Originally this was going to be a top 10 but I read way too many awesome books this year and didn’t want to have a knockout round a la The Voice. Some books were published prior to 2018, but they were new to me this year (mainly because my book buying habit can’t be tamed, so I end up stockpiling novels to swim through a la Scrooge McDuck and his money vault).
Volumes A to H
Author appreciation – This is the first book I’ve read by Aussie author Karen Foxlee and I’m equal parts kicking myself for not being aware of her brilliance sooner, but also quite excited to realise that along with Lenny’s Book of Everything, Karen has published four other novels. (Dear Santa, I know what I want for Christmas…)
Beautiful story – Lenny’s brother, Davey, has a rare form of gigantism. At age seven he’s already the size of an adult and his growth shows no signs of stopping. Lenny loves her younger brother, but it’s sometimes hard to grapple with the emotional gravity of their lives.
One thing Lenny and Davey look forward to arriving each week is the latest intriguing instalment of Burrell’s Build-It-at-Home Encyclopedia, which allows them to become experts on topics such as beetles and eagles, and dream about the places they can visit one day. But the window for adventure becomes smaller as Davey becomes bigger and his health deteriorates, much to his family’s distress.
Family dynamics – Even though Lenny knows Davey is going through a lot, she still has her realistic moments where she gets utterly fed up with him (and vice versa).
There were definitely tears shed when I read this story, but they weren’t just tears of sadness. They were tears of hope, nostalgia and understanding. And don’t even get me started on the wonderful kapow! to the heart the second-last chapter provided (#NoSpoilers). But above all, ‘The Elephant‘ is a great insight into how a young girl deals with issues of depression and grief that have impacted her family.
Olive’s dad has been feeling sad for so long that she has begun to imagine his sorrow is in the shape of an elephant. The big, foreboding creature lumbers behind her father and shows no sign of moving on. One day Olive decides she needs to get rid of her dad’s elephant and enlists the help of her Grandad and her best friend, Arthur. But igniting happiness in her dad again and chasing away the elephant may be harder than Olive thought.
From the premise it’s clear that Olive has a special connection with her father, but the story that captured my heart just as much was the connection between Olive and her Grandad.
I mean, that book title alone is a pretty good reason to have a read – unless you’re already neighbours with The Addams Family and you’re like, ‘Nope, got enough weirdness for my lifetime, thanks.’ It also won the Text Prize in 2017, which is pretty cool. But let me set the scene for you…
School friends Kipp Kindle, Cymphany Chan and Tobias Treachery live in Huggabie Falls, the weirdest town on Earth. There you can find witches, vampire bats, trolls and a house built onto a roller coaster, but all of these weird things pale in comparison to the extremely weird thing that’s happening in town. The kids don’t know what it is yet, but they’re determined to find out.
What’s really fun about this book is that the narrator has such a big presence throughout.
Do you ever finish reading a book and get the urge to hold it aloft, presenting it to the world Lion King style for everyone to enjoy because you loved it that much? Well that was me with Mat Larkin‘s quirky and engaging middle grade novel The Orchard Underground.
Pri Kohli has lived in Dunn’s Orchard all his life, he’s even ‘the face’ of the town. But when newcomer Attica Stone arrives on the scene and starts asking questions – mainly ‘Why is there a distinct lack of orchards in a place called Dunn’s Orchard?’ – Pri realises his town holds more mysteries than he thought, and thus a reluctant detective was born.
Firstly, this book is incredibly funny. I legitimately snorted out loud like an over-excited seal more than once (#glamour).
After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson focuses on the life of seventeen-year-old Pru Palmer, who lives with her dad, Rick, and twin sisters, Grace and Blythe, in a rural Australian town called Jubilee. The girls are estranged from their mother and are being homeschooled by their father. Oh, and the family also happen to be doomsday preppers who own a secret bunker that will allow them to survive if the power cuts out and the world turns to chaos… And wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happens.
What drew me in immediately to the story is that you’re filled with a sense of unease that never truly goes away throughout the whole book. Continue reading “3 reasons why you should read Lili Wilkinson’s YA novel ‘After the Lights Go Out’”
Confession: I actually loved about a million things in Jaclyn’s middle grade novel but, much like bears, musketeers and singing brothers in Hanson, good things come in threes.
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone is about a ten-year-old girl who is sent on a solo adventure, via the instructions in her parents’ will, to deliver gifts to her ten aunts. She faces many obstacles along the way, including pirates, police and magical creatures, but if she doesn’t follow her parents’ precise orders, terrible events will occur.
Bronte was already my hero from this description alone, because I’m pretty sure the biggest adventure I ever went on as a ten-year-old was taking the shortcut through the cemetery near our house to get to the shops (the promise of an ice-cream won out over ghost possession). But this leads into my first thing I loved about the book: Bronte is a fabulous main character.