The Children’s Book Council of Australia 2021 Shortlist announced

The Shortlist for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards was announced Tuesday 30 March, celebrating a wild year of storytelling about everything from lost souls to a party-crashing cockroach.

CBCA Chair Wendy Rapee said authors and illustrators worked in physical isolation during the last year, taking to Zoom with relish but unable to visit schools and travel the country.

“Yet they have crafted uniquely Australian stories, polished and produced with excellence, right across the Book of the Year’s six award categories,” Ms Rapee said.

“The 2021 Picture Book category was selected from a record-breaking 179 entries. Picture books have a special impact when the words, images and design come together as they do here. Five out of six of this year’s Shortlist speak to a younger audience who will enjoy engaging with the mix of human and animal characters, while How to Make a Bird is a paean to the creative process that will appeal to a wide audience.”

The Younger Readers’ Shortlist was particularly difficult to select, with judges noting very high standards. Illustrations are not common in this category but they were a valuable feature in four out of six titles on the Shortlist, which includes two very different verse novels. Hardcovers for three of the titles bring a classical feel to the texts, an expensive choice which shows how highly publishers value younger readers.

The Older Readers’ Shortlist is impressive in its breadth, including first-time, own-voice authors Cath Moore and Anna Whateley and ranging from dystopian worlds peppered with magical realism to stories that provide highly acute, personal and authentic insights.

The New Illustrator Shortlist is made up of the most confident new illustrators judges have seen in the category.
The Early Childhood Shortlist features loud, larger-than-life characters and stories that demand interaction.

The Eve Pownall shortlisted titles use illustration and design as well as words to deliver a deep understanding of detailed factual content. Three titles focus on Australian flora, fauna, landscape and environmental issues as our children continue their love affair with Australia’s natural world. Three focus on Australian history, sharing indigenous knowledge and encouraging readers to read between the lines of recorded history.

The CBCA is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organisation which aims to engage the community with literature for young Australians. Regarded as Australia’s most prestigious children’s literature award, the CBCA Book of the Year is presented in six categories:

  • • CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers
    • CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers
    • CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood
    • CBCA Picture Book of the Year
    • Eve Pownall Award
    • CBCA Award for New Illustrator, the only award of its kind in Australia.

View the Full List 2021 CBCA Shortlist.

The Book of the Year will be announced at noon AEST on Friday 16 August, followed by CBCA Book Week with this year’s theme Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds.