Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award Winners Announced

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Gritty, contemporary themes are tackled by many books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia 2019 Book of the Year Awards, announced today, challenging their readers to contemplate a range of important social issues.

CBCA National Chair Professor Margot Hillel OAM said, “Literature plays a critical role in giving children and young adults an opportunity to explore and understand issues in an age-appropriate way.”

Some of the themes covered by this year’s Winner and Honour Books include consumerism and the environment (The All New Must Have Orange 430 by Michael Speechley), the plight of refugees (The Mediterranean by Armin Greder) and asylum seekers held in detention (Between Us by Clare Atkins) and reconciliation (Sorry Day by Coral Vass). Shaun Tan’s Cicada is more a social commentary on working for the big corporates than a bedtime story.

“The authors recognised in this year’s Awards handle these themes unapologetically but with compassion and sensitivity through vibrant characters, compelling storylines and in the case of picture books, stunning illustrations in a range of artistic media and styles,” said Professor Hillel.

Books from acclaimed Australian authors Emily Rodda AC, Alison Lester AM and Shaun Tan feature on the Winner and Honour List, in addition to debut titles from emerging talent such as Black Cockatoo (Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler), Small Spaces (Sarah Epstein), The All New Must Have Orange 430 (Michael Speechley) and Grandma Z (Daniel Gray-Barnett).

The 2019 Book of the Year saw a record 488 entries of which more than 100 were from first-time creators. The Early Childhood category received the largest ever number of entries, representing a wide range of choices for pre and beginning readers, an important phase in a child’s reading life.

Here is the full list of winners by category:

  • Book of the Year: Older Readers (13-18): Between Us by Clare Atkins

  • Book of the Year: Younger Readers (8-12): His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda

  • Book of the Year: Early Childhood (0-7): Tricky’s Bad Day by Alison Lester

  • The Picture Book of the Year: Cicada by Shaun Tan

  • The Eve Pownall Award (documenting factual material): Sorry Day by Coral Vass, illustrated by Dub Leffler

  • CBCA Award for New Illustrators: Grandma Z by Daniel Gray-Barnett

    For more information and the full list of honours, please see the CBCA website at