Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Children's Book Council (Australia) 2011 Shorlist

The Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) recently announced the shortlist for the 2011 awards, with the winners to be announced during Book Week in August. The theme for Book Week in 2011 is 'One World, Many Stories'. As usual, there is a wealth of wonderful books to choose from. As well, there are about 100 other excellent books that didn't make the short list and have been added to the 2011 Notable Books list (here).

There are so many wonderful authors and illustrators in this list and some remarkable books. I will focus on one from each category in detail and mention briefly all others shortlisted.

Picture Book of the Year

'Mirror' (2010) by Jeannie Baker  - This is one of the most significant picture books to be published for some time. Just when you thought there was no room to innovate further with the picture book (without 'cheating, by using an iPad!), Jeannie Baker manages to surprise us all with her latest book. The concept is brilliant, the quality of the collage images once again stunning and the book design groundbreaking. She has produced another wordless picture book that is challenging at many levels. But it is the concept and design that will first catch your attention.

This picture book comprises two stories that are designed to be read simultaneously – one from the left to right, the other from right to left (see below). As you pick up the book you try to open it from right to left only to have the book open at the middle to reveal two books, one that conforms to English concepts of print and books, and the other that matches expectations for Arabic speakers. Page by page, we experience a day in the lives of two boys and their families - one from inner city Sydney, Australia and the other from a small, remote village in Morocco, North Africa

While the two worlds portrayed couldn’t be further apart, she shows through the parallel images of the lives of the two families a simple and profound truth. While people live in vastly different places, and have different lives, we share much. The families have different food, clothing and family practices, and they travel in different ways to different shops and workplaces, but there is much that is the same. Family members love one another and depend on each other. A mother, father and children do different things each day than in Sydney, but they are more like us than we might imagine. And there is an additional truth - we are connected to them.  Jeannie's message is that in many ways we are mirrors of one another even though different. This is a stunning book that will win many awards.  You can read my more detailed review of Jeannie's work including this book HERE.

'Family Forest' by Kim Kane and Lucia Masciullo - This is a book about a young girl with a rich and varied family that includes half sisters, step-parents and big brothers. It is the story of a 'family forest' rather than just a family tree.

'My Uncle's Donkey' by Tohby Riddle - A donkey is allowed into the house and once inside, it gets up to all sorts of things. He talks to his friends on the phone, does hoofstands in the kitchen, cartwheels in the living room, takes long baths and stays up late. This is a funny little book to be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Another wonderful book from Tohby Riddle.

'Two Peas In A Pod' by Chris McKimmie - Marvin and Violet have been friends since they were babies. They are like two peas in a pod, but Violet moves away and things change. A lovely story about a special friendship.
'Hamlet' by Nicki Greenberg - This is another innovative and ambitious work from Nicki Greenberg. It is an imaginative and epic 415-page graphic novel. Hamlet has become a 'chameleon' whose black form changes shape according to his circumstances and mood. This is not a kid's picture book! Suitable for readers 13+.

'Why I Love Australia' by Bronwyn Bancroft - This is a beautiful book in which Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft explores both her country and the way she feels about it. From the coast to the outback, from cities to plains, from dramatic gorges to rugged alpine peaks, from deserts to rainforests she describes its beauty. Australia is a continent of varied landscapes that Bronwyn Bancroft manages to present in an inspiring way.

Early Childhood Book of the Year

'Maudie And Bear' by Jan Ormerod - Maudie tests love to its limits, and Bear passes the test every time. Maudie's world revolves around Maudie. Bear's world revolves around Maudie; he is as patient and solid as a rock. Maudie is so confident of Bear's love that she makes demands, throws tantrums, lays down rules and lets Bear do all the work, knowing he will love her unconditionally. And he does right to the end.

'Look See, Look At Me' by Leonie Norrington and Dee Huxley -
Leonie Norrington and illustrator Dee Huxley visited three northern communities and tested ideas for the text and illustrations. The picture book that resulted is a wonderful insight into childhood within an Aboriginal community. Dee Huxley's illustrations locate the events in a remote community with exciting and rich ochre landscapes that add greatly to the narrative.

'It's Bedtime, William!' by Deborah Niland - William doesn't want to go to bed. He finds lots of ways to stay up late. But one night he comes up with a cracker of a reason; he has a furry visitor. A delightful book.

'Noni The Pony' by Alison Lester - Classic Alison Lester, simple engaging text and illustrations. A rhyming poem about a special pony that has similar likes, dislikes and fears to most children.

'The Tall Man And The Twelve Babies' by Tom Niland Champion, Kilmeny Niland & Deborah Niland

This is an amusing picture book about babies and silliness. The tall man with his six boy babies and six girl babies strike a problem when the Tall Man is trapped outside the apartment. Some quick thinking by the Tall Man eventually saves the day with the help o the babies. This book is a family affair for Ruth Park's twin daughters and her grandson Tom. Sadly Tom's mother Kilmeny (1950-2009) and Ruth Park (1917-2010) died before the book was published.

'The Deep End' by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Mitch Vane - This is a very Aussie type of story. Any child who has had summer swimming lessons will relate easily to the story. Becky reaches the point in the lessons where she is ready to move from the 'Frog' group to the 'Platypuses'. But this means a trip to the deep end, and she's not sure if she's ready for it.

Younger Readers Book of the Year

'Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot' by Anna Branford -

Violet Mackerel is a girl with lots of theories, ideas and interests, a family full of love and difficulties, and a longing for a blue china bird she saw at the market, small enough to fit in the palm of her hand.

Violet Mackerel spots a blue china bird at the Saturday markets where her Mum has a stall to sell knitting and she wants to own it. But this will set her back $10 and she doesn't have the money. Violet knows she will have to come up with 'a plot', a brilliant plot! She gives the matter much thought and settles on archaeology as part of the answer to her problem, with a surprising outcome.

This is a delightful short novel for children aged 7-10 years, and will be loved especially by girls. Anna Branford has created a wonderful character in Violet who should sustain interest in the series of books to follow. Sarah Davis has provided excellent watercolour illustrations that appear on monochrome (or greyscale) throughout the book and add to the story, especially the development of Violet's character. The second book in the series - 'Violet Mackerel's Remarkable Recovery' - is out. I will be reviewing Anna Branford's work and interviewing her soon on this blog.

'Toppling' by Sally Murphy and Rhian Nest James - A special book of verse from Sally Murphy who was shortlisted last year for her first book 'Pearl Verses the World'. It tells of a boy named John who is obsessed with toppling dominoes and his friend Dom who has cancer. It seems that the world of these two boys is toppling, not the dominoes. A great book from an exciting new author. Sally's first book 'Pearl Verses the World' was named as an Honour Book in the 2010 CBCA Awards.

'Duck For A Day' by Meg McKinlay - Mrs Melvino has a new class pet, Max the duck. Every student looks forward to having their turn to take Max home for the night. There are strict rules, but Abby thinks she is ready.

'The Red Wind: The Kingdom Of The Lost Book One' by Isobelle Carmody

This is the first book in a new book series for younger readers.  Brothers Zluty and Bily live happily in their little house in the desert. Every year Zluty journeys to the great forest while Bily stays to tend their desert home. And every year Zluty returns with exciting tales of his adventures. But then, a red wind sweeps through their land...
'Henry Hoey Hobson' by Christine Bongers - This book sits at the upper end of books for 'Younger Readers' and would suit 10-12 year olds. Twelve-and-a-half-year-old Henry Hoey Hobson is struggling in Year Seven (that's the last year of primary in Queensland). He arrives at his sixth school in as many years and is the only boy in the grade. The small school in inner-city Brisbane has lost most of its older boys to bigger Catholic schools.  This leaves only three male misfits who are a year below him. Henry is surrounded by an intimidating all-female class. Upper Primary boys and girls will enjoy the book.

'Just A Dog' by Michael Gerard Bauer

A family is given runt of a dalmatian from a pedigree litter, but it obviously had a non-pedigree father. As a pup it whines until it is taken upstairs to sleep, and as it grows so does its impact on the family. The book shares many stories of the dog through Corey's eyes. Behind each story we see the loyalty of the dog to the family; the background being the disintegration of Corey's family. The dog is always there, and its death has an added impact on everyone. Any reader 10-12 years will enjoy this lovely book.

Older Readers Book of the Year

'The Piper's Son' by Melina Marchetta

"Melina Marchetta's brilliant, heart-wrenching new novel takes up the story of the group of friends from her best-selling, much-loved book Saving Francesca - only this time it's five years later and Thomas Mackee is the one who needs saving.

Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world.

But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pub with his former friends and ends up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle's death. And in a year when everything's broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them."

'The Life Of A Teenage Body-Snatcher' by Doug MacLeod

"Thomas Timewell is sixteen and a gentleman. When he meets a body-snatcher called Plenitude, his whole life changes. He is pursued by cutthroats, a gypsy with a meat cleaver, and even the Grim Reaper. More disturbing still, Thomas has to spend an evening with the worst novelist in the world.
A very black comedy set in England in 1828, 'The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher' shows what terrible events can occur when you try to do the right thing. 'Never a good idea,' as Thomas's mother would say."

'The Midnight Zoo' by Sonya Hartnett

It is World War II in Eastern Europe and Tomas and his younger brother, Andrej, have escaped Romany that has been overrun by the Germans. They carry Wilma, their baby sister, in a sack and reach an abandoned town where they discover a zoo. In it they find a wolf, monkey, bear, eagle, lioness, seal, chamois and llama with some surprising events as they contemplate what next.

'About A Girl' by Joanne Horniman

Anna is afraid that she must be unlovable and then, she meets Flynn. The girls swim, eat banana cake, laugh and the love they have for each other. At times Flynn is unreachable but on other days she's always there. But Anna discovers Flynn's secret and wonders if she has ever known her at all.

'Graffiti Moon' by Cath Crowley

Lucy has never met him, but she is sure she is in love with Shadow a mysterious graffiti artist whose work is scattered throughout the city. It is the last night of Year 12 she goes looking for him. Instead meets the last guy she would ever hook up with, Ed.  After a disaster of a first date Ed says he knows how to find Shadow. They spend the night tracking down Shadow’s art and learning a lot about herself and Ed as they do so.

'Six Impossible Things' by Fiona Wood - "Fourteen-year-old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving house, new school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he's narrowed it down to just six impossible things..."

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

'The Return Of The Word Spy' by Ursula Dubosarsky and Tohby Riddle

The 'Word Spy' is back! In her first book, The Word Spy, she shared the secrets of the English language, from the first alphabet to modern texting. In The Return of the Word Spy she continues the story with chapters on language families, how we learn to speak, grammar and written communication. Once again it has an accessible and engaging style with wonderful illustrations by master illustrator Tohby Riddle. It is filled with cartoons, games, facts and puzzles. 

'Our World: Bardi Jaawi: Life At Ardiyooloon' by One Arm Point Remote Community School

Ardiyooloon is home to the Bardi-Jaawi people and sits at the end of a red dirt road at the top of the Dampier Peninsula, 200km north of Broome in the north-west of Western Australia. 'Our World: Bardi-Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon' takes readers inside the lives of the children of a remote Indigenous community; lives that are very different to those experienced by most Australians.

'Wicked Warriors And Evil Emperors' by Alison Lloyd and Terry Denton

"Imagine you're made king at the age of twelve. You have plenty of enemies. You have a million soldiers armed with all kinds of awesome weapons, you have tons of gold and a network of spies. What would you do with all that power?

It happened to a real boy, who made himself China's first emperor. He was brilliant and brutal. His legend, and the stories of his wicked warriors, have lived on for thousands of years. You might call him evil, but when empires are at stake, people do incredible things."

'Zero Hour: The Anzacs On The Western Front' by Leon Davidson

When the Australians and New Zealanders arrived at the Western Front in 1916, the fighting had been going for a year and a half and there was no end in sight.  The men took their place in a line of trenches that spread through Belgium and France from the North Sea to the Swiss Alps.  Beyond the trenches was no-man's land, an eerie wasteland where rats lived in the ribs of the dead and the wounded cried for help; beyond that was the German Army. This is the third book by Leon Davidson on key wartime battles. Previous titles were 'Scarecrow Army: the Anzacs at Gallipoli' and 'Red Haze: Australians & New Zealanders in Vietnam'.

'Drawn From The Heart' by Ron Brooks

Ron Brooks is well known for his award winning children's books; classics like 'The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek'.  In this wonderful memoir he recreates his life as artist, husband and father. He shares the twists and turns, and the highs and lows. In doing so, he offers some wonderful insights into his 'secret' process of picture-making and story-shaping. It is illustrated with roughs and finished art from his best-loved books

'Science Behind: Theme Parks, Playgrounds And Toys' by Nicolas Brasch

This book poses and answers a series of science questions that most upper primary students love. It focuses on theme parks, playgrounds and toys and presents the questions and information using 13 engaging questions and answers on double page spreads. The pages are detailed and help children to understand some complex concepts and processes. Each double-page spread offers a variety of visual information including maps, charts, graphs, diagrams, annotated photos and illustrations and timelines. A great book!

Other posts

All my previous 'Award' posts HERE

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