'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 21 December 2019

A very KBR Christmas Salutation 2019!

It simply wouldn't be the end of the year without our traditional KBR team roundup and this year we're embracing the best of that which we most desire along with the most desirous books we've read in 2019.

It's never easy whittling so many great reads down to just one title. We hardly expect you could either, which is why we continue to bring you the best of the best of Kids' Literature throughout the year.

Thank you ALL for participating in our tremendous competitions, reading our reviews and interviews, and sharing our unadulterated book joy and love.

May you experience every brilliance this festive season has to offer and may all your Christmas wishes come true. And now, let's find out what our fabulous team members wished for...

If you had one wish this Christmas, literary or otherwise, what would it be and why? 

Dimity Powell - Managing Editor
As most of the world’s issues have been so ably and generously addressed with the answers from my kind-hearted team, my wish is simply for peace, world or otherwise, where I might find the quiet and calm to reflect, recover, ruminate, reciprocate and of course, read. Although I love Lily's suggestion (useful and fun)...perhaps I could modify my wish for a magic flying carpet...

Tania - Editor at Large
It would be 6 months in Copenhagen with not much to do but walk and write and draw and potter and smell flowers. On a more global note, I would wish for most of the world’s current leaders to have a spiritual/Gaia-driven epiphany, and retire, leaving room for someone with a brain and a heart. And because we’re forced to pick just ONE book in the next question, I’m going for the classic three wishes here. My third wish is that every child on Earth is gifted a book that changes their life.

Katrin - Meet the Illustrator Editor
My Christmas wish would be for the world to find their common sense again. Otherwise I’d settle for my family’s good health.

Josephine Burrell - Life Member
For every household in the entire world to plant a tree this Christmas. This would go a long way to achieving the 500 million hectares of trees required to stave off climate change for the next 20 years, while we work out alternative fuel sources.

Anastasia - Reviewer / Look What I'm Reading! Coordinator
I wish that there was more kindness, as this, I feel, is what is missing in our world today.

Leanne Barrett - Reviewer
My one wish is that every child has access to books so they can learn to read fluently.

Shaye Wardrop - Senior Editor
That the world collectively wakes up and starts working together to save our planet. Because we have to. We just have to!

Cherri Ryan - Reviewer
That every child had a chance to be safe, feel love and be enabled to grow to be their most wonderful self.

Jo Antareau - YA Reviewer
For all children to have the opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of their personal circumstances / disadvantages.

Amie Sabin  - Reviewer
I’ll be terribly cliche and say peace on earth, miraculous solutions to climate change and a children’s book for every human.

Penny Harrison - 12 Curly Questions Editor
That every child around the world would receive a joyful, captivating and inspirational book in their Christmas stocking.

Karin Mitchell - Reviewer
For Santa to deliver a book to everyone so they can experience the joy of reading.

Lily O’Gorman - Junior Reviewer
I would wish to have a pet dragon to fly around the world, and a never-ending supply of books so I would never be bored.

Sarah Steed - Senior Librarian Consultant
That everyone’s 2020 will be better than 2019, in whatever way they want or need it to be.

Sarah Wallace - Reviewer
For everyone to find a moment to be still and appreciate the beauty and wonder in the world around us. We can all get so caught up in everyday frustrations that we need a reminder of the good things in the world. Take a child’s lead - go outside, listen to birdsong, watch ants marching up a tree, or admire a bee landing on a flower.

What was the most stunning, impressionable, hilarious, moving, thought-provoking Kids’ Lit read you experienced this year? 
Funny Bones hilarity anthology (house brick!) edited by Jol and Kate Temple, and Oliver Phommavanh, and containing some seriously rollicking, fabulous content (all proceeds to War Child). (KBR review coming soon!)

Tim and Tigon by Tim Copeland. I've read so many inspiring, tear-jerking, heart warming, rib-tickling kids' reads this year, it's hard to shave them all down to one favourite. But this true life adventure oozes guts and glory, honours mateship and humanity and above all else promotes the simple things, in life and nature. It embodies a never give in, never give up mentality that I find crucial for survival.

Really loved Waiting for Chicken Smith by David Mackintosh for its unique illustrations, way of storytelling and message.

One is too hard! So I’ll cheat and nominate one young adult fantasy series that sits comfortably with the likes of Harry Potter and series written by Isobelle Carmody. The Mirror Visitor’s book 1: A Winter’s Promise had me from the first page. By momentarily touching an object, Ophelia experiences the most recent owner’s final moments, so she tends to wear gloves. She can also travel through mirrors. Apart from that she’s happily unremarkable. But she is unexpectedly betrothed to someone in a far celestial island and is forced to leave everything and everyone she loves behind.

With a creepy fiancee who rarely acknowledges her presence and a world that thrives on political intrigue, Orphelia has no idea who to trust. When she is forced to impersonate a servant boy to stay alive, the action hots up. I devoured Book 1 and 2 and am gnashing my teeth at the forced wait for book 3. Unputdownable.

The Truth Pixie by Matt Haigh, illustrated by Chris Mould

The one book that sticks in my mind that made me think, cry and feel hope was Window of Hope by Robert Vescio and Demelsa Haughton.

The Voyage by Robert Vescio and Andrea Edmonds moved me in so many ways. A picture book with only fourteen carefully chosen words, it explores the journey of a family fleeing war. The story spoke to my heart, but it also spoke to my children's hearts. As young as they are, they understood the fear, sadness and hope found on the beautifully illustrated pages. And that gives me hope this Christmas.

En Pointe by Chloe Bayliss - it is a YA memoir by an inspiring young woman, who brings readers in to her life during the highest and the most challenging moments of her teenage years. An absolute must-read for anyone who has ever had a dream almost snatched away by illness or other circumstances.

I guess this is about which book stayed with me the longest long after I had turned the final page. I have read a lot of moving, stunning stories this year but the one that made the most lasting impression was Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp.

Impressionable, hilarious, moving and thought provoking is a lot for one book! I will go with Petra by Marianna Coppo, it meets that criteria in a fun and simple way.


In a year that has seen so much hatred and sadness around the globe, it would have to be Sally Rippin's Polly & Buster series. Here are three books that are jam-packed with kindness, inclusion, empathy and love. If only they were compulsory reading for our world leaders!

How To Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow. The sudden death of her mother, leaves Tiger Tolliver adrift and disconnected from life. The descriptive passages of Tiger attempting to deal with her grief amid people's expectations of how she should be behaving are heart wrenching.

The saddest and most emotional book I read was Seekers, The Quest Begins by Erin Hunter. The funniest, happiest and most thought-provoking book was Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan.

Sarah S
The kids' lit book that was my favourite to read this year was Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld. It’s the action-packed book two in the Imposters series, and there's something rather prescient about the futuristic world it's set in, which really makes you think about our society today.

Sarah W
This is Home, a collection of Australian poetry selected by Jackie French and illustrated by Tania McCartney. I love poetry and this stunning collection really captures the heart of Australia and the events, landscapes, feelings and experiences that shape our country.