The Readings Prize: Children's shortlist
The Readings Children’s Fiction Prize is presented to the best new contribution to Australian children’s literature. This report is written by 2022 chair of judges Lucie Dess (marketing assistant), with contributions from fellow judges: Lian Hingee (digital marketing manager), Janine Larson (Readings Kids) and Clare McCann-McCall (Readings Hawthorn).
Discover the six shortlisted titles below.
A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr
Meixing has just arrived at a new house in a new country with her family. Faced with a new culture, she is instantly overwhelmed by the feeling that she doesn’t belong. A Glasshouse of Stars gives the reader a close-up account of finding your way in a strange new land, while touching on the importance of family and friendships. For ages 9+.
‘Beautifully written, A Glasshouse of Stars is an important story about diaspora, immigration and racism, wrapped up in a fantastical story of an enchanted house. It will envelop you in the magic of Meixing’s world.’ – Lian Hingee
Little Gem by Anna Zobel
When a new travelling spell at Witchcraft School goes awry, Gem hurtles into a colourful village in a strange land. The villagers rejoice as they believe Gem is their new village witch, no matter how many times she tells them she’s not. Little Gem is a sweet adventure, perfect for reading out loud or for newly independent readers. For ages 7+.
‘Get ready to fall head over heels as you’re whisked off on adventures with Little Gem. This is a delightful, charmingly illustrated new series with all the hallmarks of a children’s classic.’ – Lian Hingee
My Brother Ben by Peter Carnavas
Luke and his big brother Ben have always been close. They spend their summer on the banks of Cabbage Tree Creek, dreaming up adventures. But when Ben starts high school, Luke feels left behind. My Brother Ben is a moving story of birds, boats and the strength of the brotherly bond. For ages 8+.
‘This is a story of the power of love: a sweet, gentle, warm-hearted novel about siblings, grief and growing up. You will want to reach into the book and give Luke a massive hug.’ – Clare McCann-McCall
The Sugarcane Kids and the Red Bottomed Boat by Charlie Archbold
Andy and his best friend Eli live in a small coastal town in Far North Queensland. When Eli’s cousin is arrested for a theft, Andy and Eli know he’s innocent and, together with their friends, set out to prove it. This is a fun adventure story that shows the power of friendship. For ages 8+.
‘A deft exploration of blended families and evolving friendships built around a mystery reminiscent of the adventure stories of old. The evocative setting with mangroves and wildlife plays a significant role!’ – Janine Larson
Treasure in the Lake by Jason Pamment
Iris dreams of big adventures but being stuck in a tiny town makes them seem impossible. When Iris and her best friend Sam stumble on an unusually dry riverbed, they discover a hidden city, lost in time and shrouded in mystery. In this glorious graphic novel, two friends have their connection tested against the backdrop of an otherworldly city. For ages 10+.
‘Inspired by real life histories of rivers being dammed and towns flooded, A Treasure in the Lake is an imaginative and thoughtful time-travel graphic novel that explores the importance of friendship.’ – Janine Larson
Guardians (Wylah the Koorie Warrior, Book 1) by Jordan Gould & Richard Pritchard
Wylah is brave, clever and strong-willed, but she isn’t a warrior. However, when her family is taken captive, she must step up and become the warrior she was always destined to be. Written by Peek Whurrong man Jordan Gould and New Zealand Samoan man Richard Pritchard (who also did the illustrations), this is a fantasy novel you won’t be able to put down. For ages 8+.
‘An important story of bravery, loss, culture and the importance of community. Set 40,000 years ago when giant megafauna ruled the earth, Wylah will have you cheering our hero on as she tries to save her people.’ – Clare McCann-McCall