Monday, August 24, 2009

2009 Children's Book Council Australia Awards Announced

The Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) has announced the winners and honour books for 2009. As I wrote in my post earlier in the year when reviewing the shortlist (here), in 2009 there was a strong list with some of Australia's successful writers and illustrators represented alongside some of the rising stars in the field. In all 451 books were considered with 31 shortlisted across the five categories. In this post I will review briefly all winners and honour books.

1. Older Readers (Mature readers)

The winner of the category for 'Older Readers' was Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia. As I indicated in my shortlist post, this is a remarkable work from a remarkably talented illustrator. It is an anthology of fifteen very short illustrated stories. Each is about a strange situation or event that occurs in suburbia - a visit from a nut-sized foreign exchange student, a sea creature on someone’s front lawn, a new room discovered in a family home, a sinister machine installed in a park, a wise buffalo that lives in a vacant lot. Central to each story is how ordinary people react to and make sense of the incidents.

In winning the award Tan is the first author/illustrator to win this section of the awards, an illustrated book has not won previously.

The judges praised Tan's work suggesting that:
"Tan breathes life and wonder into each story using his trademark illustrative style to increase meaning and enjoyment.....'Tales from Outer Suburbia' is an immense achievement.
Two honour books were named, 'Into White Silence' by Anthony Eaton and ‘A Rose for the Anzac boys’ by Jackie French. Eaton's epic adventure is the story of a group of Antarctic explorers who were trapped in an Antarctic icepack in the winter of 1922, entombing twenty-eight men aboard their ship through the dark polar night. It tells their story while offering ans insight into the fascinating but dangerous beauty of Antarctica. Jackie French's book is a tale about World War I as seen through the eyes of three young women, Midge a 16 year of New Zealander and her two friends Ethel and Anne who start a canteen in France to care for wounded soldiers returning from the front.

2. Younger Readers (Independent readers)

The winner of the 'Younger Reader' category was ‘Perry Angel's Suitcase’ written by Victorian writer Glenda Millard and illustrated by Stephen Michael King. This is the third book in the multi award-winning 'Kingdom of Silk' series. Millard's first book in the series 'The Naming of Tishkin Silk', was an honour book in the 2004 CBCA Book of the Year Awards. The second book Layla Queen of Hearts was also short listed in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards and was winner of the 2007 Queensland Premier's Literary Award.

It has taken Perry Angel almost seven years to find the place where he belongs. He arrives at the Kingdom of Silk on the 10.30 express, carrying only a small and shabby suitcase embossed with five golden letters. What do those letters mean? And why won't Perry let go of his case? The judges said of this book:
"The gentle language is enhanced by the whimsical is rich in colour, in childhood emotions, and in early understandings about how the world works."

The fourth book in the 'Kingdom of Silk' series, 'Colours of Paradise' is set to be released in September.

The honour books in this category were Catherine Bateson's 'The Wish Pony' and Morris Gleitzman's book 'Then'. Bateson's book mixes realism and fantasy in her story about Ruby who's mum is having a baby. She has just been dumped by her best friend and is struggling with the expectation of another child in her family. This is a delightful story about love, friendship, vulnerability and truth. Gleitzman's book is a sequel to his 2005 novel 'Once'. It follows Felix and his friend Zelda as they witness the atrocities being committed by the Nazis in Poland in 1942.

3. Early Childhood (Pre-reading to early reading stage)

This category is for children who are early readers. This year's winner was Bob Graham's 'How to Heal a Broken Wing'. This delightful book is the story of a little boy who finds a bird with an injured wing. He takes the bird home and with his parents help, and some rest, time and a dash of hope will the bird will fly again? The book has all the usual Bob Graham trademarks, simple and engaging illustrations and an economy of words that are well crafted. The judges commented that Graham's book is:

"Full of hope and optimism, the story exemplifies respect for the feelings and the efforts of the very young and has a warm sense of family."
The honour books in this category were Stephen Michael King's wordless (well almost) book 'Leaf' and Rosemary Sullivan (author) and Dee Huxley's (illustrator) 'Tom Tom'. 'Leaf' tells of a boy who doesn't want his hair cut. A seed drops from a bird's mouth and lodges in his poorly cared for hair. Aided by the sun and rain a tree grows. This will be well loved by preschool children.

'Tom Tom' is a story of the day in the life of a small boy living in an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory of Australia. It tracks him across the day; to preschool, lunch with his Granny Annie in 'Bottom Camp', a swim in the local waterhole, and staying overnight with Grandfather Jo in 'Top Camp'.

4. Picture Book (Birth to 18 years)

The winner of this category was Kylie Dunstan's first book 'Collecting Colour'. This is the story of two friends Rose and Olive who live in the Top End of the Northern Territory in Australia. The story follows the girls as they accompany Olive's Indigenous family on a special trip to collect pandanus leaves which they dye and weave into baskets, mats and bags. The judges in commending the book said that:
'The author/illustrator has used colour, materials, page design and artistic techniques to bring vividly to life the activities of traditional basket weavers in the Northern Territory."
The honour books in this category were Colin Thompson's book 'The Little Boy of Happy Sadness' and 'Home and Away' written by John Marsden and illustrated by Matt Ottley.

Thompson's bittersweet tale is about George who lives with his grandmother but who has a deep sadness and loneliness as a result of not having his parents. He tries to fill the emptiness by visiting places where he thinks there are other things sadder and lonelier than him. Nothing seems to work, but one Friday his life changes when he finds Jeremy a lonely dog in the last cage at the animal shelter.

Marsden's book illustrated by one of the emerging new stars of children's literature is a challenging (and chilling) picture book. Its cleverly punned title doesn't prepare the reader for the confronting nature of the content. Home and Away is framed by the hypothetical situation of Australia being invaded, and the uncomfortable notion that those with enough money can escape by boat to a supposedly better place. This is another book that Ottley is associated with that will cause controversy.

5. Eve Pownall Book of the year (
Birth to 18 years – Information books)

This award for information books has been won by a mountaineer Lincoln Hall with his book 'Alive in the Death Zone' which tells of his remarkable survival as a mountain climber after being left for dead following his successful ascent of Everest in 2006. The judges in announcing the award commented that the book:

" and absorbing, compelling, inspirational tale of endurance and survival."

The honour books in this category were 'The Word Spy' by Ursula Dubosarsky (author) and Tohby Riddle (illustrator) and 'Simpson and his Donkey' by Mark Greenwood (author) and Frane Lessac (illustrator).

Related posts

You can read my previous post on the complete shortlist here.

You can read my post on the list of 100 CBCA notable books plus some other key 'notable' lists in the USA and Europe here.

You can read my posts on the 2009 awards in the Kate Greenaway and Carnegie Medals (UK) here and the USA Newbery and Caldecott medals here.


Patrick Chan said...

Hi Trevor,

I love your posts about children's books and literature! Thanks for writing them. :-)

Speaking of which, I've always had in the back of my mind that I'd like to write a children's book someday. I think it's at least in part because I fell in love C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and so would love to share my delight with a new generation of kids one day, God willing. It was the first book I ever read in its entirety in English after arriving from Europe and having to learn English for the first time when I was 4 or 5 y/o. It felt like a bit of an accomplishment! Not to mention the story is of course wonderful.

Also: "This delightful book is the story of a little boy who finds a bird with an injured wing. He takes the bird home and with his parents help, and some rest, time and a dash of hope will the bird will fly again?"

Maybe I'll have to tell you more in person, but this exact story actually happened to me. I found a pigeon with a broken wing when I was a kid, and, after begging my mom for permission, was allowed to take it home and nurture it back to health. OK, to be fair, it was mainly my mom who nurtured the pigeon back to health, not me -- which (like all good mothers) she probably knew was bound to happen in the end!

Anyway, thanks again for the post, Trevor. It's always encouraging to read what you write. :-)


max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys.

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading.

Keep up your good work.

Max Elliot Anderson

Trevor Cairney said...

Thanks Patrick, you can tell me the bird story when next I see you at college. Cheers, Trevor