2022 The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year announced

The eminent annual awards continue to celebrate and honour quality Australian literature for young people and enjoyed a superb 6.8% growth trajectory, surpassing the successful 2021 awards. 

Entries across the six categories covered topics relevant to our complex world and the lived experience of our young readers—including life within a migrant family and juggling relationships with a real desire for self-discovery.

In 2022 the CBCA acknowledged powerful new voices, literary forms and artists presenting challenging themes around undocumented persons, life choices, the joy of living free and wild, celebrating untold stories of our First Nations, and the relationships we have with our vast natural environment. The incredible array of talent this year ensures our quality award-winning books will create discussion and debate as much as it will be cause for celebration.

Wendy Rapee, Chair of the CBCA, says, “The entries this year are evidence that “the dedicated writers and illustrators who attend to their craft and the publishers who make the investment to commit to and care about making quality books, are showing the deep respect our young readers deserve.” These Australian book creators are responding to the thirst for colourful powerful stories that reflect our evolving, eclectic, and beautifully diverse culture with their sincere, deep, and reflective quality voices and illustration prowess. The 2022 CBCA Book of the Year Awards are truly a window to Australia contemporary culture.”

THE 2022 BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS (judges comments below)

Book of the Year: Older Readers

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers in their secondary years of schooling. Ages 13-18 years (NB: These books are for mature readers, and some may deal with particularly challenging themes including violence and suicide. Parental guidance is recommended). 

Rebecca Lim Tiger Daughter Allen & Unwin 9781760877644
Felicity Castagna Girls in Boys’ Cars Pan Macmillan Australia 9781760982980
Steven Herrick How to Repaint a Life University of Queensland Press 9780702263156


Book of the Year: Younger Readers

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers from the middle to upper primary years. 7-12 years (NB: Some of the titles in this category may only be suitable for readers who are in the upper primary years as they contain mature themes, including violence. Parental guidance is recommended). 

Shirley Marr A Glasshouse of Stars Penguin Random House Australia 9781760899547
Karen Foxlee Dragon Skin Allen & Unwin 9781760526108
Katrina Nannestad Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief ABC: An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers 9780733341465


Book of the Year: Early Childhood

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for children who are at pre-reading or early stages of reading. Ages 0-6 years. 

Andrea Rowe (illus. by Hannah Sommerville) Jetty Jumping Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing 9781760500658
Nick Bland Walk of the Whales Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing 9781760509026
Vikki Conley (illus. by Nicky Johnston) Amira’s Suitcase New Frontier Publishing 9781922326133


Picture Book of the Year

Entries in this category should be outstanding books of the Picture Book genre in which the author and illustrator achieve artistic and literary unity or, in wordless picture books, where the story, theme or concept is unified through illustrations. Ages 0-18 years (NB. Some of these books may be for mature readers). 

Jess Racklyeft (text by Claire Saxby) Iceberg Allen & Unwin 9781760526047
James Foley Stellarphant Fremantle Press 9781760990732
Christopher Nielsen (text by Margrete Lamond & Anthony Bertini) Just One Bee Dirt Lane Press (WestWords) 9780648023890


Eve Pownall Award

Entries in this category should be books which have the prime intention of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style. Ages 0-18 years. (NB.Books in this category may be for mature readers and guidance regarding content is recommended).

Safdar Ahmed Still Alive, Notes from Australia’s Immigration Detention System Twelve Panels Press 9780980593730
Sami Bayly The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature Hachette Australia 9780734420046
Karen Wyld (illus. by Jaelyn Biumaiwai) Heroes, Rebels and Innovators Hachette Australia 9780734419835


CBCA Award for New Illustrator

This Award aims to recognise and encourage new talent in the field of Australian children’s book illustration. Ages 0-18 years.

Michelle Pereira The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing 9781760509361

What our judges said:

The CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers, “Tiger Daughter” by Rebecca Lim (Allen & Unwin).
Written with the palpable anger of being kept silenced in a cage of patriarchal injustice, this is a beautifully written story of the challenges and injustices of culturally based domestic violence and the injustices and effects of migrant discrimination. The strength of love, and the importance of connection to community shines throughout this exploration of grief, cultural clash, patriarchy, racism and friendship. Youth wins out over adult indoctrination, disappointment and pessimism.

The CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers, “A Glasshouse of Stars” by Shirley Marr (Penguin Random House Australia). Using the rarely seen second person point of view, Marr addresses both the reader and the protagonist in a tale of identity, belonging, social exclusion, cultural diversity and adaptation. The subtle magic of both the house and the glasshouse serves as an extension of the protagonist’s emotions and provide her with hope. The story asks the reader to look beyond tragic and difficult events to a resilience that enables one to dream and addresses cultural biases, customs and expectations.

The CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood was won by “Jetty Jumping”, written by Andrea Rowe and illustrated by Hannah Sommerville (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing). A beautifully written and highly relatable book about overcoming fears. The joy of the jumping girls contrasts with Milla’s trepidation as she sits apart, afraid to participate in their fun yet wanting to join them. A lovely twist of plot adds momentum and motivation to the main character’s actions, who overcomes her fears to finally enter the water.

The CBCA Picture Book of the Year was won by “Iceberg” written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Jess Racklyeft (Allen & Unwin). The writing is sophisticated, filled with perfectly balanced sentences, and verbs used precisely to describe the vivid life of this icy place. The choice of artistic medium offers a perfect complement to the text; the illustrations are subtle at times and commanding at others. A sense of wonder is created through transparent layers of water allowing readers to spot life above and the mysteries below the surface.

The Eve Pownall Award was won by Safdar Ahmed for “Still Alive, Notes from Australia’s Immigration Detention system” (Twelve Panels Press). A confronting, raw and graphic account of the history and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees under successive Australian governments. Challenging, detailed and well-researched, powerfully produced from a personal perspective — journeys from their homelands and lived experiences are interspersed with history, news events, government policy and international human rights reports and reactions. Metaphors (written and drawn) such as monsters, knots and chess pieces are effective in representing the detainees’ stresses and traumas. There is mature content such as self-harm, executions, sexual intimacy and assault, both in written and drawn examples.

The CBCA Award for New Illustrator was won by Michelle Pereira for her complimentary visual storytelling in “The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name” (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing).

CBCA Book Week

Following the Book of the Year Award announcements, CBCA Book Week runs from 20-26 August. In 2022 the theme is “Dreaming with eyes open…” which has been beautifully brought to life through the themed artwork by Jasmine Seymour.

For the full list of CBCA Book of the Year 2022 Award and Honour books, please visit the CBCA website.

For details of the CBCA Awards Foundation and to make a donation, visit https://cbca.org.au/awards-foundation.