Junior and middle-grade titles on offer at Bologna

Junior and middle-grade titles on offer at Bologna

20 March, 2024


Affirm Press describes its junior fiction title Forbidden Journal of Rufus Rumble #1: Worst Space Crew Ever (Nick Long, illus by Robin Tatlow-Lord) as Diary of A Wimpy Kid and The Brilliant World of Tom Gates meeting Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s the first entry in a new series featuring a diary-entry format, immersive page design and lively black-and-white doodle-style illustrations. Kylie Howarth’s Kev & Trev #1: Snot Funny Sea Stories! is the first entry in a new graphic novel series for early readers, also from Affirm.

From Allen & Unwin (A&U), look out for Bravepaw and the Heartstone of Alluria: Bravepaw 1 by L M Wilkinson (illus by Lavanya Naidu, September 2024). Brought up on tales of the gallant mouse hero Bravepaw, Titch has always dreamed of adventure, but she never thought it would actually happen to her. When dire trouble comes to the Plateau, Titch and her best friend Huckleberry set out on a dangerous quest to repair the crack in the sky before the whole world breaks apart in this ‘brilliantly readable adventure full of magic and prophecy, quests, heroism and loyal friendship’, for readers aged 7–11.

Middle grade

For middle-grade readers, Affirm has The Lost Book of Magic, ‘a sweeping adventure set in 1895 Melbourne’ that concludes Amelia Mellor’s popular series that started with The Grandest Bookshop in the World.

Neurodivergent writers Kate Foster and Kate Gordon have teamed up on the middle-grade novel Small Acts (Walker), which introduces two kids with big hearts who know that helping others and making the world a better place can start with one small act of kindness. Also from Walker is Zanni Louise’s coming-of-age novel, Cora Seen and Heard, which examines secrets kept and told, and Sean E Avery’s new graphic novel series Ducky the Spy.

The Midwatch is the ‘long-awaited’ new highly illustrated middle-grade novel from internationally bestselling author–illustrator Judith Rossell: a ‘remarkable epic adventure about a school for young girls who solve mysteries, fight bad guys, and keep their city safe,’ according to publisher Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (HGCP). Inked (also HGCP) is an ‘enemies-to-best friends’ middle-grade graphic novel about a pompous talking octopus and the 12-year-old kid who just wants him to go away, and BIG TROUBLE with Angry Chairs (also HGCP) is a ‘riotously funny, spooky series’ about two kids whose surroundings keep trying to eat them.

Agent Annabel Barker will be highlighting Thunderhead (Sophie Beer), for which she holds North American and film/television rights, and for which Australian publisher Allen & Unwin (A&U) holds translation rights. Narrated by the titular Thunderhead, the novel is ‘about a music-obsessed kid, the squirmy awkwardness of early teen life and the challenge of living with illness and loss—beautifully told with humour, music, art and joy’, says A&U.

From Hachette, Wurrtoo (Tylissa Elisara) is a ‘one-of-a-kind adventure tale from the winner of the 2021 black&write! fellowship’ and follows Wurrtoo the wombat on his quest to marry the love of his life, the sky, while facing his fears and learning the importance of friendship along the way’; A Small Collection of Happinesses (Zana Fraillon, illus by Stephen Michael King) ‘floats between Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds charm and low-stakes mystery solving, full of whimsy and unlikely friendship’ in ‘feel-good middle grade at its finest’; while Freddie Spector, Fact Collector (Ashleigh Barton) is the publisher’s lead younger middle-grade series for 2024: ‘fast-paced and hilarious’, it follows an eight-year-old boy who loves collecting facts on sticky notes, and whose imagination lands him in some seriously sticky situations.

In Superheroes for a Day, three autistic friends ‘transform their unique abilities into superpowers to save their school from endless maths’. Publisher Exisle says the book, illustrated by Lauren Mullinder and written by award-winning author Craig Cormick, who draws from personal experience, ‘serves as a great resource for autistic children, their parents, and teachers to foster understanding and acceptance’. Also from Exisle, in Game On: Critters, the third in a series by Emily Snape, ‘warring brothers Max and Liam must work together when a rogue app starts transforming them into animals!’ Featuring laugh-out-loud scenarios and high-stakes trivia, this is a fast-paced adventure for gaming and nature fans everywhere; and in The Last Seed Keeper (Paul Russell), Ivy ekes out a living from the rubble of the past in a barren world that has forgotten about nature, while Skyler lives above the clouds in a haven of technology. Can they uncover the key to building a new world?

Finally, from the legendary Emily Rodda comes the Landovel series (A&U), ‘a brilliantly plotted three-book epic fantasy quest’. Derry knows no other life than that of Cram’s Rock. Shunned by the other captives for being Cram’s poison taster, his only solace are the books he has access to in Cram’s stolen library—but even that must remain a secret, as his ability to read is forbidden in luddite True Landovel. So Derry keeps to himself until the day everything changes, when a traveller arrives at Cram’s Rock on the run from the mythical El executioners, and soon all the captives are rescued by the mysterious librarian Lehane.


Originally published by Books and Publishing (Read More)