Every year I sort through my hundreds of books read, reviewed, bought, given, borrowed and absolutely treasured throughout the past twelve months. And as you know, the standard of children’s titles in Australia is phenomenal. So my process of selecting my favourites is always painstakingly difficult. That’s why I passed the buck onto my fellow writer friends to choose just ONE each (*insert evil laugh here!!!)! It is with great pleasure, and a huge lot of appreciation, to present this list of Top Picks of 2018 as chosen by the wonderful Just Write For Kids group members…

(In alphabetical order)

Cave Bear Mountain (Tarin of the Mammoths – Book 3) by Jo Sandhu (Puffin Books).

Jo Sandhu’s writing gives the reader a true sense of the peril Tarin (young boy with the twisted foot ) and his friends face on their journey across the ice during the Stone Age. Each obstacle is authentic and truly life threatening. The book also captures the deep bond within the community of the clans with their beliefs in the power of their spirit animal.

Children’s author Stef Gemmill




Cloud Conductor by Kellie Byrnes and Ann-Marie Finn (Wombat Books).

A beautifully illustrated ode to imagination. This won me over completely.

Kate Gordon






Dingo by Claire Saxby and Tannya Harricks (Walker Australia).

It’s a stand-out narrative non-fiction book that ticks all the boxes. It’s interesting, informative and entertaining, with gorgeous lyrical language and stunning illustrations. Some of you may remember an old ad on TV with a guy saying, “This shaver was so good I bought the company”. Well, after reading this book, I just had to buy a limited edition print from the illustrator!

Julie Murphy




Errol by Zanni Louise and Philip Bunting (Scholastic).

My daughter and I fell in love the adorable, Errol. Short and sweet – ‘Errol’ captures beautifully young children’s cheeky and endearing natures, of which both parents and children can relate so well.

Michelle Wanasundera





Filthy Fergal by Sigi Cohen and Sona Babajanyan (Yellow Brick Books).

“Fergal was a filthy boy who never ever washed. He smelled like dirty underwear and stinkbugs when they’re squashed.”

I have loved every disgusting bit of this book! I adore Sigi’s sense of humour and it’s complimented by Sona’s illustrations – there even appears to be a haze of toxic gas running over the pages. I also love that the story isn’t about changing who Fergal is as a person, but celebrating it and showing that everyone can find a place to call home. Filthy Fergal has spider eggs, fermented clothes, green mouldy teeth and love – yes, love! It is a stand out for me in 2018!

Sharna Carter



Kookaburras Love to Laugh by Laura and Philip Bunting (Scholastic).

Because of the gorgeous art- such a unique style. And because the book is funny!

Amelia McInerney






Leonard the Lyrebird by Jodie McLeod and Eloise Short (King Street Press).

Such a gentle and sweet story about finding your own true voice, told alongside artwork you could hang in a gallery. Every reading let us revisit our own family stories and connection with the special place that is the Blue Mountains.

Ally Ireland




Maya and Cat by Caroline Magerl (Walker Books).

The lyrical language ‘as wet as a seal, as grey as a puddle.’

And the divine black-ink-outline illustrations featuring the brave and kind Maya as she helps find a home for Cat, make this a winner book for me.

Kaye Baillie


by Caroline Magerl

Maya & Cat completely drew me in, from the beautiful, poetic language to the ‘fine art’ style illustrations. I also loved its quirkiness and perfect ending.

Liz Ledden



Natural Born Loser by Oliver Phommavanh (Penguin Books).

I just want to hug this book! Hilarious and heart-warming. Wise, inspiring and perfectly pitched to 10-13 year olds.

Debra Tidball






Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein (Walker Books).

Reason? I could not put it down. So cleverly crafted, it left me guessing (and checking all my window and door locks) right to the very end. It shocked me, frightened me, upset me AND gave me hope, and left me wanting more! Such a thrilling thriller!

Renee Price





The Tales of Mr Walker by Jess Black and Sara Acton (Penguin Books).

Everything about Mr Walker is adorable – the charming dog character (based on a real-life dog), the warm and gently humorous stories, the loose and lovely illustrations and the beautiful way it’s packaged.

Debra Tidball




Thimble by Rebecca Young and Tull Suwannakit (Scholastic).

This book is beautiful in every way. From the gorgeous front cover to the heart melting moments shared, to the memories captured in the sublime illustrations. Thimble moved me. It’s definitely a book of healing that soothes the heartache of losing a loved one. Thimble is a special treasure.

Romi Sharp




Tricky’s Bad Day by Alison Lester (Affirm Press).

A typical day in the life of my family is captured perfectly in this delightfully witty verse story.

Susan Hancy

www.hancypancy.com / @HancyPancyBooks




Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend (Hachette).

Magic, mystery, creativity and humour are expertly entwined on every page, as we follow the adventures of Morrigan Crow at the Wundrous Society. I tried very hard to discern the various literary devices that Jessica uses so successfully in her writing, to help improve my own writing, but the story was far too captivating – I ended up simply going along for the spellbinding ride.

Dannielle Viera




Oh my gosh! How awesome was that list?! Thanks to all who contributed their favourite books of 2018. If you’d like, feel free to comment with your own!

Another fabulous year in Australian books! May 2019 bring just as much happiness, wonder, inspiration, creativity, emotion, imagination and amazement to our bookshelves and bedside tables! Wishing you all a beautiful festive season and holiday break to spend amongst loved ones and piles of books. Thanks for your support in 2018 xxx


Check out our Top 16 of ’16 and Top 17 of ’17 lists, too! 🙂

One thought to “The JWFK Members’ Top Children’s Books of 2018!”

  • Norah

    What a fabulous list. Thanks for compiling and sharing. But what a difficult task you asked – to choose just one. No wonder you evil laughed. 🙂


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