'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 22 March 2018

News: KBR CBCA 2018 Shortlist Predictions!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Forever curious to delve deeper into our book-loving psyches, we asked our intrepid KBR team to predict the 2018 CBCA Shortlist outcome based on the Notable Titles announced on the 27 February.

The Kids Book Review team is a mixed band of accomplished literary professionals, artists, educators, librarians and of course, reviewers so naturally, our responses were never going to be straightforward! Each team member was asked three questions:

·         Which title they thought WILL be shortlisted
·         Which title they thought SHOULD be shortlisted
·         Which title WOULD be shortlisted if they could choose, in other words, their favourite.

Here is what they had to say. Perhaps it will prompt you to make your own pre-announcement predictions. Whatever the outcome, KBR congratulate all those who made the Notables list this year. It is hugely gratifying to see the magnitude of quality, meaningful literature that Australia continues to create for children.

Meet our prophets:
Tania McCartney – Author, Illustrator, Editor, Reviewer, Independent Publisher
Dimity Powell – Author, Reviewer, Managing Editor
Shaye Wardrop – Aspiring Author, Avid Reader of children’s books
Anastasia Gonis: Book Lover, KBR Reviewer, Interviewer
Jo Burnell: Senior Editor Kids Book Review, Emerging Children’s Author, Freelance Editor
Connie Spanos: YA Editor, Reviewer, Freelance Editor, Emerging YA author
Coral Vass: Author, Editor
Penelope Pratley: Illustrator, Avid Reader
Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg: Children’s Librarian, Children’s Author, Book Obsessed
Sarah Steed: Consultant Librarian, Reviewer
Sarah Wallace: Reviewer, Avid Reader, Writer, Education Policy Professional

CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers

WILL be shortlisted
Tania: I have to preface this by saying I've not read any of the titles in this category and am only going on what I have read and heard about the ones I've chosen.  Beautiful Mess 
Dimity: Let me preface this by saying, this is ridiculously hard to decide! Ballad For A Mad Girl
Anastasia: Because of You by Pip Harry because of the topic homelessness; a strong current issue today. It reaches a wide audience and succeeds in showing how homeless people are perceived, sometimes wrongly; the strength and struggles many homeless experience to improve themselves and break the chains that led them to the streets. It reflects well on the others that work and encourage behind the scenes to change lives.
Shaye: I haven’t read any of the Older Readers long listed books (yet), but based on buzz I’ve heard, I’m going to predict Mr Romanov's Garden in the Sky and A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares.
Jo: In the Dark Spaces. Not only is it a gripping suspense, it explores the emotional quandaries of Stockholm syndrome and what it is like to come to care for your captors. Extraordinary.
Coral: The Fall, by Tristan Bancks - Bancks has a wide appeal, a loyal audience and he never fails to disappoint with his new releases.
Connie: Beautiful Mess and A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares. Equally divine books unafraid to shine a light on mental health.
Penelope: Mr Romanov’s Garden In The Sky – Robert Newton – A book that takes readers on a poignant emotional journey through a compelling mix of characters that are relatable in today’s multicultural Australian Society.
Sarah S: Third Witch by Jackie French, because reinterpretations of Shakespeare are valuable for showing the continuing relevance of Shakespeare (and his commentary on society) over time, and Jackie does this so well, using an unusual perspective.
Sarah W: The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon, opening kids eyes to confronting real events that still happen in our world. 

SHOULD be shortlisted
Tania: In the Dark Spaces
Dimity: The Dream Walker – narrative with a strong sense of place
Anastasia: The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon. For a wide audience. Apart from the brilliance of this writer’s work, the focus is on modern day slavery and the disappearance each year of a disturbing amount of people, mainly children, that are abducted and forced into slavery; a monumental problem that won’t be addressed.
Shaye: When I read the KBR review for In the Dark Spaces, I immediately wanted to read it. It sounds gripping, engaging and it’s science fiction, so I hope it’s on the shortlist.
Jo: Wilder Country – Fast moving post-apocalyptic action with high stakes and a solid emotional underpinning
Coral: The Fall, by Tristan Bancks.
Connie: I haven't read this yet, but love the premise (and KBR review) of In the Dark Spaces.
Penelope: Mallee Boys – Charlie Archbold – Because there should be more coming of age stories relating to the gamut of emotions covered in this powerful story.
Sarah S: The Ones That Disappeared by Zana Fraillon, because of the timely, globally relevant and important themes (specifically human trafficking).
Sarah W: In the Dark Spaces original story with real emotional conflict.

WOULD be shortlisted
Tania: The Secret Science of Magic because the premise, title and cover absolutely intrigue me (and they say not to judge a book by its cover...)
Dimity: The Fall – Gripping and atmospheric
Anastasia: The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon.
Shaye: Since I haven’t read any of the long listed books in this category, I don’t think I’d make a very good judge!  
Jo: The Ones that Disappeared exposes the terrifying reality of child slavery in a way that allows young people to ask questions and explore potential solutions.
And…Mr Romanov’s Garden opens up hidden worlds (living with addiction, dementia, gangs, in public housing) and allows the reader to see why seeking answers is so compelling. Full to overflowing with heart.
Coral: The Fall by you know who!
Connie: The Undercurrent. Loved it. An intelligent, page-turning speculative thriller.
Penelope: Mr Romanov’s Garden In The Sky
Sarah S: The Ones That Disappeared by Zana Fraillon, to put its subject matter on everyone’s radar and make them think.
Sarah W: The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon

CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers

WILL be shortlisted
Tania: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
Anastasia: Too Many Friends by Kathryn Apel. It has many themes – bullying, the effects of trying to please everyone at the same time, and the importance of making choices. A verse novel, sparse and precise in language that can be used as a resource in classroom discussions for primary school children.
Shaye: This is a HUGE list of amazing books, but if I have to put my magic future-telling hat on, I’m going to predict Nevermoor, Whimsy and Woe and How to Bee   
Jo: I think Mr Romanov’s Garden should be for younger readers. Pip and Houdini. A high action search for home, with the assistance of an ever-loyal canine.
make it to the shortlist!
Coral: Nevermoor: The Trials Of Morrigan Crow - Australia's version of Harry Potter. Will have a great appeal with younger readers 
Penelope: The Elephant – Peter Carnavas – A book that is bigger than the emotional story it holds. A heartfelt story to grow young hearts and minds. 
Sarah S: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, because it’s captured the imagination of many readers.
Sarah W: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, my kids and I all enjoyed this fabulous read and I would be surprised if it wasn't short listed.
SHOULD be shortlisted
Tania: Trouble and the New Kid 
Dimity: The Secrets We Share – Spot on, sharp tween psyche – pure magic, with How to Bee following closely behind (this is super hard!), again because of the insanely brilliant voice and characterisation.
Anastasia: The Secrets We Share by Nova Weetman. A brilliant sequel to The Secrets We Keep, it reveals the internal world of adolescence, the difficulty of sharing feelings and emotions, and how misconceptions can magnify when answers to important questions are not satisfied.
Shaye: I’m hoping The Exile makes it to the list. This series is unique, gripping and addictive.
Coral: How To Bee
Penelope: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow – Jessica Townsend – An all-round fabulous read with plot twists and turns that keep you guessing.
Sarah S: The Sorry Tale of Fox and Bear by Margrete Lamond and Heather Vallance, for its important messages about friendship and forgiveness, and its beautiful illustrations.
Sarah W: The Sorry Tale of Fox and Bear, a beautifully presented illustrated story with universal themes and elements of fairy tale.

WOULD be shortlisted
Tania: Trouble and the New Kid because of its imaginative premise, its gorgeous female lead, Cate Whittle's beautiful writing voice and her ability to so flawlessly and charmingly express children and the way they speak, think and act. 
Dimity: The Elephant – Elegant and emotive, so special
Anastasia: The Elephant by Peter Carnavas. Grief and depression experienced by adults, always has as strong if invisible effect on the children that live with them. This is a look into how children try to resolve adult issues in their own way.  It is for a wide audience including adults, valuable for discussion in homes and classrooms.
Shaye: The Exile, and I am also in love with the Trouble series. They are fantastic junior fiction novels jam-packed with mystery, humour, fabulous characters and dragons! So I would also choose Trouble and the New Kid.
Coral: Either, How To Bee or Nevermoor
Penelope: The Girl The Dog And The Writer In Rome – Katrina Nannestad – No other reason than my daughter and I LOVE Katrina’s romping good tales. We laugh, we predict plot lines, we second guess, we fall in love with the characters and feel sad when it’s all over (so we read her books all over again).
Sarah S: The Elephant by Peter Carnavas, because the topic is one many people will relate to, told in a way that can make sense of depression and grief for young readers. And there are gorgeous drawings to complement the words.
Sarah W: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood

WILL be shortlisted
Tania: Boy
Dimity: I’m Australian Too
Anastasia: Clare’s Goodbye by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Anna Pinataro. The themes of devastation and coming to terms with leaving what you’ve loved, is strongly depicted in both text and illustration. Suited to a wide age range, the message is poignantly presented with beauty and style in both text and its translation.
Shaye: Wow! This is the hardest category to predict. There are so many amazing books on the list. How do you choose? I think I’m Australian Too will be short-listed. It’s an important and powerful book for kids. I’m going to say Clare’s Goodbye because I’ve heard lots of great buzz about it. And Boy as well. Again, lots of buzz and the book deals with some awesome themes like fear and resilience. 
Jo:  Olivia’s Voice - An extraordinary tale in which children get to truly experience a deaf child’s perspective.
Coral: The Second Sky, by Patrick Guest - Love this book; great text, great message, gorgeous illustrations, it's got the lot! 
Penelope: I’m Australian Too – Mem Fox – Such a timely reminder for all about our multicultural country, the opportunity, and responsibility, we have to welcome others to our shores. 
Rebecka: I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox and Ronojoy Ghosh. Perfect rhythm and rhyme from Mem Fox and bright, sunny illustrations by Ronojoy Ghosh combine to create a picture book that I think is essential reading for every person in Australia today. This book recognises all the different parts of the world that Australian’s originate from and recognises the value of each and every person that makes up this country. With the dark cloud of Australia’s current refugee policies hanging over our heads, this book shines a bright and cheerful light on the positives of the multicultural, inclusive society that I hope majority of Australia will still strive to support and embrace. 
Sarah S: What’s Up Top? By Marc Martin, a book with amazing illustrations which makes great use of interactive and imaginative elements.
Sarah W: I'm Australian Too by Mem Fox. What makes us Australian? A look at the many families of different origins that contribute to our vibrant society.
SHOULD be shortlisted
Tania: Two Rainbows
Dimity: Boy – Empathetic meaning with humour, the best kind
Anastasia: I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox. Topics and themes cover multiculturalism and diversity; acceptance, equality and identity. Intended to reach all cultures and beliefs and an unlimited audience.
Shaye: I think it’s important fun and funny books, with a focus on entertainment, get a chance to shine alongside the books that teach us important lessons. Books like Ready, Steady, Hatch! definitely deserve a place on the shortlist.
Coral: I’m Australian Too
Penelope: Busting – Aaron Blabey – Um because we all giggle at toilet humour.
Rebecka: Why Can’t I be a Dinosaur by Kylie Westaway and Tom Jellet. A picture book that truly and effortlessly embraces gender equality, without making that the focus of the story. With a great sense of humour throughout the witty and relatable text and subtle diversity woven through the sensational illustrations we’ve come to expect from Tom Jellet, this story of a little girl who would rather dress up as a dinosaur for a wedding than a flower girl, is empowering, encouraging and most importantly thoroughly enjoyable reading.
Sarah S: The Shapes of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft, because there are not enough books by and about Aboriginal perspectives of our country, especially for this age group, and Bronwyn Bancroft creates them so beautifully.
Sarah W: The Shapes of Australia, The lyrical language and beautiful indigenous art combine to create a stunning and thoughtful book.

WOULD be shortlisted
Tania: What's Up Top because of its simple premise that's nevertheless drenched in creativity and cleverness, and the divine and engaging illustrations Marc has become known for.
Dimity: Nomax! by Shannon Horsfall – it works because it’s funny and it’s funny because it’s true!
Anastasia:  Nanna’s Button Tin by Dianne Wolfer illustrated by Heather Potter. Themes: the importance of stories and memories shared by the old with the young; serves to remind us of the fragility of life, plus the special relationship shared between grandparent and child. Outstanding detailed illustrations perfectly complement the text and bring more information into the story.
Shaye: The Scared Book because it’s the most engaging picture book I’ve ever read, Hark, it’s Me, Ruby Lee! because it has awesome characters and a rich plot and Ready, Steady, Hatch! because it’s so much fun!
Coral: The Second Sky
Penelope:  Rodney Looses It! – Michael Gerard Bauer – Purely on the basis that my daughter loves this book. It is a constant on her library borrowing wish list (so far she hasn’t managed to borrow it because it’s always out of the library – she has read it though on numerous trips to the bookshop - shh it’s going to be her Easter present).
Rebecka: Lucy’s Book by Natalie Jane Prior and Cheryl Orsini. A perfect celebration of books, reading and libraries, this gorgeous title book-wormed its way directly into my librarian heart and is here to stay. Stunningly, gorgeously illustrated (I want to wall paper my own library with this artwork!) and beautifully written, this story delights in the shared experience that reading can be, whether sharing a book with a loved one or recommending a favourite title to a friend. It also shows value for the place that libraries and librarians have in society, facilitating reading by providing resources, a shared welcoming space and of course expert recommendations.
Sarah S: Boy by Phil Cummings and Shane DeVries, because it has an enduring message, relevant to everyone, told simply and with heart, and for its support of inclusion and featuring a boy who is hearing impaired as the main character.
Sarah W: That Christmas Feeling by Lili Wilkinson and Amanda Francey– I love the emotion in this book and the focus on a child’s perspective of change.

CBCA Picture Book of the Year

WILL be shortlisted
Tania: The Great Rabbit Chase 
Dimity: Florette
Anastasia: Ten Pound Pom by Carole Wilkinson. A valuable resource; relating a personal tale makes a greater historical impact on readers, and gives an intimate view of immigration which is powerfully portrayed in the illustrations by Liz Anelli.
Shaye: Again, this category is super hard to predict because so many of the books are so fabulous. But I am going to predict Pea Pod Lullaby, Florette and Ruben because they are all so stunning.
Jo: Grandma Forgets brings heartfelt insight into what it is like to watch a loved one’s memory fade, while showcasing the joy and hope it is still possible to share.
Coral: The Second Sky
Penelope: Before I start can I just say that this for me was the hardest to choose. I own most of these books and adore them all. If it were up to me they would all be short listed (probably a good thing I’m not a judge). Feathers – Phil Lesnie – A story told through keenly sensitive and insightful illustration. A book that opens hearts and minds to the plight of others and the blessings we have.
Rebecka: Mopoke by Philip Bunting The simplicity of delivery, the originality of the idea and the superbly designed illustrations made this picture book a sensation in the industry last year; I’m yet to meet a reader of it who did not rave over it. With great humour that appeals to adults and a perfected silliness that is irresistible to children, this is one of those books that you truly don’t mind reading over and over (and over) again.
Sarah S: The Sloth Who Came to Stay by Vivienne To and Margaret Wild, because it’s about sloths and they’re all the rage! And because it’s funny, but also has a good message underlying the entertainment (take time to enjoy life, you don’t have to busy all the time).
Sarah W: The Great Rabbit Chase – I love Freya Blackwood’s work.

SHOULD be shortlisted:
Tania: Monsieur Chat 
Dimity: Ruben – If you have not experienced this, you just must
Anastasia: Aquatica by Lance Balchin. Because of its magnificent presentation and elegant, detailed artwork that depicts and draws attention to, futuristic ecological and environmental threats by new species.  Reaches a wide audience and takes readers by surprise.
Shaye: Can I say all of them? No? Okay, then.  Definitely all the ones I predicated PLUS The Sleeping Beauty because it’s different and divine.
Coral: The Great Rabbit Chase
Penelope: Swan Lake – Anne Spudvilas – Gorgeous illustrations that truly capture the emotion and movement of the ballet. You can almost hear the music playing as you pour over the images.
Rebecka: Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros by Meg McKinlay and Leila Rudge An empowering picture book that encourages readers to explore and experience the big wide world around them, to believe in their own abilities and to follow where their heart strings pull them, no matter what anyone else might say or believe. Leila Rudge’s illustrations are so warm and energetic, distinct with her originality and flair, this book is a divine addition to any picture book collection.
Sarah S: The Anzac Tree by Christina Booth, for its poignant story about the reality of war, important messages and beautiful illustrations.
Sarah W: The Sloth who Came to Stay – a fun and humorous story that reminds us all to slow down and enjoy each moment.

WOULD be shortlisted:
Tania: Florette, though, as one of my top five books for 2017, Florette could easily fill Will and Should as well as Would. 
Dimity: Sarah and The Steep Slope – beautifully depicted problems and solutions
Anastasia: Ruben by Bruce Whatley. The most artistically divine book illustrated intricately in monochrome. An imaginative dystopian story, with themes of loneliness and friendship beautifully portrayed. ( I confess I felt limited by not being able to choose 6 more books I felt were more than worthy to be chosen such as Swan Lake By Anne Spudvillas, Storm Whale by Jane Tanner, The Sleeping Beauty by Gabriela Tylesova, Glitch by Michelle Worthington, Feathers by Phil Lesnie and Grandma Forgets by Nicky Johnston)
Shaye: All the ones I’ve already mentioned but definitely Ruben. It’s the most amazing book, with illustrations that make you feel as if you’re watching a movie as you explore them!
Jo: Ruben. An extraordinary piece of art with a prophetically dark narrative.
Coral: The Second Sky
Penelope: I’m tossing up between The Sloth Who Came To Stay – Vivienne To and Florette – Anna Walker. Both sit on my bookshelf. I love the characterisation, the page layouts, the stories and the message they contain.
Rebecka: The Sloth Who Came to Stay by Margaret Wild and Vivienne To In a busy world of families rushing here, there and everywhere (that I can relate to all too well) this book gently and delightfully, but without judgement, encourages readers to slow down, to take on less but experience more, and to embrace the pace of life set by ‘the sloth who came to stay’. Margaret Wild has such a talent for gentle and reassuring storytelling, all of which is beautifully brought to life by Vivienne To’s cheerful, glowing illustrations.
Sarah S: Ruben by Bruce Whatley, for its story told through carefully chosen words and extraordinary illustrations. It has something different to say to each person who reads it.
Sarah W: Ruben by Bruce Whatley. What can I say but this book is a masterpiece. Just stunning.

The Eve Pownall Award (for Information Books)

WILL be shortlisted:
Tania: Do Not Lick This Book
Dimity: A is For Australian Animals
Anastasia: The Story of Australia by Robert Lewis. A history resource on our country for a wide-reaching audience that begins with early human inhabitants and settlement, immigration and other key events depicted in detailed illustrations. All is drawn from the collection of artefacts, objects and photographs from the National Museum of Australia. A valuable reference book for all ages.
Shaye: Another category I need to explore a bit more, so I’m going to go on gut feel for these predictions: M is for Mutiny and The Story of Australia.
Coral: KoalaI love the way a story is woven through this 'information book'. 
Penelope: Decision: Stories Of Leadership In The Services – Informative text that helps a generation, that are far removed from war, understand the challenges faced when leading others. In order to create the leaders of tomorrow its important to understand past leaders and their decisions. 
Sarah S: Koala by Claire Saxby and Julie Vivas, because it raises awareness of the world of the iconic koala, an animal which is under threat due to the destruction of its native habitat.
Sarah W: The Story of Australia, an informative reference book covering the complete history of Australia.
SHOULD be shortlisted:
Tania: The Baby Animal Book
Dimity: M is For Mutiny! History By Alphabet
Anastasia: Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground by Samantha Grover. Impressive illustrations by Camille Heisler visually expose the life that lives beneath our feet. For an ageless audience, full of interesting environmental information rarely touched upon.
Shaye: Do Not Lick This Book because of funnies!
Coral: A is For Australian Animals
Penelope: Koala – Claire SaxbyHonestly, this is me playing favourites. I love a good animal story and if it so happens to informative and illustrated by one of my all-time favourite illustrators who can blame me?
Sarah S: Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground by Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler, for putting a spotlight on some of the plants and creatures young children find so fascinating, but don’t always have the chance to explore in person.
Sarah W: Do Not Lick This Book because it is clever and humorous.

WOULD be shortlisted:
Tania: Robyn Boid: Architect because I've long admired Maree's work and my adoration and obsession with architecture know no bounds. A truly gorgeous book. 
Dimity: Do Not Lick This Book – Comic microbe cleverness. Winner!
Anastasia: Amazing Australians and Their Flying Machines by Prue Mason & Kerry Mason. Accessible to all with interest in the history of Australian early aviation, with achievements and challenges from 1851. Outstanding illustrations depicting a variety of aircraft through time, and text that informs while educating. Fantastic layouts and full colour presentation. Themes of courage and invention from both genders.
Shaye: Do Not Lick This Book because comedy in information books is awesome!
Coral: Koala
Penelope: My Contemporary Art Book – Kate Ryan. It’s a book about art – no other explanation necessary.
Sarah S: Robyn Boid Architect by Maree Coote, for its creative and educational storytelling.
Sarah W: Robyn Boid Architect. Original, quirky and engaging, this book gets kids thinking and learning without realising it.