CBCA Announced 2022 Book of the Year Award Winners

“Dreaming with eyes open” was the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s (CBCA) 2022 Book Week theme. The 2022 theme artwork was created by Jasmine Seymour, a Dharug woman, a primary school teacher and a celebrated Australian artist and an advocate of the value of reading and quality illustrations for nurturing young readers’ imagination.

CBCA Announced 2022 Book of the Year Award Winners CBCA Book of the Year Award News 2022 CBCA Book Week poster

At the beginning of 2022 Book Week, the Children’s Book Council of Australia CBCA announced its 2022 winners. My own favourites this year are “Still Alive”, a graphic novel by Safdar Ahmed and a new illustrator award book “The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name”, written by Sandhya Parappukkaran and illustrated by Michelle Pereira. The former hit me like a bus, the latter delighted, but more on this below…

If you’d like to check out the full winners’ announcement event for yourself, you can click here to hear Claire Hooper break the news to the winning authors and illustrators and see the winners’ reactions – the most accomplished and articulate creators lost for words and overwhelmed by this great honour. Congratulations to all winners!

Continue browsing below for all the winners and honourable mentions in all categories and please leave a comment as to your favourites amongst this year’s winners, I love hearing from my readers!

2022 CBCA Book Of The Year: Older Readers

Books in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for secondary school kids (ages 13-18 years). Some books in this category are for mature readers and may deal with particularly challenging themes, including violence and suicide where parental guidance is recommended.

The winner is ‘Tiger Daughter’ by Rebecca Lim (Allen & Unwin), a book about family, friendship and growing up Asian in Australia. Most days Wen Zhou feels that nothing is ever going to change like she’s waiting for her life to begin and that she’ll feel stuck like this forever… Wen is the daughter and only child of Chinese immigrants whose move to the lucky country has proven not so lucky. Wen and her friend, Henry Xiao – whose mum and dad are also struggling immigrants – dream of escaping from their unhappy circumstances, and form a plan to sit an entrance exam to a selective high school far from home. But when tragedy strikes, it will take all of Wen’s resilience and resourcefulness for them to survive the storm that follows. CBCA judges noted that the book was written with the palpable anger of being kept silenced in a cage of patriarchal injustice, culturally based domestic violence and the injustices and effects of migrant discrimination. The book explores the strength of love, the importance of connection to the community as well as the themes of grief, racism and friendship. In the end, youthful resolve wins out over adult indoctrination, disappointment and pessimism.

Honours: ‘Girls in Boys’ Cars’ by Felicity Castagna (Pan Macmillan Australia) and “How to Repaint a Life” by Steven Herrick (University of Queensland Press).

2022 CBCA Book Of The Year: Younger Readers

Books in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for primary school kids. (ages 7-12 years)

The winner is ‘A Glasshouse of Stars’ by Shirley Marr (Penguin Random House Australia). This is another story about a family of immigrants, in which Meixing Lim and her family have arrived at the New House in the New Land, inherited from the First Uncle who died tragically and unexpectedly while picking oranges in the backyard. Meixing finds the new home scary and she is embarrassed by the second-hand shoes given to her by the kind neighbours. She has trouble understanding the language at school and fitting in. Her solace is a glasshouse in the garden that inexplicably holds the sun and the moon and all the secrets of her memory and imagination. Her fragile universe is rocked when tragedy strikes and Ma Ma refuses to face the world outside. It all feels like the worst, most heart-breaking experience of Meixing’s entire existence and surviving will take all her resilience and self-belief to turn her world around.

CBCA judges commended a rarely seen literary device of using a second-person point of view, through which the author addresses both the reader and the protagonist in this tale of identity, belonging, social exclusion, cultural diversity and adaptation. This challenges the reader and the protagonist’s emotions and fears are felt directly and personally.

Honours: ‘Dragon Sking’ by Karen Foxlee (Allen & Unwin) and ‘Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief’ by Katrina Nannestad (HarperCollins Publishers).

2022 CBCA Picture Book Of The Year

Books in this category are for readers of all ages. The Award recognises excellence in books in which the author and illustrator achieve artistic and literary unity or in wordless picture books where the story, theme or concept is unified through illustrations.

cbca-shortlist-2022-picture-book-of-the-year-Iceberg-Claire Saxby, illus by Jess Racklyeft

The winner is ‘Iceberg’ by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Jess Racklyeft (Allen & Unwin).

Publisher’s description: “In the final freeze of an Antarctic winter, green tails wave across a star-full sky, as if to farewell endless nights. If this world looks empty, look closer … Penguins trek across the ice to their winter homes. As the temperature warms, birds fly above on their long migrations. And with the advent of summer, beneath an iceberg, the sea is teeming with life. Ocean, sky, snow and ice – minute greens and giant blues – dance a delicate dance in this evocative portrayal of the life cycle of an iceberg…

CBCA Judges noted that the writing is sophisticated and illustrations are subtle at times and commanding at others. A sense of wonder is created through transparent layers of water allowing readers to spot life above and the mysteries below the surface.

Honours were announced for ‘Stellarphant’ by James Foley (Fremantle Press) and  ‘Just One Bee’ by Margrete Lamond & Anthony Bertini, illustrated by Christopher Nielsen (Dirt Lane Press).

cbca-shortlist-2022-picture-book-of-the-year-Just One Bee-Margrete Lamond & Anthony Bertini, illus by Christopher Nielsen
“Just One Bee” (Margrete Lamond & Anthony Bertini, illustrated by Christopher Nielsen)
cbca-shortlist-2022-picture-book-of-the-year-Stellarphant-James Foley
“Stellarphant” (James Foley)

2022 CBCA Eve Pownall Award

Books in this category are for all ages with a prime intention of documenting factual material with imaginative presentation, interpretation and style. This award was first presented in 1988 at which time Eve Pownall’s family financed it. Since 1993 it has been awarded by CBCA.

This year’s winner is a graphic novel, a genre I must confess that leaves me somewhat ambivalent. I do not like and advocate strongly against graphic novels that attempt to retell a classic or other full-scale literary works. Even if their illustrators have done a commendable job, I think they do the literature it’s based a disservice that diminishes the scale and dimension of the original and could deprive adolescent readers (with their increasingly short attention spans) of the motivation to actually pick up a full-scale work and read it. To not read the original because one has familiarised themselves with its basic plot through an eponymous graphic novel is the same as ditching the original literary masterpiece in favour of seeing a movie based on it. Regardless of how brilliant the movie or impactful the graphic novel is, a literary classic should never be judged by these adaptations alone.

Stepping down now from my soapbox, I’m pleased to say there is a subset of graphic novels that tell their author’s own and original story, and this for me is where the magic happens! I’ve discovered this kind of graphic novel only recently and have seen a few stunning examples. Belonging to this category of stunners is the winner of the 2022 Eve Pownall Award shown below.

cbca-shortlist-2022-eva-pownall-Still Alive-Safdar Ahmed

The winner: ‘Still Alive, Notes from Australia’s Immigration Detention System’ by Safdar Ahmed (Twelve Panels Press)

Publisher’s description: “Interweaving journalism, history and autobiography, Still Alive is an intensely personal indictment of Australia’s refugee detention policies and procedures. It is also a searching reflection on the redemptive power of art. And death metal.”

CBCA Judges commended this work’s confronting, raw and graphic account of the history and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees under successive Australian governments. They thought this book was detailed and well-researched as well as powerfully produced from a personal perspective. The black and white drawings, well-integrated with the text, are detailed and the inclusion of artwork by the detainees is powerful. Metaphors (written and drawn) such as monsters, knots and chess pieces are effective in representing the detainees’ stresses and traumas. There is mature content such as self-harm, executions, sexual intimacy and assault…

This outstanding graphic novel is star-studded with multiple other Awards:

Check out this super interesting article by the author Safdar Ahmed, who had first-hand experience working in Australia’s immigration detention system. In this reflective article, he is talking about his process and dedication of this work to his dear friend who died of a heart attack inside the Villawood detention centre in June 2013.

This book reflects Safdar’s deep commitment to justice and his brilliance as a visual storyteller. The depth and breadth of his artistic influences were of the greatest interest to me and are worthy of a separate conversation (watch out for my upcoming review of this book). For now, I would just say that influences as diverse as the cinematic aesthetic of “Hellraiser” and German expressionist woodcuts, as well as references to famous works as diverse as the pre-Raphaelite styled Ford Maddox Brown’s art and Max Dupain’s photography, all converge in this arrestingly powerful visual narrative that leaves no stone unturned and is sure to leave no reader indifferent to this book and its message. Some de-prioritised drawings which did not go into the final book are shown in Safdar’s article; his draftsmanship and technique are as strong as his storytelling ability, shame these were not published:

Honours in the 2022 Eve Pownall Awards saw a return of Sami Bayly with ‘The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature’ (Hachette Australia) which is the latest instalment of her award-winning “The Illustrated Encyclopaedia” series. Sami’s previous work received honourable mention amongst the finalists in both the 2021 and 2020 CBCA Book of the Year Awards. The second honourable mention this year went to “Heroes Rebels and Innovators” by Karen Wyld, illustrated by Jaelyn Biumaiwai (Hachette Australia).

cbca-shortlist-2022-eva-pownall-The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature-Sami Bayly
cbca-shortlist-2022-eva-pownall-Heroes Rebels and Innovators-Karen-Wyld-Jaelyn Biumaiwai

2022 CBCA Book Of The Year: Early Childhood

Books in this category are for pre-reading stages or for early readers (typically of ages 0-6 years). Books include fiction or poetry.


The winner: ‘Jetty Jumping’ by Andrea Rowe, illustrated by Hannah Sommerville (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing).

Publisher’s description: While Milla’s friends take big, brave jumps off the jetty, Milla stays on the blistering wood, scared of what lurks below. But when Milla accidentally falls off the edge, she discovers the beauty of the deep, dark sea – and her summer changes forever.

CBCA Judges noted that this is a beautifully written and highly relatable book about overcoming fears. The language is rich and descriptive. The joy of the jumping girls contrasts with Milla’s trepidation as she sits apart, afraid to participate in their fun yet wanting to join them. A lovely twist in the plot adds momentum and motivation to the main character’s actions, who overcomes her fears to finally enter the water.

Honours: ‘Walk of the Whales’ by Nick Bland (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing) and  ‘Amira’s Suitcase’ by Vikki Conley, illustrated by Nicky Johnston (New Frontier Publishing).

2022 CBCA New Illustrator Award

Books in this category are for all ages and award a new illustrator’s excellence, recognising and encouraging new talent in the field of Australian children’s book illustration.

CBCA Announced 2022 Book of the Year Award Winners CBCA Book of the Year Award News the boy who tried to shrink his name cover

The winner: ‘The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name by Sandhya Parappukkaram, illustrated by Michelle Pereira (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing).

Publisher’s description:When Zimdalamashkermishkada starts a new school, he knows he’s got to do something about his long name. When no amount of shrinking, folding or crumpling works, he simply settles for Zim – but deep down, it doesn’t feel right. It’s not until a new friend sees him for who he truly is that Zimdalamashkermishkada finds the confidence to step boldly into his long name.

CBCA Judges commended an excellent production with high-quality, very appealing retro illustrations which have been created with a limited colour palette using bold strokes and ‘splattered’ detail. The illustrations and text are fully entwined conveying the difficult balance between being ‘different’ and celebrating cultural heritage. The judges commented on the skilled use of ‘white’ space and the nighttime page made with the green hues being a very effective contrast against the orange of the boy’s name.

This book has totally charmed me! Its visual aesthetics is a nostalgic throwback to the early Soviet era children’s books that I grew up around and which to this day are amongst some of my favourite productions in the wide and varied children’s book publishing landscape. This witty story, devoid of any didactic force, is a delicate way of teaching the youngest readers the value of staying true to one’s cultural identity and respecting the cultural diversity of the world we inhabit.

2022 CBCA Sun Project Shadowers’ Choice Awards

For the first time in its history, CBCA has added an exciting new initiative to its 2022 Book of the Year Awards calendar. Through what is known as the “Sun Project” project CBCA invited young voices from schools all around Australia to join the conversation about the CBCA 2022 Shortlist and to choose their own winners. These Shadow Judges Choice Awards winners were announced at the end of the 2022 Book Week and you can see the full announcement here.

Without further ado, here are the winners of this exciting 2022 Choice Award picked by young readers. It is possibly the most endearing and important recognition of the authors’ and illustrators’ brilliance by their audiences!

2022 CBCA Shadowers’ Choice Award – Older readers

I am excited to share that my son’s high school participated in the 2022 “Sun Project”. My son and his peers have read all shortlisted books in the “Older Readers” category and chosen their winner. An excerpt from their shadow judging group feedback was quoted when announcing the “Older Readers” winner – ‘Sugar Town Queens’ by Mulla Nun:

CBCA Announced 2022 Book of the Year Award Winners CBCA Book of the Year Award News shadow judges choice award 2022 sugar town queens

The winner: ‘Sugar Town Queens’ by Mulla Nun (Allen & Unwin).

Fifteen-year-old Amandla’s mother has always been strange. For starters, she’s a white woman living in Sugar Town, one of South Africa’s infamous shanty towns. She won’t tell anyone, not even Amandla, about her past. And she has visions, including ones that promise the return of Amandla’s father as if he were a prince in a fairytale, but their hardscrabble life is no fairytale…

2022 CBCA Shadowers’ Choice Award – Younger Readers

CBCA Announced 2022 Book of the Year Award Winners CBCA Book of the Year Award News shadow judges choice award 2022 rabbit soldier angel thief

The winner: ‘Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Theif’ by Katrina Nannestad (ABC, an imprint of HarperCollins).

It’s spring, 1942. The sky is blue, the air is warm and sweet with the scent of flowers. And then everything is gone. The flowers, the proud geese, the pretty wooden houses, the friendly neighbours. Only Sasha remains. But one small boy, alone in war-torn Russia, cannot survive. One small boy without a family cannot survive. One small boy without his home cannot survive. What that small boy needs is an army.

2022 CBCA Shadowers’ Choice Award – Early Childhood

CBCA Announced 2022 Book of the Year Award Winners CBCA Book of the Year Award News shadow judges choice award 2022 walk of the whales

The winner: ‘Walk of the Whales’ by Nick Bland (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing).

When all of the whales in the ocean leave their home to walk around on land, people don’t quite know what to think. But soon shopkeepers go out of business, farms are flooded with water and salt, and people shout horrible anti-whale words. That is, until, a smart little girl decides to ask the whales what everyone can do to help.

2022 CBCA Shadowers’ Choice Award – Picture books

CBCA Announced 2022 Book of the Year Award Winners CBCA Book of the Year Award News shadow judges choice award 2022 shellarphant

The winner: ‘Stellarphant’ by James Foley (Fremantle Press).

Stella the elephant is fighting interstellar discrimination one pachyderm at a time! Stella wants to be an astronaut. There is only one problem: Stella is an elephant. Every time she applies to Space Command, they come up with a new reason she can’t join. But where there’s a will, there’s a way and Stella is determined to reach for the stars.

2022 CBCA Shadowers’ Choice Award – Eve Pownall (non-fiction)

CBCA Announced 2022 Book of the Year Award Winners CBCA Book of the Year Award News shadow judges choice award 2022 encyclopaedia of peculiar pairs in nature

The winner: ‘The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature’ by Sami Bayly, by (Hachette Australia).

Discover 60 of the most peculiar pairs in nature and learn how plant and animal species rely on each other for their survival. Whether it be a rare tick living in the fur of a pygmy possum, a stick insect feasting and hiding out amongst the Melaleuca or a handfish laying its eggs on a sea squirt, incredible natural relationships deserve to be explored and celebrated. Investigating all types of relationships, from symbiotic to parasitic, this is an eye-opening guide to the natural world. Many species steer clear of those who are different, but the animals and plants in this book have evolved to form relationships with some of the most unlikely partners, and they couldn’t live without them.

Was this overview helpful? What are your favourites amongst this year’s winners? Please leave a comment below, I love hearing from my readers!

Read more about CBCA and Book of the Year Awards here.

Check out the 2022 Shortlisted books;

2021 CBCA Book of the Year winners;

2021 Shortlisted books.

To check out detailed reviews of some of my favourite past winners and honours books distinguished by CBCA Awards click here or browse the CBCA tag from the Home page of the blog.

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