Call me a master of overstatement but nothing quite compares with the tension and excitement of a good CBCA awards shortlist announcement. I, like thousands of book aficionados around Australia, wait anxiously one April day every year to find out which new children’s and YA books made the cut and will go on to contend for the six prestigious CBCA awards announced in August.
So you can imagine the tension in the air here at A&U today as a bunch of us huddled around a central computer and watched the clock slowly tick over to midday, holding our collective breaths to see if our personal favourites would appear on the screen.
And I can report that, as with life, there was both delight and disappointment.
It was so wonderful to see books by the likes of Libby Gleeson (The Cleo Stories), Bill Condon (The Simple Things), Alison Lester (Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach), Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King (The Duck and the Darklings), and David Metzenthen and Michael Camilleri (One Minute’s Silence) receiving the attention they so richly deserve.
And particularly exciting was the news that talented first-timers Trace Balla (Rivertime), Michael Camilleri (One Minute’s Silence), Paul Seden and Karen Briggs (Kick with My Left Foot) have been singled out with the award for new illustrators.
So good to see, too, Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia by Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren shortlisted for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books. I for one think that Australia would be a better place today if everyone over the age of 13 read this book.
What about the disappointments? Well, rather than list all the titles that I’d have loved to see up there, it’s probably enough to say that there are simply too many worthy books published every year to fit on any award shortlist.
Personally, if I had my way the shortlist would be very, very long, indeed.
On the CBCA website you can see the full shortlists, as well as the notable books in each category (including staff favourites such as Razorhurst, Whale in the Bath by our very own Kylie Westaway and I Was Only Nineteen). The winners will be announced on August 21 at the beginning of Children’s Book Week, this year celebrating the 70th anniversary of the CBCA.