Monday, August 18, 2014

Australian Children's Book of the Year Winners Announced

The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards were announced on the 15th August in Canberra. This event always marks the beginning of Children’s Book Week. As usual, the winners and honour books are a fabulous collection. But for every book that wins or is an honour book, there are many more worthy books. Thankfully, the CBCA publishes a list of approximately 100 notable books each year. You can find the lists HERE.


1. Older Readers (Young Adult Readers)


'Wildlife' by Fiona Wood (Pan)  

Life? It's simple: be true to yourself.
The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are...

"In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar's outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened.
A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard.
And I kissed Ben Capaldi."

Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program - but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They're extra-curricula.

Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things - the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray. And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild.

A story about first love, friendship and NOT fitting in.

Honour books

'Fairytales for Wilde Girls' by Allyse Near (Random House)

'The Sky So Heavy' by Claire Zorn (UQP)    

2. Younger Readers (Independent Younger Readers)


'A Very Unusual Pursuit' by Catherine Jinks (A&U) 

'A Very Unusual Pursuit' is the first instalment in what should be a wonderful new fantasy series (the 'City of Orphans' trilogy).  It is set in Victorian London, where squalour sat alongside splendour. Where the houses of the rich were not always that far from the houses of the poor, open sewers, a seedy underworld and of course, the gruesome and frightening 'bogles'.

Monsters have been infesting London's dark places for centuries, eating every child who gets too close. That's why ten-year-old Birdie McAdam works for Alfred Bunce, the bogler. With her beautiful voice and dainty looks, Birdie is the bait that draws bogles from their lairs so that Alfred can kill them. 

One life-changing day, Alfred and Birdie are approached by two very different women. Sarah Pickles runs a local gang of pickpockets, three of whom have disappeared. Edith Eames is an educated lady who's studying the mythical beasts of English folklore. Both of them threaten the only life Birdie's ever known. But Birdie soon realises she needs Miss Eames's help, to save her master, defeat Sarah Pickles, and vanquish an altogether nastier villain. Catherine Jinks, one of Australia's most inventive writers, has created a fast-paced and enthralling adventure story with edge-of-your-seat excitement and chills.

The book is also available in the USA with the title 'How to Catch a Bogle'. Readers aged 11-14 will enjoy this engaging fantasy.

Honour books

'My Life as an Alphabet' by Barry Jonsberg (A&U)
'Light Horse Boy' by Dianne Wolfer and illustrated by Brian Simmonds (Fremantle Press)

3. Early Childhood (Preschool and beginning readers)


'The Swap' by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (Little Hare)

Jan Ormerod and Andrew Joyner have produced a wonderful picture book to win this category in 2014. Jan Ormerod will be well known to Australian readers.

When Caroline Crocodile's baby brother is born, he's smelly and dribbles. He's no fun at all, but he manages to capture Mum's attention. Caroline decides to swap him for another baby. The Baby Shop assistant provides her with varied babies, but none turn out to be suitable! This funny story, reflecting the real life experiences of many big brothers and sisters, will be enjoyed by all.

'Honour books'

'I’m a Dirty Dinosaur' by Janeen Brian and illustrated by Ann James (Viking)

'Banjo and Ruby Red' by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Little Hare) 

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


'Rules of Summer' by Shaun Tan (Lothian)

It seems that every Shaun Tan book is a masterpiece. He has won international acclaim and numerous awards including an Academy Award for the animated short film adaptation of his book 'The Lost Thing'.

Rules of Summer seems at first to be a simple story about two boys and the sort of rules that could shape just about any relationship between friends or siblings. But such rules can be strange and arbitrary which becomes obvious. Tan's masterful illustration of this almost completely wordless book, takes us on an emotional journey that many will identify with.

Shaun Tan draws upon every day experiences (fishing, socks on the clothes line, average buildings on the street...) and leads the reader into a story rich in imagery and metaphor that takes you to darker places, before redemption as true friendship is affirmed.

Honour books

'King Pig' by Nick Bland (Scholastic Press)
'Silver Buttons' by Bob Graham (Walker Books) 

5. Eve Pownall Award for Information Books (Varied ages, Birth to 18 years)


'Jeremy' by Christopher Faille, illustrated by Danny Snell (Working Title Press)

Jeremy is a Tiny kookaburra just a few days old when he falls out of his nest.  He is brought home by of all things a cat! Luckily, Jeremy fights for his life. Slowly he gets stronger and stronger, until one day it's time for him to return to the life of a kookaburra. He must say goodbye. This is a lovely story based on a real life account of the rescue and raising of a baby kookaburra.

Honour books

'Welcome to My Country' by Laklak Burarrwanga and family (A&U)

This wonderful book is a collaboration between three academics and six Indigenous women from Bawaka and Yirrkala. It is a publication that literally welcomes you to the Country of Laklak Burarrwanga in Arhhem Land Northern Australia. This is a coastal land of crystal clear waters filled with fish, turtle, crab and stingray. The land that adjoins has varied bush fruits, pandanus for weaving, wood for spears, and all that is needed for daily life. But this isn't just a beautiful country, it is a land rich in meaning. This is the place where Laklak Burarrwanga heard great stories, told them to others and learned the great history of her people. These stories were learned from a special library, "a library in the land". This is a library that you cannot destroy.

This is a remarkable work that uses story, recount, poetry, exposition, lists, explanation and song to tell the story of the remarkable country of Laklak Burarrwanga. What a wonderful work! You can read my more detailed previous post on this book HERE.

'Ice, Wind, Rock' by Peter Gouldthorpe (Lothian)

No comments: