Featured Booklists

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These booklists have been developed by our Youth Services Librarians.

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Adventure September 2020

Other Booklists

 

Adventure September

Aurora Rising / Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Summary: The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch: a cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm, a sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates, a smart-ass tech-whiz with the galaxy's biggest chip on his shoulder, an alien warrior with anger management issues, a tomboy pilot who's totally not into him, in case you were wondering. And Ty's squad isn't even his biggest problem--that'd be Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley, the girl he's just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler's squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

Recommended age: 14+

Coraline / Neil Gaiman

Summary: There is something strange about Coraline's new home. It's not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It's the other house? the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back.

Dragonkeeper / Carole Wilkinson

Summary: Ancient China, Han Dynasty. A slave girl saves the life of an ageing dragon and escapes her brutal master. Pursued by a ruthless dragon hunter, the girl and the dragon begin an epic journey across China. They carry with them a mysterious stone that must be protected. Dragonkeeper is the story of a girl who believes she is not worthy even of a name, but finds within herself the strength and courage to make this perilous journey and do what must be done.

Eragon / Christopher Paolini

Summary: When Eragon finds a polished stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands...

Half Bad / Sally Green

Summary: In modern-day England, where witches live alongside humans, Nathan, son of a White witch and the most powerful Black witch, must escape captivity before his seventeenth birthday to receive the gifts that will determine his future.

Recommended age: 15+

The Martian / Andy Weir

Summary: Stranded on Mars by a dust storm that compromised his space suit and forced his crew to leave him behind, astronaut Watney struggles to survive in spite of minimal supplies and harsh environmental challenges that test his ingenuity in unique ways.

Recommended age: 15+

The Way of the Warrior / Chris Bradford

Summary: August 1611. Jack Fletcher is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan - his beloved father and the crew lie slaughtered by ninja pirates. Rescued by the legendary sword master Masamoto Takeshi, Jack's only hope is to become a samurai warrior. And so his training begins. But life at the samurai school is a constant fight for survival. Even with his friend Akiko by his side, Jack is singled out by bullies and treated as an outcast. With courage in his heart and his sword held high, can Jack prove himself and face his deadliest rival yet?

 

 

July 2020: Celebrating Indigenous Authors

Becoming Kirrali Lewis / Jane Harrison

Summary: Set within the explosive cultural shifts of the 1960s and 1980s, Becoming Kirrali Lewis chronicles the journey of a young Aboriginal teenager as she leaves her home town in rural Victoria to take on a law degree in Melbourne in 1985. Adopted at birth by a white family, Kirrali doesn't question her cultural roots until a series of life-changing events force her to face up to her true identify. Her decision to search for her biological parents sparks off a political awakening that no-one sees coming, least of all Kirrali herself as she discovers her mother is white and her father is a radical black activist. Narrative flashbacks to the 1960s, where Kirrali's biological mother, Cherie, is rebelling against her parent's strict conservatism sees her fall into a clandestine relationship with an Aboriginal man. Unmarried and pregnant, Cherie's traumatic story of an unforgiving Australian society give meaning to Kirrali's own rites of passage nearly twenty years later. The generational threads of human experience are the very things that will complete her. If only she can let go.

Brontide / Sue McPherson

Summary: Rob; (and his brother Pen) white Aussies. Rob is completing Year 12, going to schoolies, working as an apprentice in his dad's company and loves his dog, Nig. Rob believes real men take risks. Pen; fifteen-years-old, storyteller, graffiti artiste extraordinaire with a penchant for male anatomy. Pen is liked by everyone. Pen and Benny Boy are mates. Benny Boy; twelve-years-old, Aboriginal, loves drawing, fishing and living with his awesome (white) foster Nan. Benny Boy doesn't trust Rob. Jack; white, male, finishing Yr 12, new to the area, from the bush and adopted into an Aboriginal family. Jack has met Pen and reckons he's a funny bugger. He has also just signed up as an apprentice working alongside Rob-the-knob. Brontide is a coming of age story about four boys and their lot in life. Recounted through storytelling sessions at their school over a period of five days, these boys chronicle their lives. They are at times demanding, occasionally rude, always funny and unexpectedly profound. The boys like to challenge themselves and the rules, and soon realise that not everything goes to plan...

Recommended age: 13+

Catching Teller Crow / Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Summary: Nothing's been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her - and he's drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching, and what's her connection to the fire that killed a man? What happened to the people who haven't been seen since the fire? As Beth unravels the mystery, she finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another. Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel weaves together themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family.

Recommended age: 14+

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia / edited by Anita Heiss

Summary: Childhood stories of family, country and belonging. What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This anthology, compiled by award-winning author Anita Heiss, attempts to showcase as many diverse voices, experiences and stories as possible in order to answer that question. Each account reveals, to some degree, the impacts of invasion and colonisation -- on language, on country, on ways of life, and on how people are treated daily in the community, the education system, the workplace and friendship groups. Accounts from well-known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside newly discovered voices of all ages, with experiences spanning coastal and desert regions, cities and remote communities. All of them speak to the heart – sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect. This groundbreaking anthology aims to enlighten, inspire and educate about the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia today.

Recommended age: 15+

My Australian Story: Our Race for Reconciliation / Anita Heiss

Summary: Mel Gordon loves running, and watching Seinfeld, but mostly she loves Cathy Freeman. It's 2000 and the Olympics are going to be held in Australia. In a year of surprises, Mel finds out that Cathy Freeman is coming to talk to her school. And her family is heading to Sydney! It becomes an unforgettable journey to Corroboree 2000, bringing together all Australians as they march and sing and celebrate Australia's Indigenous heritage and also acknowledge past wrongs.

Shauna’s Great Expectations / Kathleen Loughnan

Summary: Shauna is in her final year at an elite private school & has great expectations. She holds an Indigenous scholarship and is determined to be the first member of her family to go to university, no matter what. The year is off to an excellent start and she and her friends are dreaming big about life after school and planning a trip to Paris. But suddenly she finds she must make a choice that threatens to throw all her plans into disarray. As pressure builds from every corner of her world, Shauna wonders what she'll have to sacrifice to keep hold of her dreams. Can she fulfil her own promise and still keep her promises to others? Will all her expectations be ripped away?

Recommended age: 14+

 

 

December 2019: Sexuality

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe / Benjamin Alire Saenz

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

Recommended age: 14+

Drama / Raina Telgemeier

Summary: Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.

Recommended age: 15+

The flywheel / Erin Gough

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Delilah's crazy life is about to get crazier. Ever since her father took off overseas she's been struggling to run the family's cafe without him. But after a misjudged crush of one of the cool girls, Del has become the school punchline. With all that's on her plate she barely has time for her favourite distraction - spying on the beautiful Rosa, who dances flamenco at the tapas bar across the road. All this leaves Del with some seriously curly questions. Is it okay to break the law to help a friend? How can a girl tell another girl she likes her without it ending in humiliation and heartbreak? And the big one, is it ever truly possible to dance in public without falling over?

Recommended age: 15+

If I was your girl / Meredith Russo

Summary: Amanda Hardy only wants to fit in at her new school, but she is keeping a big secret, so when she falls for Grant, guarded Amanda finds herself yearning to share with him everything about herself, including her previous life as Andrew.

Recommended age: 14+

Love, Simon / Becky Albertalli

Summary: Straight people should have to come out too. And the more awkward it is, the better. Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is - and what he's looking for. But when one of his emails to the very distracting Blue falls into the wrong hands, things get all kinds of complicated. Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal . . .It's a holy freaking huge awesome deal.

Recommended age: 13+

The rest of us just live here / Patrick Ness

Summary: What if you aren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Recommended age: 15+

The perks of being a wallflower / Stephen Chbosky

Summary: Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can't stay on the sideline forever...

Recommended age: 15+

 

September 2019: Mental Health

The astonishing color of after / Emily X.R. Pan

Summary: After her mother's suicide, grief-stricken Leigh Sanders travels to Taiwan to stay with grandparents she never met, determined to find her mother who she believes turned into a bird.

The definition of us / Sarah Harris

Summary: Florence doesn't always see things the way other people do. She feels different. When Florence meets Jasper, Andrew and Wilf she can't imagine they'd have much in common - with at least five mental health conditions between them, they all have very different reasons for being referred to Manor Lane Therapy Centre. It's only when their therapist, Howard, goes missing that they find a common purpose. Worried by his disappearance and wanting answers, the four of them decide to track him down. As they cross the country in a 'borrowed' van, asking each other Ultimate Questions and facing a series of challenges along the way, they start to reveal their true selves - and Florence realises there's more to all of them than just a diagnosis ... Maybe they're not so different after all?

Highly illogical behavior / John Corey Whaley

Summary: Agoraphobic sixteen-year-old Solomon has not left his house in three years, but Lisa is determined to change that--and to write a scholarship-winning essay based on the results.

Life inside my mind: 31 authors share their personal struggles / Jessica Burkhart (editor)

Summary: Life Inside My Mind is an anthology of true-life events from writers of this generation, for this generation. These essays tackle everything from neurodiversity to addiction to OCD to PTSD and much more. The goals of this book range from providing home to those who are feeling alone, awareness to those who are witnessing a friend or family member struggle, and to open the floodgates to conversation.

Recommended age: 14+

Toffee / Sarah Crossan

Summary: Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn't empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there -- and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee. Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be. But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself - where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?

Turtles all the way down / John Green

Summary: It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

Recommended age: 14+

 

July 2019: NAIDOC Week

Becoming Kirrali Lewis / Jane Harrison

Summary: Set within the explosive cultural shifts of the 1960s and 1980s, Becoming Kirrali Lewis chronicles the journey of a young Aboriginal teenager as she leaves her home town in rural Victoria to take on a law degree in Melbourne in 1985. Adopted at birth by a white family, Kirrali doesn't question her cultural roots until a series of life-changing events force her to face up to her true identity. Her decision to search for her biological parents sparks off a political awakening that no-one sees coming, least of all Kirrali herself as she discovers her mother is white and her father is a radical black activist. Narrative flashbacks to the 1960s, where Kirrali's biological mother, Cherie, is rebelling against her parent's strict conservatism sees her fall into a clandestine relationship with an Aboriginal man. Unmarried and pregnant, Cherie's traumatic story of an unforgiving Australian society give meaning to Kirrali's own rites of passage nearly twenty years later. The generational threads of human experience are the very things that will complete her. If only she can let go.

Recommended for readers 15+

Black Cockatoo / Carl Merrison & Hakea Hustler

Summary:  Black Cockatoo is a vignette that follows Mia, a young Aboriginal girl as she explores the fragile connections of family and culture. Mia is a 13-year-old girl from a remote community in the Kimberley. She is saddened by the loss of her brother as he distances himself from the family. She feels powerless to change the things she sees around her... until one day she rescues her totem animal, the dirran black cockatoo, and soon discovers her own inner strength. Black Cockatoo is a wonderful small tale on the power of standing up for yourself, culture and ever-present family ties.

Freedom Ride / Sue Lawson

Summary: Robbie knows bad things happen in Walgaree. But it's nothing to do with him. That's just the way the Aborigines have always been treated. In the summer of 1965 racial tensions in the town are at boiling point, and something headed Walgaree's way will blow things apart. It's time for Robbie to take a stand. Nothing will ever be the same.

Recommended for readers 15+

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia / Edited by Anita Heiss

Summary: Childhood stories of family, country and belonging. What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This anthology, compiled by award-winning author Anita Heiss, attempts to showcase as many diverse voices, experiences and stories as possible in order to answer that question. Each account reveals, to some degree, the impacts of invasion and colonisation -- on language, on country, on ways of life, and on how people are treated daily in the community, the education system, the workplace and friendship groups. Accounts from well-known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside newly discovered voices of all ages, with experiences spanning coastal and desert regions, cities and remote communities. All of them speak to the heart – sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect. This ground breaking anthology aims to enlighten, inspire and educate about the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia today.

Recommended for readers 15+

Nona & Me / Clare Atkins

Summary: Rosie and Nona are sisters. Yapas. They are also best friends. It doesn't matter that Rosie is white and Nona is Aboriginal: their family connections tie them together for life. Born just five days apart in a remote corner of the Northern Territory, the girls are inseparable, until Nona moves away at the age of nine. By the time she returns, they're in Year 10 and things have changed. Rosie has lost interest in the community, preferring to hang out in the nearby mining town, where she goes to school with the glamorous Selena, and Selena's gorgeous older brother Nick. When a political announcement highlights divisions between the Aboriginal community and the mining town, Rosie is put in a difficult position: will she be forced to choose between her first love and her oldest friend?

 

April 2019: Celebrating Culture & Religion

Does my head look big in this? / Randa Abdel-Fattah

Summary: Amal is a 16-year-old Melbourne teen with all the usual obsessions about boys, chocolate and Cosmo magazine. She's also a Muslim, struggling to honour the Islamic faith in a society that doesn't understand it. The story of her decision to "shawl up" and its attendant anxieties (like how much eyeliner to wear) is funny, surprising and touching.

A ghost in my suitcase / Gabrielle Wang

Summary: When Celeste travels to China to visit her grandmother, she uncovers an incredible family secret. And with this secret comes danger and adventure. If Celeste is to save her family and friends, she must learn to harness her rare and powerful gift.

Life of Pi / Yann Martel (15+)

Summary: Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behaviour, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true? Life of Pi is at once a realistic, rousing adventure and a meta-tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It's a story, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God.

You must be Layla / Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Summary: Layla's mind goes a million miles a minute, so does her mouth - unfortunately her better judgement can take a while to catch up! Although she believes she was justified for doing what she did, a suspension certainly isn't the way she would have wished to begin her time at her fancy new high school. Despite the setback, Layla's determined to show everyone that she does deserve her scholarship and sets her sights on winning a big invention competition. But where to begin? Looking outside and in, Layla will need to come to terms with who she is and who she wants to be if she has any chance of succeeding. Jam-packed with heart and humour You Must Be Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied reveals a powerful new voice in children's writing. Touching on the migrant experience and exploring thought-provoking themes relevant to all teens, this book shows the strength required to be a Queen with a capital 'Q'.

Our race for reconciliation / Anita Heiss

Summary: Mel Gordon loves running, and watching Seinfeld, but mostly she loves Cathy Freeman. It's 2000 and the Olympics are going to be held in Australia. In a year of surprises, Mel finds out that Cathy Freeman is coming to talk to her school. And her family is heading to Sydney! It becomes an unforgettable journey to Corroboree 2000, bringing together all Australians as they march and sing and celebrate Australia's Indigenous heritage and also acknowledge past wrongs.

January 2019: Holidays and Travel

The sisterhood of the travelling pants / Ann Brashares

Summary:  Carmen got the jeans at a thrift shop. They didn't look all that great; they were worn, dirty, and speckled with bleach. On the night before she and her friends part for the summer, Carmen decides to toss them. Whoever they fit best will get them. Nobody knows why, but the pants fit everyone perfectly. Over a few bags of cheese puffs they decide to form a sisterhood, and take the vow of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants... the next morning, they say good-bye. And now the journey of the Pants - and the most memorable summer of their lives - begins.

Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children / Ransom Riggs

Summary:  As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive.

Recommended age: 14+

My True Love Gave to Me / Stephanie Perkins (Editor)

Summary: If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favourite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you're going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Winter Romances by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Years, there's something here for everyone.

We Were Liars / E. Lockhart

Summary: A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends - the Liars - whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense that will leave you reeling. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Recommended age: 13+

Anna and the French Kiss / Stephanie Perkins

Summary: Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?

Stepping Stones

Has your child moved on from readers but isn't quite ready for chapter books? Check out our list of Stepping Stones Chapter Books - perfect for transitioning to longer chapter books.

Download Stepping Stones book list. (PDF, 112KB)

 

 

 

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Last updated: 21 September 2020