December Book Recommendations

Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French

Wombats are sleepy, cuddly, slow-moving Australian animals. Diary of a Wombat follows one of these cute little fellas as he takes on a very busy week of eating, sleeping, digging holes and training his new neighbours - a family that will give him delicious carrots.

A classic and well-known picture book among Australian children, this book is adorable and humorous and introduces kids to one of the cutest (but lesser known) native Australian animals. As the week progresses, the wombat's story gets funnier and funnier. Coupled with delightful and detailed illustrations, no wonder it's such famous book despite being published all the way back in 2002.

Recommended for readers: age 5-8, animal lovers

Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley by Aaron Blabey

Remember the warmth you felt when you had a really good friend? You know how you can just click with someone even if they're your polar opposite?

Pearl loves being loud and solving mysteries whilst Charlie is quiet and laidback. There's nothing they seem to have in common except for one - they're best friends. Filled with gorgeous illustrations, a positive message, Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley has more than a catchy title. It's a story about the power of friendship and is a great reminder that no matter what, there's always someone cheering you on.

Recommended for readers: age 3-7, who love unique illustrations, who want to remember the innocence of friendship!

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

A story told by imaginary-but-very-real friend Budo makes Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend a whole new experience for any reader. After five years of being alive, Budo is ancient by imaginary friend standards and he’s worried about the day his best friend, eight-year old Max, will forget about him. When Max does, Budo will cease to exist.

Max has autism but to Budo, that doesn’t matter. All that matters is whether Budo can protect him – whether it’s from bullies, awkward situations or just by accompanying him to the bathroom stall. Yet, when a woman named Mrs Patterson kidnaps Max, Budo needs to go on a mission to rescue him. It’s a lot easier said than done when the only people who can see you is your creator or other imaginary friends.

A touching and heart-wrenching story of imaginary-but-very-much-real friends, this book is amazingly unique by taking on the perspective of Budo, as well as asking interesting questions – are imaginary friends real? Where do they go after we forget about them? The answers are bound to cause some tears to be shed but you’ll be glad you picked the book up.

Recommended for readers who: readers of all ages (including parents!), know or known someone with an imaginary friend or wanted one, enjoy mystery and suspense (there is a kidnapping, after all), enjoy paranormal, love a heartwarming tearjerker

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Like Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Wonder also deals with someone considered an outsider. August is an ordinary kid with a somewhat extraordinary face. As 10-year-old Auggie begins 5th grade at Beecher Prep, his facial deformity is all the talk. Younger kids scream when they see him. Older kids call him a freak. But is it that bad to be different?

By far one of the most feel-good books of its time, Wonder is filled with uplifting messages, hilarity and authentic narration. Whilst the book is told from six different perspectives, August's refreshing narration takes up most of it. It's a book about human relationships, seeing the good in the bad and most of all, how even though it's easy to ignore something, it's even better to reach out and connect.

Recommended for readers: of all ages, who enjoy realistic school fiction and an authentic child narrator, who enjoy heartwarming stories

Paper Towns by John Green

Margo Roth Spielgman is a girl of mystery and to Quentin Jacobsen, she’s probably the best thing ever. After convincing him to go on a rampage of revenge with her, she disappears and becomes a mystery herself. Determined to find out what happened to Margo, Quentin enlists best friends Ben, Marcus and Laceyto go on a wild trip across the country on the craziest graduation trip ever. Their mission – find Margo.

In one of the most quote-worthy John Green books (and that’s saying a lot), there’s plenty of social commentary and jokes that’ll leave anyone chuckling. The book has a symbolic ending that is controversial among readers. The story is a huge contrast to Looking for Alaska, a much more bleak story but with significant character parallels, and packs a punch with its humour and vibrant characters. The storyline itself doesn’t hold much substance other than going on wild goose chase, but for those who appreciate stories for the characters and witty banter, it’s an incredibly enjoyable read with a rather realistic ending.

Recommended to readers: age 13-18, like unexpected endings, enjoy stories about friendship, enjoy social commentary and relevant jokes, who appreciate books more for their characters than the storyline, who like John Green and don’t think he’s a little too cheesy

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before Lauren Oliver came out with her dystopian romance, delirium she debuted with 'Before I Fall'. In a stunning and heartbreaking novel, we follow popular high school student Samantha Kingston on "Cupid Day" - a day of partying, valentines, roses, and most of all, the school hierarchy. It's all fun and games until Samantha dies in a terrible car crash that night.

...and then wakes up once again on February 12, Cupid Day.

Suddenly, Sam is experiencing her own version of Groundhog Day and she races to change her own fate in seven days.

But sometimes, it's not all about you.

With the power to change more than just her own life, Sam realizes there’s a bigger impact she can make on the world. The question is – what is it?

A book about life and death, choices and the butterfly effect, Before I Die is an impactful book that leaves you thinking beyond the last page. The book also focuses largely on bullying, making it an enlightening and educational read of how one’s actions can affect others. Hauntingly beautiful in its storyline, Before I Fall is a twist on the Groundhog Day death stories in the oversaturated YA market.

Recommended for readers: who enjoy unexpected endings, Groundhog Day/time loop stories, books with high school settings, YA romance, reading about human connections

For those who enjoy watching movies, the following were also released as movie adaptations. Watching English movies (especially with English captions) is a great way of learning English!

Wonder (2017) starring Jacob Trembley, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, directed by Stephen Chobsky

Before I Fall (2017) starring Zoey Deutch, directed by Ry Russel-Young

Paper Towns (2015) starring Cara Delevigne and Nat Wolff, directed by Jake

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