2022-2023 CBCA Book of the Year Awards Judges

Older Readers Category


Michael Earp is a writer and bookseller living in Melbourne, Australia. He is the contributing editor of Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories (2019) and contributor to Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories (2019). He has a Masters in Children’s Literature and an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Teaching. For over seventeen years he has worked between bookselling and publishing as a children’s and young adult specialist, currently managing The Little Bookroom. His writing has also appeared in The Victorian Writer and Aurealis. A passionate advocate for LGBTQIA+ literature for young people, he established the #AusQueerYA Tumblr to catalogue all Australian young adult fiction containing queer content and characters. He was previously volunteer committee chair for the #LoveOzYA campaign, a ‘Read Local’ initiative to raise the profile of young adult fiction written by Australians. 


Kathryn is a passionate believer in the power of literature to enhance our society and improve educational outcomes. Kathryn is Head of Library at The Pittwater House Schools, NSW and has been an educator for over 20 years. Her teaching experience includes positions in Japan, England and Australia and she has taught across the different sectors of education, government, Catholic and independent. She has long been a devourer of books and is currently a reviewer for the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge year 7-9 booklist. She is surrounded by young adults each day and is acutely aware of their reading styles and habits.  Kathryn is keen to support the wonderful work of the CBCA in the capacity of judge. 


Carole Fuller is a retired teacher having taught English, Ancient History, Social Science, and anything else when needed. She has been in class rooms from grade 3 right through to university having lectured for two years in English Curriculum and Methodology and Primary Literacy at UTas. Carole has been a member of CBCA (Tas) for over 10 years and is currently co-hosting a school for seniors course for grandparents entitled ‘Choosing books for Grandchildren’. In 2009/10 she was the CBCA Tasmanian judge. Carole’s seven year old granddaughter and twelve year old grandson, both of whom are avid readers, keep her up to date with current children’s literature and interests. 

Younger Readers Category


Throughout her 40 year career in education Colleen has shared a love of reading and teaching reading through quality literature in schools across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Colleen has a Masters of Education (Teaching and Learning) and currently holds the position of Senior Officer, Literacy Specialist at Catholic Education Canberra Goulburn. Her work with 56 schools across the sector involves supporting teachers in classes from Kindergarten to Year 10 to engage with and appreciate literature for inclusion in their planned teaching and learning. She is looking forward to being able to contribute to the promotion of Australian authors and high-quality Australian children’s literature through participation in the judging process.  


Claire has nurtured a lifelong love of children's literature through her degree in Creative Writing and Children's literature from Edith Cowan University, Honours from Murdoch University and a MPhil in Education (Critical Approaches to Children's Literature) from the University of Cambridge, UK, where she learned about all forms of children's literature from picture book structure, poetry and YA fiction through to apps and graphic novels from some of the world's leading academics. Alongside her current role as a Technical Writer, Claire has worked for over ten years as a competitive swimming coach, mentor and tutor to children, teenagers and adults focusing on academic writing for university, English skills and ATAR preparation. She also has experience with creative writing, including the short story, film and play. 


Danielle is a Teacher Librarian at a P-12 college in Brisbane and has a Bachelor of Primary Education and a Master of Education Teacher Librarianship through Queensland University of Technology. 2021 will be her second year as a member of the Queensland CBCA Branch committee.  She is an avid reader of everything from picture books through to adult books but finds her place in middle years and young adult fiction. Danielle is an advocate for Australian literature and enjoys helping students develop a lifelong love of reading. Book Week is her favourite week of the school calendar and she thoroughly enjoys the challenge of dressing up.   

Early Childhood Category


Gabrielle’s passion for children’s literature stems from a 40-year career as a Teacher Librarian in a variety of primary schools in Adelaide. She served briefly as a committee member on the SA branch of CBCA. Recently retired, she has relocated to Brisbane with her husband to be closer to her daughters and grandchildren. Over the last few years her love of books has led her to review picture books and novels for ReadPlus. She works part-time as an English and Reading tutor and in her free time she enjoys dabbling in painting and drawing at home. Her qualifications include a Diploma of Teaching (Primary), Bachelor Education (Art and P.E.) and a Graduate Diploma in Teacher Librarianship. She is passionate about the need for guaranteed and appropriate staffing in all school libraries and is looking forward to becoming more involved in CBCA in Brisbane. 


Kate Burbeck is the librarian at The Alice Springs Steiner School. Prior to this role, she honed her skills for over 10 years in the public library sector, providing library services for children and youth. She has a Bachelor of Information Studies and she is soon to complete a Masters of Teaching in primary and early childhood, specialising in English and literature. The daughter of a visual artist, Kate is also a prolific creative writer. 


Bronwyn’s passion for picture books was nurtured as a child and continues to grow. She has taught in various teaching positions, having qualified with a Bachelor of Education (Primary) from Deakin University. When she joined Melbourne Grammar School working as a Teacher Librarian, she undertook post-graduate studies in children’s literature, opening up new ways to analyse literature whilst also informing her teaching and the ways she shares literature. Bronwyn is dedicated to connecting young students to books that engage them and give them success. She is also a strong advocate for the use of picture books across all areas of the curriculum, encouraging and supporting teachers. Bronwyn is thrilled to be judging the Early Childhood Category.

Picture Book / New Illustrator Categories


Sarah Forrest is a lecturer and PhD candidate at the University of South Australia. She specialises in English education, working with primary, middle and secondary pre-service teachers. Sarah is an advocate for quality children’s literature and is particularly passionate about picture books for readers of all ages. She has written articles for the journal Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, for which she is also copy editor, and is Vice President of the Australian Literacy Educators Association, South Australia. Her love of literature extends into her personal life: she enjoys sharing books with her own children, is the coordinator of a book discussion group and the proud custodian of Hart’s Mill Little Free Library in Port Adelaide. Sarah believes in the power of putting the right book into the right person’s hand, and the potential of literature in extending our experiences and understanding of the world around us. 


Margot Lindgren worked as a Teacher Librarian in NSW Primary Schools for 33 years in a variety of settings, from small rural schools to her last role at a large metropolitan campus. She believes strongly in the importance of school libraries and has a passion for children’s literature. Margot is currently the National Secretary of IBBY Australia (International Board on Books for the Young) and she is also a member of the Children’s Book Council (NSW Branch). In retirement Margot is a regular volunteer at Westmead Children's Hospital in their Book Bunker. Margot has an MEd in Teacher Librarianship and Post Graduate qualifications in Children’s Literature. She joined the CBCA in 1983 and in 2021 she is thrilled to take up the role of judge for the Picture Book category. She loves picture books that enrich children’s lives, that contain carefully crafted text and images, are of universal appeal and are thus able to be shared by children around the world. 


Sarah has worked as a Primary Teacher, Teacher Librarian, University Lecturer, literacy coach, conference and festival convenor, and book reviewer. Sarah currently works in schools and community organisations as the Founder and Lead Literacy Consultant of EoL=MC2 (Ecology of Learning = Mayor Cox2). In her spare time she is the Bendigo Regional Director of CBCA, a member of the Central Victoria Local Council of ALEA, and is involved with the Bendigo Writers Festival. She’s an enthusiastic and vocal member of her local CAE book group (which she joined to force her to read at least one adult book a month) but ironically she rarely finishes the monthly book because of all the other reading she does. Sarah reviews children’s and YA texts fortnightly, with Jo Printz on ABC Central Victoria Local Radio 91.1; and with Trevor Chappell on Overnights, ABC Melbourne. Sarah loves to stitch, felt, cook, paint, swim, travel and catch-up with friends whenever possible but housework and weeding are definitely for her next life. 

Eve Pownall Category


Sheryl Cootes has been teaching for over thirty years in schools in the Blue Mountains and western Sydney areas. She has been Teacher, Assistant Principal and Relieving Principal at Department of Education schools, most recently in the role of Assistant Principal at Bidwill PS, mentoring inexperienced teachers in the use of literature in the classroom and establishing a culture of ‘reading for pleasure’ among students. She is a recipient of the Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Australian College of Education Award for Outstanding Achievement. Sheryl is passionate about engaging students with children’s literature, conducting Book Clubs for senior students and challenging them to read forty books within a school yearSheryl is currently President of the Blue Mountains sub-branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (NSW branch), a position she has held since 2015. She has established Little Free Libraries at ten locations in the middle and upper mountains, providing access to quality children’s literature for the broader community. Sheryl has recently been appointed School Programs Manager for WestWordsa significant provider of programs promoting literature development for young people in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. 


Alida Galati’s lifelong passion for books and reading has led her down a variety of information paths, right through to her current role as a secondary school librarian at Ivanhoe Grammar School. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (Italian Studies and English Literature, La Trobe University); and a Graduate Diploma in Information Management and Library Studies (RMIT University). She is a keen reader, across all genres, and is an enthusiast of YA fiction. She loves talking about books with her students and believes a great book conversation isn’t what she has to say about it, but what they bring to the interaction. She dabbles in writing and has written book reviews for Books + Publishing, and Better Reading; and about school reading programs and initiatives in SLAV’s FYI journal. Alida is nervously excited to take on the role as a CBCA Judge.


Alex Wharton is Head of Middle School at Carinya Christian School, Gunnedah. He is a proud and award-winning classroom practitioner, having taught in a variety of primary and secondary school contexts in metropolitan and rural areas around NSW. Alex is a Director with the English Teachers Association NSW and is a presenter/writer for the Australian Association for the Teaching of English. He was the inaugural Copyright Agency Reading Australia Fellow and a recipient of a national Commonwealth Bank Teaching Award. Alex has served as the Secretary for the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society and is an active member of the LoveOzYA Committee. He has been a judge for Red Room Poetry, the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.  

2020-2021 CBCA Book of the Year Awards Judges

Older Readers Category


Jonathan is a secondary teacher who has held many interesting jobs around the world then returned to Australia to TAFE Queensland teaching in the area of English as a second language. He returned to studies and combined a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics with a Postgraduate Degree in Secondary Education. Jonathan now lives in Darwin working full time in the Humanities Department where he teaches middle school students English, History, Geography, Civics and Citizenship. Jonathan is an avid reader and feels that judging in the Older Reader category will help him connect and gain an in-depth appreciation of literature available to his students, thus enhancing his teaching program.


Karys is the Library Manager at both Prahran High School and Richmond High School. She is originally from Western Australia and has a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Information Management (Librarianship) from Curtin University. She is the current President of the CBCA Victorian Branch. Karys also makes zines and writes for Books + Publishing magazine. She is passionate about the positive impact libraries and literature can have on the wellbeing of young people.


Erin has a Bachelor of Education and a Masters of Teacher Librarianship. For almost ten years she worked as the Education Marketing Manager of Penguin Books Australia and was fortunate to be able to share books with teachers and students around the country. Following this, she managed The Kids’ Bookshop before finally making the transition to Teacher Librarian at Trinity Grammar in Melbourne. She’s very excited to take on the role of CBCA judge and is looking forward to reading many wonderful books and sharing them with her fellow judges.

Younger Readers Category


Margaret has worked for many years as an English teacher, Teacher Librarian (in both primary and secondary schools) and now, while semi-retired, has half a dozen schools locally where she teaches on a relief basis. She still enjoys talking to children about their books and reading. She compiles and edits the newsletter for the CBCA (Qld branch) and participates in the Last Tuesday Children’s Book Club, a discussion group consisting of retired TLs and aspiring writers who enjoy keeping up with books for children. As well as a Bachelor of Arts in English and History, she has a Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship).


Jan Pocock is the Teacher Librarian at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School. She has a Bachelor of Education with a major in English Literature and has taught from K - 12 in a variety of schools including rural and remote. She has also worked in a variety of roles from Teacher, Head of Department and Principal. Jan has always had a passion for reading and developing a love of reading amongst children. Her key focus has been finding the book that fits the child, promoting reading for pleasure and encouraging students to open themselves to new experiences using reading and books. She is an avid reader herself and is happy to read anything from picture books to adult novels, any book, any genre. However, she will happily discard what she isn't enjoying. Life is way too short, and there are too many amazing books, to read books you don't love!



Ruth Woolven has Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a Master of Information Management (Librarianship). Ruth works as the Librarian at Kew Primary School in Melbourne. Ruth is the Primary School Representative on the School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) Council and is a member of the CBCA Victorian Branch committee. Ruth is passionate about connecting students to the right books and promoting reading for pleasure.

Early Childhood Category


Wendy has a Bachelor of Arts (Library and Information Science) and a Master of Information Studies (Children’s Librarianship). She is currently the Children’s Librarian at City of Canada Bay Libraries, a public library service in Sydney’s inner west. Wendy has worked for over 40 years in all types of libraries. She found her dream job as a Children’s Librarian 18 years ago, allowing her to combine her love of children, books, reading and libraries. Wendy provides children’s literacy programs and services for children and families in the local community, laying the foundations for a lifelong love of reading and books. She is looking forward to taking part in the judging process. 


Throughout her 30-year teaching career, Marissa has demonstrated a passion for literature and loves sharing the joy of reading with her students. She has completed a Master of Business (Information Technology), RMIT University; a Graduate Diploma in Information Management, RMIT University; a Bachelor of Education, RMIT University; and a Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood Education), Phillip Institute of Technology, with a major focus in Children’s Literature in all of these studies. Marissa is currently the Junior School Teacher Librarian at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School, working with students in the Junior School (Year Prep – 6) and Early Learning Centre (Kinder and Pre-Prep). A key focus of her role is fostering a love of books and reading for pleasure in the students, staff, and the wider community. She is also an enthusiastic and active member of the CBCA Victorian Branch executive committee.


Sandi lives and breathes stories, as a reader, writer and storyteller. Sandi has spent eighteen years working in educational libraries and has a in Diploma Library and Information Studies. She served on the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award committee between 2012 and 2017 and is the critique coordinator for the Australia West region of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Sandi is passionate about diversity in storytelling and engaging readers with stories. She believes that a teetering stack of books waiting to be read is an essential component of every household.

Picture Book / New Illustrator Categories


Julie is a senior lecturer in teacher education at Monash University. A former English teacher, she now teaches and researches in literature and young people’s in-school and out-of-school literacy practices. Her research interests include print literature as well as digital literary texts, and all the ways these might be taught and read. She sees literature as a powerful springboard for deeper reading, drawing on complex visual and print language as well as rich vocabulary and, in the case of picture books, crafted illustration. In her teaching, she has worked with preservice and practising teachers to read, analyse and create their own picture and bilingual books. She is a joint editor of the literacy journal, Literacy Learning: the Middle Years which explores reading and teaching practices among middle years children. She is also co-author of Learning to Teach: New Times, New Practices (Oxford University Press)preparing for its third edition.


Nette Hilton has been an author of children’s and YA Literature for the past thirty years. She holds a Bachelor of Education and has taught Primary School for 40 years and continues to work in publishing as an author and emerging illustrator. During this time, she has written over 100 books ranging from pre-school to adult and her work has been recognised by the CBCA Book of the Year Awards (both in the Notables and Short List), the NSW Premier’s Awards (shortlist), the Queensland Premier’s Awards and the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (longlist). Her books have been translated and are available worldwide with two titles still in print after twenty-nine years. In 2014-2015 she was the Judge for senior poetry in the Dorothea MacKellar National Poetry Competition. She has twice worked as a judge with the NSW Premier’s Awards, a CBCA Younger Reader judge and participates regularly in writer’s festivals and literary events.


Brook has a Diploma of Teaching (Primary) and a Graduate Diploma in Children’s Literature. Although she has been passionate about children’s literature since childhood, she attributes the depth of her love of literature to having had lecturers at the top of their field – two of whom read picture books at the beginning of every lecture. Brook currently works part-time as a librarian. She is a member of many writers’ groups, prominent literary related associations, and reviewer for online children’s magazines, blogs and publishers. Brook has a multitude of experience and expertise in her chosen field. In 2019, she was an Eve Pownall CBCA judge which was a new and interesting area. This year she is delighted to be working in her area of expertise as the Picture Book/New Illustrator CBCA Judge.

Eve Pownall Category


Melinda is a librarian specialising in children’s services. She completed the Graduate Diploma in Information Management at RMIT in 2007 and has held various roles in public libraries across Melbourne. She is currently the Reading Coordinator at Eltham Library, a branch of Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries. Melinda has also completed Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing and has written for publications including Books and Publishing, Good Reading, Magpies and the CBCA website Reading Time.  She is an avid reader and feels very lucky to be surrounded by books every day. As a librarian, she enjoys sharing her love of literature with the library’s littlest patrons. At home, she loves reading stories to her baby daughter.

Melinda is on the Eve Pownall judging panel for the 2020 Book of the Year Awards only.


Margaret’s qualifications include Bachelor of Education (English and History), Bachelor of Arts (French and Communication Studies), Master of Education in English (Visual Literacy). More recently, Doctor of Philosophy. As a teacher in the secondary and tertiary sectors she taught children’s literature to college and university students. Since 2007 Margaret has been a voluntary guide at the National Gallery of Australia. For several years she was a reviewer of Literature for Younger Readers for The Canberra Times. In 2014 Margaret was a CBCA Eve Pownall Award Judge. Margaret is currently a researcher for the Our Mythical Childhood (OMC) Survey, developing a database of children’s and young adult literature from around the world. Margaret’s passion for children’s literature was fuelled by her own childhood reading, and eventually sharing literature with her own children and grandchildren. As well as children’s literature. Margaret is an avid reader of adult fiction and non-fiction.


Narissa is a former primary school principal and teacher. She now works as a literacy consultant in schools across Victoria, striving to build a love of literacy and literature in both students and teachers. Narissa holds a Masters of Education (Charles Sturt University) as well as a Bachelor of Education with a minor in Children’s Literature (Latrobe University). She is passionate about schools using Australian texts as mentors for teaching reading and writing and founded the Oz Lit Teacher community to support teachers to build their knowledge in doing this. Narissa is an avid reader and keen writer and is rarely found without a book in her hand. She was first introduced to the CBCA Book of the Year Awards by her primary school librarian, Ms Patterson, and has loved awaiting the announcement of the winners ever since. She is thrilled to be a part of the judging panel for the Eve Pownall Award this year.

Narissa is on the Eve Pownall judging panel for the 2021 Book of the Year Awards only.


Lucy has a Bachelor of Environmental Science with a major in cultural heritage studies. She is currently working for the Federal Department of the Environment and Energy assessing development proposals that are likely to have an impact on matters of national environmental significance such as threatened species and communities, world heritage properties and national heritage places. Lucy has six siblings and a number of nieces and nephews so has read a lot of children’s books over the years as well as young adult literature and most other genres as an adult. She achieved her New Year’s resolution in 2018 of reading 52 novels in a year, equivalent to one book a week. Lucy has always been passionate about reading and learning, particularly about the science of how things work, birds and nature and the history of Australian huts and buildings. She is looking forward to learning more about the world through judging the Eve Pownall entries.