Recommended Reading List

Older Readers

Between Us by Clare Atkins
Genre: Coming of Age, Romance

A story of cultural differences, Clare Atkins’ Between Us is a novel about two teenagers exploring the lives of asylum seekers in Australia. It features Anahita, or Ana, as a fiery Iranian school girl that is only allowed to leave the Wickham Point Detention Centre for school, as well as Jono, who is desperately looking for a distraction from the abandonment he has experienced at home.
Kenny, the newest guard at the Detention Centre, initially asks Ana to look out for his son Jono, but later regrets it as his suspicion grows. Who is this girl? Can her story be trusted? As Ana and Jono grow closer, Kenny begins to unravel her secrets…

The things that will not stand by Michael Gerard Bauer
Genre: Coming of Age

Sebastian and his best friend Tolly are deciding their futures after high school when they meet Frida, a girl who is edgy, caustic and funny. She’s also a vivid storyteller and they both share parts of themselves, their pasts and their hopes and dreams. But something about her stories doesn’t add up. As Seb finds himself becoming entranced by Frida during their surprising and eventful day, he also begins to struggle sorting fact from fiction.
But how much can he expect Frida to share in just one day? And how much of his own self and his own secrets will he be willing to reveal in return?

Hive by AJ Betts
Genre: Mystery

The first of series, AJ Betts’ dystopian Hive explores themes of oppression as Hayley inhabits a world governed by strict rules, including zero population growth and not asking the wrong questions. Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules, but after discovering what starts as an impossible drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.
Curiosity is a hook.

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy

“We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.”
At the age of 8, Tash witnesses her imaginary friend, Sparrow, kidnap 6-year-old Mallory Fisher at a fair. That little girl turned up 4 days later in the middle of a national park, completely mute with chunks of her hair missing. Even after 9 years of therapy, no one is ready to believe Tash about Sparrow. Now that she’s 17, it’s her last chance to prove to her parents she can be trusted and that her anxiety and claustrophobia are under control. But as disturbing memories start to resurface, so does Sparrow.

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee
Genre: Family

Lenny’s younger brother Davey won’t stop growing – at 7, he’s already as tall as a man. Raised in a single parent household, they didn’t have much so every week they looked forward to the latest issue of Burrell’s Build-It-at-Home Encyclopedia. Through the encyclopedia, Lenny and Davey experience the wonders of the world – beetles, birds, quasars, quartz – and dream about a life of freedom and adventure, visiting places like Saskatchewan and Yellowknife, and the gleaming lakes of the Northwest Territories. But as her brother’s health deteriorates, Lenny realises some wonders can’t be named.

Changing Gear by Scott Gardner
Genre: Adventure

After Merrick Hilton’s grandad passes away, his whole world changes. With a couple of hundred dollars in his pocket, he tells his divorced and remarried parents that he’s staying with the other and takes off with his postie bike, with no phone and no destination. On his journey, he meets Victor, an old soul who has spent his life walking with no fixed home to come back to.

Girl Running, Boy Falling by Kate Gordon
Genre: Coming of Age

Sixteen-year-old Therese lives in a small town in Tasmania, being raised by her aunt and grandma. Her Aunt Kath calls her Tiger. Her friends call her Resey. The boy she loves calls her Champ. She’s has been a lot of different things for a lot of different people.
Therese has her feet firmly on the ground, but when someone in her life falls, her perfect world falls with him. For the first time, Therese can’t stand to be on the ground. But can she regain her footing?

The Finder by Kate Hendrick
Genre: Mystery

When Lindsay and Elias meet, the signs aren’t promising. She’s an introvert who has no interest in people. He’s an extroverted teen fashionista who can’t stop talking.
But after Lindsay found the runaway kid, so it’s obvious that she knows how to find people. And Elias is looking for his birth mother. And he has money, and Lindsay’s always broke… So that’s how this oddest of odd couples teams up.
But the thing is, Lindsay wasn’t really trying to find the runaway. It’s just what she does, because after her identical twin Frankie disappeared, her parents have kept themselves busy. But ever since, all Lindsay has been doing is… looking.
In Elias, despite their differences, she might have found someone to look with.

P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry-Jones
Genre: Mystery, Family

Seventeen-year-old Gwendolyn P. Pearson has learnt to not think about the awful things that have happened to her family, like when people talk about her deceased mother, or just look at her sympathetically.
Her best friends Loretta and Gordon make it easier to forget about these things, but after strange occurrences in the café she works at, Gwen is forced to discover her past of family secrets. And she slowly comes to realise that people can be deceiving, and that like her, everyone has a story to tell.

The Bogan Mondrian by Steven Herrick
Genre: Mystery

Luke is still struggling after his father’s death two years ago. He watches his mother struggle, both emotionally and financially, to keep his house together. To escape his sorrows, Luke skips school and spends his time photographing and swimming at the reservoir.
Until… Charlotte moves to town. They say she was expelled from school and her rich family have moved to the Blue Mountains for a fresh start. But when he is invited to her house, he realises there is more to her story…

A song only I can hear by Barry Jonsberg
Genre: Romance

Thirteen-year-old Rob Fitzgerald has made it his mission to impress the new girl at school. That might sound easy to some, but for a boy who is prone to panic attacks, vomiting, difficult breathing and genuine terror, it is no small feat. Luckily, an anonymous texter gives Rob challenges that might help him out. Or not. How will Rob win her heart?

The art of taxidermy by Sharon Kernot
Genre: Coming of Age

Set in a small Australian town in the 1960s, we meet Lottie, a girl who loves and collects dead creatures to care for them. Having lost people in her own life to death, she wants to protect them from degradation and thus preserves them. Although Lottie’s dad understands her way of grieving, her Aunt Hilda disapproves of her behaviour and is ready to go to any length to get Lottie to stop.

Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Genre: Mystery

The winner of the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Catching Teller Crow follows Beth Teller, who has died. The only person who can see and hear her is her dad, and she accompanies him while he goes about his work as the detective of the small town.
After a suspicious arson and a death at a children’s home, Beth and her dad work together to solve the mystery. They meet Isobel Catching, and her story just may hold the key. But what is Isobel’s connection to the arson? What happened to the people who haven’t been seen since the fire?

Inside the tiger by Hayley Lawrence
Genre: Mystery

Bel decides to send a death row prisoner a letter as an easy way out of her assignment. But as he writes back, she finds herself falling for the boy with ragged hair, shackles and a secretive past. Bel has already lost her mother; will she lose him too? Could this mean she will lose the people she loves at home? Whatever happens, their lives will change forever.

White Night by Ellie Marney
Genre: Mystery, Romance

Bo is a typical sixteen-year-old country boy whose interests revolve around chores, footy and his family and friends. He meets Rory, the new girl at school, from the off-the-grid and secretive community called Garden of Eden. Bo and Rory become unlikely friends, which then develops into a strong attraction, leading Bo towards Rory and away from his friends. Bo is drawn into Rory’s world, curious about the people of Eden and their ideals about living off the grid. He gradually realises that Eden might not be the perfect utopia, but in fact more dangerous than anyone could have predicted.

Liberty by Nikki Mc Watters
Genre: Historical

Nikki McWatters’ Liberty follows three powerful women in the battles of their own times. Their empowering tales are intertwined based on the ideals of sisterhood, courage and loyalty.
In 1472, Jeanne’s marriage is arranged to a French lieutenant against her wishes. As her home is threatened by armed forces, she vows to rally the city’s women for the battle of their lives.
In 1797, the feisty and brave Betsy, her brother and their best friend secretly join the rebel army in the hopes of liberating Ireland from the tyrannical English rule.
In 1960’s Australia, country-girl Fiona joins the anti-Vietnam protest movement, despite her family’s disapproval. When a friend is conscripted, Fiona’s beliefs are challenged even further as the fight becomes personal.

Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan
Genre: Short stories

A collection of 25 illustrated stories about the relationship between humans and animals, Tales from the Inner City forces the reader to ponder the existence of our own species as compared to the animals. What role do animals have in the city? How do people react to it?
Tan explores the connection between the natural and artificial worlds, and how the lives of animals and humans, no matter how much destruction we may inflict on them, are forever entwined.

After the lights go out by Lili Wilkinson
Genre: Mystery

Pru’s dad is a doomsday prepper. In the small mining town they inhabit, he is either at work in the mines, or busy stocking an underground bunker, ready with non-perishable food and water for his family in case of disaster.
Pru and her sisters have grown up doing practice drills to the bunker, ingrained with the value of family and survival. When the power and communications of the town go down, and they are separated from their father, they decide to keep the bunker a secret from the rest of the town.
But for how long?

The happiness Quest by Richard Yaxley
Genre: Mystery, Coming of Age

Tilly Bassett is sad, but she doesn’t know what to do about it. She doesn’t know why, and although her family and friends suggest some remedies, none of them are very helpful. When her counsellor, Gilbert the Goldfish, suggests that her answer may lie in discovering the nature of happiness, Tilly discovers that all is not what it seems. When secrets and tensions bubble up to the surface, she realises that everyone struggles to manage the good times and the bad, and living truthfully.

Younger Readers

Fearless Fredric by Felice Arena
Genre: Adventure, Coming of Age

Living in extreme poverty of Paris, Frederic blames himself, and his lack of courage, for his father’s death. As the river in Paris rises, Frederic takes it upon himself to help those that cannot help themselves. He battles with an escaped zoo animal, pickpockets and looters. With this new found bravery, there is nothing he can’t do – until he comes face to face with what scared him all those years ago.

The tales of Mr Walker by Jess Black
Genre: Short stories

Based on the real-life Mr. Walter, a Guide Dog Ambassador, the Tales of Mr. Walker has 4 stories which chronicle the adventures of this charming Labrador. After arriving at the best hotel in town, Mr. Walker is determined to put his best paw forward. But little does he know what adventures await him…

Brindabella by Ursula Dubosarsky
Genre: Family

The shy and adventurous Pender lives in the company of his dad, his dad’s paintings and his dog, Billy-Bob. One morning, a gun shot changes the life of a joey called Brindabella. Pender rescues Brindabella from the pouch of his dead mother, and a friendship forms between the boy and the kangaroo. Although Pender did save her life, the life of the bush calls to Brindabella…

Help around the house by Morris Gleitzman
Genre: Family

Ludo and his family have always helped people, that’s just how he was brought up. After his dad wins the election to the Australian Federal Parliament, Ludo thought it was the perfect opportunity to help even more people with this new platform. But he comes to realise that it’s not the homeless and the poor that need the most help; it’s the rich and powerful.

Sweet Adversity by Sheryl Gwyther
Genre: Coming of Age

Adversity McAllister was left at the Emu Swamp Children’s Home during the Great Depression. Her family, the McAllisters, were Shakespeare actors, and although they fully intend to return for their daughter, things don’t go according to plan.
Things only go from bad to worse, when a greedy theatrical agent called Scrimshaw hears Addie sing. He schemes to use her talents for his own money making, but when he comes to Emu Swamp to collect his prize, he finds that Addie has run away.

Shine Mountain by Julie Hunt
Genre: Adventure

Ellie lives on the Spit Farm with her grandparents. Before her grandfather’s death, he reveals a secret to Ellie about a magical button-box. When Ellie plays it, flowers bloom and crops spring up overnight – but soon the farm falls under a curse of drought and her beloved grandmother becomes ill. The button-box’s magic is evil, and its curse is unleashed, threatening to destroy everything that Ellie loves.
To save her oma and discover the truth, Ellie embarks on a perilous adventure to the Gleam country – the only place where the evil instrument can be destroyed.

Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood
Genre: Family

What would you do if you had just one week to say goodbye to everything you’ve ever known?
After the death of Toby’s younger sister, Leah, his mum and dad have decided to leave the family farm. In the process, they have sorted through all their belongings to keep, sell or throw out. It’s a big task, and Toby is nervous about leaving the only place he has known as home.

Toby’s plan on the last day is to say goodbye to all the things and places that mean something special to him and Leah. He wanted to bid farewell to everything, from the machinery shed to Pa’s old truck to the chook house. With the help of his best friend, Trigger the dog, he learns what it means to close a chapter, and to start a new one.

Fairytales for Feisty Girls by Susannah McFarlane
Genre: Drama, Fairytales

Feisty (adj): usually describes someone who is relatively small, lively, determined and courageous.
Girls can rescue themselves – they don’t need to wait for anyone! Just watch Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Thumbelina create their own happily ever afters in this beautiful and empowering book.

Black Cockatoo by Carl and Hustler Hakea
Genre: Coming of Age

Black Cockatoo follows Mia, a young girl, as she explores the relationship between her Aboriginal heritage and her family. Living in a remote community in the Kimberley, she is saddened and feels powerless by the loss of her brother.
One day she rescues her totem animal, the dirran black cockatoo, and soon discovers bravery and strength she didn’t know she had. This book is a wonderful small book that highlights the power of courage, culture and ever-present family ties.

The Young Vikings by James Moloney
Genre: Drama, War

Hauk Johanson has no choice but to step up when his village is attacked. He needs to take control and lead the young Vikings on a path of revenge. But there is one problem: the young Vikings have never fought in battle.
Can Hauk and the rest learn the skills of war in time? Will the Gods support their side? And can Hauk rise to the occasion and be the leader his village needs him to be when their fate lies in his hands?

The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Adventure

The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars is set in the harbour town of Spindrift, home to the Orphanage School and Brathelthwaite Boarding School. It hosts a number of characters from surrounding kingdoms such as witches, gnomes and sirens. Finlay and his friends from the Orphanage compete with Honey Bee, Hamish and Victor, Duke of Ainsley in the Spindrift Tournament. Tensions are high and both sides are ready to win at any cost.
But when the Whispering Wars break out, chaos erupts. Children are being stolen, the Witches, Sirens invade and a deadly magical flu infects the town. Determined to find their friends, the schools forge an unexpected alliance. Finlay, Honey Bee and their friends plan to outsmart the invaders and restore order.

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Provence by Katrina Nannestad
Genre: Mystery

When Freja and Tobias arrive in Claviers, Provence, it feels like home. Surrounded by olive groves, lavender fields and drifts of red poppies, there is much to do in the village. There is also a market square, with a world-famous pâtisserie and an old-fashioned merry-go-round.
For a moment, the girl, the dog and the writer are happy.
But it doesn’t last for long. As criminal activity takes over the village, Freja vows to solve the mystery but the closer she gets, the harder it becomes…

The Peacock Detectives by Carly Nugent
Genre: Family

The neighbour’s peacocks, William Shakespeare and Virginia, are missing again. Cassie Anderson has found them before, so she jots all the clues down in the hope that they will lead her to their hideout. However, all this investigating has revealed some unexpected secrets of her family. Her older sister is converting to Buddhism, her dad goes to ‘The Clinic’ which is a place that treats your brain, not the body. Her best friend is acting strangely, and her grandpa isn’t well.
It all began to unravel when Cassie’s mum moves out, and suddenly her normal laughter filled life begins to fade. Like her dad, she wants to get away from all problems, but if she can’t face her fears, what will happen to the people around her?

Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr
Genre: Family

A violent earthquake leaves Leira’s home and her family in pieces. She takes her family across the sea to Crete, expecting sanctuary. But a volcanic eruption disrupts her entire world, throwing it into chaos. After the resulting tsunami, society descends into despair; where status and privilege of being noble-born means nothing. With her injured mother and elderly nurse, Leira has only the strength and resourcefulness within herself to find safety and support her loved ones.

The Adventures of Catvinkle by Elliot Perlman
Genre: Family

When Catvinkle, a pampered cat, has to share her home with a lost dog, the two are bound to butt heads. But unexpectedly, Catvinkle starts to like Ula. She even tells Ula her three secrets. But a cat and a dog can’t be friends – can they?

His Name was Walter by Emily Rodda
Genre: Mystery

Walter lives in a dark city far away, who had nothing but his name to call his own. The illustrated handwritten book, has been hidden in the old house for a long time. Tonight, four kids and their teacher will find it. Tonight, at last, the haunting story of Walter and the mysterious, tragic girl called Sparrow will be read – right to the very end.

Everything I’ve Never Said by Samantha Wheeler
Genre: Coming of Age

Wheeler introduces us to Ava who is battling Rett syndrome – she can’t talk, nod her head or even point at a communication card. It’s hard when she understands everything, but no-one understands her. All Ava wants to do is to tell her family she loves them, particularly her big sister Nic.

After a big tragedy in the house, Ava is more motivated to talk than ever. But after meeting her new occupational therapist with the support of her friend, she is hopeful for change.

Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt by Rhiannon Williams
Genre: Fantasy

Ottilie Colter and her brother, Gully, have always fended for themselves. But when Gully goes missing, Ottilie makes a startling discovery. Gully has been forcibly recruited by the Narroway Hunt, a secretive male-only organisation that hunts savage, blight-spreading monsters.
She decides to join the organisation by disguising herself as a boy. But even then, bringing her brother home won’t be easy. Trapped in the heart of the dredretch-infested Narroway, it’s too dangerous for them to leave. But as they work to escape, how long can she keep her true identity a secret?

In the Lamplight by Brian Simmonds
Genre: War, Romance

Rose has been fighting all her life – from fighting for the right to vote, to nursing conscripted young men, her life changes forever as the War spreads into her village of Harefield. As the number of wounded soldiers increases, the villagers provide care and comfort, despite their own suffering and losses. Training to nurse Australian soldiers like Jim the Light Horse boy is hard work, but with it comes much for Rose – a new passion, confidence, and new love.

The Dog with Seven Names by Dianne Wolfer
Genre: Historical, War

A tiny puppy is born on a remote cattle station. When Elsie finds, names and loves her, the pup who had little chance of survival becomes a cherished companion. Life is perfect … until the War starts.
As the Japanese air raids get closer, Elsie’s family leaves the Pilbara for safety. But the small dog has to stay behind. She becomes a hospital dog and is exposed to all the wonderful and terrible things that come with war.
But through all her adventures and many names, the little dog remembers Elsie, her first owner who she loved more than anyone. Will she ever find her again?

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