As an enthusiast and aficionado of Australian children’s books every year I look forward to the announcement of the notable and shortlisted books and, eventually, the winners of the annual Book of the Year Awards by CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia).
The CBCA Awards have been running since 1946 and recognise the writing and illustrating excellence in children’s books published in the preceding year across 6 categories. 36 books are shortlisted each year by the CBCA expert judges, who select the best from hundreds of entries.
A much-awaited and celebrated part of the process leading up to the annual Book of the Year winners announcement is the traditional CBCA Book Week. During this time, schools, libraries and book creators engage with young readers through talks, school book fares and parades where children dress up as their favourite book characters. The 2022 Book Week theme is “Dreaming with eyes open”. Each year’s national theme is chosen and voted on by the CBCA members with the artwork developed by a winner of the previous year’s CBCA Book of the Year Awards. The cover artwork for 2022 was created by Jasmine Seymour.
In 2022, CBCA is also piloting shadow judging known as the “Sun Project”. This is an exciting new initiative that will support a facilitated group of young voices who will read, discuss and reflect on the 2022 CBCA shortlisted books in one category. Participants will then respond collaboratively with a creative response and vote on their winner. Shortlisted book creators must be looking forward to the shadow judging with absolute delight, as there isn’t a better recognition than that which comes directly from the young readers!
Presented below are the 2022 CBCA Book of the Year Award shortlists, which have just been announced. If you trust, as I do, in the value that the CBCA stamp of approval adds to the books selected by their expert judges, below are the ones you might want to check out during your next browse of the local bookstore. Read the judge’s shortlisted books critiques here.
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.
- The Boy and the Elephant, Freya Blackwood, HarperCollins Publishers
- Blue Flower, Gabriel Evans, text. Sonya Hartnett, Penguin Random House Australia
- Stellarphant, James Foley, Fremantle Press
- The Inheritance, Armin Greder, Allen & Unwin
- Just One Bee, Christopher Nielsen, text. Margrete Lamond & Anthony Bertini, Dirt Lane Press,
- Iceberg, Jess Racklyeft, text. Claire Saxby, Allen & Unwin
Books in this category are for pre-reading stages or for early readers (typically of ages 0-6 years). Books include fiction or poetry.
- When the Waterhole Dries Up, Kaye Baillie, ill. Max Hamilton, Windy Hollow Books
- What Do You Call Your Grandma, Ashleigh Barton, ill. Martina Heiduczek, HarperCollins Publishers
- Walk of the Whales, Nick Bland, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
- Amira’s Suitcase, Vikki Conley, ill. Nicky Johnston, New Frontier Publishing
- Jetty Jumping, Andrea Rowe, ill. Hannah Sommerville, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
- Winston and the Indoor Cat, Leila Rudge, Walker Books Australia
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 it was financed by Eve Pownall’s family. Since 1993 it has been awarded by CBCA.
- Still Alive, Notes from Australia’s Immigration Detention System, Safdar Ahmed, Twelve Panels Press
- The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature, Sami Bayly, Hachette Australia
- Book of Curious Birds, Jennifer Cossins, Hachette Australia
- Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest, Diane Lucas & Ben Tyler, ill. Emma Long, Allen & Unwin
- The First Scientists: Deadly Inventions and Innovations from Australia’s First Peoples, Corey Tutt, ill. Blak Douglas, Hardie Grant Publishing
- Heroes, Rebels and Innovators, Karen Wyld, ill. Jaelyn Biumaiwai, Hachette Australia
Award for New Illustrator
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.
- A Trip to the Hospital, Freda Chiu, A&U Books for Children and Young Adults
- Everyday Wonders, Natala Graetz, Everyday Wonders
- Great White Shark, Cindy Lane, text. Claire Saxby, Walker Books Australia
- Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest, Emma Long, text. Diane Lucas & Ben Tyler, Allen & Unwin
- For Love, Cristina Neri, Lake Press Pty Ltd
- The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name, Michelle Pereira, text. Sandhya Parappukkaran, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
Books in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers aged 6-12 years (primary or upper primary students). Some may contain mature themes with parental guidance recommended.
- Dragon Skin, Karen Foxlee, Allen & Unwin
- The Detective’s Guide to Ocean Travel, Nicki Greenberg, Affirm Press
- Huda and Me, H. Hayek, Allen & Unwin
- A Glasshouse of Stars, Shirley Marr, Penguin Random House Australia
- Exit Through the Gift Shop, Maryam Master, ill. Astred Hicks, Pan Macmillan Australia
- Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief, Katrina Nannestad, HarperCollins Publishers
Books in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers aged 13-18 years (secondary or high school students). Some may deal with particularly challenging themes (like violence or suicide) with parental guidance recommended.
- Girls in Boys’ Cars, Felicity Castagna, Pan Macmillan Australia
- How to Repaint a Life, Steven Herrick, University of Queensland Press
- Tiger Daughter, Rebecca Lim, Allen & Unwin
- The Boy from the Mish, Gary Lonesborough, Allen & Unwin
- Terciel and Elinor, Garth Nix, Allen & Unwin
- Sugar Town Queens, Malla Nunn, Allen & Unwin
Be sure to share and save this post or check back later whenever you are considering which book to put into your child’s hands next. You can also check out past winners below: