Book of the Year Awards

Children’s Book Week is coming up in Week 6, commencing on Monday 22 August. Book Week is organised by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) to celebrate Australian children’s literature. The annual CBCA book awards are considered the most prestigious awards which recognise outstanding children’s books. The winners will be announced on Friday 19 August.

Books are judged in the following five categories:

  • Younger Readers – upper primary
  • Early Childhood – pre-readers or early stages of reading
  • Picture Books –illustrations integral to communicating the story/theme/meaning
  • Information Books – creative presentation of factual material
  • Older Readers – high school

Leading up to the announcement of the winners, over the next 4 weeks on the blog we will feature a discussion of the 6 shortlisted books for each category (except older readers).

We would love to hear your thoughts on these titles – please leave a comment below!

First up is Picture Book of the Year.

Picture Book of the Year – Shortlisted titles

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The shortlisted picture books may come of a surprise as 5 of the 6 books focus on the consequences of war and civil unrest.

The CBCA awards distinguish between picture books and early childhood books. The ‘Picture Book’ category celebrates the achievement of illustrators to communicate and enhance the text. In these books, the illustrations are integral to conveying the message and include detail not discernible from the text. In contrast, the ‘Early Childhood’ category applies to books where pictures are used primarily to help younger children understanding the text.

Picture books often utilise illustration to address challenging themes. This year, “Suri’s Wall” and “Ride, Ricardo, Ride” portray the impact of war on children.  The books are deeply moving and beautifully told. The illustrations skilfully explain the context of the character’s actions.

“Flight” tells the story of a refugee family. The simple language and style of illustrations convey the family’s desperate search for safety and create a powerfully emotive book.

“One Step at a Time” addresses another war issue when Luk’s elephant steps on a landmine. The book shows the heart-warming relationship between the boy and his elephant as Luk cares for his injured friend. The ending is uplifting as well as heart breaking, and the illustrations are crucial to revealing the horrible truth of landmines.

Bruce Whatley has illustrated Eric Bogle’s lyrics to create the picture book “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. Whatley’s colours and style present a brutally honest account of war, with a harrowing ending. This would be a good Anzac Day book for children to visualise the realities of war and for grandparents to share with grandchildren – the familiar words with captivating and confronting illustrations.

This a tough category as each book is an outstanding achievement. These books senstively deal with difficult topics and provide opportunities to dicuss them with our children.

By Catherine Whittaker

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