Welcome to post two of the Christmas 2020 book recommendations series! We began with picture books and will now roll on to junior fiction. As there can be a crossover of sorts sometimes between junior fiction and middle-grade fiction, I will post the age suggestions that the publishers/sellers provide (where available). Plus some of my own thoughts too, of course. And like I said last year – older kids can enjoy too!
Let’s start with The Secret Cave – Wolf Girl: Book 3 by Anh Do and illustrated by Lachlan Creagh, released recently – and fans won’t have to wait long for the next installment The Traitor – Wolf Girl 4, due at the beginning of December. These adventure stories are fast-paced and unputdownable – I know this because the last time a brand new Wolf Girl book came into our house, it was finished before the day was done! Do’s fans are legion and I can see why. I’d also like to mention Creagh’s illustrations, full of energy and personality, and the perfect accompaniment. (8 to 14-year-old readers.)
Worse Things by Sally Murphy and illustrated by Sarah Davis is a verse novel about three sporty children – a reluctant hockey player, an injured footballer and an immigrant who wants nothing more than to connect with his fellow classmates – and how each comes to find happiness within difficult circumstances. A great book about resilience and courage set around the very popular topic of sport. (8 to 12-year-old readers.)
Kensy and Max – Full Speed by Jacqueline Harvey is the latest (book 6) in the popular Kensy and Max spy-adventure series. Parents and guardians who know of Harvey’s other beloved series’ Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda (again, a sentimental favourite in this house) will be assured that they remain in her very capable hands. Here in Full Speed, we find twins Kensy and Max in the midst of snow, skiing and mystery. (From 8+ years readers.)
For the animal lover and budding environmentalist in your life, there is the Eco Rangers series by Candice Lemon-Scott and illustrated by Aśka, of which Wildfire Rescue is the latest installment. It’s certainly pertinent from a 2019-2020 perspective, as children across the country will be familiar with bushfires and the devastating losses they provided, as future ones will too. But this story is told from a position of empowerment and positivity, suggesting what kids can do now. I like to think about what that confidence could help future generations achieve. (From 7+ years readers.)
I will suggest that this last title – When This Bell Rings by Allison Rushby – is for the upper-range of junior reader capability, potentially also making it a middle-grade selection. This is due to its sophisticated structure, a story-within-a-story narrative, that might require extra attention (or explanation) for small children to comprehend. It is a great adventure/fantasy that treats its audience with intelligence and gets extra points for featuring ravens, one of my favourite birds, and being partially set at the Tower of London. (From 9+ years readers.)
Disclosure: I’m a Booktopia affiliate. This means I earn a small commission if you click through to that site from this one via an affiliate link and make a purchase. Normally I like to provide Booktopia’s Christmas cut-off dates for both stocked and non-stocked items, but as this is 2020, and Australia Post is under pressure with deliveries, I think the general recommendation is to try and get all your shopping done as early as possible, just to be sure! I know I will be. Also, Qantas Points can be earned on eligible Booktopia orders. (I know travel seems like a far-off prospect, but it will happen again!) So if you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer you can link your membership to your Booktopia account. More details here.