I recently had the good fortune to read three very different and satisfying middle-grade books by Australian authors.

All Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr

Shirley Marr has sensitively tackled the topic of child migrancy in her fifth book, All Four Quarters of the Moon. I was lucky enough to read an early draft of the story and was immediately taken by the story of two sisters, Peijing and Biju escaping into their private paper world. Their Little World intersects with traditional Chinese folktales and family lore as the children try to make sense of the world and their place in it. When the Guo family migrates to Australia, their worlds are turned upside down and the sisters learn to cope with the all-consuming changes to their daily lives in different ways. Older sister, Peijing battles the snakes in her stomach and her worries, and learns that sometimes it’s best to not always do what you’ve always done. This is a gentle and beautiful told story about learning to see your family in different ways and that home can mean many things.

  • Published: 5 July 2022
  • ISBN: 9781760899554
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $16.99

Publisher’s blurb for All Four Quarters of the Moon

A big-hearted story of love and resilience, starring sisters and storytellers Peijing and Biju, a lost family finding their way, a Little World made of paper, a Jade Rabbit, and the ever-changing but constant moon.

Making mooncakes with Ah Ma for the Mid-Autumn Festival was the last day of Peijing’s old life. Now, adapting to their new life in Australia, Peijing thinks everything will turn out okay for her family as long as they have each other – but cracks are starting to appear.

Her little sister, Biju, needs Peijing to be the dependable big sister. Ma Ma is no longer herself; Ah Ma keeps forgetting who she is; and Ba Ba, who used to work seven days a week, is adjusting to being a hands-on dad.

How will Peijing cope with the uncertainties of her own little world while shouldering the burden of everyone else? And if Peijing’s family are the four quarters of the mooncake, where does she fit in?

Solomon Macaroni and the Cousin Catastrophe by Ashleigh Barton

Solomon Macaroni is an Italian vampire who goes to stay with his Uncle Dracula and six cousins when his parents take off on a one-hundred-year cruise around the world. While Solomon doesn’t get on with five of his cousins, luckily he has smart, kind booknerd Lucy to keep him company. Lucy and Solomon are called on to rescue the cousins from the creepy (but not too scary) and dangerous Wildwood where Solomon learns that he can actually have fun. Suitable for readers wanting to try something a little spooky.

ISBN: 9780702265617

Format: Paperback B

Pages: 288

Release Date: 5/07/2022

Publisher’s blurb for Solomon Macaroni and the Cousin Catastrophe

You’ve never met a vampire like Solomon Macaroni before – he’s friendly, polite and makes a mean tofu bolognese. Understandably, when his parents go on a one-hundred-year cruise without him, Solomon is not impressed. Especially because it means having to stay in creepy Transylvania with his six cousins, who are the rudest and naughtiest vampires in existence. (Well, apart from Lucy. He likes her.) Not even his uncle, Count Dracula, the oldest vampire in the world, can stop their pranks.

But when his cousins venture into the spooky Wildwood on a dangerous mission, Solomon reluctantly agrees to help Lucy rescue them. In the forest, Solomon must draw on all he knows – about old magic, wet wipes and the importance of a well-timed entrance – to save his catastrophic cousins and possibly the world.

A fang-tastic tale about loving your family, even when they drive you batty.

How to be Prime Minister and Survive Grade Five by Carla Fitzgerald

Harper’s dad accidentally becomes Prime Minister. He has a wobbly start to his new career and disappears to a ‘conference’ (he runs away on a secret holiday). With Mum also away, sisters Lottie and Harper step in and take charge of the country. For would-be politicians and kids who want the chance to change the world!

ISBN: 9780702265587

Format: Paperback

Pages: 272

Release Date: 2/08/2022