Junior books for Christmas 2019

New to this Christmas book recommendation series? Read the introductory post covering picture books. These junior reading selections are a new edition this year and I should’ve done it earlier. By the ‘junior’ definition I mean titles that are for children aged approximately 6 – 9. But as I’ve said before, these could suit someone older or younger, depending on reading capabilities or taste.

Wolf Girl: Into the Wild by Anh Do, illustrations by Jeremy Ley

Anh Do hardly needs any introduction, does he? Author, artist, comedian, entrepreneur. All-round genius. When he first began writing for children, I thought my kids would have already aged out of his demographic. I was proven wrong (this proves again why it’s good to consider books for perhaps higher or lower reading levels than you might assume!). For when I borrowed this title ahead of putting these series of posts together, Riley spotted it on the pile and took it off to bed to read. This was at 9 pm at night, mind you. I told him to only read “for a little while”. Famous last words. The following morning he was groggy and hard to rouse due to staying up late to finish the book! Now he wants to read the sequel and lucky him he doesn’t have to wait long.

Recommended for ages 8+

The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable by Oliver Jeffers

I think Jeffers – with his wonderful Irish accent – can best describe both the genesis of the book and its use of lithography.

The Fate of Fausto is a fable about the dangers of myopic greediness and how outrageous that is in a world that could not and should not be ‘ruled’. The tale unfolds at a leisurely pace, sometimes with only a few words per page. This could be a good title for a cautious reader – the page turnover rate could help their confidence as they go along while also taking in the story. It’s an important, relevant one for our times.

Recommended for ages 4+

Running with the Horses, Young Readers’ Edition by Alison Lester

Here is the synopsis from the publisher’s website:

“Nina lives with her father above the palace stables at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses. She loves watching the famous white stallions as they parade for the crowds, but her favourite horse is a mare called Zelda – an old cab horse Nina often pats on her way home from school.

When Nina’s world changes dramatically, she and her father have to flee from the city. Their journey over the mountains with Zelda and the stallions seems impossible, with danger at every turn. It will require all of Nina’s bravery, daring and faith in an extraordinary old horse.”

(You can also read an extract from it there.)

This is a new edition of this book first released ten years ago. I missed it the first time – which is strange as that was still prime picture book reading time around here. I’m very pleased there’s a new opportunity for readers to discover it. It’s a lovely book to hold in your hands; small enough to be intimate, but shareable if you’re reading with someone else. It would be a great choice for a child with a particular interest in horses and/or history.

Recommended for ages 6+

Write Your Own Poems by Jerome Martin

Aaagh! That’s the sound of my excitement. This would’ve been top of my own Christmas list if I was a little girl again. I write poetry now (*cough*) and I STILL GET OVERWHELMED BY IT. Nothing wrong with going back to – or starting at – the basics! This is ring-bound, so that provides practicality (as does its hardcover). Inside it contains the fare you might expect for poetry writing for children – limericks, acrostics, haikus – but there is much more on offer, like how to write a triolet or a pantoum. It also provides opportunities for the poet to examine their own self and motivations to write – passions, perceptions, possible audience and the senses to name just a few. The Usborne website provides a few inside page sneak peeks. Definitely keep this in mind if you’re shopping for a budding writer.

Recommended for ages 6+

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Synopsis from publisher’s website (also has an excerpt):

“Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away… and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on?”

Raina Telgemeier has been one of my word-of-mouth discoveries of the year. That’s still one of the most powerful ways authors or books can still be discovered. Telgemeier is the bestselling author/graphic artist of based-on-real-life-experiences books Smile and Sisters. Such is her popularity, the first print run for Guts was one million copies! I can see why. I’m going to repeat myself, but I wish this book existed when I was small. As I read it I kept thinking, gosh she depicts that perfectly (‘that’ being the feelings of living with anxiety, stomach aches and coming-of-age). It would’ve been a great comfort to me. I read it in an afternoon, then passed it to Riley who knocked it over in about an hour. Terrific.

Recommended for ages 8+


Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Booktopia, which means I earn a small commission if you click through from this site and make a purchase. Be aware that Booktopia has Christmas cut-off dates for both non-stocked and stocked items so it’s a good idea to check when ordering what these dates are. (At the time of writing they are still being determined.) Did you also know that you can earn Qantas Points on eligible Booktopia orders? If you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer you can link your membership to your Booktopia account. More details here.

karen andrews

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity