The highly anticipated 2023 CBCA Book of the Year Awards Shortlist has just been released by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA). As Australia’s most prestigious children’s literature award, this year’s shortlist showcases a diverse range of authors and illustrators, all of whom excel in bringing their unique perspectives to the literary world.
CBCA National Chair Wendy Rapee highlighted the exceptional nature of this year’s shortlist, stating, “This year we celebrate stories for our young people created by a diverse range of new voices and artists, who all display confidence with fresh approaches to storytelling.”
The Shortlist and Notables List offer excellent reading ideas for children and teens, and many schools and libraries will incorporate these books into their 2023 CBCA Book Week celebrations.
One of my favourite illustrators and genuinely one of the nicest people you could hope to meet, Matt Ottley, introduced the shortlist in a video where he also discussed his artwork for the 2023 CBCA Children’s Book Week theme “Read, Grow, Inspire.” Matt Ottley’s illustrations never fail to captivate, and his work on Meg McKinlay’s “How to Make a Bird” led to the book winning the 2021 CBCA Picture Book of the Year.
If you’d like to see Matt Ottley’s introduction and get a glimpse into his creative process for the stunning artwork for this year’s theme, you can watch the video on the Children’s Book Council of Australia Youtube Channel below:
So, let’s get ready to read, grow, and be inspired by the remarkable works in the 2023 CBCA Book of the Year Shortlist!
Book of the Year: Older Readers
Entries in this category may be fiction, drama, or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers in their secondary years of schooling. Ages 13-18 years.
- “Ask No Questions” – Eva Collins, Puncher & Wattmann
- “Completely Normal (and Other Lies)” – Biffy James, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
- “The Greatest Thing” – Sarah Winifred Searle, Allen & Unwin
- “Neverlanders” – Tom Taylor, Jon Sommariva, Penguin Random House Australia
- “The Other Side of Tomorrow” – Hayley Lawrence, Scholastic Australia
- “What We All Saw” – Mike Lucas, Penguin Random House Australia
Book of the Year: Younger Readers
Entries in this category may be fiction, drama, or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers from the middle to upper primary years. 7-12 years.
Note: Some of the titles in this category may only be suitable for readers who are in the upper primary years as they contain mature themes, including violence. Parental guidance is recommended.
- “August & Jones” – Pip Harry, Hachette Australia
- “Evie and Rhino” – Neridah McMullin, Astred Hicks, Walker Books Australia
- “The Raven’s Song” – Zana Fraillon & Bren MacDibble, Allen & Unwin
- “Runt” – Craig Silvey, Allen & Unwin
- “Way of Dog, The” – Zana Fraillon, Sean Buckingham, University of Queensland Press
- “Xavier in the Meantime” – Kate Gordon, Riveted Press
Book of the Year: Early Childhood
Entries in this category may be fiction, drama, or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for children who are at pre-reading or early stages of reading. Ages 0-6 years.
- “Bev and Kev” – Mandy Foot, text by Katrina Germein, Little Book Press
- “Jigsaw: A Puzzle in the Post” – Bob Graham, Walker Books Australia
- “Lionel and Me” – Tracie Grimwood, text Corinne Fenton, Frontier Publishing
- “Market Day” – Hannah Sommerville, text Carrie Gallasch, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
- “Snap!” – Anna Walker, Scribble Kids’ Books
- “Where the Lyrebird Lives” – Max Hamilton, text Vikki Conley, Windy Hollow Books
Picture Book of the Year
Entries in this category should be outstanding books of the Picture Book genre 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. Ages 0-18 years. (NB. Some of these books may be for mature readers).
- “Dirt by Sea” – Tom Jellett, text Michael Wagner, Penguin Random House Australia
- “Farmhouse” – Sophie Blackall, Hachette Australia
- “Frank’s Red Hat” – Sean E. Avery, Walker Books Australia
- “My Strange Shrinking Parents” – Zeno Sworder, Thames & Hudson Australia
- “Our Dreaming” – Dub Leffler, text Kirli Saunders, Scholastic Australia
- “Paradise Sands: A Story of Enchantment” – Levi Pinfold, Walker Books Australia
Eve Pownall Award
Entries in this category should be books that have the prime intention of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation, and variation of style. Ages 0-18 years.
Note: Books in this category are for mature readers and some may deal with particularly challenging themes including violence and suicide. Parental guidance is recommended
- “A Is for Australian Reefs” – Frané Lessac, Walker Books Australia
- “Amazing Animal Journeys” – Jennifer Cossins, Hachette Australia
- “Come Together: Things Every Aussie Kid Should Know about the First Peoples” – Jaelyn Biumaiwai, text. Isaiah Firebrace, Hardie Grant Explore
- “DEEP: Delve into Hidden Worlds” – Jess McGeachin, Welbeck Publishing
- “Opal and Dart” – Clare Bradley, text. Vianne Brain, Forty South Publishing
- “Wild Australian Life” – Chris Nixon, text. Leonard Cronin Allen & Unwin
CBCA Award for New Illustrator
This Award aims to recognise and encourage new talent in the field of Australian children’s book illustration. Ages 0-18 years.
- “Australia: From Dawn to Dusk” – Brentos, Affirm Press
- “Best Hiding Place, The” – Sylvia Morris, text. Jane Godwin, Affirm Press
- “Naturopolis” – Ingrid Bartkowiak, text. Deborah Frenkel, Storytorch Press
- “Tiny Wonders” – Sally Soweol Han, University of Queensland Press
- “There’s No Such Book” – Jake A. Minton, text. Jessica Dettmann, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
- “We Are Australians” – Jandamarra Cadd, text. Duncan Smith, Nicole Godwin, Wild Dog Books