CBCA Book of the Year Award Short List 2018
What our Judges had to say about the Short List ...
The strength of this year's Notable list made it particularly hard to select six books for the Short List, but the Judges are confident that those chosen represent the very best of the year’s entries and that they cater not only for a wide range of this category’s 13 to 18-year-old readership but also for a good variety of tastes and interests. In spite of the fact that, quite coincidentally, all the shortlisted novels are written by women, there is an interesting breadth, too, in the authors’ range of experience, from two debut novels to a highly successful experiment in which three skilled YA authors have cooperated to voice three main characters in seamless combination.
Just six books! No small task when we considered the calibre and quality of the books on the Notable list in the Younger Reader category. Five of the authors are female, and only two of the protagonists are male. The secondary main character, with the exception of one book, is the opposite gender. The books do not have a gender stereotype, but may attract readers who are similar to the protagonist. Journeying, resilience, and finding self are the constant themes. Resonating across all are strong, but not necessarily positive, family and friend constructs underpinning the well-crafted stories.
Chosen from a high-quality Notable list of 45, the six shortlisted books from five different publishers are outstanding, each in its own way. While the stories are quite different, there is a strong sense of diversity, of acceptance and celebrating differences and unique talents in all six books. With very different writing and illustration styles all titles offer Early Childhood readers a reflection of the world around them, or a thoughtful window to the world beyond.
The task of narrowing our Notable list of 48 highly original and diverse picture books to a Short List of six titles was gruelling, with each of us saddened to see a personal favourite falling off the list. As judges, we collectively acknowledged that this year, with a stellar list of potential winners, we struggled with our final eight or nine titles to reduce the list to six. The discussion was robust, the passion evident, as we critiqued each picture book from various perspectives. We found ourselves challenged to consider the shifting parameters in how language and image are being used by authors and illustrators to reimagine and reconstruct contemporary picture books, who our readership is, and how books are being consumed. This year’s list offers a range of stunning illustrative and writing styles demonstrating strong relationships between text and image, a broad appeal for readers and an openness to interpretation that should invite discussion and reflection.
Eve Pownall - Information books
Entries for the Eve Pownall Award have gone through an evolution of sorts over the years. Gone are the basic books filled with facts, figures and formal illustrations. Today, we have a range of books that are informing their audience through creative presentation and illustrations. Amongst other things, the Eve Pownall Award goes to publications that excel in the documentation of factual material coupled with imaginative presentation and interpretation. Selecting a Short List from the 18 outstanding Notable books meant the judges had to closely examine the criteria of the award. This year’s Short List reflects the rapid change in the way young readers seek information. Publishers have produced information books that present facts in short grabs coupled with illustrations that are bold and interactive. Little known areas of Australian history are explored through stories of unrecognised heroes and simple ABCs. Basic science principles are revealed through such clever and imaginative texts that both toddlers and older readers alike would be fascinated. The care of our environment is again represented in this year’s Short List. Parallel text and large bright illustrations have been used in books to reveal information in an imaginative and subtle way. The books presented for the Short List are excellent examples of the criteria for the award and have shown that information books have a strong future.