One of my favourite jobs every year is to think long and hard about which were our favourite titles that have come across our desk this year. It gets harder and harder every year as we gradually expand our age range to include a full range of Chapter Books.
It is a good chance to go back through the award winners, see the titles we added to our “what’s new” category and ask Master 8 what his favourite book was.
So, without further ado, these are our favourite books for 2017.
Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros by Meg McKinlay and Leila Rudge
Once there was a small rhinoceros who wanted to see the big world. The other rhinoceros' are not interested in exploring the world - they have everything they need where they are. Mud, and sun and grass to eat and trees to scratch on.
You have to have a place in your heart for a rhinoceros that makes his own boat even though he can't sail, or row, or steer or read a map. She takes a risk and sails away anyway, even though it might be dangerous and she might get lost. She explores far off lands with surprising smells and sounds and amazing things to see. Then she heads home where the other rhinoceroses were exactly where she left them. I LOVE this book. Leila Rudges illustrations are particularly stunning. This is a little rhinoceros with big dreams. Highly recommended for ages 5-8
I'm Australian Too by Mem Fox and Ronojoy Ghosh
This is such an important book about Australian children coming from all walks of life and sharing our great land with its original inhabitants.
It is a celebration of Australia's multi-cultural heritage. It features kids telling the reader where their parents and their ancestors have come from. We love the celebration of Australian landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a Melbourne Tram. The families mentioned come from all over the globe like Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Vietnam and Somalia.
With a single page dedicated to refugee children in detention, featuring a young firl wishing to be a vet and wanting very much to be Australian, this is an important book to help kids start to understand diversity, multi-culturalism and where they come from.
This is an important book and every school and ELC should have one. We highly recommend for ages 4-8 (and grown-ups too!)
Somewhere Else by Gus Gordon
George is a duck. He has no interest in exploring the world. He's far too busy at home baking fine pastries. Or so he tells everyone when they invite him along on their wonderful adventures. But when his friend Pascal digs a little deeper, the real reason George won't leave home is finally revealed....
This award winner is an exquisite story about a bird who is pretending he is too busy to go on adventures. But he has one big problem that needs to be solved and his friend the Bear Pascale sets out to help. We love how they eventually solve the problem and get to see the world. We also love how much the two friends enjoy returning to the comforts of home. This book is full of interesting artwork including photographs, maps, vintage advertisements, drawings, and collage. We love it for ages 3-8
Time Now to Dreamy by Timothy Knapman and Helen Oxenbury
When Alice and Jack are out playing, they hear a strange noise. Alice wants to know what it is, but Jack is afraid. He thinks it might be the Wicked Wolf with big, bad claws and snap-trap jaws. But Alice takes his hand and they follow the noise, right into the heart of the forest Just what will they discover there? Timothy Knapman's powerful, atmospheric narration alongside Helen Oxenbury's spectacular illustrations skilfully convey Jack s growing fear and Alice's curious excitement, all the while building toward the reveal of that mysterious sound.
We love how our two adventurers hold hands as they step into the forest and how Alice assures Jack that everything is going to be alright. When they find what is making the noise in the forest, they are delighted and surprised. This is a stunning picture book with just the right amount of suspense - great to read aloud.
When I grow Up by Tim Minchin illustrated by Steve Antony
When I grow up....
I will eat sweets every day on the way to work and I will go to bed late every night.
And I will wake up when the sun comes up and I will watch cartoons until my eyes go square...
A joyful, humorous look at adult life from a child's perspective by two tremendous talents.
If you are a fan of Tim Minchin's Matilda, you will love this illustrated picture book version of the song. It includes a free download of Tim Minchin performing his song. We especially love "I will be strong enough to carry all the heavy things you have to haul around with you when you're a grown up". The illustrations are full of magical detail. We highly recommend for ages 2-6
Polly and Buster by Sally Rippin
Book #1 The Wayward Witch & the Feelings Monster
In the tree? At half past three, Just you and me? As it it'll always be."
In a world where witches can never be friends with monsters, Polly and Buster have managed to keep their friendship a secret.
Until one day, when everything changes.....
I was so excited to get my hands on this very first book in the new series by Sally Rippin. Polly is a witch and she is terrible at spells. She is also quite impulsive and has trouble controlling her feelings sometimes. Buster is a feelings Monster, full of empathy and the perfect best friend for Polly. He empathises with Polly's feelings so much that he shrinks when she is sad and blows up pink when she is happy. Monsters are second class citizens where Polly lives and they shouldn't really be friends. When during an excursion to a gallery Buster calls out excited to see Polly she ignores him. Will their friendship survive when the world is against it? Will a little bit of magic help?
We love the vintage feel of the book and the themes of racism, loyalty, acceptance, friendship and empathy.
With 280 pages, and 23 chapters, this is a great classroom read aloud or novel for kids who love magical worlds. We highly recommend for ages 7-11
The 91-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Join Andy and Terry in their latest mind-blowing-ever-growing treehouse. Go for a spin in the world’s most powerful whirlpool, take a ride in a submarine sandwich, get marooned on a desert island, hang out in a giant spider web, visit the fortune teller's tent to get your fortune told by Madam Know-it-all and decide whether or not to push the mysterious big red button.... Well what are you waiting for? Come on up!
This is the 7th book in the best-selling series.
This is an illustrated chapter book that is loved by boys and girls across Australia. It includes plenty of silliness, slapstick humour, visual humour and imagination. In this book Andy and Terry babysit their publishers’ grandchildren. They are not particularly very good at babysitting, so the children get into all sorts of scrapes and antics. This book follows the usual theme of the boys racing to write their new book. We particularly liked some of the new floors like a giant human pin ball machine and a desert island. Will the boys curiosity get the better of them and will they press the big red button?
This is another great instalment. We highly recommended for ages 7-11
Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney
Australia has mountains and beaches and an enormous amount of sky. It's surrounded by ocean and has coral and deserts and rainforests and wattle and koalas and gelato and ferries and honey bees and sports fanatics and beautiful stars that you can pluck from the sea and hold in your hand.
It also has cheese. This is a small slice of Australia like you've never seen it before. Grab your snorkel, Let's Dive In!
Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney is a big, beautiful book about Australia. Full of facts, like where different food products can be found, it is a multicultural celebration of diversity. Lists of Endangered Animals, the types of sport Australia likes, and the weather of our great nation. It even has little chapters on each State in the order they were found. So part history lesson, part animal lesson, part food lesson and definitely a lesson in geography and cultures.
Culturally perfect. A complete celebration of Aussie diversity, food, animals, icons and geography. We love it. Kids will pour over the illustrations and enjoy spotting familiar things. There is truckloads of detail to discover more on every read. Recommended for ages 7-10
This books would be an awesome classroom resource.
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
A little girl, a child of books, sails her raft across a sea of words and arrives at the house of a young boy. She invites him to go away with her on an adventure into the world of stories…. Where, with only a little imagination, anything at all can happen.
“I am a child of books, I came from a world of stories and upon my imagination, I float”
- Bologna Razzi Prize Winner 2017
This is an original and breathtaking story about a little girl and boy who escape their colourless worlds to explore monsters and castles and fairy tale forests. Each page includes typographical art from well-known stories featured as part of the illustrations. The illustrator makes a mountain out of parts of Peter Pan. He makes an ocean out of Robinson Crusoe. Others include Hansel and Gretel , The Wind in the Willows, Gulliver’s Travels, the Golden Goose and Peter Rabbit to name a few. This book has so many levels to explore for parents and children alike. It is a must own for any lover of books and stories.
The end papers feature a full list of the 40 treasured children’s classic books and lullabies to discover. We recommend for ages 4-8. This one has future award winner written all over it!
Pig the Star by Aaron Blabey
Pig just LOVES attention. In fact, he's a great big SHOW-OFF. But when another star appears at the photo shoot, Pig doesn't like it. No Pig doesn't like it at all.
Another laugh-out-loud book from the international best-selling author Aaron Blabey.
Pig is off to the pet photographer. He and Trevor get to wear costumes and everything! Pig even does a little Rap tune! When he sees Red that Trevor is actually the star of the shoot, he gets his usual comeuppance. Told in rollicking rhyme with a touch of slap stick humour (Pig always ends up in bandages!) This is a great fun read aloud and a good lesson in sharing the spotlight. We highly recommend for ages 3-8
So there you have it, our favourite story books for 2017. Did you have a favourite? Did your kids? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.