The Best Junior Fiction Books of 2014

Here are our top ten junior fiction (ages 5 to 9ish) books of the year, voted for by Readings staff. Displayed in no particular order.

My Heart is Laughing by Rose Lagercrantz and illustrated by Eva Eriksson

An irresistibly appealing story, every page is alive with wonderful line illustrations. It’s impossible not to love our plucky little protagonist, Dani, as she navigates the challenges of school life with wonderful optimism and resilience. Perfect for children aged 5 and up who are ready to move on from first readers at school.

Athina Clarke

Stuff Happens: Jack by Tony Wilson

A favourite for young boys: real life stories of school, friends, family and sport written with a deft touch and wonderful honesty. When Jack is hurt in a lunchtime game that goes horribly wrong, he is suddenly faced with a dilemma. Highly recommended for boys aged 7 and up.

Athina Clarke

Foxy Tales Book 1: The Cunning Plan by Alex T. Smith and illustrated by Caryl Hart

This is a crazy, laugh- out-loud adventure starring a fox, an alligator and the outlandish population of the town of Vaudeville. It’s a zany slap-stick comedy with hare-brained schemes, incredible chase scenesand quirky illustrations. Recommended for readers aged 6 and up.

Athina Clarke

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Princess Magnolia is pretending to be a proper young lady, but she is actually a superhero in disguise. When the monster alarm rings, she politely makes her excuses so that she and her pony can rescue Goat Boy. This gorgeous, action-packed adventure delightfully overturns the princess myth. Perfect for aspiring adventurers aged 5 and up.

Angela Crocombe

Eliza Boom’s Diary Book 1: My Explosive Adventure by Emily Gale and illustrated by Joelle Dreidemy

A new heroine has arrived – Eliza Boom: feisty, fearless spy and inventor extraordinaire. With her best friend and assistant, her dog Einstein, she has built 92 failed inventions, so she must be close to her Eureka moment. But first she must outwit her arch nemesis, the school bully. Funny, smart and full of wonderful drawings and escapades, Eliza will be enjoyed by both boys and girls.

Angela Crocombe

Rivertime by Trace Balla

When 10-year-old Clancy’s Uncle Egg takes him on a boat journey on the Glenelg River, he is initially worried about missing his hi-tech toys but soon learns to tune in to ‘rivertime’. The simple line drawings are perfect for this delightful, gentle journey, which is uniquely Australian.

Angela Crocombe

Figgy in the World by Tamsin Janu

Figgy is my literary hero for 2014, against very stiff competition. She’s got a touch of Pollyanna about her with the addition of a fantastic sense of humour. And she needs it, because the mission she’s set herself – travelling from Ghana to America to buy vital medicine for her beloved grandmother – is truly impossible.

Emily Gale

Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Milway

Pigsticks comes from a line of brave, accomplished pigs. He’s determined to carry on the tradition by becoming an explorer, with help from his new assistant – Harold, the nervy, loyal hamster. This terrifically funny new colour-illustrated series is ideal for children 6 and up.

Emily Gale

Spud & Charli by Samantha Wheeler

For Charli, attending riding camp is a dream come true – until she is stuck with a horse ‘about as useful as a sack of dirty potatoes’. This is a story about growing up, solving mysteries, wild imaginations and the way friends can bemade in the most unlikely circumstances. For ages 7 and up.

Savannah Indigo

Truly Tan Book 4: Freaked! by Jen Storer and illustrated by Claire Robertson

Tan is back with another mystery – this time in her own family! Enlisting the help of fellow detective and friend Gloria, together they try to crack the case of the tall, dark stranger in the backyard. Hilarious, unique and a little quirky, as always Truly Tan Book 4: Freaked! doesn’t disappoint. Ages 7 and up.

Katherine Dretzke

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Cover image for My Heart is Laughing

My Heart is Laughing

Rose Lagercrantz

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