My daughter has started asking me what I used to do as a kid, on my summer holidays.
I grew up in Wynyard, on the north-west coast of Tasmania. It was by the beach, so much of my summer was spent on the sand, in the water, eating Frosty Fruits and potato cakes and searching for seashells.
But the other part - the part I enjoyed the most - was spent reading.
Reading, without interruption to go to school or do homework or go to bed because it's "a school night".
Reading piles of books that I'd been given for Christmas by family members who knew me too well.
I read everything from The Babysitter's Club to Tamora Pierce to Agatha Christie to John Marsden.
I still read those books, for comfort (and because I'm still a kid at heart), and I've passed them on to my kid, too.
But now I have some new favourites, as well.
If you have a kid in your life who is a little bit like me - who would just love a stack of new books ahead of a summer holiday, consider giving one of these books a try.
One Careless Night, Christina Booth
One Careless Night follows the journey of a mother thylacine and her pup through the Tasmanian bush.
Their lives are safe as they have been forever until the arrival of a new hunter that catches them for a bounty. Sold to the zoo, the mother 'fades like mist in the sun', leaving her daughter alone.
This is a story that completely broke my heart and should be read by every Tasmanian - and anyone who cares about our environment and the unique creatures who live here.
The Bad Bassinis, Clair Hume
The Bassinis were BIG. The Bassinis were BURLY. And those BIG, BURLY Bassinis . . . were BAD.
The Bassinis are the baddest dogs in town, that is, until they come across Pipsqueak!
This is a completely delightful, vibrant, fun-filled picture book with a soft, poignant heart and message about how parenthood changes us all.
The Odds (The Odds, Book 1), by Matt Stanton
They're invaders from another world. Your imagination. Kip is a quiet kid in a loud city. She's easy to miss and that's the way she likes it. Then, one day, Kip's quiet life is suddenly interrupted. Ten of her favourite characters have stepped out of their worlds and into hers. But what happens when a dragon-hunting rabbit leaves his comic strip? When an old man leaves his picture book? When a ninja leaves her TV show, a race-car driver leaves their video game, and a dinosaur turns up from Kip's nightmares?
This book is a firm favourite already in our house - my daughter loves its quirky story and fun illustrations and I am all for the message about how being odd and weird is completely underrated.
Little Jiang, by Shirley Marr, Katy Jiang
Mei Ling Pang was born at an inauspicious time on an inauspicious day, so wherever she goes, misfortune follows.
When Little Jiang hops out of his grave and into Mei's life, fangs and all, her luck goes from bad to worse. But in trying to help Little Jiang, Mei might just make her own future brighter.
I've been a fan of Shirley Marr for years and was delighted to read this strange and wonderful new own voices vampire story with a twist!
MIDDLE GRADE FICTION
The Power of Positive Pranking, by Nat Amoore
The outrageous story of three best friends, one greedy mayor and a whole lot of pranking. Green Peas is our name and pranking's our game! A symphony of alarm clocks at assembly? Yep, that was us. A stampede of fluffy guinea pigs? It's next on our agenda. But for me, Cookie and Zeke, it's about more than just fun. We're determined to make a difference. And when the adults won't listen, us kids will find a way to be heard - as long as we can stay out of detention! No activist is too small, no prank too big... and things are about to get personal.
Nat Amoore is the new Andy Griffiths. Her books are madcap and wild, with an enormous heart.
As Fast as I Can, by Penny Tangey
Ten-year-old Vivian is determined to win a medal at the Olympic Games one day. Problem is, she hasn't found a sport she's any good at yet. But everyone says if you work hard enough you can achieve anything, right? So when Vivian discovers she has a talent for cross country running, finally, her Olympic dream might actually come true.
But then a family illness is uncovered and all of Vivian's plans begin to unravel. Can she keep her dream alive? Or will she be stopped in her tracks? A funny, heartfelt novel about resilience, acceptance and dreaming big.
I didn't expect a "sport book" to break my heart so entirely. A beautiful, funny, sweet tear-jerker.
Peta Lyre's Rating Normal, by Anna Whateley
At sixteen, neurodivergent Peta Lyre is the success story of social training. That is, until she finds herself on a school ski trip - and falling in love with the new girl. Peta will need to decide which rules to keep, and which rules to break...
When things fall apart, Peta must decide whether all the old rules still matter. Does she want a life less ordinary, or should she keep her rating normal?
This book completely rocked my world. A brave, brilliant and important book.
This One is Ours, by Kate O'Donnell
Sofie is a dreamy young artist with her head in the clouds, but when she travels to Paris on exchange, she's awakened to the power of art in inspiring change in the world. Can she reconcile what art means for her?
Teenage me would have loved this story of rebellion, self-acceptance and radical coming-of-age. A complete delight.
All these books are set to become future classics. I predict that your kids will buy them for theirs, in years to come. Whatever books you choose, this summer, just make sure you choose books. There are no wrong choices. Reading encourages empathy and compassion in children. And for many, reading really is part of the joy of the holidays. Buy them some chocolate too, and you're certain to be in their good books!