Winter is Here!

As the weather cools down – for what feels like the first proper winter in Sydney in quite some time! – there’s no better time for us all to curl up with a book. Whether your students are interested in books that will transport them to different worlds or that will explore important parts of our pasts, if they love a graphic novel, want to immerse themselves in a picture book or engage with perfect prose, there is sure to be something new they will love coming out over the next couple of months.

One of the best things about the Emmie & Friends series of graphic novels is the way they present two sides of a relationship, and thus help readers appreciate that not everyone understands the same events in the same way. In the latest instalment, Surprisingly Sarah, author Terri Libenson uses this device to create a Sliding Doors moment: does Sarah act on her crush and ask Ben, one of best friend Leo’s mates, to the spring dance, or does she not? Either way, Sarah’s interest in Ben will have consequences for her relationship with Leo. Along the way the two of them will navigate changes in their relationship, as well as the importance of letting go of friends who have changed in ways you don’t like. But ultimately, it’s being honest, both with yourself and others, that might just save the day!

In a world where people’s “real lives” are highly curated and perfection can seem normal, failure has become something of a dirty word. But how we define success is up to us, and what others view as failure can be a stepping stone to success. This is the philosophy behind Failosophy for Teens, Elizabeth Day’s adaptation of her adult book, specifically for teenagers. Much of this book is about reframing the way we look at the world and ourselves; understanding that while there are many things in our lives that are outside our control – not least other people – we do have some control over both how we understand those things, and how we choose to react to them. Failosophy for Teens also asks readers to consciously think about what they define as success, as well as rethink how they feel about failure: failure doesn’t need to be negative, instead it’s how we learn and grow. While these concepts may not be new, they’re always worth hearing (even as an adult!) and Day does a great job of communicating what can be quite challenging concepts in a way that teenagers will appreciate.

With chapters that open with quotes from Agatha Christie novels, kick-ass teenage girl detectives and a crime with links to the past, The Night in Question is a crime novel to sink one’s teeth into, and a very worthy sequel to The Agathas. Once again unlikely friends and amateur detectives Iris and Alice, aka The Agathas, find themselves at the scene of a crime, moments after it’s occurred. And once again there’s an obvious suspect, Helen Park, former friend of Alice who moments before has had a very public argument with the victim of a vicious stabbing. After their dealings with the Castle Cove police last autumn, The Agathas know very well not to trust them to get to the bottom of a crime with an apparently obvious solution, particularly one where links to a crime that happened a hundred years ago just won’t stop popping up… Huge fun in this well-written, pacy novel with twists and turns that just keep coming.

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