Cracker 2015 CBCA Short List

ProtectedThis year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia short list is a cracker.

Older Readers

I’ve reviewed most of the Older Reader titles for the Weekend Australian, which means that I think they’re excellent. It’s a superlative list this year. Incidentally, most of these authors are relatively or brand-new published YA writers; and are women, representing the high number of YA Australian female authors published in recent times. The future of Australian YA looks exciting.

I reviewed Christine Bongers’s Intruder with Tristan Bancks’s, Two BleakboyWolves (Younger Readers) here last year. Great to see these Queensland/far north NSW authors acclaimed in the CBCA awards.

Younger Readers

Two Wolves is shortlisted in the Younger Readers category, along with a mixture of other first-time shortlisted authors, including Tamsin Janu for Figgy in the World, as well as names we expect to see such as Steven Herrick, Libby Gleeson and Bill Condon; Bill here with a novel for younger children, The Simple Things, instead of his usual YA. Judith Rossell won the Indies award for her gothic, Withering-by-Sea (see my review) and is deservedly shortlisted by CBCA.

Picture Books

The picture books form a strong list and include some newcomers such as Trace Balla with Rivertime and Michael Camilleri, with his outstanding illustrations for David Metzenthen’s Gallipoli book, One Minute’s Silence.One Minute's Silence

Freya Blackwood is shortlisted three times – here for illustrating Irena Kobald’s powerful Two Blankets. Stephen Michael King is also shortlisted three times, with Glenda Millard’s The Duck and the Darklings in this category.

 

Early Childhood

Stephen Michael King is shortlisted twice in the Early Childhood category; for the simple yet stunning Snail and Turtle are Friends and Lesley Gibbes’s Scary Night. Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood appear together twice, here with Go to Sleep, Jessie! and in The Cleo Stories, shortlisted in Younger Readers.

The Eve Pownall Information Books are another strong bunch, with my personal favourites Emu by Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne (we shortlisted Emu’s stable mate, Kangaroo, in the Qld Literary Awards), A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land by Simon Barnard and Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and the brilliant Robert Ingpen. Tea and Sugar

It wouldn’t be a CBCA short list without evergreen favourites, Jackie French and Bruce Whatley, Fire; Margaret Wild, The Stone Lion; Alison Lester, Noni the Pony goes to the Beach; and Aaron Blabey, Pig the Pug.

It’s always disappointing for those excellent titles that miss out but many of these have been nominated as Notables. These lists are worth looking at.

Older Readers

Younger Readers (it’s devastating to see what missed out being shortlisted in this category)

Picture Books

Early Childhood

Eve Pownall Information Books

Congratulations, not only to the shortlisted authors and illustrators, but the judges and the CBCA for enabling these outstanding books to be widely acclaimed.

What will win YA Book of the Year?

 

Sky so HeavyThe CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) winning and honour books will be announced on Friday 15th August. One of the most eagerly awaited categories (especially for bloggers) is the Book of the Year: Older Readers.

http://cbca.org.au/ShortList-2014.htm 

A surprise outcome in the OR category of this year’s shortlist is the appearance of FOUR debut novelists. The future of YA Australian writing seems very safe with this number of debut heavy-hitters.

The majority of the Older Readers’ shortlist is from the genre of contemporary realism, with two from speculative fiction.

Five of the six shortlisted authors are female. Bloggers who monitor the number of awarded female authors must be cheering. (It should be remembered, however, that the CBCA shortlist is judged on literary merit, not the gender of the authors or protagonists. The judges only have a two-year term so it’s hard to accept there may have been a gender prejudice in the recent past.)

Gay best friends or brothers are also punching above their weight in this category.

And a couple of the novels are very place-specific to Sydney and its surrounds.

Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil (HGE) was one of my top three YA novels for 2013 as outed in the Weekend Australian http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/turning-romance-on-its-head-for-young-adult-readers/story-fn9n8gph-1226613224447

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/hot-reads-for-summer/story-fn9n8gph-1226781555130

Life in Outer SpaceSo I’m obviously thrilled it has been shortlisted. It won the inaugural Hardie Grant Egmont Ampersand award and is contemporary realism, not sci-fi as implied by the title. Sam is an adorkable hero. He cannot believe that popular Camilla could like him. If you can’t wait for Melissa’s next book, The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl (Sept), read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

 

Another brilliant novel is Fiona Wood’s Wildlife (PanMacmillan). Sybilla is a complex – introverted yet easy-going – character who discovers much about herself and her peers on her extended school camp.

WildlifeFelicity Castagna continues the realism in The Incredible Here and Now (Giramondo). It is of enormous appeal for anyone who knows Sydney’s west and for teen boys in particular.

Will Kostakis adds humour to the mix in The First Third (Penguin), a contemporary Greek tragi-comedy.

Claire Zorn seamlessly incorporates human rights issues into The Sky so Heavy (UQP). This is a fast-paced post-apocalyptic story which begins in the Blue Mountains. Her new novel, The Protected is even better.

Fairytales for Wilde GirlsAnd Allyse Near creates her own sub-genre in Fairytales for Wilde Girls (Random), which co-won the Aurealis award.

Everyone is disappointed when YA books they love aren’t shortlisted. Surprise omissions for me this year are Simmone Howell’s edgy Girl Defective (Pan Macmillan), Amanda Betts’ luminous Zac and Mia (Text) and Jackie French’s Refuge (HarperCollins).

Which Book of the Year: Older Readers do you think should win?