The Children's Book Council Australia yesterday announced the winners of its 2011 book of the year awards. This coincides with the start of Children's Book Week in Australia (20-26 August). The theme for Book Week in 2011 is 'One World, Many Stories'. As usual there are some stunning books recognised and perhaps some surprises. Once again, I stress that all shortlisted books and, in fact the longer list of over 100 books on the 2011 Notable Book List, should be considered (here). We have a wealth of wonderful writers in this country.
Book of the Year for Older Readers
WINNER - 'The Midnight Zoo' by Sonya Hartnett (Viking) Winner
HONOUR Books - 'Graffiti Moon' by Cath Crowley (Pan Macmillan)
'The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher' by Doug MacLeod (Penguin)
Book of the Year for Younger Readers
WINNER - 'The Red Wind' by Isobelle Carmody (Viking)
HONOUR Books - 'Just a Dog' by Michael Gerard Bauer (Omnibus, Scholastic)
'Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot' by Anna Branford (Walker Books)
Early Childhood Book of the Year
WINNER - 'Maudie and Bear' by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Little Hare Books)
HONOUR Books -'The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies' by Tom Niland Champion, Kilmeny Niland & Deborah Niland (Allen & Unwin)
'Look See, Look at Me' by Leonie Norrington, illustrated by Dee Huxley (Allen & Unwin)
Picture Book of the Year
JOINT WINNERS - 'Mirror' by Jeannie Baker (Walker Books)
'Hamlet' by Nicki Greenberg (Allen & Unwin)
HONOUR Books - 'Why I Love Australia' by Bronwyn Bancroft (Little Hare Books)
'My Uncle's Donkey' by Tohby Riddle (Viking)
Eve Pownall award for Best Information Book
WINNER - 'The Return of Word Spy' by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Tohby Riddle (Viking)
HONOUR Books - 'Drawn from the Heart: A Memoir' by Ron Brooks (Allen & Unwin)
'Our World: Bardi Jaawi: Life at Ardiyooloon' by One Arm Point Remote Community School (Magabala Books)
There are so many wonderful authors and illustrators in this list and some remarkable books.
Older Readers Book of the Year
'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.
This is a brilliantly crafted story with an unlikely plot that her skill makes work. A wartime fable where animals are abandoned and a group of children lose their freedom, hope and place. War has turned the world of these children and creatures upside down. How will it end? Hartnett's stories are usually full of the unexpected, what will be the fate of the abandoned? Sonya Hartnett is a wonderful writer. Winner of the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2008 for children's literature, she is a deserving winner of this award for a memorable book.
b) Honour Books
'Graffiti Moon' by Cath Crowley
'The Life Of A Teenage Body-Snatcher' by Doug MacLeod
This is a clever story from Doug Macleod which rather than being a bland horror story is a complex tale filled with suspense, humour, action and even some romance. A great book!
a) Winner - 'The Red Wind: The Kingdom Of The Lost Book One' by Isobelle Carmody
'Just A Dog' by Michael Gerard Bauer
'Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot' by Anna Branford -
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. You can read my previous review of Anna's work here.
Early Childhood Book of the Year
'Maudie And Bear' by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Freya Greenwood - Jan Ormerod has given us five separate stories in this delicious picture book. Perhaps Maudie is a bit spoilt, at the very least, she is self-focussed as small children can be, but she tests this to the limit and Bear passes the test every time. Maudie's world revolves around Maudie and Bear's world revolves around her too! But like any good friend he is patient and reliable and loves her unconditionally. Maudie is so confident of Bear's love that she makes demands, throws the odd tantrum, lays down all the rules and lets Bear do all the work, knowing he will love her unconditionally. And he does right to the end.
Jan Ormerod is an illustrator herself, so it is an unusual collaboration to 'let go' to another creator. She has chosen well in Freya Blackwood, who won the prestigious 2010 Kate Greenaway medal for her book (written by Margaret Wild) 'Harry and Hopper'.
This is a wonderful book. Ideal to be read to children from as young as you like, or perfect for the young reader who is beginning to read alone. Perfect early reading material for first encounters. This book will be read again and again. A worthy winner!
'The Tall Man And The Twelve Babies' by Tom Niland Champion, Kilmeny Niland & illustrated by Deborah Niland
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.
With simple text, short sentences and many textual devices like bold, enlarged and capitalised letters the early reader is given some leads. Deborah Niland's delightful illustrations capture the mood perfectly. Ideal for children aged 3-7 years.
Look See, Look At Me' by Leonie Norrington and Dee Huxley
Leonie Norrington and illustrator Dee Huxley visited three northern communities and tested the ideas for the text and illustrations before completing their book. The picture book that resulted is a wonderful insight into childhood within an Aboriginal community. It is a delightful and positive celebration of outback family life in an Aboriginal community.
Leonie and Dee visited three northern communities, Wugularr, Barunga and Manyalalluk, to workshop words and drawings for this book. It has an exuberant style with rhyming text supported by Dee Huxley's superb illustrations that locate the events in a remote community with rich ochre landscapes that add greatly to the narrative. 'Look See, Look at Me' perfectly captures a child's everyday life and will be wonderful for sharing with young children again and again. Love it!
Picture Book of the Year
a) Joint Winners
'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.
'Hamlet' by Nicki Greenberg -
Since Shakespeare wrote 'Hamlet' over 400 years ago, there have been many interpretations of the story of its tragic hero, a Danish prince torn apart by the murder of his father and the infidelity of his mother.
Nicki Greenberg offers us one of the most ambitious interpretations as she presents the story in graphic novel form. This is a mammoth effort of 427 pages with vibrant colour and silhouettes in inkblot form. But this isn't a simple comic book of predictable simple images. In the simplicity of its form there is great complexity as she uses every device she can to stage this play without sound and physical movement. She embeds images with great symbolism that add to the text and characters, with image used to add depth and interpretation; another layer of meaning to plumb.
There is a playfulness about her work, and yet, it is a veritable block buster! Hamlet fills the stage as a charismatic inkblot. A 'chameleon' whose black form changes shape according to his circumstances and mood. This is another innovative and ambitious work from Nicki Greenberg. It is an imaginative and epic graphic novel. This is not a kid's picture book! Suitable for readers 13+.
b) Honour Books
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.
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 hoof stands 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.
Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
'The Return Of The Word Spy' by Ursula Dubosarsky and Tohby Riddle
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. What can we say about Tohby Riddle, this is one of two awards this year. Greed? No, just extremely good! His involvement has ensured that this book works and will flow off the shelves. A great team and a great fun book.
b) Honour Books
'Drawn From The Heart' by Ron Brooks
'Our World: Bardi Jaawi: Life At Ardiyooloon' by One Arm Point Remote Community School
My previous review of the entire shortlist HERE
All my previous 'Award' posts HERE