2019 CBCA Book of the Year Awards

Gritty, contemporary themes are tackled by many books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia 2019 Book of the Year Awards, announced today, challenging their readers to contemplate a range of important social issues.

CBCA National Chair Professor Margot Hillel OAM said, “Literature plays a critical role in giving children and young adults an opportunity to explore and understand issues in an age-appropriate way.”


Some of the themes covered by this year’s Winner and Honour Books include consumerism and the environment (The All New Must Have Orange 430 by Michael Speechley), the plight of refugees (The Mediterranean by Armin Greder) and asylum seekers held in detention (Between Us by Clare Atkins) and reconciliation (Sorry Day by Coral Vass). Shaun Tan’s Cicada is more a social commentary on working for the big corporates than a bedtime story.

“The authors recognised in this year’s Awards handle these themes unapologetically but with compassion and sensitivity through vibrant characters, compelling storylines and in the case of picture books, stunning illustrations in a range of artistic media and styles,” said Professor Hillel.

Books from acclaimed Australian authors Emily Rodda AC, Alison Lester AM and Shaun Tan feature on the Winner and Honour List, in addition to debut titles from emerging talent such as Black Cockatoo (Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler), Small Spaces (Sarah Epstein), The All New Must Have Orange 430 (Michael Speechley) and Grandma Z (Daniel Gray-Barnett).

The 2019 Book of the Year saw a record 488 entries of which more than 100 were from first-time creators. The Early Childhood category received the largest ever number of entries, representing a wide range of choices for pre and beginning readers, an important phase in a child’s reading life.

“The outstanding books in the Early Childhood and Picture Book categories show a seamless marriage of illustration and text with the illustrations forming a crucial element of the narrative,” said Professor Hillel.

“Humour appeared in a number of books, the best of it skirting the ubiquitous toilet humour and deploying whimsy, wit and quirky illustrations to amuse the reader.”

“The very best books in all categories will engage, entertain and inspire readers, inviting them to re-visit the story again after the first time.”

Established in 1945, the CBCA is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organisation that aims to engage the community with literature for young Australians. The CBCA presents annual awards to books of literary merit, for outstanding contribution to Australian children's literature.

Regarded as Australia’s most prestigious children’s literature awards, the annual CBCA Book of the Year is presented in six categories: Older Readers, Younger Readers, Early Childhood, Picture Book of the Year, Eve Pownall Award and the CBCA Award for New Illustrator (the only award of its kind in Australia).

The 2019 CBCA Book of the Year Awards announcement, held on Friday August 16 at an event at Deakin Edge, Federation Square in Melbourne, precedes CBCA Book Week which runs from 17 to 23 August.

This year’s CBCA Book Week theme Reading is My Secret Power has been brought to life by original artwork from award winning and much loved Australian picture book creator Bob Graham.

The theme will ignite the imaginations of children, educators and parents across the country who will celebrate Australian children’s literature and the joy of reading. For one glorious week, schools, early learning centres and libraries come alive with book character parades, colourful displays and bookish events and activities for all ages.

For the full list of the CBCA Book of the Year Winners and Honour Books please visit the CBCA website.

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