Monday, 23 November 2015

Series from Santa!

Can you believe it’s nearly Christmas again, already?! But what to buy for children and teenagers who often seem to have so much? Surely not more plastic and electronics.

Okay, you’ve got the right idea - a book - yet how to choose from the sea of books available? Young readers know what they enjoy, but it’s not always the same thing Mum, Granddad, or Great Aunt Carol have in mind. So, take it from us, the book series listed here are ones every young reader would be happy to see in their Christmas stocking or under the tree this holiday season.

Hot off the press!  Browse these newly-minted series...

Emerging Readers (ages 5–7)

The Cleo Stories by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood:  Colourfully illustrated throughout, these gentle, appealing and authentic stories are perfect for transitioning young readers between picture and chapter books. Each book contains two adventures about Cleo—an imaginative, curious and fun character, whose relatable adventures about growing up and navigating the world around her will resonate with readers aged 5+.

Mango and Bambang by Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy: This new collection of four short stories features Mango Allsorts and her extraordinary new pal, Bambang, the Asian Tapir (who is definitely not a pig). The tales of these unlikely friends are accompanied by charming black-and-white illustrations making them perfect for newly confident readers aged 7+.

Danny Best by Jen Storer and Mitch Vane: Danny Best is the star of a brand new series in the style of Tom Gates but with a twist of uniquely Australian humour. He’s always been pretty sure he’s a hero and, now, it’s confirmed! Punchy, imaginative text and energetic cartoons ensure that this confident character will become a fast favourite with readers aged 7+.

Middle Grade Readers (ages 8–10)

Welcome to the Museum by Various Authors: An exceptionally beautiful series of large format, richly illustrated “virtual museums” filled with fascinating facts, exhibits and specimens. While nature lovers, art fanciers and history buffs of almost any age will find something to learn and love in this series, they’re designed particularly with readers aged 8+ in mind.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan: The Sword of Summer is the first in a thrilling new fantasy-adventure series steeped in the mystical world of Norse mythology. Fans of Riordan’s hugely popular Percy Jackson series will find themselves in familiar territory here, but with a host of new characters – both mortal and divine – to explore. Magnus Chase offers enthralling, intelligent action for readers aged 9+.

Theophilus Grey by Catherine Jinks: Theophilus Grey and the Demon Thief is the first half of a new historical mystery duolgy, set amongst the dank allies of eighteenth-century London. Twelve-year-old Theophilus must utilise his network of young spies to face off against secrets, spells and sinister nemeses. Jinks’ use of historical language makes this a challenging but thoroughly immersive series for confident readers aged 10+.

Early Teen Readers (ages 11–13) 


Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt: A classic of Dutch literature, it’s taken more than fifty years to see the second instalment of this enchanting historical series translated into English but, truly, it is worth the wait! Dragt’s carefully imagined world of kings and knights, chivalry, and magic will surely inspire devotion in readers aged 11+ who love adventure and medieval history.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: With one acclaimed series under her belt, Bardugo has stormed the YA literary world with a thrilling new series set in the same fantasy world as her earlier novels. While it’s not necessary to have read The Grisha beforehand, readers may wish to revisit it while they wait for the second instalment of Six of Crows due out later next year. High-stakes heists, riveting action and just a touch of romance make this follow-up pure reading pleasure for fantasy fanatics aged 13+.

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: It seems every summer there’s an ‘it-book’ which inevitably tops every YA blogger’s ‘to-be-read’ list. In 2015, that honour is bestowed upon lluminae, the first in a highly anticipated new series which can best be described as good old-fashioned sci-fi… with zombies… and our favourite ‘will-they-won’t-they?’ romance of the year. 9-out-of-10 bloggers agree: readers aged 13+ should read it. Read it now.

Young Adult Readers (ages 14+)

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley: Whenever a book is described by its publisher as “Neil Gaiman meets John Green”, we’re a little sceptical but – in the case of this remarkable YA debut – these are entirely justified comparisons. While there’s only one book in the series so far, there’s a sequel due next year so fans will have something to look forward to. With a thoroughly quirky plot and charming prose, readers aged 14+ will adore the blend of fantasy and realism Magonia has to offer.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown: Dystopian fiction is not going away – that’s a fact—and one we’re pretty happy about, since authors keep rustling up killer ideas for societies gone mad with power and greed. What’s so refreshing about Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy is the strong political statement it makes about inequality and the distribution of wealth. This is smart, engaging and original dystopian sci-fi and, you can bet your bottom dollar, readers aged 14+ will be hooked.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: Critics heaped praise upon The Bone Season when it was released in 2013 and it’s easy to see why: a compelling heroine who happens to be clairvoyant is kidnapped by a secret society determined to harness her powers for their own shadowy purposes. And did we mention the year is 2059? The sequel is just as riveting and, with five more instalments planned, The Bone Season series is pure futuristic fantasy with a mysterious edge that readers aged 14+ are going to love.

 And just to keep them reading...

During the last few months, many well-established series have added new books to their number. If you’d like to explore some longer running series that will provide hours of holiday reading no matter what the age level, here are some recommendations with new releases:

Emerging Readers

Elephant and Piggie - ages 5+
Samurai vs Ninja - ages 6+
Alice-Miranda - ages 7+
Stuff Happens - ages 7+

Middle Grade Readers

Treehouse - ages 8+
Big Nate -  ages 8+
Do you Dare? - ages 8+
Our Australian Girl - ages 8+
Friday Barnes - ages 9+
Blackwell Pages - ages 9+
Dork Diaries - ages 9+
The Caddy Kids - ages 9+ 
All the Wrong Questions - ages 9+
Thickety - ages 10+
Princess Academy - ages 10+

Early Teen Readers

Chronoptika (Obsidian Mirror) -  ages 11+
The Lockwood and Co - ages 11+
Maximum Ride - ages 11+
Lorien Legacies - ages 12+
Throne of Glass - ages 13+
The Wandering Son - ages 13+ (Graphic Novel)

Young Adult Readers

Lone City - ages 14+
The Selection - ages 14+
Every - ages 14+

Wishing you a joyous & festive season from Cereal Readers!

Kara Smith

Friday, 12 June 2015

Time to Say Good-bye...

It is with some sadness and nostalgia that we farewell our very first Cereal Readers website design. However, as we quickly approach our third anniversary, we’re looking forward to embracing a fresh new look and the realisation of many effective new search features.

'Appealing images are vital for engaging young readers'

As part of the clean and updated look, our primary focus was to improve the quality of the book cover images.  Appealing images are vital for engaging young readers and we're thrilled that images now display with enhanced size and clarity.

The long list of features we wanted to offer had to be distilled to those we thought would be most valuable. Expanding the variety of ‘search lenses’ (as we like to call them) will hopefully provide useful portals to the series we have available. In particular, we’re really pleased to make available the ‘multi-genre tag + age range’ search for discovering new series.

Apart from the multi-genre tag search, my favourite new feature is the ability to see at-a-glance which series have introductory book trailer videos - a wonderful tool for quickly enticing readers of all ages.

Video icon indicates introductory series book trailer.
Multi-Genre + Optional Age Search

Key features offered in Cereal Readers version 2.0:

  • Higher quality images and image enlargement feature;
  • Improved search results;
  • Multi-genre tag search, with optional age range filter;
  • Video icon to indicate series containing book trailers to quickly engage readers;
  • Summary of all series that have won awards;
  • A previous/next feature for moving between sequential books in a series.
  • A new ‘Explore’ menu option that provides a launching point for the many ways to search series on Cereal Readers.

Overall, we believe these and other changes have made the site clearer and easier to use. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with the recent changes.

Farewell to the inaugural Cereal Readers site design
There are still many features we would love to bring you, but we had to walk the line between dreams and delivery, so…next time. As a large number of our visitors access the site via mobile phone, a mobile-friendly version of the site is high on our list for the second half of 2015 - we'd really hoped to deliver it with this release, but time ran short.

As is often said in the technology business, ‘the perfect is the enemy of the possible.’ We’ve bought you the possible for now. Hope you enjoy it!


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Colourful Appeal of Graphic Novels

What is a graphic novel?

Graphic novels are, by the simplest definition, book-length comics. Sometimes they tell a single, continuous narrative from first page to last; sometimes they are collections of shorter stories or individual comic strips. [source]

You might be forgiven for thinking that authors and illustrators of this genre would be pleased by the import of the genre name, yet many who have their work marketed as 'graphic novels' by publishing companies, dislike the term. This group is quite content to call their work comics—a comic novel or book, as opposed to a comic magazine—and feel it’s simply an unnecessary rewording for marketing purposes. (Although many in the book industry would argue strongly that the marketing of books is quite a necessary business!) Jeff Smith, author of the award-winning, humorous graphic novel series, Bone (for ages 11+) is one artist not keen on the descriptor,

"… 'graphic novel'... I don't like that name. It's trying too hard. It is a comic book. But there is a difference. And the difference is, a graphic novel is a novel in the sense that there is a beginning, a middle and an end." [source]

Diverse appeal

Be this as it may, debate over the terminology has not diminished the widening appeal and growing popularity of graphic novels. And the term seems here to stay, perhaps in part because the word ‘comic’ can be misleading: many comics are not humorous in nature. Instead, they are dramatic, adventurous, romantic—in fact, any genre a text-based novel can be. Just as the stories portrayed in graphic novels have become more diverse in content, so too, has the readership has widened. Publishers of many popular series, such as Twilight (for ages 12+) by Stephanie Meyer, and Anthony Horowitz’s Power of Five (for ages 12+) and Alex Rider (for 9+ years) series, are keen to produce the books in graphic novel format for a variety of ages.

Advancing literacy

While comic magazines and graphic novels are spurned in some quarters for curtailing literacy, some of their biggest supporters are librarians. In fact, librarians were among the first to note the fast-growing trend through the lending cycle, and have been strong supporters of the genre, viewing graphic novels as powerful tools in the process of advancing literacy. They not only combine words and images, but require the reader to interpret the narrative flow by linking the actions in the panels together. Graphic novels are also popular with younger readers, and appeal to reluctant and struggling readers as well as those who are more advanced. [source] Jeff Smith commented on this phenomenon during an interview some years ago. 

"...there was a time when people actually thought comics caused illiteracy. They thought it would make you more stupid. So this was our chance [invited to speak at the American Library Association national conference in 2002]. And we were all excited to make our case for comics being good. But immediately, it was clear that the librarians were way out in front of us. They knew this.
They told me that circulation in libraries was down everywhere. You know, internet, video games... standard fears that everybody has that we're losing you minds. But there was one exception. The circulation had gone up 300 percent across the country... in graphic novels. So the librarians didn't need to be convinced. They were there going, "We want more. What do we do?" [source]

Have you noticed...?

Have you noticed the world is changing? Sounds almost too self-evident to mention, yet it’s a contributing factor in the growth of graphic novel readership in recent years. No one can deny that communication has changed and will continue to change. The combination of images and text is becoming a standard way of conveying information and one that requires new interpretative skills. [source] University of North Florida assistant professor of literacy Katie Monnin refers to this as "the greatest communication revolution since the invention of the printing press," as a way of illustrating the scale of what is occurring.

Couple that with the fast pace of these means of communication—movies, videos, internet—and you can see how graphic novels help span the gap between these visually stimulating forms of entertainment, and the format of print. Graphic novels may appeal more to those who have become used to this quick delivery style of a story because text-only books might seem slow by comparison. In addition to providing reading and enjoyment in their own right, far from turning readers away from traditional novels, graphic novels may actually make them more accessible.

We're currently building our reference of graphic novels for children and young adults. If you have any suggestions you'd like to make, please email us at:

Marielle Rebbechi