Time for my second last reading roundup for the year. November was a busy month but I still managed to read 16 books – a total helped by the fact that lots of them were picture books. Here’s what I read:
Books for Children
- Friendly Bee and Friends: Woe is for Worm!, by Sean E. Avery (Walker Books, 2023).The second book featuring Friendly Bee and her friends – this time featuring Bee, Angry Wasp, Enormous Hairy Spider – and Pessimistic Earthworm. Lots of fun. Sean Avery is a genius.
- Raised by Moths, by Charlie Archbold & Michelle Conn (Midnight Sun, 2023).I was lucky enough to attend the launch for this while on my recent trip to Adelaide. Whimsical but also with a lovely exploration of belonging and childhood. The illustrations are divine.
- The Wheelbarrow Express (Walker Books, 2023). My copy is signed by the author – because she came for a sleepover on her recent trip to WA. How lucky am I that Sue Whiting is my friend? So I know I am a little biased, but this book is just wonderful, with a tale of a boy and his grandfather, with wheelbarrow rides, tender connections and love. Again, the illustrations are perfect.
- Madame Cholet’s Picnic Party, by Elisabeth Beresford, illustrated by Margaret Gordon (Ernest Benn, 1976). I picked this one up in an op shop some time ago, and then read it late one evening when I wanted something light. I loved the Wombles when I was a child, and enjoyed a little glimpse back into their world.
- Mr Clownfish, Miss Anemone and the Hermit Crab, by Sean E. Avery (Walker Books, 2023). I adore Sean Avery – and his quirky books. This delightful picture book is about friendship, bravery and under water fun.
- Pog, by Lyn Lee, illustrated by Kim Gamble (Omnibus, 2000). Another bargain opshop rescue,. What a delight to rediscover this brave little monster who is, like the other monsters, scared of one thing – children.
- Nikki Hind: Dressed for Success, by John Dickson & Chantel de Sousa (Vision Australia, 2023). One of my reading delights this month was reading this one, and the two others (see below) that make up the Big Visions pack. This one tells the story of fashion designer Nikki Hind, who lives with a vision impairment and has a successful fashion label.
- Craig Shanahan: Cooking up a Storm (Big Visions), by John Dickson and Claudia Frittitta (Vision Australia, 2023). Also part of the Big Visions imprint, this one is the biography of chef Craig Shanahan, aka ‘the blind chef’.
- Matt Formston: Surfing in the Dark, by John Dickson and Philip Bunting (Vision Australia, 2023). The third title in the Big Visions pack, which I was sent by Vision Australia. This one tells the story of Matt Formston, world champion surfer and cycling Paralympian. I love that these three books can work together or individually, in biographies that share amazing stories of people living wi9th vision impairment. Each includes the details of that impairment, and its progress but this is just part of each person’s story, with achievements and everyday life being a key part of each story. With the stories told in good sized bold font, as well as in braille, the books will be accessible to readers with any level of vision and this makes such a wonderful aid both for school and home use. It would be excellent to see these books in mainstream libraries making the stories, and their amazing subjects, accessible to all young readers.
- City of Light, by Julia Lawrinson, illustrated by Heather Potter & Mark Jackson (Wild Dog, 2023). I was really happy to see this book come into the world, because it’s a topic I have long thought would make an excellent picture book. It’s the story of Perth’s label as the City of Light, after the people of Perth turned on their lights so that John Glenn could see them from space. Also, one of the illustrators, heather Potter, also illustrated my Pearl Verses the World which led, indirectly, to me needing to write a story about a cat.
- The Lucky Shack, by Apsara Baldovino & Jennifer Falkner (Working Title Press, 2023). I bought this after hearing the illustrator speak at the State Library of WA’s Young Reader’s Day Out recently. When she showed the images I sighed at their perfection and knew I had to own the book. So lovely.
Books for Young Adults
- New Patches for Old, by Christobel Mattingley (Puffin, 1977). Picked up second hand on my recent trip to Adelaide, along with other Mattingley titles, giving me a chance to get to know her work better. The story of a teen (Patricia) who is really unhappy about migrating from England to Australia – and the journey to rebuilding her life.
- Ask No Questions, by Eva Collins (Puncher & Wattman, 2022). It was coincidence that I read this one and the Mattingley one sequentially, but both deal with the experiences of migrants to Australia. This one is an autobiographical verse novel about the a Polish family coming to Australia during the cold war. Excellent poetry, and a perspective I found enlightening.
Books for Adults
1. Things I Don’t Want to Know, by Deborah Levy (Penguin, 2013). I ordered this from my local bookshop after it was recommended on a podcast – but can’t for the life of me remember which podcast, or who recommended it. Still, I’m glad that past-Sally raced in and ordered it, and really adored this, billed as ‘living autobiography, and exploring writing, womanhood, and the way childhood experiences have shaped the author’s ‘now’. I am likely to order the two subsequent books, though it stands alone beautifully.
2. How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews (Storey Publishing, 2021). What a beautiful beautiful anthology. From the format, with a cover to die for and hug, to the selection of poems to inspire, to reassure and to love, and little pauses for reflection throughout. I savoured this over about a month, reading a poem or two at a time.
3. The Red Witch: A Biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard, by Nathan Hobby (Miegunyah Press, 2022). This one took me a while to read – I actually started it in late August. That isn’t a reflection on its quality – but as it is quite dense, I put it aside a few times for lighter, quicker reads, finding I needed the head space to concentrate. A really thorough examination of the life, works and times of author Katharine Susannah Prichard.
That brings my total for the year to 119. Happy with that – and there’s still a month to go. What have you been reading?