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2021 Children’s Book of the Year winners announced

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Drum-roll please. This is important news for Hunter kids who are currently in lockdown.

Although Book Week may look a little different this year, the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) has still been judging on your behalf, and would like to announce the winners of the 2021 Book of the Year Awards.

Book Week runs from 21-27 August. In 2021 the theme is Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds. 

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year (yes kids, that is old) the awards attracted more than 500 entries, making difficult for judges to choose just six winners. 

CBCA chair (that means ‘boss’) Wendy Rapee said the first Book of the Year Awards were awarded in 1946, when there was only one winner.

“You might say this 75th birthday is a diamond jubilee of sorts, and I am reminded of the brilliance and lustre of a diamond when I think how a carefully constructed story can light up the mind of a child,” she said.

“Our children’s imaginations, their wellbeing, their knowledge of the world around them, and their connections to each other have flourished because of these stories.” 

This year there are winners from six categories. I hope your favourite is listed below.

Book of the Year for Older Readers: 

Twin sisters build a post-apocalyptic sanctuary on a tiny island in this year’s spine-tingling read. In The End of the World is Bigger than Love, Davina Bell weaves together dreams with a fearsome reality. 

The Book of the Year for Younger Readers:

Aster’s Good, Right Things  by Kate Gordon. Aster is an anxious young girl who feels her mother has deserted her because she isn’t good enough. The CBCA judges described the story of Aster’s journey to greater self-worth as pitch-perfect with gentle humour and a sophisticated plot. 

Book of the Year for Early Childhood:

Mother and daughter writing team Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman created a rhyming cautionary tale in No! Never!  

Illustrated by Mel Pearce, the book is eminently age appropriate and delightful to read aloud for both adults and children, according to the CBCA judges. 

The Picture Book of the Year:

How to Make a Bird, written by Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Matt Ottley, is a paean to creativity. A story based on the wonder of migratory birds, CBCA judges described it as a detailed, delicate and gently philosophical story. 

The Eve Pownall Award for non-fiction:

Dry to Dry: The Seasons of Kakadu written by Pamela Freeman and illustrated by Liz Anelli. The engaging text and illustrations transport readers to Kakadu National Park as the seasons come and go. 

Award for New Illustrator:

Zeno Sworder was awarded the new illustrator award for This Small Blue Dot, the story of a young girl welcoming a new sibling into the world. The judges said Mr Sworder used an array of mixed-media messages to illustrate concepts around life, ecology and sustainability for child readers. 

For the full list of CBCA Book of the Year 2021 Award and Honour books, please visit the CBCA website here. 

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