Children’s Book Week 2018 – resources, teachers’ notes and activities for kids

Children's Book Week 2018

Over the last few years I have collated a post with resources for a selection of books which have made the CBCA short list. Going through the CBCA lists is a great way to find new books and authors to read. This year my assistant Sam put this post together for me. These posts are quite time consuming to put together so was grateful to have her help!

The resources while often aimed at teachers are fantastic for parents too – they explain themes, writing styles and provide example questions you can discuss with the kids as you read the books.

This is only a selection of the books short listed for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s awards – you can see the full list of noteables here.

If you are reading via email, it is worth clicking through to read on the blog here as there are many video trailers for the books in this post which will not always work in email.

Book of the Year – Older readers

Mallee Boys

Children's Book Week 2018
PUBLISHER –Wakefield Press
ISBN – 9781743055007

Sandy Douglas knows that life at fifteen is hard, but it’s even harder when your mother died a year ago and nothing’s gone right since. His brother Red, on the other hand, is eighteen now and working the farm. He’s amped up on rage and always looking for a fight. And then there’s their dad Tom. He does his best, but – really – he doesn’t have a clue. {source}

RESOURCES – Wakefield Press has a free extract you can read online here.

Buy the book here –  Mallee Boys by Charlie Archbold

Because of You

Children’s Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER –University of Queensland Press
ISBN – 978070225977 7

Meet Tiny and Nola. Two very different girls with two very different stories who are just trying to find a place to belong. A powerful and compelling novel about friendship, love and acceptance. {source}

RESOURCES – University of Queensland Press has free teacher notes you can read online here and cover:

  • Synopsis
  • Themes
  • Writing Style
  • Study Notes
  • Author Motivation
  • About the Author

Buy the book here –  Because of You by Pip Harry

Ballard for a Mad Girl

Children’s Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER –Text Publishing
ISBN – 9781925355291

Everyone knows seventeen-year-old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk-taker, and she’s not afraid of anything—except losing. As part of the long-running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe. That night she experiences something she can’t explain.

The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions—but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf. {source}

RESOURCES – Text Publishing has a free download with learning activities aimed to encourage students to think critically, creatively and independently, to reflect on their learning, and connect it to audience, purpose and context. You can find it here. You can also read a sample chapter here.

Buy the book here –  Ballard for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield


Picture Book of the Year

The Great Rabbit Chase

Children's Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER –Scholastic Australia
ISBN – 9781743811641

Gumboots is a beautiful pet rabbit, but he likes to escape. A story that celebrates what it means to live in a community and a reminder that life is full of surprises. {source}

RESOURCES – The Great Rabbit Chase looks at themes of animals, family and community. Scholastic has free teacher notes which have fantastic creative activities you can do with kids. It also points out that the endpapers at the beginning and end of the book are a board game!  You can find the teacher notes online here.

Buy the book here –  The Great Rabbit Chase by Freya Blackwood

A Walk in the Bush

Children’s Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER – Affirm Press
ISBN – 9781925475531


Little Iggy doesn’t want to leave the house, but Grandad insists – they always have fun together.

What follows is a wonderful journey in the great Australian outdoors with singing birds, wallaby surprises, secret caterpillar messages and oodles of grandad humour.

Here is a story about the wonders of nature, the funny side of life and spending time with the ones we love.

From an original and exciting new talent comes A Walk in the Bush, proudly the first picture book from Affirm Press. {source}

RESOURCES – Lamont Books has free teacher notes that have 15+ ideas for discussion points and activities which you can find online here.

Buy the book here A Walk in the Bush by Gwyn Perkins

Swan Lake

Children’s Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER – Allen & Unwin
ISBN – 9781460753668


A magnificent visual retelling of the classic ballet story from a much-loved, award-winning illustrator.

‘Anne Spudvilas is one of Australia’s most talented visual artists. Her illustrations are full of emotion and beauty. Anne’s Swan Lake is simply enchanting and sublime!’ Li Cunxin, author of Mao’s Last Dancer and Artistic Director, Queensland Ballet

The iconic ballet Swan Lake, the tragic love story of a princess transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer, has been revered for more than a century. In this atmospheric adaptation, Anne Spudvilas reimagines the classic tale of passion, betrayal and heartbreak in the dramatic riverscape of the Murray-Darling. {source}

RESOURCES – Allen & Unwin has comprehensive free teacher notes you can download here and they include:

  • Tips on how you can use the book in the curriculum
  • Pre-reading exercises
  • Visual literacy exercises
  • Extension activities

Buy the book here – Swan Lake by Anne Spudvilas

Eve Pownall Award

Do Not Lick This Book

Children’s Book Week 2018

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Written by Idan Ben-Barak, illustrated by Julian Frost
PUBLISHER – Allen & Unwin
ISBN – 9781760293055


A brilliantly simple, funny, interactive picture book that introduces children to the strange, unseen world of microbes all around them by the award-winning author of Small Wonders and the animator of the insanely successful video ‘Dumb Ways to Die’.

Min is a microbe. She is small. Very small. In fact so small that you’d need to look through a microscope to see her. Or you can simply open this book and take Min on an adventure to amazing places she’s never seen before – like the icy glaciers of your tooth or the twisted, tangled jungle that is your shirt.

The perfect book for anyone who wants to take a closer look at the world. {source}

RESOURCES – Allen & Unwin has a great set of teacher notes you can download here. They include:

  • Tips on how to use in the curriculum – Science, Health and Maths
  • Themes
  • Suggestions for classroom discussion and application
  • Author’s motivation
  • Author’s and Illustrator’s Background

NB. The illustrator Julian Frost is was the creator of the animation for ‘Dumb Ways to Die’, which has had close to 150 million views since it was uploaded on YouTube in 2012.

Buy the book here – Do Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak

M is for Mutiny!

Children’s Book Week 2018

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Written by John Dickson, Illustrated by Bern Emmerichs
PUBLISHER – Burbay Publishing
ISBN – 9780994384119


In the late 18th century, ragtag groups of Europeans started to arrive in Australia. Most were convicts, some were soldiers, a few had just run out of choices. They blundered onto an ancient land that had been peopled for 60,000 years. They wanted to make it just like home. They cleared the land, they fenced it, they paved it, and they put buildings on it. All the while, the country’s first peoples watched on, bewildered by these clumsy immigrants and their mysterious ways…

M is for Mutiny! History by Alphabet is a taste of the intriguing history of Australia and the many entry points for children to explore further. Why did Sir Joseph Banks hate bananas? Did anyone like William Bligh? Where is Yemmerrawanne? {source}

RESOURCES – Kids’ Book Review has a link to free teacher notes you can download online here and they contain:

  • Synopsis
  • Themes
  • Author motivation
  • Discussion points and suggestions for further research

Buy the book here – M is for Mutiny! Written by John Dickson, Illustrated by Bern Emmerichs

Amazing Australians in their Flying Machines

Children's Book Week 2018

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Prue & Kerry Mason Illustrations by Tom Jellett
PUBLISHER –Walker Books Australia
ISBN – 9781922244635


Imagine what it was like to travel to far-off places before there were aeroplanes. For early 20th-century Australians, it could take days, weeks, or months just to get where they were going. Amazing Australians and Their Flying Machines tells the stories of ten brave Australians, including the youngest licensed woman pilot Nancy Bird, who took to the skies and changed the face of aviation forever. {source}

RESOURCES – Walker Books Australia has free classroom ideas you can download online here which include:

  • Outline
  • Author/Illustrator Information
  • Discussion Questions and Activities for English and History
  • Questions for Exploring the Text

Buy the book here – Amazing Australians in their Flying Machines by Prue & Kerry Mason Illustrations by Tom Jellett

Book of the Year: Younger Readers

How to Bee

Children's Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER – A&U Children’s
ISBN – 9781760294335


A story about family, loyalty, kindness and bravery, set against an all-too-possible future where climate change has forever changed the way we live. {source}

RESOURCES – Allen & Unwin has a very comprehensive document on their website to explore this book. Click here and scroll down to Teachers Notes to download. They include information and activities on:

  • Use in the curriculum
  • Pre-reading research
  • Pre-reading comprehension exercise
  • Imagery
  • Similes
  • Informal language
  • Characterisation
  • Comparison
  • Related texts/Further reading

Buy the book here – How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

Marsh and Me

Children’s Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER – Text Publishings
ISBN – 9781925498011


A story about family, loyalty, kindness and bravery, set against an all-too-possible future where climate change has forever changed the way we live. {source}

RESOURCES – Text Publishing has teaching notes you can read online here to help you explore the text further. They include:

  • Questions to discuss before reading
  • Questions to explore while reading
  • Questions based around character, structure and themes to look at after reading

Martine Murray talks about her inspiration for Marsh and Me:


Buy the book here – Marsh and Me by Martine Murray

The Shop at Hoopers Bend

Children’s Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER – Harper Collins
ISBN – 9781460753668


– Books+Publishing, four stars

When Quil Medway gets on the train, she thinks she knows where and howher journey will end. At camp. With another school holiday spent surrounded bypeople, but feeling alone.

Quil doesn’t know how wrong she is. She doesn’t know anything about theshop at Hoopers Bend. Or a bitter, prickly woman called Bailey Or a littleblack and white dog who at this very moment is chewing through a rope so he’ll be free to answer a call that only he can hear.

She doesn’t know about the magic.

But it won’t be long now …

From one of Australia’s most renowned children’s authors, this is a story about coming home when you didn’t even know that was where you belonged. {source}

RESOURCES – Harper Collins has a free teachers guide here that includes:

  • Book summary
  • Information about the author
  • Questions for reading and discussion
  • Activities – including a crossword to print

Buy the book here – The Shop at Hoopers Bend by Emily Rodda

Book of the Year: Early Childhood


Children's Book Week 2018

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Phil Cummings Illustrated by Shane Devries
PUBLISHER – Scholastic Australia
ISBN – 9781760277055


The king’s battles with the dragon were always mighty and loud…CLING CLANG CLONG! ROAR! {source}

Click here to watch Olivia’s video book review of Boy.

RESOURCES – Scholastic Australia has super useful notes you can read online here that cover:

  • Illustrating Style
  • Author motivation
  • Author Background
  • Illustrator Background
  • Over 12 activities and discussion points

Buy the book here – Boy by Phil Cummings Illustrated by Shane Devries

I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox

Children’s Book Week 2018

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Written by Mem Fox Illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh
PUBLISHER – Omnibus Books
ISBN – 9781760276218


I’m Australian! How about you? Many people from many places have come across the seas, to make Australia their home. How Australian is that?

From countries near and far, many have made their home in Australia, sharing it with the original inhabitants, and living in peace beneath the Southern Star.

Mem Fox celebrates Australia’s incredible multicultural heritage in this beautiful book illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh. {source}

RESOURCES – Scholastic has teacher notes you can download here that have 10 activities and discussion points for the book.

Watch a video of the book being read:

And you can listen to an excerpt here.

Buy the book here – I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox

The Second Sky

Children’s Book Week 2018

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Written by Patrick Guest and illustrated by Jonathan Bentley
PUBLISHER – Little Hare
ISBN – 9781760127985


The first thing Gilbert sees when he hatches from his egg is the sky. It is love at first sight and from that moment on Gilbert longs to fly like other birds.

But Penguins don’t fly, they waddle, and so begins Gilbert’s quest to find his place in the world.

Great things happen when you reach for the sky. {source}

RESOURCES – Lamont Books has free teacher notes you can download online here to explore the book further which cover:

  • Themes
  • Writing style
  • Illustrations style
  • Author background
  • Illustrator background
  • Study notes
  • Activities

Buy the book here – The Second Sky by Patrick Guest

Crichton Award for New Illustrators

Can You Find Me?

Children’s Book Week 2018

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Written by Gordon Winch, Illustrated by Patrick Shirvington
PUBLISHER – New Frontier
ISBN – 9781925059793


Search for an echidna, a powerful owl, a frog and many more animals hidden on every page.

Patrick Shirvington’s striking illustrations hide every animal just enough for the guessing to begin. {source}

RESOURCES – New Frontier has the story behind Can You Find Me? plus a sneak peek at some of the first illustrations for the book  online here.

Lamont books has teachers notes and activities you can read online here to explore the book which includes:

  • Notes the themes to explore in the book
  • 9 questions/activities for the book

Buy the book here – Can You Find Me? Written by Gordon Winch, Illustrated by Patrick Shirvington

I Just Ate My Friend

Children’s Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER – Allen & Unwin
ISBN – 9781760294342


This beautiful, innovative picture book from an enormously talented creator will make you laugh out loud. The search for a true friend is something everyone can relate to – from the very young to the very old.

I just ate my friend. He was a good friend. But now he is gone. Would you be my friend?

A hilarious story about the search for friendship and belonging… and maybe a little bit about the importance of impulse control… from an amazing new creator. {source}

Buy the book here – I Just Ate My Friend, Heidi McKinnon

Watch the trailer:


Children's Book Week 2018

PUBLISHER – Scholastic
ISBN – 9781742991658


Mopoke the owl loves peace and quiet, but the bush is full of many, many annoying disturbances. Poor Mopoke is about to find out that you can’t always get what you want.

Visually brilliant, and hysterically funny, this debut picture book by Philip Bunting is destined to become a classic. Perfect for all fans of Jon Klassen and Chris Haughton. {source}

RESOURCES – Scholastic Australia has free teacher notes you can read online here which include not the literary and artistic discussions/ activities to do with the kids..

You can watch this super cute trailer for the book here:

Buy the book here – Mopoke by Philip Bunting

What is your favourite book from the CBCA short list this year?

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Children’s Book Week 2018