A spotlight on The Orchard Underground

The Orchard Underground is one of the six books shortlisted for this year’s Readings Children’s Book Prize.

Here’s everything you need to know about this funny and heartwarming caper.


‘Pri Kohli is “The Face” of the overly planned town of Dunn’s Orchard, appearing on billboards, TV ads and at events lauding the benefits of its manicured and controlled lifestyle. When precocious new girl Attica shows up, she asks one very important question: If the town is called Dunn’s Orchard, where are all the trees? This leads them on a madcap adventure with the town’s future at stake.

'As Pri and Attica delve into Dunn’s Orchard’s many secrets, expect political scheming, strange inventions, a Bogeyman, disappearing doors and lamps, a sloth train, a robot caterpillar, and much more weirdness. Alongside all this zaniness is a sweet, whimsical story of friendship that delicately touches on themes of mental illness and environmental degradation. It’s a moving portrait of a family, which includes a gentle reminder that even in the busiest of adventures, we all need a quiet moment with a cup of chai.’

Freya Howarth, Chair of the judging panel

Who should read this book?

Young curious readers who enjoy quirky mysteries, odd-ball friendships, droll humour and supportive family relationships in their fiction will delight in this richly imagined small-town escapade that surprises and delights. For ages 8 and up.

MatLarkinkidsprize

Meet the author…

Mat Larkin says he’s a children’s author living in Melbourne, but anyone could say that. Did he really write for the Zac Power series? Does he currently work as a mental health writer? Is this entire biography part of his cunning web of fiction? It seems likely. There’s only one thing you can be sure of: The Orchard Underground is his first novel.


Read more about the Readings Children’s Prize 2019 shortlist here.

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The Orchard Underground

The Orchard Underground

Mat Larkin

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