Lionheart – Jesse Martin

Courageous and determined, Jesse Martin set off to sail around the world when he was aged just 18 – aiming to be the youngest person to ever sail solo non-stop around the globe. In a thirty-four foot yacht named Lionheart, he had no visitors, used no fossil fuels, received no supplies and did not step off the boat during this ten month journey. The overall message that even ordinary, young kids can follow their dreams and passions, is inspiring – even if the prose doesn’t always convey the excitment of the journey.


When I was a soldier – Valerie Zenatti

Looking back on her experiences as a conscript in the Israeli army, Zenatti opens with her final weeks before joining up. She is getting ready for exams, hanging out with friends and dealing with a break-up with her boyfriend. Soon, though, she is taken by bus – with all the other 18 year-old conscripts – to the training base where they have to acclimatise to the grueling discipline of army life. On her two year ‘tour of duty’, she has to grapple with the challenges of living in a society where violent conflict is the norm and where ‘right’ is not always clear – this true story is both topical and challenging, and will be a read that you will have trouble forgetting.

Fantastic Fiction

D-Day: Lieutenant Andy Pope, Normandy 1944 (My Story) – Brian Perrett

The Allied D-Day landings of 1944 intended to end the horrific European war, with troops crossing the English Channel to land on the beaches of Normandy in France. Lieutenant Andy Pope’s company is ordered to cut off the Germans’ line of retreat, and comes under sustained attack until, as the only unwounded officer left, Andy finds himself in command and fighting for survival. A gripping tale of war time survival and bravery.


Storm glass – Maria Snyder

Fiesty Opal Cowen is a glass-maker and magician-in-training, and the Stormdancer Clan need her unique talents to work out who deliberately sabotaged their glass orbs. When the mission goes inevitably awry, Opal has to draw on a new, more powerful forms of magic. Sometimes violent, with some plot elements more suited to a mature adolescent, this is a fast paced action packed adventure, peopled with characters from Snyder’s earlier Poison Study series.

Design Cherry

Modoc: the true story of the greatest elephant that ever lived – Ralph Helfer

Josef is a German elephant trainer, so when baby elephant, Modoc, is born he decides to make him the best trained elephant in the world. Coincidentally, Josef’s son Bram is born on the same day and the boy and Modoc grow up together; but when Josef dies, Modoc is shipped off to America – without Bram. However, Bram stows aboard the ship and continues his life long journey with his friend. Spanning seven decades and three continents, this inspiring story is based on a true story.

Better World Books

Little paradise – Gabrielle Wang

Inspired by a true story, Little Paradise opens in Melbourne in 1943, where seventeen-year-old protagonist Mirabel is leaving school and dreaming of life as a dress designer. She meets and falls in love with JJ – an officer working for the Chinese government. However, their forbidden affair is discovered by her father and soon after he is posted back to Shanghai. As Mirabel travels to China to find him, readers are afforded a fascinating view into life at this time in both Australia and China through the effortlessly intertwinned stories of the richly depicted characters.

Gabrielle Wang

Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren

Charming and absurd, the mischevious protagonist of this story lives alone at the end of the village with her horse and pet monkey. A true free spirit (her mother died when she was but a baby and her father has been lost at sea), she spends her days engaged in hijinks such as dancing with burglars, fighting the strongest man in the world at the circus and just generally causing trouble! A delightful, must-read story.