My favourite books for children from 2018

I read some excellent books for children and young adults last year (I can’t believe I’m saying last year to 2018 already) so making a top ten list was very difficult. Which is why I ended up making a top eighteen list (that’s only nearly a lie; I mostly chose 18 due to template considerations but I bet I could easily make a top twenty-five list. I also spent most of December reading too many books which left me with very little time to write about all the books I’ve been reading. So the blog tragically languished. I’m hoping to find more sustainable reading and blogging (and hopefully-soon-to-be-launched vlogging) habits in 2019 but I’m not going to make it a resolution lest I jinx it. In fact, I’m just not even going to think about it too hard in case I spook the idea away. For more details about why I loved these books, I wrote a blog post for the lovely folks at Duckbill which you can read here.

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My favourite books from 2018 for adults

I know it’s the second day of 2019 but I’ve only just managed to grab some free time to highlight some of my favourite books from last year. I managed to read waaaaay more books than I had anticipated (hello freelancer status for eight months). Which is why I’m making two separate lists – one featuring books for adults and the other for children (which features even more books). I think I’m going to try and relax a bit with the reading in 2019. Obviously I’m still going to be reading lots of books but maybe if I don’t read 207 books this year (I know, it’s ridiculous), I might get some other stuff done. Apart from moving to a new city at the end of the month and really finding my PhD groove (by which I mean a sustainable work-life balance), I have lots of other plans which involve exploring my new home city, trying out new things, writing and book vlogging (more on that later). So here’s to a year of a reasonable amount of books. Happy 2019!

Favourite 2018 books for adults
Apologies about the awkward layout but I forgot to add a book until after I’d already created the template so this is just going to have to sit here and taunt me

Book Activities: Rosie Revere, Engineer

Activities inspired by books are a brilliant way to make the reading experience interactive, creative and playful. Children also develop a range of skills when they make things but that’s for the adults to think about – young people can focus on the fun bits. 


rosie revere engineerWhere some people see rubbish, Rosie Revere sees inspiration. Alone in her room at night, shy Rosie constructs great inventions from odds and ends. Hot dog dispensers, helium pants, python-repelling cheese hats. Rosie’s gizmos would astound—if she ever let anyone see them.

Afraid of failure, she hides them away under her bed. Until a fateful visit from her great-great-aunt Rose, who shows her that a first flop isn’t something to fear—it’s something to celebrate.




Image courtesy Sanny van Loon Illustration

Rosie comes up with all sorts of inventions, some of which try to fix a problem – like the hat which keeps snakes away for her zookeeper Uncle Fred and the heli-o-cheese-copter to help her great-great-aunt Rose fly.

Ask the child you’re working with to think of

(i) something they really want to do and/or

(ii) a problem they’d really like to fix.

Next, hand them a sheet of paper and plenty of art and craft material and ask them to illustrate ideas for imaginative inventions which would help make it happen.



Image courtesy Leo and Bella

Rosie used everyday materials she found around her to create all her inventions.

Ask the child you’re working with to wander around the house on a quest to collect objects which are going to be thrown away or things which are broken and no longer useful or any other things which can be recycled.

Now ask them to experiment and create something using the gathered materials. You can combine this with the previous activity where these recycled inventions can be ideas for fixing problems. Alternatively, you can ask them to come up with uses for the invention once it is actually ready.



Sometimes Rosie’s inventions work, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes you’re not quite sure. But she’s always curious and creative and ready to look at the world with a fresh perspective.

In this joyful talk featuring demos of her wonderfully wacky creations, Simone Giertz shares her craft: making useless robots. Her inventions — designed to chop vegetables, cut hair, apply lipstick and more — rarely (if ever) succeed, and that’s the point. “The true beauty of making useless things [is] this acknowledgment that you don’t always know what the best answer is,” Giertz says. “It turns off that voice in your head that tells you that you know exactly how the world works. Maybe a toothbrush helmet isn’t the answer, but at least you’re asking the question.”



Image courtesy Spice N Flavors

Cheese plays a significant role in some of Rosie’s inventions – both the python-repelling hat and the heli-o-cheese copter involve cans of cheese spray.

Get the child you’re working with to make an easy cheese-based snack to pair with the book.

What you need:

Slices of cheese

Monaco biscuits/Ritz crackers

Tomato, onion, capsicum, boiled corn (or any vegetables you have in your kitchen)

Tomato sauce/coriander or mint chutney/mayonnaise/any sauce you have in your kitchen

What to do:

Cut the cheese slices into smaller squares and place them on separate biscuits. Add a drop of sauce on top of the cheese. Chop the vegetables and add them as the top layer of the biscuits.

You can find more combinations for this fuss-free snack at Artsy Crafty Mom.



Image courtesy Red Ted Art

Use stiff pieces of paper/thin card paper to make paper planes with your child. Then go outdoors and find the best spot to have a flying contest.

If you’re in the mood for something more ambitious, you can check out Buggy and Buddy which features eighteen craft ideas for kids to make a wide range of projects which fly.