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

Friday 23 August 2019

Nan Chauncy Award – a Book Week celebration

Maureen Mann shares the highlights of the Nan Chauncy Award and presentation to James Moloney at the 2019 CBCA Book of the Year Awards. Living at Chauncy Vale in the southern Midlands, Nan Chauncy holds a special place in our hearts as her books created a strong sense of place that connected both the Tasmanian landscape and the indigenous inhabitants. 

Well done to James Moloney who was announced as the recipient of the 2019 Nan Chauncy Award. This biennial award honours individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Australian Children’s literature.
The Nan Chauncy Award was created in 1983 in recognition of her input to children’s literature and to continue to acknowledge those who have been significant contributors.
The Award has two parts: a citation written by the judges (this year from Tasmania, ACT and NSW) and a commemorative plaque, traditionally a box made from Tasmanian timbers. I was delighted, as coordinator, to have one of my favourite authors recognised by the judges – and no, I had no say in the selection process.
James and Karen Moloney
Here is this year’s citation:
The recipient of the 2019 CBCA Nan Chauncy Award for outstanding contribution to Australian children’s literature is James Moloney.
A multi award-winning author and passionate advocate for children’s literature, James has encouraged generations of young people, especially boys, to read for pleasure. His commitment to the children's literature industry in Australia is further demonstrated through his participation on the Australia Council and in his advocacy for Public Lending Right and Education Lending Right.

James is more than a creator of excellent children’s literature. He is a passionate advocate for literacy and encouraging children to read. His investigation of the importance of building a reading culture amongst boys and active engagement with young people in a variety of settings has influenced many children by his attendance at literature festivals, school workshops and public library programs, as well as his writings aimed at helping parents. As writer-in-residence in schools he has not only influenced young writers to “respect language and its ability to shape and change lives” while also demonstrating this skill through his own writings, but also the participating educators.

Since the publication of Crossfire in 1992, James’ has published more than forty books, and many of his titles have been recognised through awards and shortlists. His most recent publication The Young Vikings, is included in the 2019 CBCA Notable Books.  He has demonstrated his understanding of young readers: his successful titles range from those for beginning readers through to more sophisticated older teenagers. His influence and impact in encouraging young people to read can be traced beyond his writing career to his time as a Teacher Librarian.

To quote James himself, “The novel is a powerful means of communication in Australian culture.” Through Dougy, Gracey and Angela, James brought insight into the lives and experiences of Aboriginal young people and into the lives of many young Australians.  As a non-Aboriginal writer, he said, “Writing about it, exploring it through story is a valuable way of encouraging intellectual discourse…thinking, discussing, arguing, becoming self-aware and moving, ever so slowly, towards understanding.”

James Moloney - acceptance speech
-James has willingly committed time to encouraging literacy and reading beyond his paid author duties, continually demonstrating his responsiveness, generosity and outreach to others. He has been Quiz Master at Queensland CBCA Readers’ Cup events. He has undertaken online book-gigs to help students in small regional schools, over the last twenty or so years. All papers to do with his writing career have been donated to the State Library of Queensland.

Several of his books have been translated into French, Korean, Lithuanian and Dutch, spreading Australian cultural concepts and proving that many of his themes are universal: family, love, belonging, body image, rites of passage, mateship/friendship, identity, disability and racial issues. His peers hold him in high esteem. As his nominator said “Over four decades, Moloney’s contribution to children's literature has been fundamental to framing an Australian identity. His work is ground-breaking in reflecting race and masculinity. His sense of place and depiction of Australia as character has allowed young readers to identify with this truly unique Australian landscape.”

And the judges concluded with: James Moloney is indeed a very worthy recipient for the 2019 CBCA Nan Chauncy Award for his outstanding and committed contribution to Australian children’s literature.

Have a look at James’ own website to see just how many books he’s written. http://www.jamesmoloney.com.au/index.html Do you have a favourite?
Leanne Rands (CBCA Tasmania President, James Moloney,
& Margaret Hillel (CBCA National Chair)

The next Nan Chauncy Award will be made in 2021 but it’s not too early to start thinking about who you might like to nominate for this prestigious award. You can view past recipients on the CBCA website.

And we mustn’t forget the Book of the Year Awards which were announced at the same function on Friday in Melbourne. If you haven’t already seen them, here’s the link to the list of winners and honour books. https://www.cbca.org.au/winners-2019  Congratulations to all concerned, especially to Daniel Gray-Barnett, Tasmanian-based winner of the Award for New Illustrators.

Maureen Mann
Nan Chauncy Award Coordinator

Editor's note: There are several posts collated on our blog about Nan Chauncy, her books, Chauncy Vale and the award. 


  1. It's so exciting to have this national award, with its Tasmanian focus. The Tasmanian woods that have traditionally been selected for the award are exquisite. Leanne mentioned that James was stroking the wood throughout the presentation, and was delighted with it.

  2. It was a wonderful experience to be a judge for the Nan Chauncy Award and to be there for the presentation at Deakin Edge in Melbourne. As former and practicing Teacher Librarians James, Kate and l had a lively conversation about our experiences and the necessity for Teacher Librarians in all schools around the country. James is a worthy recipient who, like most successful creators, is supported by his family, particularly his wife Kate.