Best junior and middle fiction of 2022

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books of the past 12 months. Here are the best junior and middle fiction books of the year, as voted for by Readings’ staff, and displayed in alphabetical order by author.

The Sugarcane Kids and the Red-bottomed Boat by Charlie Archbold

Our Readings Children's Prize winner for this year is an exciting mystery adventure set in the waterways of Far North Queensland.

When Adam and Eli need to help Eli's cousin Jacob, who has been wrongfully arrested for jewellery theft, they must pit their wits against some serious baddies and a terrifying crocodile. This is an action-packed story showcasing the ingenuity of kids, the power of friendship and of good triumphing over evil.

Ages 8 and up.

The Lost Ryū by Emi Watanabe Cohen

This fantasy story set in Japan is about ryū (dragons), a family legacy, and uncovering the secrets of the past. Kohei has a little pet ryū, but somewhere within him is the memory of a giant ryū, even though everyone says they are now extinct. He is determined to rediscover them to bring his Ojiisan (his grandpa) back to health.

An imaginative and compelling adventure featuring magical dragons that readers will love.

Ages 9 and up.

The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon

A little pup in a cage is at the very beginning of his life when he is separated from his mother. He is rescued by a kind boy, but then they also become separated. As he looks for happiness and a family, little Scruffity encounters many more people and other animals – some friendly, and some not so friendly.

This beautifully written verse novel with stunning illustrations has both heartbreak and happiness, but animal lovers will absolutely adore it.

Ages 8 and up.

The Goodbye Year by Emily Gale

It's the beginning of grade six and Harper has her year all planned out. But when her parents go overseas and leave her with a grandma she barely knows, when her friends get new interests, and then the pandemic hits, Harper must rapidly adjust her expectations.

This is a beautiful story about keeping your wits about you when everything changes. It will be absolutely devoured by young readers who like contemporary fiction.

Ages 10 and up.

Wylah the Koorie Warrior by Jordan Gould & Richard Pritchard

Set in ancient times, this thrilling adventure story, which was shortlisted for the 2022 Readings Children's Prize, is about a brave, kind and strong-willed young woman. Even though she doesn’t feel ready, Wylah must find the courage to rescue her family and become the warrior who saves her tribe. Steeped in First Nations culture, this is an exciting story that is both fun and full of heart.

Perfect for lovers of action–adventure stories.

Ages 7 and up.

How to Tackle Your Dreams by Fiona Hardy

Homer’s family is footy-obsessed, but his interest has been waning ever since his parents split and his dad moved away. While his mum has just joined the AFLW, he’s becoming interested in fashion and enters a competition to design the girls’ team footy jumper. This is a brilliant story about footy, family and finding your way in challenging times.

How to Tackle Your Dreams is fantastic for football fans, fashion lovers and those readers who have enjoyed Fiona Hardy's previous novels.

Ages 9 and up.

All Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr

Peijing and her five-year-old sister, Biju, along with their family, leave Singapore for the hot, foreign land of Australia.

This story is an ode to sisterhood, storytelling and the small moments of magic that happen every day, as this family find their way in a new land. The empathy and love of Peijing and Biju’s relationship is truly beautiful, and their familial ties to storytelling create a real sense of magic in this stunning novel.

Ages 9 and up.

The Bookseller's Apprentice by Amelia Mellor

In 1870s Melbourne, 12-year-old Billy gets a job in a bookshop in the bustling stalls of Paddy’s Market. But this is a world where magic exists, and Billy must battle with an evil magician, the Obscurosmith, in a duel of riddles to protect his friends at the market.

A beguiling mix of historical fact and fiction, this story is a wonderfully exciting adventure that readers will love.

Ages 9 and up.

The Jammer by Nova Weetman

Fred used to be the jammer on her local roller derby team but after her mum passed away, she’s given up roller derby for good. When she and her dad visit her uncle in Melbourne, Fred slowly finds new friends and a new lease on life, one that includes roller derby again.

This is a brilliant story of finding yourself after grief from a beloved author who shows incredible empathy for young people.

Ages 10 and up.

How to Spell Catastrophe by Fiona Wood

Nell McPherson is coming to the end of grade six and everything is changing. Her family, her life and her anxiety are all reflected in her Catastrophe Binder. When she starts becoming more interested in activism, her Catastrophe Binder helps her channel her anxieties and find strength.

This is a realistic and beautifully written portrayal of life the cusp of high school and facing a challenging world, by one of our most talented writers for young people.

Ages 10 and up.

Cover image for The Sugarcane Kids and the Red-bottomed Boat

The Sugarcane Kids and the Red-bottomed Boat

Charlie Archbold

In stock at 6 shops, ships in 3-4 daysIn stock at 6 shops