Australian shortlists for best children’s books released

CBCA logo

If you haven’t worked it out yet, I love children’s and YA books. So last week was a lot of fun, because the assorted Australian shortlists for the best children’s and YA books of the year came out, and I got to browse through endless pages of children’s books, daydreaming about which I would like to read, making my own shortlist from the shortlist, and then writing myself a monthly ‘book budget’ to make sure I didn’t buy the lot of them in one big splurge.

Such self-control!

Below are the links to the various shortlists, longlists, and notable book lists, and then I’ve given you my ultimate shortlist of books – the books from the award shortlists that I look forward to devouring (eventually) like a happy little bookworm. 🙂

  • Children’s Book Council of Australia shortlist and notable book list
  • REAL (Reading and Enjoying Australian Literature) Children’s Choice Awards shortlist
    • (This list acts as a shortlist for the various state awards that come under its banner – COOL, KOALAs, KROCS, YABBAs.)
  • ABDA (Australian Book Design Awards) shortlist (PDF download here)
  • Inky Gold Award longlist



The 2015 TJWR Delightful Children’s Book Award Shortlist:

  1. The Stone Lion by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ritva Voutila
    1. Tells the imagined story of  the stone lion outside the British Museum / Library (in real life it lives outside the museum, but in the story it’s the library). The lion wants to be alive, and its gargoyle friend says a great and generous heart would help that happen. The lion gets to save two homeless children from freezing to death during winter.
    2. Incredibly illustrated. Everything looks so real, but we’re talking about pictures of a stone lion turning into a real lion! (Or wishing it was turning into a real lion, anyway.) Dream-like. Amazing.
  2. Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll by Rosanne Hawke
    1. Read it last year. I love the premise – a little girl moves to Pakistan after their latest round of devastating floods and has to learn to make friends in a new culture. In order to stave off homesickness, she has her grandmother tell her a story bit-by-bit every time they catch up over Skype. The story is of a doll who is a gift for a little girl, but who gets lost in the flood and takes many sideways journeys and makes unexpected new friendships on its way to reaching the little girl. You’ll enjoy the twist at the end, too. Melt-in-your-heart moments.
  3. Whale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway and Tom Jellett
    1. There’s a whale in the kid’s bathtub – what is he to do?
    2. I love a good laugh and this just looks adorably hilarious. 🙂
  4. Tim and Ed by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andrew Joyner
    1. A story about twin koala bears growing up as active toddlers and learning that although they came from the same egg, they are allowed to be different people. Looks like a cute teaching tool for parents of twins.


Inky Gold_longlisted

The 2015 TJWR Ultimate Teen and YA Book Award Shortlist:

  1. The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil
    1. Because who doesn’t like a heroine whose life is falling apart, yet who responds by baking more cupcakes?
  2. The Protected by Claire Zorn
    1. This one has already won the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for YA, and for good reason. You’ll laugh at the dark, wry humour, but mostly you’ll cry – this is one for the tissue box, folks.
  3. The Ratcatcher’s Daughter by Pamela Rushby
    1. History with bite. (You knew that pun was coming.)
    2. It’s all about a young girl during a time most Queenslanders like me know nothing about: 1900 when the Black Death (bubonic plague) arrived in Brisbane on the backs of flea-carrying rats. Well-researched, so I’m definitely keen to read this one.
  4. The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn
    1. Read it. Loved it!
    2. Amazing writing, spell-binding plot, loveable characters. Scarily realistic vision of a future nuclear fallout and the darker themes and content that naturally occur when humans must either pitch in together or fight one another to survive. They’ve shelved this one in Years 7-9 in the CBCA shortlist, but I wouldn’t put an age limit on it.
  5. The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer
    1. Possibly like The Devil Wears Prada but younger? As a writer, I love a good ‘newspaper / magazine job’ story, so I look forward to seeing if this is as good as I hope.
  6. The Crystal Heart by Sophie Masson
    1. Sounds like gentle fantasy with an enjoyable love story – but I’m told there are many twists and turns, so not boring. I like the themes of integrity and sacrifice being woven into the love story.

Some commentary on the awards:

Why are there no Christian books or books with God themes in this year’s shortlists? Forgive me if I’m wrong – I haven’t read them all yet, so I don’t have the full information. But it makes you wonder.

Are Christian children’s books more poorly written, that they don’t make it into literary awards lists? Or is it that mainstream readers are mostly secular and don’t enjoy reading books with God themes? Or do the awards judges assume that on the readers’ behalf? Jesus said (paraphrased) that if we displayed our faith, other people who don’t believe would not understand it. We shouldn’t strive to make our books palatable to a secular audience at the expense of losing the faith present in our books. A post for another time – my favourite children’s and YA books with God themes – including some truly awesome writing.

Or – and this theory might be most likely – is it that all Christian books are published by independents and so don’t have the money to send the required number of books to the judging panel? (Some of these festival ask for a truly exorbitant number of review copies. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you!)

Just a side note, something I’m wondering about. If you have any illuminating thoughts on the topic, please share in the comments!

And hope you enjoy the books!


This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan, (C) 2015. Reblogging is highly encouraged, as long as you credit me as the author. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s