Children's Book Council of Australia Awards 2024

April 2024

Below is the shortlist of books for the CBCA Children's Book of the Year Awards. Further information can be found on the CBCA website. Click on the links to be taken to their entries in our catalogue and place a hold.

Alternatively, Storybox has many of these books in their catalogue, along with activity for each book. You will need your library card and PIN to access the site. Storybox is an online resource where you can have your favourite stories read by Australia's best storytellers.


Book of the Year - Older Readers

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers in their secondary years of schooling. Ages 13-18 years.

Note: Books in this category are for mature readers and some may deal with particularly challenging themes including violence and suicide. Parental guidance is recommended


A Hunger of Thorns

by Lili Wilkinson

Maude is the daughter of witches. She spent her childhood running wild with her best friend, Odette, weaving stories of girls who slayed dragons and saved princes. Then Maude grew up and lost her magic – and her best friend. Storytelling is her only gift that remains.

Odette always hungered for forbidden, dangerous magic, and 2 weeks ago she went searching for it. Now she's missing, and everyone believes she's dead. Everyone except Maude.

Maude is sure she can find Odette inside the ruins of Sicklehurst, an abandoned power plant built over an ancient magical forest –a place nobody else seems to remember is there. The danger is, nobody knows what remains inside Sicklehurst, either. And every good story is sure to have a monster …

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Grace Notes

by Karen Comer

A debut YA verse novel about what happens when the paths of a young busking violinist and an aspiring street artist collide during a pandemic. Set in one of the most locked-down cities in the world - Melbourne, 2020.

This song has a grace note,
a tiny note that's there for embellishment
but can easily be ignored,
not played.
Tonight, I add it in -
just because.
We can all do with an extra note
of grace.

Grace Dalfinch is a talented violinist who longs to play contemporary music in bars, but her mum forbids her.

James Crux is an aspiring street artist who promised his dad he wouldn't paint in public until he's finished school.

When Crux witnesses Grace's impromptu performance on a deserted tram, he's inspired to paint her and her violin; and when Grace stumbles across her portrait in a Melbourne alley by an anonymous street artist, she sets out to find its creator.

Grace Notes is a debut YA verse novel, set in one of the most locked-down cities in the world - Melbourne, 2020. For fans of Cath Crowley and Pip Harry.

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by Suzy Zail

A gritty YA novel about family secrets, hope and healing. Based on a true story.

Lisa’s father has six months to live. And a story to tell about a boy sent to Auschwitz. A boy who lost everything and started again. A story he has kept hidden – until now.

But Lisa doesn’t want to hear it, because she has secrets too. No one at school knows she is Jewish or that her dad is sick. Not even her boyfriend.

But that’s all about to change. And so is she.

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Lets Never Speak of This Again

by Megan Williams

Ella and I have been best friends since grade one. We can spend hours talking about everything and nothing. We know each other’s greatest fears, things that irrationally annoy us, and ideal career if money and skill weren’t an issue. If there was only one Hartford Bakery brownie left in the whole world and it was somehow in my possession, Ella is the only person I’d consider sharing it with.

Life is pretty good for 16-year-old Abby. Okay, her grandma doesn’t remember things anymore, her relationship with her mum is increasingly strained and she accidentally kissed her cousin’s cousin on the weekend, so things aren’t exactly perfect. But everything is manageable with her best friend, Ella, by her side.

And with Ella’s brother, Will, interesting and attentive, on the sidelines.

When new girl Chloe arrives, Abby is pleased to be the one to show her around, to welcome her to the group. But Abby doesn’t imagine Chloe fitting in so well or quite so quickly. And before long Abby is feeling just a little left out, a little unsure of Ella’s friendship. In a moment of anger and confusion she wishes something bad would happen.

When it does—with tragic consequences—everything shifts again. And Abby has to face her own feelings and work out what friendship really means.

Megan Williams’ brilliant debut Let’s Never Speak of This Again is a tender, moving story laced with humour, about friendship, about the things that test it, and about what matters most.

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The Quiet and the Loud

by Helena Fox


A novel about the contours of friendship, family, forgiveness, trauma and love that explores the stories we suppress and the stories we speak - and the healing that comes when we voice the things we've kept quiet for so long.

George's life is loud. On the water, though, with everything hushed above and below, she is steady, silent. Then her estranged dad says he needs to talk, and George's past begins to wake up, looping around her ankles, trying to drag her under.

Everything is a blaring, blazing mess. Could Calliope, the girl who has just cartwheeled into George's world and shot it through with brilliant, dazzling colour, be her calm among the chaos?

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Two Can Play That Game

by Leanne Yong

Funny and romantic, an upbeat YA novel about gaming, goals and getting even from a fresh new voice in contemporary fiction.

Sam Khoo has one goal in life: create cool indie games. She's willing to do anything to make her dream come true – even throw away a scholarship to university. All she needs is a super-rare ticket to a game design workshop and she can kickstart her career.

So when Jay Chua, aka Jerky McJerkface, sneakily grabs the last ticket, it's war. Knowing how their Australian-Malaysian community works, Sam issues him an ultimatum: put the ticket on the line in a 1v1 competition of classic video games, or she'll broadcast his duplicity to everyone. Thank you, Asian Gossip Network.

Meeting in neutral locations, away from the eyes and ears of nosy aunties and uncles, Sam and Jay connect despite themselves. It's a puzzle that Sam's not sure she wants to solve. But when her dream is under threat, will she discover that there is more than one way to win?

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Book of the Year: Younger Readers

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers from the middle to upper primary years. 7-12 years.

Note: Some of the titles in this category may only be suitable for readers who are in the upper primary years as they contain mature themes, including violence. Parental guidance is recommended.


Being Jimmy Baxter

by Fiona Lloyd

A gently funny yet powerful coming-of-age middle grade novel about surviving the odds, unlikely friendships and the magical music of Elvis.

It's not eggsactly easy being Jimmy Baxter 'cause-
The real Jimmy's hiding inside
Ned Kelly's giving him the evil eye
Mum's stopped going to work and stays in bed
There's no eggs in the fridge - or anything else.
AND there's new jobs, bad-at-school brains and a whole lot of trouble called Duke.
But then . . . there's Mac.

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Huda Was Here

by H. Hayek

Huda hatches a bold plan to help her dad get a job - which lands her and her brother in all kinds of trouble. A delightful and hilarious story from a CBCA award-winning author, about a lion-hearted girl who just wants the best for her family.

Huda yawns loudly and stretches out her arms. Almost like she's bored in science class and waiting for the bell to go for lunch. Except we're not at school, we're in police custody. Because of her stupid idea.

When her dad loses his job as a security officer and has to work interstate, Huda convinces her brother Akeal to sneak out at night to make mischief, hoping to force their dad's bosses to hire him back.

As their misdeeds escalate, will the daring duo be able to outsmart the authorities? How much are they willing to risk for family unity - and what else might they uncover along the way?

A thoroughly entertaining story full of hijinks, courage and hilarity.

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Real Pigeons Flap Out

by Andrew McDonald (Illustrated: Ben Wood)

Ever wonder why pigeons always act so weird? It’s because they’re out there chasing the bad guys and saving your butts!

The Real Pigeons love flapping around the city and fighting crime.

But when lunches start mysteriously DISAPPEARING from tummies, a LOOK-ALIKE pigeon makes evil plans and a dangerous DOVE starts DESTROYING the city, the pigeons will need to use all the powers they have – and more!

Can the Real Pigeons stick together through the chaos? Or will someone fly away for good? One thing is for sure: the squad will never be the same again!

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Scar Town

by Tristan Bancks

A missing father. A drowned town. A buried secret. Three friends on a dangerous mission to uncover the truth.

Seven years after Old Scarborough was drowned, a house is emerging from the water. Will and his friends Dar and Juno dare each other to explore it.

But when they find bones – and a stash of cash – they realise they’re not the only ones interested in its secrets.

Now they’re fighting for their lives against the men who want what they found. Will can’t leave the mystery alone, though. What if the bones belong to his missing dad?


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Scout and the Rescue Dogs

by Dianne Wolfer (Illustrated: Tony Flowers)

A celebration of community, adventure, kindness and, above all, dogs!

The summer holidays have finally arrived and Scout can’t wait for her adventure in the big rig with Dad. They’re on a mission to deliver donations of dog food to animal rescue shelters right across the state..

There’ll be lots of music, dad-jokes and a brilliant plan that will make sure everyone’s got a friend for the holidays. There might even be a special four-legged friend in it for Scout..

But Scout and her dad get more than they’ve bargained for. It’s bushfire season – and it’s not just the dogs who need rescuing . . .


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The Sideways Orbit of Evie Hart

by Samera Kamaleddine

Friendship, family and feelings collide in this sparkling middle-grade debut from Matilda Prize winner, Samera Kamaleddine.

Evie Hart likes rules. A lot. But as she embarks on her very last year of primary school, it feels like all the rules around her are being broken.

When Evie's class starts learning about the Earth's place in the universe, it makes Evie think about her own place in the world and where she belongs. Which has her more worried than ever.

When your mum writes a horoscope page for a living, it's hard not to think about what the future holds. Especially when she and the only dad Evie has ever known are acting like they're on different planets.

But the more Evie learns about the sky and the stars, the more she learns that changes in the world can't always be controlled. And maybe that's not a bad thing.

From the inaugural winner of the Matilda Prize comes a tender and moving story about one girl's journey to find her place in the world.


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Book of the Year: Early Childhood

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for children who are at pre-reading or early stages of reading. Ages 0-6 years.


Bear and Duck are Friends

by Sue deGennaro

Bear and Duck are best friends, but they are very different. Duck likes to try new things, and Bear ... well, Bear likes not to.

When Duck needs a friend for her dance class, Bear reluctantly agrees. Bear’s big size causes problems at first, but he soon discovers that he might just be a very good dancer.

Bear and Duck is a story about friendship, confidence, and overcoming the fear of trying new things.

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Can You Teach a Fish to Climb a Tree?

by Jane Godwin (Illustrated: Terry Denton)

‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,
it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’
-- Albert Einstein (or not, as it turns out!)

So… can a fish climb a tree?
Can a horse drive a car?
Can a baby bake a cake?

And if they can’t, what wonderful things can they do?

From bestselling creators Jane Godwin and Terry Denton comes a quirky and inspiring book about celebrating who YOU are and the power and peace to be found in not trying to be anyone else.


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Grace and Mr Milligan

by Caz Goodwin (Illustrator: Pip Kruger)

Grace lives next door to old Mr Milligan and his goat Charlie. They are the best of friends. But when Mr Milligan’s beloved goat dies, everything changes. Will Grace be able to help her friend overcome his sadness?

Grace and Mr Milligan is a heart-warming story of grief, love and the healing power of friendship.

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Gymnastica Fantastica!

by Briony Stewart

Quick! Come and see! Something fabulous, it's . . . me!

Gymnastica Fantastica! is a joyful and exuberant picture book about a child discovering and attempting new physical skills and putting on wonderfully imperfect shows for whoever will watch them.

Join Gymnastica, a small person with big energy, as they bend and balance, bounce and roll, attempt a cartwheel and a spectacular trapeze flip-out finale. Written in playful rhyming text and with brightly energetic and appealing illustrations, this is a book that kids and parents alike will find irresistible to read aloud and delight in its energy and humour.

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One Little Duck

by Katrina Germein (Illustrated: Danny Snell)

The classic Five Little Ducks meets We're Going on a Bear Hunt and I Went Walking in an irresistibly fresh, cute and clever picture book that pre-schoolers will love.

One little duck went out one day,
over the hills and far away.
Mother Duck said ...
'Moo Moo Moo Moo,'
and Cow said, 'Wait! Now I'm coming too.'

Oh no, Mother Duck has forgotten how to quack!

Every day she tries a new barnyard call, and every night Little Duck returns with a new farm friend.

A fun twist on the song Five Little Ducks, this delightful story from the award-winning duo Katrina Germein and Danny Snell is destined to become a modern classic.

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The Concrete Garden

by Bob Graham

A timely, inspiring and uplifting story about hope and the power of creative expression, from one of the world's most treasured bookmakers.

After a cold, dark winter, doors opened. Children spilled out like sweets from a box. Amanda was last one out of the tower block. She brought some chalk with her. On every inch of the concrete outside, the children drew pictures of everything they could think of, from flowers and snails, to spaceships and queens. Before long, a beautiful and exotic garden spread out across the concrete.

From master storyteller Bob Graham comes a charming, and gently post-pandemic story about finding optimism after a dark spell, and the nurturing power of community friendships in an urban setting. The Concrete Garden will resonate with anyone who has been apart from their loved ones, and will encourage us all to find the brightness and colour within ourselves.  

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Picture Book of the Year

Entries in this category should be outstanding books of the Picture Book genre in which the author and illustrator achieve artistic and literary unity or, in wordless picture books, where the story, theme or concept is unified through illustrations. Ages 0-18 years.

Note: Some of these books may be for mature readers.


Bowerbird Blues

by Aura Parker

I am a collector. Always looking, finding ... and keeping! Bowerbird loves BLUE. Magnificent colbalt. Brilliant, vibrant blue! But something is missing. What could it be?

This picture book from Aura Parker stars a beautiful bowerbird on the search for blue! It's a moving story of longing and connection, that unfolds as the bowerbird's search sends him soaring across the sea, sky and city. He swoops and snatches vibrant treasures for his collection, and soon his bower a mix of natural and unnatural objects attracts something greater and more fulfilling than he could ever have imagined. National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) is an important annual campaign that aims to encourage young children to read and enjoy books as well as teach them the value of literacy. Now celebrating its 24th successful year and coming off the back of our most successful year yet, we have no doubt that the reading of Aura Parker's Bowerbird Blues will continue to build this wonderful campaign.

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Every Night at Midnight

by Peter Cheong

Every night at midnight, Felix turns into a wolf. His hands and feet become velvety paws and he grows a long, bushy tail. Felix has the night-time world to himself. There's no one else like him.

Felix isn't a wolf during the day, but it still feels like there's no one else like him. That's okay. Felix is just fine on his own. But after a chance encounter, this little lone wolf starts to wonder whether he might find his pack after all...

A tender and whimsical picture book about finding friendship in unexpected places.


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If I Was a Horse

by Sophie Blackall

If I was a horse, I would gallop all day.
I could go anywhere I want...

If you were a horse, what would you do? Could you fit in your clothes? Would you give your little sister a ride? Would your brother even notice?

Gallop along with two-time Caldecott Medallist Sophie Blackall through this riotous day in the life of a child who imagines their life as a horse. Sophie's delightful text and resonant illustrations that feature a giant horse in familiar settings offer a visual feast, a grand dose of joy and a celebration of the real power of imagination to help us navigate the world.

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Paper-flower Girl

by Mateja Jager (Text: Margrete Lamond)

The Paper-flower Girl creates elaborate flowers out of paper, but she has few customers. When the Giant from the Hill brings her to work for him, they soon discover they want very different things. Before long, the Paper-flower Girl is forced to create things she no longer recognises as flowers. When the exasperated Giant throws her from the Hill, the Paper-flower Girl takes with her something belonging to the Giant, incorporates it into her elaborate flowers, and attains greater success than the Giant. This is a story about being prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.

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That Bird Has Arms

by Ronojoy Ghosh & Niharika Hukku (Text: Kate Temple & Jol Temple)

Roy is an ordinary bird in every way. He is not the biggest, or the smallest. His squawk is not the loudest or the quietest. He even follows the same football team as everyone else. He was very normal except for one thing – he has ARMS. Absolutely nobody knows – and Roy would like to keep it that way...

That Bird Has Arms is a story about difference and identity. It’s about learning to see that what sets you apart is what makes you strong, and it’s about pride in your own uniqueness.

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by Kelly Canby

This vibrant new picture book by award-winning author and illustrator Kelly Canby is all about time - making it, losing it and subverting the whole darn concept.

Emit (whose parents turned back time to name him) is surrounded by busyness. Dad is too busy to read stories, Mum is too busy to play games and Emit's brother and sister are simply too busy doing nothing to do anything, at all. Emit tries everything he can think of to get more time, he tries to catch it, wait for it, but it's not until Emit tries to buy some time that he learns the secret which is, if you want time, you have to make it.  

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Eve Pownall Award

Entries in this category should be books which have the prime intention of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style. Ages 0-18 years.

Books in this category are for mature readers and some may deal with particularly challenging themes including violence and suicide. Parental guidance is recommended.


Australia: Country of Colour

by Jess Racklyeft

Bestselling creator Jess Racklyeft celebrates Australian animals, plants and landscapes through the lens of the colour wheel.

With its vivid red dirt, big blue skies, wild green bushland and golden sandy beaches, Australia is a country of extraordinary colour.

Here is a celebration of the stunning plants and animals of this colourful country, from vibrant pink Flame Peas to startling blue Fairy Wrens, electric yellow Billy Buttons, glossy black Tasmanian Devils, and many more.

Come and take a closer look at nature's paintbox and the rainbow of life that lives in Australia, from one of our best-loved picture book creators.

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Country Town

by Isolde Martyn & Robyn Ridgeway (Illustrated: Louise Hogan)

Happy times, sad times, boom times and gloom times!

From the First Peoples’ camp at the river crossing in the 1820s through to Carols by Candlelight at the showground in today’s world, this is a decade by decade wonderfully illustrated story of a small country community.

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Eww Gross: Foul Facts and Putrid Pictures

by Dan Marshall

Get ready to discover just how gross our universe really is.

Learn the foulest facts about space, Earth, humans, animals and science that have been tested by real scientists, and even do your own gross experiments.

Meet your guide, Slimon, who loves all things rotten, revolting, despicable and downright disgusting.

Rate the facts yourself using the grossometer!

Did you know …

  • There’s poo on the moon?
  • You will drool enough in your lifetime to fill two swimming pools?
  • Whales do 974 litres of pee into the ocean every day?
  • There’s a wall covered in chewing gum that’s over 30 years old?
  • There’s a robot designed to projectile vomit?

Full to the brim with the world’s filthiest facts and most putrid pictures, this book is sure to make you and your friends say: ‘Eww Gross!’

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Our Country: Where History Happened

by Mark Greenwood (Illustrated: Frané Lessac)

The second title in the OUR COUNTRY series, celebrating and contextualising the richness of Australia's history, and where it happened.

In every corner of Australia, history happened. The pages of this book are a journey through tens of thousands of years. Our history is recorded in ancient rock art, in the flag flown at the Eureka Stockade, by Burke and Wills' tree. All around our coastline history unfolded in shipwrecks and ship arrivals. Sometimes tragic, often regrettable, always formative, history is commemorated from Tasmania and throughout the mainland at the sites of prisons and massacres. From the birthplace of a new federated nation at the beginning of the twentieth century in Sydney's Centennial Park to Eddie Mabo's struggle for acknowledgement of land rights in the 1990s, history happened all around Our Country.

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Tamarra: A Story of Termites on Gurindji Country

by Violet Wadrill, Topsy Dodd Ngarnjal, Leah Leaman, Cecelia Edwards, Cassandra Algy, Felicity Meakins, Briony Barr, Gregory Crocetti

Tamarra: A Story of Termites on Gurindji Country is a fascinating, illustrated science book that takes kids inside the life of termites through storytelling from the Gurindji People.

Did you know there are four types of termite poo? Or that a warm paste made from termite mound is used to strengthen a Gurindji baby’s body and spirit? Or that spinifex (which termites eat) is one of the strongest plants in the world?

Created as a collaboration between over 30 First Nations and non-Indigenous contributors, the story and artworks explore how termites and their mounds connect different parts of Country, from tiny Gurindji babies and their loving grandmothers, to spiky spinifex plants growing in the hot sun.

Written in traditional Gurindji, Gurindji Kriol and English (with a QR code to an audio version spoken in language), Tamarra is a truly original story with beautiful artwork that takes readers on an educational and cultural journey through Gurindji Country.


This Book Thinks Ya Deadly!

by Corey Tutt Illustrated: Molly Hunt

This Book Thinks Ya Deadly! is an inspirational, illustrated compendium that celebrates the diversity and success of First Nations People.

Written by Corey Tutt, author of The First Scientists, this book features the profiles of more than 70 Blakfellas who are doing deadly things across sport, art, activism and science, through to politics, education and literature. It showcases the careers and Corey’s personal stories of First Nations People who have done great things in their respective fields, including Professor Marcia Langton, Miranda Tapsell, Tony Armstrong, Dr Anita Heiss, Danzal Baker (Baker Boy), Adam Goodes and Blak Douglas.

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CBCA Award for New Illustrator

This Award aims to recognise and encourage new talent in the field of Australian children's book illustration. Ages 0-18 years.


Etta and the Shadow Taboo

by Jeremy Worrall

Where is theirs?
And where is mine?
To hurt a shadow
Is surely a crime

When Etta steps on Baawaa’s (her sister's) shadow, she learns of the Shadow Taboo, and learns to value the personal space of others, as well as her own.

Written by Gamilaraay author JM Field and illustrated by Ngarabal/Gomeroi artist Jeremy Worrall, Etta and the Shadow Taboo will invite readers to follow a Gamilaraay tradition where one must avoid stepping on the shadows of others.

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Grace and Mr Milligan

by Pip Kruger

Grace lives next door to old Mr Milligan and his goat Charlie. They are the best of friends. But when Mr Milligan’s beloved goat dies, everything changes. Will Grace be able to help her friend overcome his sadness?

Grace and Mr Milligan is a heart-warming story of grief, love and the healing power of friendship.

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Hope is the Thing

by Erica Wagner

A highly original, beautiful and deeply meaningful picture book that sees the marvellous and inspiring world of birds through the eyes of a child and celebrates birds' adaptability and ingenuity. Hope is a kookaburra singing the sun Hope is the emu learning to run … Let your imagination soar in this joyful ode to the world of birds and the healing power of nature. Sparked by the Emily Dickinson poem 'Hope is the thing with feathers', this lyrical text accompanied by glorious mixed media collages reflects and celebrates the diversity, ingenuity and wonder of birds.


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by Kim Drane

Come and meet the Phonobet, old Alpha Betty’s twin,
The set of all the sounds you use when waggling your chin.

Phonobet is a modern-day, Australian answer to Dr Seuss’s ABC. This very clever rhyming text takes an onomatopoeic romp through the 44 phonemes of Australian (and British) English, comparing sounds to trees, bees, trains, robots, monkeys, pirates and more. The text aligns with primary-school phonics programs and could be used by educators in this field, but is equally successful as a fun read-aloud book for parents of 4 to 6-year-olds.

Children will enjoy Kim Drane’s bold, colourful and fun-filled illustrations, which pop on the page.

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Raised by Moths

by Michelle Conn

Willow jumps on the Ferris Wheel and is intrigued to see a boy surrounded by moths.

As they travel high above the fairground he tells her the reason why the moths love him so much: he was raised by moths. Wonderfully fantastical and thought-provoking with stunning illustrations, Raised by Moths is quite unlike anything you’ve read

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When You're a Boy

by Blake Nuto

A powerful and moving exploration of what it means to be a boy from an exciting new author-illustrator talent.

When you're a boy
you are told how to be
like the white-roaring oceans.
But I've learned
the fierceness of flowers
the glory of colour
and the beauty of dreaming.

Wander through forests, cross rivers and climb mountains in this powerful and moving exploration of what it means to be a boy.

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