The best middle fiction books of 2018

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books, albums, films and TV shows of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 middle fiction books of the year, voted for by Readings’ staff, and displayed in no particular order.

(You can find all our best picks for books, CDs & DVDs of 2018 here.)

Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet

Noah’s world is upturned when his family take false identities and move from America to East Berlin. It is 1989 – before the fall of the Wall – and spies are everywhere. Noah befriends Claudia and together they navigate this confusing world. Historically accurate, this is a thrilling story of suspense, secrets and friendship. Ages 9+.

Bob by Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead & Nicholas Gannon

Aged ten, Livy returns to her Gran’s house near Melbourne after five years away. She remembers nothing of her time there, not even the creature (Bob) who has been waiting for her in the cupboard. But he needs her help. This is a delightful story of friendship with a touch of magic. Ages 8+.

The Orchard Underground by Mat Larkin

Pri Kohli is ‘the face’ of Dunn’s Orchard and promotes it to newcomers. But there’s something strange about his town and only when Attica, the new girl, starts questioning its absurdities does he begin to search for the truth. Peopled with quirky characters and fascinating inventions, this Australian debut is a funny, mysterious adventure story. Ages 9+.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Vera is a Russian immigrant in America and never feels like she fits in. She begs her mother to go to Russian summer camp, but there’s no electricity, no plumbing and she is still bullied. Based on the author’s own experiences, this gorgeous graphic novel is a classic fish-out-of-water story. Ages 9+.

Black Cockatoo by Carl Merrison & Hakea Hustler

This powerful Indigenous story is set in a remote Kimberley community and focuses on the pull between traditional culture and modern yearnings. When Mia rescues her totem animal, a black cockatoo, from her angry older brother, she discovers her own strengths. This is a memorable story about standing up for your beliefs. Ages 10+.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang is a Chinese immigrant and works at the front desk of a motel while her parents clean the rooms. She is bullied at school, her family is barely surviving and her mother belittles her writing. Set in 1990s America, this is a heartwarming story about finding your place in the world. Ages 9+.

Kat Wolfe Investigates by Lauren St John

A new job for Kat’s veterinarian mother on an idyllic island seems perfect for them both. But mysteries, and capuchin monkeys, abound. Kat’s new pet-sitting agency finds her many animal friends as she investigates false identities, secret codes and more. This is a thrilling read for animal and mystery lovers. Ages 9+.

Everything I’ve Never Said by Samantha Wheeler

Ava is a normal 11-year-old, except she can’t speak or walk without help. She has Rett syndrome, a rare neurological condition, and this story shows what it’s like to be trapped inside your body. When a parent gets sick the family must work together like never before. This beautiful story will generate empathy. Ages 9+.

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

The highlight of Lenny and her brother Davey’s week is the latest instalment of Burrell’s Encyclopaedia, from which they learn about the world outside their small-town existence. But sweet Davey just keeps on growing and growing and nothing can be done. This exquisite family drama is an utterly brilliant and compelling read. Ages 10+.

Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan is extremely hard to categorise, given his work is unique. This is an extraordinary collection of mythical tales about animals, both real and imagined, that ask readers to reflect on their relationship with animals as well as their own place in the world. The stories are profound; the paintings are exquisite. Ages 9+.