OK I admit it. I am a bit of a literary awards junkie and I’m proud to admit it. Not only do they introduce me to a slew of books I might have missed on publication I also get a special thrill when a book I’ve passionately fallen for makes a shortlist. So it was with baited breath that I went online this morning to see the Children’s Book Council of Australia‘s announcement of the Best Books Awards for 2014. And I wasn’t disappointed on either front.
The lists across categories (Older Readers, Younger Readers, Eve Pownall, Picture Book and Early Readers) are balanced with titles I want to run out and buy AND titles I have spent much of 2013 raving about to friends and acquaintances. Of particular note in the latter category is our very own My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg (already a multiple award winner), a book that achieved that rare balance between making me want to chuckle and cry at the same time. There’s also the fantastical and fantastic Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt (which Elise recently raved about) and the downright spine-chilling A Very Unusual Pursuit by Catherine Jinks, both books that had me on the edge of my seat from page one right through to their thrilling endings.
And a special shout out to those books that made it to the shortlist for the Eve Pownall Award. To quote the CBCA itself, these books were published with ‘the prime intention of documenting factual material’ so I was delighted to see two of our key indigenous non fiction titles make the cut, Jandamarra by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton, and Welcome to My Country by Laklak Burarrwanga and Family. Both opened up a fascinating world of Indigenous culture and history for me and, I hope, for a generation of Australian kids.
Our wonderful authors also feature heavily on the Notables list in each of the Early Childhood, Eve Pownall, Younger Readers, Older Readers & Picture Books categories, with a wealth of fantastic writing to be found across all the award categories – librarians and readers alike have a wonderful ready made reading list.
Of course the flip side to literary awards is that they simply don’t have the ability to include every brilliantly deserving book published in the last twelve months. So let’s thank our stars for all those authors slogging away at their desks out there, whether shortlisted or not, because without them our world would be a whole lot duller. Go seek them out!