Tuesday, June 1, 2010

2010 Children's Book Council Awards Shortlist

The Children's Book Council Australia Awards shortlist has been announced, as has the list of 'Notable' books. The awards will be announced in Children's Book Week on the 20th August. This year the theme for Book Week is ‘Across the Story Bridge' with artwork created by Australian illustrator and author Kylie Dunstan. As usual, there are many wonderful books. I will review the winners and honour books in Book Week but I have listed all the books shortlisted and will review a few of those that I have been able to read already.

The shortlist is a valuable guide to book purchases but there many other wonderful books published each year. As a result the CBCA also publishes a Notable Book List that this year has 121 titles listed. To indicate the quality of the longer list of notable books let me list just two of the books that are on the longer list.

'Harry & Hopper' is written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood. It is one of 30 books on the list of Notable Picture Books. While it hasn't made the 2010 shortlist in Australia it is one of 8 books shortlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal for picture books in the United Kingdom. While this award places a priority on illustration, it is a wonderful book that tells the believable tale of a boy and his dog.

Harry and his dog Hopper do everything together, and have ever since Hopper was a puppy. One day when Harry comes home, Hopper isn't there to meet him. Margaret Wild sensitively explores how Harry has to deal with Hopper never coming home. At first there is denial and his nights are filled with dreams of Hopper. Eventually even these fade, and as they do Harry learns to deal with his loss. Freya Blackwood's 'soft' and delicate illustrations are perfect for this sensitive and moving story.

'A Certain Music' written by Celeste Walters and illustrated by Anne Spudvilas is one of 28 books on the notable list for Younger Readers. It is a fairytale in the tradition of Hans Christian Andersen. The story offers an account of Beethoven's creation of two of his most famous works, 'Fur Elise' and 'Ode to Joy'. It is set in 1821 and is the story of a young girl who is drawn to the sound of music coming from a house in the woods near Vienna. She visits the composer regularly to hear him play. Eventually the girl and her mother are invited to a concert in Vienna to see Beethoven perform ‘Für Elise’. The author Celeste Walters has previously written playscripts for children and adults, as well as novels and picture storybooks for younger readers. Well-known and highly awarded illustrator Anne Spudvilas has illustrated the book.

The shortlisted titles are outlined below. I have chosen to comment on just 1 or 2 in each category.  I will review the winners and honours books when announced in August.

1. Older Readers (Mature readers, aged 12 plus)

'Liar' is an adolescent novel written by Justine Larbalestier.

As the publishers Allen & Unwin suggest, this is a tale of "secrets, lies, murder and betrayal". The author Justine Larbalestier explores lies and the life of a liar, Micah Wilkins. Can Micah be believed?  When her boyfriend, Zach dies in brutal circumstances, her lies and the brutal reality clash. Where does truth start and lies end? Lying comes so naturally to her. But what actually happened?  Did she see him the night he died? What family secret is she hiding? 'Liar' is a page-turner that will keep you guessing until the final page. 

'Stolen' by Lucy Christopher
'The Winds of Heaven', by Judith Clarke
'Jarvis 24', David Metzenthen
'A Small Free Kiss in the Dark', by Glenda Millard
'Loving Richard Feynman', by Tangey Penny

2. Younger Readers (Independent readers, 7-11 years)

'Pearl Verses the World', written by Sally Murphy and illustrated by Heather Potter

Pearl is a girl of (perhaps) 6-8 years who is alone and left out of the many groups that she observes around her and which don't seem to see her. She laments, "wherever I am no one sees me".

A bright and creative child she struggles to write the verse that her teacher requests; verse that must rhyme. Why does a poem have to rhyme she muses? She lives at home with her mother and Granny. That's been her household for as long as she can remember. But Granny who has always been there for her is aging. As she reaches her last days Pearl finally finds inspiration to write a special poem, from the heart, 'taught' to her by her Granny that defies her teacher's ideas on poetry and opens her eyes to see Pearl at last. This is a beautiful story for young readers aged 6-8. Essentially a short novel it also has Heather Potter's delightful illustrations 'sprinkled' throughout. I love this book!

'Matty Forever', by Elizabeth Fensham

'Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool', by Odo Hirsch

'Running with the Horses', by Alison Lester

'The Whisperer', by Fiona McIntosh

'Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children', by Jen Storer

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

'Kip' was written and illustrated by Christina Booth. Right from the time he emerged from the egg, Kip was going to be a special chick. When he grew to be a rooster, with a crow that could wake the dead, there was bound to be trouble. First Mr James was disturbed from his sleep - "Keep him quite Mrs Bea"! Then Kip disturbs little Lucy Cooper's cup of tea in the garden. One by one the neighbours complain until Mrs Bea has to do it; she heads for the farm. You'll need to read the book to find out what happens to the neighbourhood in its life after Kip.  A wonderfully simple predictable text that is delightfully illustrated in a bright cartoon style. It will delight readers from preschool to 6 years of age. 

'Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House' is written by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood.  Clancy has just moved and is missing his old cosy and familiar home. He finds his new house much too big, different and lonely. It seems like he will never be able to feel like it is his home? And then one day Clancy hears a small voice from over the fence and soon, with the help of his new friend Millie, they are building box towers to the sky. Together Clancy and Millie build a friendship and a new 'home' that Clancy thought he had lost forever. Libby Gleeson is better known for her novels, but this is a an excellent story illustrated by a brilliant artist who looks set to be awarded one way or another in 2010.

'The Wrong Book', by Nick Bland
'The Terrible Plop', written by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by Andrew Joyner
'Bear & Chook by the Sea', written by Lisa Shanahan and illustrated by Emma Quay
'Fearless', written by Colin Thompson and illustrated by Sarah Davis

4. Picture Book of the Year (Birth to 18 years)

'Schumann the Shoeman', written by John Danalis and illustrated by Stella Danalis. Schumann is a modern fable that tells the story of a cobbler who loves his work and turns out unique works of art for feet! No two pairs are ever the same. He is determined to make original shoes in a world where increasingly everyone wants to wear the same cheap shoes churned out from the factory down the road. But he wants to makes shoes that will last a lifetime, rather than those that last just a year. But as tastes change, and factory shoes get cheaper, he shuts his shop and moves to the factory. This is short lived and he quickly leaves it and the town forever. In a forgotten forest he finds, once again, some who will value shoes that are different and that are made to last.  A tale rich in metaphor and complexity of language, this is a picture book where text and illustrations work together in harmony, just like Schumann and his materials. The simply collage illustrations help to tell this tale with added richness. This could well win Picture Book of the year.

'The Hero of Little Street' by Gregory Rogers is book three in the 'Boy Bear' series and follows the two previously highly acclaimed wordless picture books 'The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard' and 'Midsummer Knight'. The Boy escapes a gang of bullies by running into the perfect hiding place - a gallery filled with mystery and treasures. The Boy befriends a mischievous dog and is enchanted by the magic of painting. He finds himself venturing into the world of a Vermeer painting and is transported to Delft in seventeenth century. But there are many dangers on these old streets and he needs to use his wits to rescue his new friend from the butcher's chopping block. All three 'Boy' books are brilliant wordless tales in the same league as Raymond Brigg's 'When the Wind Blows'.  Readers of the first two Boy books will enjoy looking for the characters from the previous books as they follow this new time slip adventure.
'To the Top End: Our Trip Across Australia', by Roland Harvey
'Mr Chicken Goes to Paris', by Leigh Hobbs
'Isabella's Garden', written by Glenda Millard and illustrated Rebecca Cool
'Fox and Fine Feathers', by Narelle Oliver

5. Eve Pownall Award for Information Book of the Year 2009 (Birth to 18 years)

'Maralinga', by the Yalata & Oak communities with Christobel Mattingley. In the words of the Indigenous people who are the traditional owners of Maralinga (a region used for atomic testing in the 1950s),  "The Anangu Story is our story. We have told it for our children, our grandchildren and their children. We have told it for you."  In words and pictures Yalata and Oak Valley community members, with author Christobel Mattingley, describe what happened in the Maralinga Tjarutja lands of South Australia before the bombs and after. This is an important and tragic account of human folly and its consequence for a people who were there first, but whose needs counted for little.

'Prehistoric Giants: The Megafauna of Australia', by Danielle Clode
'M is for Mates', produced by the Department of Veterans' Affairs in association with the Australian War Memorial.
'Australian Backyard Explorer', by Peter Macinnis
'Polar Eyes: A Journey to Antarctica', written by Tanya Patrick and illustrated by Nicholas Hutcheson
'Lost! A True Tale from the Bush', by Stephanie Owen Reeder

Related Posts

All previous posts on awards (HERE)

CBCA Notables and 2010 Shortlists (HERE)


Catherine said...

Hi Trevor,
So glad to have found your blog (via Nicole's). I hope to stop by often!

Trevor Cairney said...

Hi Catherine,

Glad you found my blog. I hope to hear from you from time to time.


anne said...

Have enjoyed your blog. There are some music, dance and drama lessons related to Kip and The Wrong Book as well as a script basd on the Bookweek theme of Across the Story Bridge at www.inprimeform.com.au