It's always fascinating to read *practically* everything published in Australia for children in a single year, as it makes seeing the trends that much easier. In the past, we've seen multiple books come out on a single, somewhat esoteric, topic, and followed themes that crop up in abundance in a particular year, such as immigration, Australia's colonial history, various wars, rural life, runaways, fairytale retellings, mental health and so on (depending on the target audience).
In 2013, some of the trends that have stood out for me so far include crime novels for teens, children's books featuring vets and pets, solid science fiction stories (as opposed to dystopian science fiction, Hunger Games style), narratives which deal with the death of a sibling, novels featuring a narrator who has a learning difficulty or behaviour issue, and parallel world tales.
It's quite fun to read two books from different authors and different publishers that come out on identical topics at around the same time; for example, in 2011 I did a double take at the arrival of two novels that used as their focus the cameleers of South Australia who accompanied the explorers in their journeys, and two picture books that retold the story of Grace, a girl who helped rescue the passengers and crew of the SS Georgette when it was wrecked off the coast of Western Australia in 1876 – quite a specific event to have two books focus on!
While some trends have an obvious source (for example, stories set in World War I are always popular, but I foresee a huge increase in these leading up to the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli in 2015), others, like the example of the Grace books above, seem to have no apparent source – some sort of mystical vibration in the air that causes two authors to suddenly decide they want to write books about the exact same thing!
So far this year, the consonance that has most tickled my fancy is to read two Australian books using Paris as the setting and the fashion design industry as the focus, in two quite different ways, and for two different audiences! Which goes to show that although it may seem that there is nothing new under the sun, that doesn't mean that authors won't continue to surprise and delight us with their new takes on stories and settings.
What trends have you noticed in children's books recently?