Top 15 of ’15

Last year I enlisted the help of my five year old to come up with a ‘best-of’ list, and I think she did extraordinarily well! So, we’re doing it again for books published in 2015!

According to my stats, 2014 saw over 250 picture books borrowed, received, bought, read, and of course, enjoyed! Let’s see if we can top that this year… Woooo! 262 borrowed library books, plus those received graciously from literary publications for review, plus those I’ve bought! 🙂

Here we go! Of all the beauty, heart break, joy and wisdom we’ve inherited from our literary adventures, these are Miss (almost) 6’s top 15 children’s books of 2015 (in titled alphabetical order):

imageA River, Marc Martin (author, illus.), Penguin Books, Mar 2015.

Front cover: instant hit! The detail, texture, hidden treasures and serene colours drew us in immediately, and the best part is, it continues throughout the whole book! A soothing river cruise takes the little girl on a wondrous journey from smoky cities to patchwork fields, tropical rainforests and waterfalls. Beautifully entrancing illustrations with equally lyrical language encourages the broadest of imaginations. Stunning!

imageAdelaide’s Secret World, Elise Hurst (author, illus.), Allen&Unwin, Nov 2015.

Miss 6 was particularly beguiled by Elise Hurst’s exquisite artwork, studying the line work and texture of the canvas beneath the oil paint. We also spent time discussing the concepts of living in solitude, and finding and making connections with others, and how each way of being can affect us. The powerful metaphor of the red curtain, once as a means of hiding, and finishing as a medium for finding one’s voice, was another thought provoking factor that had Miss 6 lost in her own thoughts. This is one book that definitely had an impact (on both of us, probably for different reasons), and that’s why we love it!

imageThe Big Book of Billie: Volume 1, Sally Rippin, Hardie Grant Egmont, Nov 2015.

As an (almost) six year old, we are now beginning to head in to Chapter Book territory. I’m still holding my obligatory torch for picture books, but I can also see the excitement and power that these early readers thrust upon us. So I introduced Miss 6 to Billie B Brown, and now they are the best of friends! A wonderfully engaging range of relevant, age appropriate stories full of giggles and adventure, but also connecting readers to real life emotions, and issues of friendship, confidence and solving problems. With its large font and gorgeous black and white illustrations throughout, the Billie B Brown series is a winner!

imageBlue Whale Blues, Peter Carnavas (author, illus.), New Frontier Publishing, Sep 2015.

Both Miss 6 and Miss 2 love this one equally. Forever a fan of Peter Carnavas’ books, Blue Whale Blues doesn’t disappoint. Funny and charming, poor Whale turns logic on its head when he confuses the uses of simple, everyday objects. No wonder he’s in a slump! Fortunately his unlikely friend Penguin is there to help…or is he? With awesome collage materials and Carnavas’ always adorable watercolour characters, plus the bonus audio track available to download, this book became an overnight sensation in our household… Every. Single. Night. For. Weeks!

imageThe CLEO Stories: A Friend and A Pet, Libby Gleeson (author), Freya Blackwood (illus.), Allen&Unwin, Nov 2015.

Here’s another terrific introduction to Chapter Books with its gorgeous full colour illustrations and age appropriate, authentic language. We adored the first The CLEO Stories, and the feelings were mutual with number two. In The Friend, Cleo overcomes her boredom with an inventive way to accompany her ‘new friend’. A Pet is a story that we certainly related to (take our many six-legged pets, for example!). Cleo is desperate for a pet, but when her parents refuse, she stealthily pulls her resources and a win-win solution is reached.

imageDandelions, Katrina McKelvey (author), Kirrili Lonergan (illus.), EK Books, Oct 2015.

We haven’t looked at dandelions the same since reading this book! It’s such a beautiful story for inspiring wonder, magic, hope and relationships. When a little girl opens her father’s eyes to the beauty of nature, together they imagine a twirling, whirling delicate journey of dandelion seeds in the breeze, on a path to a new life. We have developed a real soft spot for Dandelions (and dandelions), and all that they present to the world around us. Lyrically and visually stunning!

imageHow the Sun Got to Coco’s House, Bob Graham (author, illus.), Walker Books, Aug 2015.

Another story that has captured our hearts and strengthened our love and kindness for nature and humanity is Bob Graham’s How the Sun Got to Coco’s House. Graham always so cleverly touches on philosophical elements and broadening our perspectives on the world (Silver Buttons is still one of our faves). Here, we journey with the sun around the globe, catching glimpses in eyes, footsteps, aeroplane wings, over cities and through our windows. A special, gentle story of connectedness, peace and life.

imageI Don’t Like Koala, Sean Ferrell (author), Charles Santoso (illus.), Koala Books, Apr 2015.

A little bit sneaky, and extremely creepy; I Don’t Like Koala is absolutely wicked! It’s a clever, dramatic and cheeky story of a young independent boy with an inexplicable problem. Adam’s consistent, creative attempts to rid his awkward, staring Koala with its yellow, askew eyes prove regretfully unsuccessful, until he finds an alternative solution. Miss 6 has relished this read over and over, despite its dark, nail biting humour that always keeps us on edge! Her favourite part being the twist at the end… classic!

imageMr Huff, Anna Walker (author, illus.), Penguin Books, Jun 2015.

What can I say?! Mr Huff and his creator are a breath of fresh air! And we know this from first hand experience… A super special, most memorable occasion for both Miss 6 and I was our visit to Anna Walker’s Mr Huff exhibition! Getting up close and personal gave us greater insights into Anna’s undeniable talent and her creative process and artistic techniques. But despite our personal bond, Mr Huff is in its own right a unique, uplifting and whimsical story of how a young boy turns his overshadowing bad mood (Mr Huff) around and be able to enjoy the sunshine. A valuable lesson and emotional journey for all of us!

imagePeas in a Pod, Tania McCartney (author), Tina Snerling (illus.), EK Books, Jun 2015.

Another gorgeous author; Tania McCartney, with her important message in staying true to yourself, with all your individual qualities, interests, hopes and dreams. Even if you are one in a group of quintuplets! And even with surrounding pressures to ‘fit in’. I love how Peas in a Pod inspired Miss 6 to explore her own personal traits and interests, and even dare to try a few new things! She also absolutely loves the illustrations by Tina Snerling, with their adorable, pop style art and vibrant pops of colour (plus the bright pink cover is a definite deal breaker!). Perfect!

imagePerfect, Danny Parker (author), Freya Blackwood (illus.), Hardie Grant Books, Oct 2015.

Speaking of perfect, this next book is absolutely flawless! Parker’s beautiful, lyrical language that is so delicate and dreamy, is connected with the texture, depth and warmth of Blackwood’s gorgeous illustrations. We just love the sweet, tranquil adventure in which these three children enjoy the spirit of childhood and the refreshment of a cool breeze on a balmy Summer’s day. Perfect gave us that tingly feeling as we reminisced about our favourite days at the beach.

imagePiranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, Aaron Blabey (author, illus.), Scholastic Australia, Sep 2015.

One book that certainly swept us off our feet (literally, for fear of being bitten!) is Aaron Blabey’s pesky piranha story. And just like all his other books, which we own and read to death, this one sure packs a punch (or a bite, rather)! Hilarious rhyming couplets are recited by both my kids every read. A keen piranha, Brian tries to persuade his mob that fruit and veges are a better feed than humans. But the ‘bottom’ line is, they will always prefer a different kind of flesh. Energetic, comical and slightly crude, this one’s tough to beat!

imageSad, the Dog, Sandy Fussell (author), Tull Suwannakit (illus.), Walker Books, Oct 2015.

If there ever was a book to tug at your heart strings, it’s Sandy Fussell’s Sad, the Dog. To us, like so many, to starve your dog of affection and family inclusion, and of a name, is simply unimaginable. And to further pack up and leave, not so much as to bat an eyelid at the puppy left behind is downright unforgivable. I think Miss 6 was genuinely shocked to the core at this senselessness. Thank goodness for the beautiful, satisfying ending. This book really hits home that kindness and humanity is to be valued, cherished and encouraged in this sometimes cruel world. We adore Suwannakit’s quirky illustrations, too! An all round winner!

imageTeacup, Rebecca Young (author), Matt Ottley (illus.), Scholastic Australia, May 2015.

On a different level of cruel is one of our world’s social issues relating to refuge and poverty. Although this is not specified, we assume that this boy is retreating from his only known home and family in search of a better, more fulfilling life. He faces rough obstacles, both mentally and physically, but the light at the end brings him the peace and nourishment he deserved, all from the bit of earth in his broken teacup. I found the artwork absolutely exquisite and rich in depth, but for Miss 6 it was Teacup‘s power to generate curiosity about how life can be so cruel and generous at the same time.

imageThunderstorm Dancing, Katrina Germein (author), Judy Watson (illus.), Allen&Unwin, Jan 2015.

More menacing weather to be found in Thunderstorm Dancing! Whilst the little girl hides, her family have a blast stamping, clapping and zapping up a riot in their living room. Together, Katrina Germein’s rollicking onomatopoeia and lyrical beats dance right off the page, and Judy Watson’s ravishing illustrations swept us off our feet, having us jiving and stomping around the room! Such a delightfully engaging and charismatic book!

Whether big or small, each one of these books (and so many more) have made an impact on how we view the world, how we relate to one another, how we understand that our actions and our choices can have life changing consequences. Some thought provoking, some moving, and ALL pleasurable. Aren’t books for children just the best?!

If you have a favourite of 2015, feel free to share it with us! 😊

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