remembered experiencing myself in high school. At the age of 27, I finally found a young adult book that I felt like I could relate to on a personal level.

#4 The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier26891896

This gorgeous book tells the story of Piper and West. Piper is the new girl at school and has Selective Mutism. West is the popular, sporty school captain. Whilst going through all the struggles of teenagers in their final year of high school, West and Piper fall in love. But how can you have a relationship with someone when you’ve never spoken a single word to them? Set in the Blue Mountains, and area not far from me, this book was just so beautiful to read. Very relatable and wonderfully packed with emotion!

y450-293#5 The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

Five very different Year 12 teens, each feeling left behind or overlooked in their own way, are forced to work together on their school yearbook committee. Set in a western Sydney school, this novel explores many issues that teens face during their last year of school — the pressures of final exams, friendships, family issues, peer pressure and bullying — just to name a few. An extremely relevant and relatable book that I highly recommend for all teens.

#6 Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson9781760110277

This is a gorgeous contemporary YA novel that I absolutely loved! Astrid is pretty, smart, one of the most popular girls in school and a keen environmental activist. Hiro is an outcast with a pessimistic life outlook. However, when they accidentally meet at the local shopping centre, they find that they are able to bring out the best in each other. Full of comic book references, comedic moments and great environmental/life messages, this is a great Aussie read for fans of John Green & Rainbow Rowell.

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#7 The Spark Series – Rachael Craw

So TECHNICALLY Rachael Craw is a New Zealander, but I am invoking the right to partake in the age-old Australian tradition of adopting anything amazing that comes from NZ as being Australian. In an age where there is a saturation of young adult books where the protagonists have amazing abilities, this series is refreshingly original and gripping. Revolving around genetic engineering and predetermined genetic abilities, this is a suspenseful and action packed series!

#8 Tomorrow When The War Began Series – John Marsdentomorrow-when-the-war-began-series

An absolutely classic Australian young adult series! I remember my grade nine English teacher getting me onto this series, and I will be forever grateful. The series follows Ellie and her friends as they return from a bush camping trip to discover that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town taken prisoner. Gripping and action packed, this series is almost a right of passage for Australian teen readers.

the-book-thief

#9 The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Now famous the world over, I am going to sound completely hipster and say that I read this book before it was cool. The fact that a novel could be written from the point-of-view of someone who wasn’t the protagonist was a revelation for me. And when that someone’s point-of-view is Death… well, WOW! The use of language is elegant and refreshing, and the story itself is engaging, emotional and educational. The perfect homage to booklovers everywhere.

#10 Risk – Fleur Ferris24973955

This is a very important book. I really do feel it should be incorporated into the Australian National Curriculum as a prescribed text. It follows two best friends, Taylor and Sierra. They start chatting to a mystery guy on the Internet, and Sierra decided to meet him. Alone. Taylor covers for her, but when Sierra never comes back from the meeting, Taylor knows something is very, very wrong. A cautionary tale that is very topical and terrifyingly realistic.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Read in 2016

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I am proud to say that I read 72 book in 2016, a new personal best with only 2 of them being re-reads. So picking only ten as my top reads for the year was a pretty hard job – there were just so many good ones! – but I finally managed it. Although I read widely and enjoy books in a variety of different genres and targeted at different demographics, the majority of books that I read are regarded as ‘young adult’, so the list is skewed slightly in that direction.

Here we go!

nevernight

#1 Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

As I mentioned in my previous post about this book, this was definitely my favourite book I read last year! It had everything I look for in a good fantasy novel; great characters, great world building, and as an added bonus a twist that I did not see coming!

#2 The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

I devoured this book in two days! I love a good sci-fi YA novel, and this stand-alone book ticks all the boxes. It has a fantastic storyline, lots of well-written characters, and many emotional ups and downs. This novel also poses an important and topical question: should we treat someone as lesser than us just because they are different?the-diabolic-9781481472678_hr

#3 Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

This was my favourite contemporary YA book of last year. Again, it ticks the boxes of brilliant characters, clever dialogue and fantastic, heartfelt storyline. The author has made excellent use of humour throughout the novel, which was the cherry on an already delectable cake. The thing I loved most was that it was surprisingly original in a genre that can be very same-same-but-different.28186273

#4 Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Gemina is the much-anticipated sequel to my favourite book of 2015, Illuminae, and it packs just as much of a punch as the first one! It continues the space saga that began in Illuminae, but this time from the point of view of two teens on jump station Heimdall. There are lots of shocks, twists and turns, some of which may cause emotional wreck and ruin to readers so be warned!gemina-by-amie-kaufman-and-jay-kristoff

#5 The Good People by Hannah Kent

I loved Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites and this book is just as magnificent. Kent’s brilliant ability to weave the landscape into her stories makes for extremely atmospheric reading. In fact, the landscapes and terrain are so central to her stories, they almost become one of the characters. Typically bleak, dark and rugged, this story sucked me right in. 29248613

#6 People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Although originally published in 2008, I only read this book for the first time last year. As someone who has studied and has a keen interest in the subject of history, this novel had me hooked from the start. Told through multiple timelines, it follows the story and history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, an important Jewish text. A fantastic and well-researched piece of historical fiction! screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-9-37-09-pm

#7 Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

One of my favourite Australian young adult fiction novel of last year! Set in Collingwood, Melbourne, this book is a brilliant read. I especially loved the character of Frankie and her sassy, Shakespeare-tome throwing ways. With a bit of a whodunit element, the story is a real page-turner and shows that making bad decisions does not make you a bad person.27193294

#8 Broken Sky by L.A. Weatherly

This book is probably one of the most underrated young adult books of last year. The first in a new trilogy, what I really loved about this book was the fact that the world that this story was set in was a kind of distorted, dytopian-esque 1940s America. With an amazingly inspirational female main character, this is definitely a book to try if you love a good cliffhanger25925784!

#9 When We Collided by Emery Lord

What a gorgeous story. This book shines a spotlight on mental illness and how it affects those with the illness, as well as those around them. It deals with lots of important and serious issues, but it doesn’t get too bogged down in the darkness of them. The characters are vivid and it shows how colliding with the right person at the right time can change you forever9781408870082.

#10 Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

My top ten would not be complete without the new novel from Liane Moriarty. I am a massive fan of all of her work, and this one is no exception. With that same feeling and tone of knowing something has happened, but not exactly what that that she had in ‘Big Little Lies’, Moriarty brings together another thrilling page-turner with realistic characters and pockets of relevant humour. Another stand out novel from this author!1469669631233

Well, that’s my Top Ten from 2016. I’d love to know what everyone else’s favourites were. Comment below and let me know! 🙂