Offscreen and unplugged holiday activities


It’s hard to switch off from screens, online games and social media, but you can encourage your kids to be offscreen and unplugged for at least some of these school holidays by bringing them to Wild Things to join in our planned activities or find activity books and kits.

On Wednesday, June 29, kids can join Kasia’s workshop to make a magical leaf through mixed media collage. (Suitable for 8-12s)


Budding writers can join a workshop on Thursday, June 30, where the wonderful Samantha Wheeler (author of Smooch & Rose and Mister Cassowary, and a popular visitor at Wild Things!) will show them how to create a story that starts with a boom, races across the page towards the finish, and comes to a rounded, satisfying end. (Suitable for 8+)

Members of The Wonder Club will get together for their holiday meeting on Friday at 4pm to discuss Madeleine L’Engle’s classic sci-fi A Wrinkle in Time. (The Wonder Club is full, but you can email us at to put your child’s name on the waiting list.)

was not me

Author Shannon Horsfall will read from her new book Was Not Me! on Sunday, July 3. Along with the reading, there will be activities and CUPCAKES. (Suitable for 2+)

Our literary crushes

Do you remember your first literary crush? That first book character who made your teen heart flutter? Some Wild Things staff members share the secrets of the literary crushes from their teenage years, and who they would be crushing on if they were 16 now and reading some of the current YA titles.

Anna confesses:


THEN: When I was 15 I had a literary crush on Ponyboy Curtis from S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. Maybe I liked that a boy character was so conflicted and felt so keenly how unfair life can be as I did (I was fifteen after all!). Or maybe I identified with being the youngest member of a gang who was babied by his older friends and brothers (okay so I wasn’t in a gang, but I was the 7th child in my family). Ultimately though it was probably because I thought C. Thomas Howell who played Ponyboy in the 1983 movie was… OMG SO CUTE. Whatever the reason it is still one of my all-time favourite books.

NOW: I have just read all the books on the CBCA 2016 Shortlist for older readers. Even though I loved all the books, and they all had a lot of boy characters girls could fall for, I felt most of them were entitled, arrogant and described as way too good-looking! There was one character though that I had a bit of a crush on; Jeremiah from Inbetween Days by Vikki Wakefield. He was literally the boy next door who went away to college and came back still very much in love with his neighbour Jack. Although Jack has had a rough few years without any parental guidance (currently living with her distant older sister who has her own secrets). So we meet Jack at a time when she is using anything and anyone to fill the ‘inbetween’ days. Then as she starts maturing and realising her own potential and that there could be a life for her outside her sleepy hometown, she starts to think maybe she does deserve Jeremiah’s love too (and hopefully he can finally leave the friendzone!). A poignant coming-of-age novel for strictly 16+ readers.

Jodie confesses:


I fell in love with Will in K M Peyton’s Flambards series (classic series). Growing up in the decaying rural mansion of Flambards in the pre-WWI years, Will hates his family’s cruel ways and just wants to build and fly planes. To be honest, I don’t remember much of the story now, but I always remember Will and Flambards, and how kind Will was to the orphaned Christina when she arrived at Flambards and their romance blossomed.

I also remember that my friends and I swooned over the wild and seemingly romantic Heathcliff when we had to read Wuthering Heights for English, although reading the story again as an adult, I found him to be cruel and controlling rather than romantic!

I think today’s teenage readers are lucky in the range of relationships depicted in so many great YA books, and the healthy relationship models in those books. I’m very happy my 16-year-old daughter has models such as Park in Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, the boy who loves Eleanor for who she is, and who doesn’t rescue her, but gives her the strength to rescue herself. Or The Hunger Games‘ steadfast Peeta Mellark, who knows that if you cross the line and do anything to fight the oppressors, you become as bad as the oppressors (Gale might be cute, but he doesn’t understand this!).

But I have to confess, if I was 16 now I’d probably be crushing on Jace Wayland in the Mortal Instruments series, or James Mycroft in the wonderful Every Breath by Ellie Marney. Both are intelligent young men, struggling with some trauma in their past; an echo of my teenage crush on Heathcliff perhaps?

What’s hot at Wild Things

These were our best-selling books last week:

The YA title disappearing off the shelf was the final in the Fifth Wave trilogy, The Last Star by Rick Yancey. Don’t judge the book by the movie! If you haven’t read the first two books, The Fifth Wave and The Infinite Sea, you’ve got some catching up to do. There’s plenty of action, but be prepared for some tears at the end.

last star   war that saved my life

Our tween readers (10-13) or their parents were most interested in The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Members of the Wonder Club book club will be reading this moving story for their August meeting.

Do they expect they’ll find themselves in the story, or do they think the title applies to other kids? The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams was the top-selling book for younger children last week.

world's worst children     circle

The most popular picture book, and our number one bestseller overall, was Jeannie Baker’s Circle. You can still add this beautiful book to your home library at the special price of $25.19. And kids, come in and create your own paper bird (a godwit) to hang in our window display.






First reviews from the First Review Book Club

The First Review Book Club met last Sunday to discuss the forthcoming YA titles they read last month. There was a range of reactions to the books under their scrutiny, with titles rated anywhere from 0 to 10 out of 10!

Here are the books that received rave reviews:


smell of other peoples houses

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (Release date: July 1)

Rated by Freya: 8.5/10

Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else. Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother. Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive father. Alyce is staying at home to please her parents. Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers. Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Because if we don’t save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves? These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation are set on the edge of America’s Last Frontier.



The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt (Release date: October 3)

Rated by Georgia: 10/10

Jack has left his native Ireland and is making a new life as Professor of Neurology at a university in the American South. He has certain skills, honed over his lifetime, that he mostly keeps hidden. Skills in hypnotism and mind control. Thirteen-year-old Pip is plucked out of an orphanage by a farmer, hired as a farm-hand, and as carer for the farmer’s wife. But Pip is black. The farmer and his wife are white. And this is 1960s America, where race defines you and overshadows everything. As racial tensions reach boiling point with a danger closer to home and more terrifying than either thought possible, Jack and Pip’s lives become inextricably linked. And Jack’s hypnotic skills are called on as never before.



Black by Fleur Ferris (Release date: June 27)

Rated by Sam: 9/10

Ebony Marshall is in her final year of high school. Five months, two weeks and four days. She can’t wait to leave the town where she’s known only as Black. Because of her name, of course. But for another reason, too. Everyone says Black Marshall is cursed. Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. After Oscar, the whispers started. Now she’s used to being on her own. It’s easier that way. But when her date for the formal ends up in intensive care, something in quiet little Dainsfield starts to stir. Old secrets are revealed and terrifying new dangers emerge. If only Black could put all the pieces together, she could work out who her real enemies are. Should she run for her life, or stay and fight?


breathing under water

Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle (Release date: July 12)

Rated by Matilda: 8/10

Nineteen minutes and eleven seconds separated us at birth. On the official documentation, he is older. Although it really has nothing to do with age. What it really means is that I am, and have always been, second. Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they’d surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning.Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.


whisper to me

Whisper to Me by Nick Lake (Release date: June 1)

Rated by Erin: 9/10

‘I love you. I’m sorry for what I did to you. I’m going to write it all down, explain everything that happened, why I broke your heart, and then I’m going to email it to you. I will be waiting for you at 5 p.m. Friday by the windmill hole at the crazy golf at the Pier where we played once. If you still want me then, when you’re done reading this, come and get me. OK? Consider this the most screwed up love letter ever.’ So begins the story of Cassie, a New Jersey Shore teen who, over the course of one summer, experiences the exhilarating highs of new love, the frightening free falls of personal demons and family tragedy, and the bumps along the way to forgiveness, acceptance, and self-discovery. Told entirely through flashbacks, readers will savour every moment of Cassie’s relationship with a boardwalk boy and race to the last page to discover how it all ends.



Blame by Simon Mayo (Release date: August 29)

Rated by Rory: 8/10

What happens when society wants you banged up in prison for a crime your parents committed? That’s the situation in which Ant finds herself. Together with her little brother Mattie and their foster-parents, she’s locked up in a new kind of family prison. None of the inmates are themselves criminals, but wider society wants them to do time for the unpunished heritage crimes of their parents. Tensions are bubbling inside the London prison network Ant and Mattie call home, and when things finally erupt, they realise they’ve got one chance to break out. Everyone wants to see them punished for the sins of their mum and dad, but it’s time for Ant to show the world that they’re not to blame.


Game Theory

Game Theory by Barry Jonsberg (Release date: June 1)

Rated by Tim: 7/10

Game theory has brought me to this point and I must follow where it leads. Even though this is not a game. Jamie is a sixteen-year-old maths whiz. Summerlee, his older sister, is in the grip of a wild phase. Tensions at home run high. When Summerlee wins a 7.5-million-dollar lottery, she cuts all ties with her family. But money can cause trouble – big trouble. And when Jamie’s younger sister Phoebe is kidnapped for a ransom, the family faces a crisis almost too painful to bear. Jamie thinks he can use game theory – the strategy of predicting an opponent’s actions – to get Phoebe back. But can he outfox the kidnapper? Or is he putting his own and his sister’s life at risk?

Wild reviews

What have Wild Things staff been reading this week?

FIONA: Speaking Out: A 21st Century Handbook for Women & Girls by Tara Moss

Essential reading for all parents and young adults, Tara’s book is highly readable, inspiring and jam packed with really useful advice. From tips on how to present in front of an audience, using your voice, critical thinking. dealing with social media and much more this book should be in every school library and given to every student. I’ve already made use of some of her tips at a conference I recently attended. Highly recommended!

KASIA: The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems & Tony DiTerlizzi

A wonderful collaboration of two celebrated children’s authors about unlikely furry friends in Paris. When Diva, a pampered pooch and Flea, a worldly but homeless cat cross paths one day they begin taking adventures together that lead to important lessons and the formation of a beautiful friendship. A warm  tale about how friends can share and grow from their differences.

GENEVIEVE: Wonder Club reads Mister Cassowary
with a visit from author Samantha Wheeler
mister cassowary
Last Friday Wonder Club met for its monthly book discussion. We were joined by the lovely Samantha Wheeler to tell us about Mister Cassowary and her love for animals. Mister Cassowary is a brilliant read, ranging from discussing environmental issues to the the relationship between a work-away Dad and his son. As a Far North Qld girl relocated to the city I instantly felt a kinship with this story, as Flynn is in the reverse situation — a Brissie boy on holiday in FNQ. I identified with his dislocation and felt the sweet humidity of home rolling off the pages.

The true strength of Mister Cassowary is the build up of Flynn’s epiphany; he is gently introduced to the idea that the way he wants to play and love cassowaries is actually bad for them and can potentially contribute to the overall endangered status of the birds. It’s such an important consideration and it was such a pleasure to hear Wonder Clubians discussing it. There is also a twist at the end that book club members said they didn’t expect at all (and that they thoroughly approved of).

Samantha led a delightful talk, telling us how she came to writing, why she writes and how Mister Cassowary emerged. The Wonder Clubians barraged her with questions. She recommended different ways of planning and researching stories to questions of writers-block and how to write.

An excellent book by a delightful author. I would highly recommend it to 7-13 year olds. It is so very readable and delves into important environmental issues in an approachable way.


Last week’s top 5

Here’s a rundown on the top 5 bestsellers at Wild Things last week. It’s an interesting mix of classics and a new release.

  1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    The special 50th anniversary edition of this classic is in the number one spot because it’s the title for next month’s Wonder Club. Watch the blog for an upcoming review by Wild Things staff.

    wrinkle in time      circle

  2. Circle by Jeannie Baker
    Fiona wrote about this visually stunning book on a previous post. The good news is that you purchase your copy now at the special price of just $25.19.
  3. Meep by Andy Geppert
    This beautiful book from Brisbane’s Tiny Owl Workshop appears frequently in our top 10.

    in my heart  meep

  4. In My Heart by Jo Witek
    One of our favourites: a book that explains how feelings feel.
  5. Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester
    With its soft pastel illustrations and its heart-warming sentiments, this is the perfect gift for new babies and their parents.

    kissed by the moon

The circle of life with Jeannie Baker

by Fiona

Recently I had the great pleasure of hearing Jeannie Baker, award-winning author and artist, speak about her new picture book Circle. I’m reluctant to say children’s picture book because Jeannie’s books such as Where the Forest Meets the Sea, Belonging and Mirror are admired and loved by adults as much as children.


This beautifully illustrated story follows the migration of the Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri) from Australia through Southeast Asia to its Alaskan breeding grounds and then back to Australia. The Godwit’s 11,000 km journey is the longest unbroken migration of any animal. Circle’s spectacular landscapes follows the Godwit’s flight path, from the Great Barrier Reef to the wetlands of Southeast Asia to the Arctic icebergs but Jeannie Baker does not shy away from the threats to the Godwit’s feeding and breeding grounds because of huge developments.

As part of her research for the book Jeannie made her own journey to follow and observe the Godwit including unexpected with adventures with Chinese taxi-drivers and some very persistent midges.

“I travelled to the wild remote landscapes of Alaska and then to China and South Korea where it was alarming to see the enormous extent of the reclamation and rapid loss of mudflats the Godwits and other shorebirds depend on for food, populations of Godwits and other species of shorebirds are currently in sharp decline,” Jeannie says.

Everything in nature is interdependent and connected and the changes we make in one place can cause a chain reaction in other places, even at the opposite  end of the world. The challenge we face now is how to live our lives without destroying the places that are crucial to the shorebirds’ ancient, wondrous Circle of Life.”

Once again her book features beautifully detailed relief collages which use a variety of materials such as bark, feathers, cracked paint, earth knitted wool and rusty tin to bring each page to life.


Where the Wild Things Are’s own artist in residence and staff member Kasia has created a beautiful window to celebrate the publication of this gorgeous and most informative of books. Next time you are passing you are very welcome to call in and browse Circle; I think you will be very impressed!