Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Friday 18 August 2023

CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2023: And the winners are…

And the winders are… Did your favourite(s) receive an award? With a number of readers already familiar with the shortlisted titles, Felicity shares her personal views gained through reading books and reviews and from her senior students involved in the Shadow Judging (announced next Friday, 25 August).

In a previous life as a Primary School Teacher Librarian, we would run a voting competition. The student who selected the most Gold, Silver & Bronze winners won a prize. I too voted – I would never have been eligible for a prize, my choices vary so greatly to those selected.

This year our Children’s Service VET students again participated in Shadow Judging, where students judged the Early Childhood Category books against the same criteria that the CBCA judges use to pick winners. This provided a great opportunity for me to have a good look at this category.  The students at Don College selected Bev and Kev (Katrina Germein/Mandy Foot). I was torn between Snap! (Anna Walker) and Jigsaw (Bob Graham). As you now know Where the Lyrebird Lives (Vicki Conley and Max Hamilton) was the 2023 winner. I loved the storyline of this winner, but I had a lot of questions: why wasn’t the lyrebird hidden on every page? How did all the family get to the start of the walk – there were 6 people for a 5 seater car…maybe I just need to chill! I also had concerns about the treatment of Bev in Bev and Kev.

I read Runt (Craig Silvey) Younger Readers winner using the Libby app. I was keen to see how Craig Silvey handled writing for this age group, having read both Jasper Jones and Honeybee  which have very different content and themes. It was entertaining and I liked that not everything turned out as hoped in the end, and that’s okay. Such a great message for building resilience. I haven’t read Evie and Rhino (Neridah McMullen/Astred Hicks) or The Raven’s Song (Zana Fraillon/Bren MacDibble) but both are available on the SORA and LIBBY apps, so I’ll definitely visit them.

The Older Readers winner Neverlanders (Tom Taylor/Jon Sommariva) is a graphic novel with bright and clear pictures, which I am sure will appeal to many readers. I get overwhelmed by so much going on in the page, so this won’t be a book I’ll read. Completely Normal (Biffy James) has an innocuous enough looking cover, and may need to come with a trigger warning, as the first page plunges you into a confronting scenario around young people being told about the death of a peer. Both are available on LIBBY and SORA. Trish Buckley’s brief review of The Other Side of Tomorrow (Hayley Lawrence) in Reading Time is worth a read. This too is a book dealing with grief, in its many guises.

I attended SLAV’s talk recently (offered free to Tas CBCA members) which is my only experience of the titles in the Picture Book category. Unfortunately last time I checked these were not available on the apps. I asked Libraries Tasmania if they could be made available, but apparently the publishers don’t always offer an e-book format. I loved the concept of Dirt by Sea (Tom Jellett/Michael Wagner) being the family’s reaction to the misunderstanding of the lyrics of our National Anthem. Hopefully someone will add comments about their experience with these titles. I did buy the notable book Accidentally Kelly Street (Briony Stewart), because I wanted to see how the lyrics and illustrations were handled, and I was not disappointed.

Eve Pownall Honour Books Come Together (Isaiah Firebrace/Jaelyn Biumauwai) and Wild Australian Life (Leonard Cronin/Chris Nixon) are available on LIBBY and SORA, but I have only seen DEEP: Dive into Hidden Worlds (Jess McGeachin) via the SLAV talk. So would be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this title.

However you celebrate Book Week, I wish you joyful times, celebrating the wonderful gift that books are in our lives.

Felicity Sly is a teacher librarian, currently working at Don College in Devonport.

Editor’s note: I particularly admired the selection of titles on the Younger Readers shortlist and think this was perhaps the most hotly contested of all the categories. It is wonderful to see such quality writing targeting this age group as evidenced in the Notable list. My personal favourite was The Way of the Dog (Zana Fraillon/ Sean Buckingham) but Xavier in the Meantime (Kate Gordon) and August & Jones (Pip Harry) were also excellent reads.

What did I you think of the final selections? Is there a favourite that you would like to share in the comments?

1 comment:

  1. Overall, a sound selection, though I agree with Felicity about Neverlanders. I was pleasantly surprised with The Otherside of Tomorrow and the crafting of What We all Saw was superb and I was sorry it was not in the mix. I preferred Farmhouse over My Strange Shrinking Parents. I was indifferent to all of the Early Childhood titles - they just didn't grab me, but the Eve Pownall were a strong selection. Deep is excellent for secondary too with comprehensive coverage and interesting structure. I did think that Tasmanian, Jennifer Cossin's, Amazing Animal Journeys has a superior design than Wild Australian Life though both had fascinating content. Jennie Bales