Monday, August 24, 2015

Children's Book Council Awards for 2015: Winners & Honour Books

The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards were announced on the 21st August. 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 set of category lists for approximately 100 notable books each year. You can find the lists HERE.

This year we have superb books and memorable successes.  Perhaps the stand out is the success of illustrator Freya Blackwood in winning not one but three awards. Readers of this blog will recognise that her talent was spotted long ago on this blog and that I have featured many of Freya Blackwood's beautifully illustrated books, including My Two Blankets written by Irena Kobald, which I reviewed in my last post. This of course has now been named Picture Book of the Year. Amazingly, Freya has no formal training in art and took up illustrating while she was working on The Lord of The Ring's film trilogy as an effects technician.  Freya began a collaboration with well known author Libby Gleeson on the book 'Amy & Louis' that won Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in 2007. This was published as 'Half a World Away' in the USA.

As well as best picture book, Blackwood won in two other categories with Libby Gleeson. In the Early Childhood category for Go to Sleep, Jessie! In the Younger Readers category Gleeson's wonderful story and Blackwood's beautiful pencil and watercolour illustrations are magical in 'The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present'

1. Older Readers


'The Protected' by Claire Zorn (University of Queensland Press)

This is the story of one girl Hannah who lost her sister Katie in a terrible car accident. Her family is torn apart by grief and guilt and such wounds can take a long time to heal. "I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old."

Hannah's world is in pieces and she doesn't need the school counsellor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mother, an injured dad, and a dead sister, who wouldn't have problems? Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn't afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?"

Honour Books
'Nona & Me', by Clare Atkins (Black Inc.)
'The Minnow' by Diana Sweeney (Text Publishing)

2. Younger Readers


'The Cleo Stories The Necklace and the Present', by Libby Gleeson, Illustrator Freya Blackwood (Allen & Unwin)

This is a wonderful collection of stories about Cleo a little girl with a giant imagination and curiosity. She is a wonderful character that five to six-year-old emerging readers will love. The situations and characters will be well known to these young readers. The stories cover friendship, life's frustrations and patience when waiting for special times, giving and receiving, being accepted.

Beautifully illustrated by Freya Blackwood with her characteristic watercolour images. A wonderful book for 'first' readers.

Honour Books

'Two Wolves' by Tristan Bancks (Random House Australia)

'Withering-by-Sea: a Stella Montgomery Intrigue', by Judith Rossell, Judith (ABC Books, Harper Collins Publishers)

3. Early Childhood


'Go to Sleep, Jessie!', by Libby Gleeson, illustrator Freya Blackwood (Little Hare, Hardie Grant Egmont)

Why can't Jessie go to sleep? She stands in her cot, and protests. Her sister can’t sleep either, why does she have to share a room with her anyway? This is a familiar situation with a more significant deeper layer. It isn't just about sisters cohabiting. This book taps into the theme of sibling rivalry and love.

Freya Blackwood’s illustrations once again help to produce a memorable book. Her watercolour, and pencil images give an insight into the frustration of the big sister. Her work with Gleeson is a wonderful collaboration.

Honour Books

'Scary Night' by Lesley Gibbes, illustrator Stephen Michael King (Working Title Press)
'Noni the Pony goes to the Beach', written and illustrated by Alison Lester (Allen & Unwin)

4. Picture Book of the Year


'My Two Blankets', illustrator Freya Blackwood, text by Irena Kobald (Little Hare, Hardie Grant Egmont)

This is the story of a young girl called Cartwheel. She leaves her war-ravaged country and heads for somewhere seen as safe. But the new country is so strange and foreign that she is confused and wonders who she is. She finds comfort in a metaphorical blanket. This is a blanket of blue-grey words and angular sounds. A young girl offers her friendship and teaches her some words. Cartwheel takes these words and begins to create a new blanket. And from these words and sounds she learns new things. At first it is all too hard, but over time her angular world develops a smoother and more comfortable form and is as warm and familiar as her old blanket.

Freya Blackwood is a brilliant illustrator and she takes this complex text and weaves her magic to create a very special book. In the illustrator's words:

"The metaphorical blanket was a difficult concept to illustrate and took me a long time to solve. But I was really attracted to the idea of a visual interpretation of feelings, sounds and words."

Honour Books

'One Minute's Silence', illustrator Michael Camilleri, text David Metzenthen (Allen & Unwin)
There were many books about war and conflict in the shortlist this year, one in which we remembered that it is 100 years since the Gallipoli landing that is such a significant part of Australian, New Zealand and British history. As such it was fitting to see 'One Minute's Silence' named as an honour book. I suspect that this wonderful book might have won but for the brilliance of 'My Two Blankets'.

'The Stone Lion', illustrator Ritva Voutila, text Margaret Wild (Little Hare, Hardie Grant Egmont)

5. Eve Pownall Award for Information Books


'A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen's Land', author/illustrator Simon Barnard (Text Publishing)

This is a wonderful book that many primary aged readers will love. In the early days of white settlement in Australia 70,000 convicts were transported to Van Diemen’s Land (which we know today as the Australian state of Tasmania). These dislocated and damaged people played a key role in the building of Australia as a nation.

Simon Barnard’s 'A–Z of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land' is a wonderful account of the lives of men, women and children who were transported to a strange land for varied crimes. The details of their lives are fascinating, including their sentences, punishments and achievements.

Barnard's illustrations are also memorable with intricate details that will have young readers returning again and again to the book.

Honour Books

'Tea and Sugar Christmas', by Jane Jolly, illustrator Robert Ingpen (National Library of Australia)

'Audacity: Stories of Heroic Australians in Wartime', by Carlie Walker, illustrator Brett Hatherly (Department of Veterans' Affairs)

1 comment:

Tasmanian said...

Thank you so much for your detail on these texts. We have put them on hold at the library!