The Best Junior & Middle Fiction of 2013

Here, we share our top five picks for best junior fiction from the past year, voted for and loved by Readings staff. Displayed here in no particular order.

A Big Guy Took My Ball! by Mo Willems

The usually plucky Piggie is upset when a big guy takes her ball. Her sensitive friend Elephant is determined to get it back … until he sees how big the big guy is! But big guys have feelings too and in the end they find a way to play together. More Mo Willems magic.

– Emily Gale

The Lion Who Stole My Arm by Nicola Davies & illustrated by Annabel Wright

This gripping story is the first in a series of readers on animal conservation, which feature local children in their foreign locales. When Pedru gets his arm bitten off by a hungry lion near his African village he initially seeks revenge, but his feelings change after visiting a lion conservation program where he learns to see the lion in a new light.

– Angela Crocombe

My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz & illustrated by Eva Eriksson

My Happy Life explores Dani’s first school year: her anxiety of the unknown, the delight of shared experiences and the joy of first friendships. Perfect for children ready to move beyond first readers, this delightful book with lovely line illustrations on every page will charm children and adults alike.

– Athina Clarke

Smooch & Rose by Samantha Wheeler

Rose and Gran rescue an injured koala, call him Smooch and raise him until he is ready to live independently on their farm. But when the property needs to be sold and the bulldozers arrive, Smooch’s tree is under threat. A brilliant book for early readers who are interested in animals and their wellbeing. For ages 7 and up.

– Katherine Dretzke

Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown

This clever and very funny book joins Roan, an initially reluctant Jedi-in-training, as he completes his first year as a student at the Jedi Academy. It’s an appealing mix of comics, diary entries, letters and drawings that will delight young Star Wars fans and those who loved the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

– Kim Gruschow

AND, here we share our top five picks for best middle fiction from the past year, voted for and loved by Readings staff. Displayed here in no particular order.

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

This is a cracker of an adventure and Early is a terrific character. He shines with a heart-warming strangeness and his quest to find his brother reveals him as a boy with a powerful love. Clare Vanderpool is a fine storyteller and she evokes a time and place that is rich and palpable. Ages 9 to 12.

– Alexa Dretzke

Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt

Peat is on the run and takes refuge in the eerie marshes. Eccentric Marsh Aunties compete to make her their apprentice storyteller, but Peat cannot tell whom she can trust and who is using her. This book has a brave hero in an original setting with lots to interpret as well as plenty of action. A very absorbing fantasy.

– Emily Gale

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

Written by the youngest person on Oskar Schindler’s famous list, this story perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy and his terrible circumstances with simple, heartfelt prose. Although written from a child’s perspective, this is not just a children’s book – it is an important memoir that is both heartbreaking and inspiring in equal measure.

– Angela Crocombe

The Girl Who Brought Mischief by Katrina Nannestad

You’ll fall in love with Inga Maria, who brings mischief and mayhem to her tiny island community: her exuberance challenges and transforms everything, including her grandmother’s life and the local school. An enchanting story of family and friendship, perfect for independent readers and an ideal read-aloud for the whole family.

– Athina Clarke

Timmy Failure: mistakes were made by Stephan Pastis

This book about a budding but clueless detective causes nine-year-old boys to become so engrossed that they forget to get off the tram (true story). It’s accessible while still providing some challenges in the form of interesting and unusual words. Our protagonist, Timmy Failure, is completely inept and utterly hilarious. For ages 7 to 12.

– Kate Campbell

Cover image for Star Wars: Jedi Academy

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

Jeffrey Brown

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