On first glance, one might see the title My Strange Shrinking Parents and the cover illustration of a child with blue school shorts, white knee-high socks and black polished shoes towering over his mother and father dressed in a blue-collared shirt and suspenders and think that Melbourne-based writer and artist Zeno Sworder is writing a fairytale (or a “tall tale” as the cover text describes).

There is no shortage of books to learn one’s ABCs and readers (and their parents) are spoiled for choice when it comes to thematic books from A-Z. But readers in Southeast Asia (or those with interest in the region) might wish to consider Marvellous Mammals: A Wild A to Z of Southeast Asia by Debby Ng and illustrated by Darel Seow as a top pick. Where else, for example, will “A” stand for the annamite striped rabbit?

In the opening scene of Sarah Brennan’s The Marvellous Adventures of Maggie and Methuselah, Maggie is arguing with her mother about having to attend a “silly reception” at Government House. But her mother, an Australian lawyer at one of Hong Kong’s top firms, is determined that Maggie will go to Family Fun Day and with the chapter titled “In which Maggie and Mum clash and Mum wins (as usual)”, the reader quickly realizes what the end result might be.

It’s Livy’s first day of sixth grade at her new school and Livy is understandably apprehensive. There are worries about new friends, about fitting in, about making her parents (who have sacrificed to send their only daughter to a school in a better district) proud. But Livy has more than nerves; following Livy to school is Viola, Livy’s anxiety brought to life as a violet-hued shadow that constantly rattles and second-guesses Livy’s thoughts and actions.