The Readings Children's Prize shortlist 2023

Now in its 10th year, The Readings Children's Prize is presented to the best contribution to Australian children’s literature from an emerging author.

Our staff judges for the 2023 prize are Katey Bellew (chair of judges, Readings Kids), Kate McIntosh (manager of Readings Emporium) and Janine Larson (Readings Kids). We're proud to announce this year's six Children's Prize shortlist titles, and look forward to sharing our Young Adult Prize and New Australian Fiction Prize shortlists soon!

The Bookseller’s Apprentice by Amelia Mellor

In 19th-century Melbourne, 12-year-old Billy gets a job at Cole’s bookshop in Paddy’s Market. Using his own burgeoning magical powers, and with the help of his friend Kezia, he must save the market workers by battling wits with the Obscurosmith, a magician who can never tell a lie, but nevertheless steals from people. A thrilling adventure for ages 10+.

Melbourne in 1871 has been brought to vivid and magical life in this beautiful book, full of adventure and history and riddles and bravery and friendship and family. For ages 9 to 109. Everyone will love this one! — Kate McIntosh

The Eerie Excavation (An Alice England Mystery) by Ash Harrier

Alice England and her friends attend Archaeology Camp for the summer, digging in the nearby Pendle Woods and staying in the mysterious Malkin Tower with its eccentric owner. When a very unexpected object is dug up, Alice and her friends must solve the mystery and discover if there really is a monster living in the woods. A charming murder-mystery for ages 9+.

Dig into the past (literally!) with this delightfully spooky mystery. Simmering with atmosphere and intrigue, untangling fact from fiction hasn’t been this much fun since Sherlock Holmes! — Katey Bellew

Evie and Rhino by Neridah McMullin & Astred Hicks (illus.)

Calling all animal lovers! Evie and Rhino re-imagines what happens when a shipload of exotic animals, including one special rhino, is shipwrecked off the Victorian coast in 1891. It’s a beautiful story of the friendship between a sad, lonely little girl and a rhino bound for a life of captivity, which changes everything. An impassioned animal rescue story for ages 9+.

Evie and Rhino deftly explores the power of animals to heal and bring out our best. At times funny, sad, and thought-provoking, Evie and Rhino made me want to be part of their farm family. — Janine Larson

No Words by Maryam Master

Through the eyes of Hero and Jaz, two friends at primary school, we see their compassion and kindness to the new boy, Hero, a refugee from Iran, who is struggling to fit in and reluctant to speak. This is a beautiful story, from a child’s perspective, of the importance of kindness and how it can change others’ lives. A delightful read for ages 8+.

This big-hearted book beautifully illustrates the importance of friendship and the healing power of a story. Honest and hopeful, heartbreaking and funny, No Words is a book you’ll carry with you long after turning the last page. — Katey Bellew

Sea Glass by Rebecca Fraser

Cailin reluctantly spends time at her grandfather’s house with her mum over the summer holidays after the passing of her father. As Cailin and her grandfather collect sea glass on the beaches of Whitefoam Cove, she begins to enjoy his company. But when tragedy strikes, she must again rebuild familial connections. This lyrical story is suitable for ages 8+ or as a read-aloud for younger ages.

There are no great adventures to be had, or mysteries to be solved in this book. It is instead a slim, simple story about a world which children, and their parents and grandparents, will easily recognise. Perfect for reading together. — Kate McIntosh

The Wintrish Girl (Talismans of Fate, Book 1) by Melanie La’Brooy

Penn is an outsider in the strict world of Aralyia, a slave to the princess Seraphine, who is orphaned and will inherit the kingdom. But when the princess is captured and Penn is sure to be blamed, she escapes on an exciting journey with two new friends to rescue the princess. This is a captivating fantasy adventure that will be adored by ages 10+.

Be warned! This exciting fantasy novel contains a courageous main “outsider” character, strong friendships, rollicking and unexpected adventures, a worthy adversary to overcome, and lots of laughs. — Janine Larson

For a limited time we're pleased to offer all six books on the 2023 shortlist in a specially priced pack! You can buy this pack in-store or online for the special price of $84.99 (was $105.94).

The winners of each of The Readings Prize categories will be announced at a special ceremony in late October.

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Cover image for The Bookseller's Apprentice

The Bookseller’s Apprentice

Amelia Mellor

In stock at 7 shops, ships in 3-4 daysIn stock at 7 shops