Book Week winners announced as ECEC services prepare to be both curious and wild
The Sector > Quality > Book Week winners announced as ECEC services prepare to be both curious and wild

Book Week winners announced as ECEC services prepare to be both curious and wild

by Freya Lucas

October 19, 2020

As early childhood education and care (ECEC) services around Australia embrace the 2020 Book Week Theme of Curious Creatures, Wild Minds, the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) have announced the winners of the 2020 Book of the Year Awards.


Given the challenges of 2020, the Council’s choices this year have recognised thought-provoking and uplifting stories that allow young people to take on all challenges, with the winning titles chosen from a record 517 entries across six categories.


CBCA National Chair, Emeritus Professor Margot Hillel OAM, said the lockdowns and service closures of 2020 have left children and families with more time to read in 2020, and many children have delighted in escaping into books. 


“It has been another exceptional year for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards, with plenty of writing to entertain, touch the hearts of young readers and help them gain empathy and new perspectives,” Professor Hillel said. 


The CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood was won by My Friend Fred, written by Frances Watts and illustrated by A. Yi. Animals often feature strongly in the early childhood category, and in this book they demonstrate just how different good friends can be. The CBCA judges said My Friend Fred is full of energy and movement and comes to a very satisfying surprise ending.


I Need a Parrot, a witty book written and illustrated by Chris McKimmie, was awarded as the CBCA Picture Book of the Year with  judges saying that “with very few words and deceptively simple drawings, this book gives readers lots to ponder and discuss about our desire to keep and cage pets.”


The Younger Readers category was taken out by The Little Wave by Pip Harry, which is expertly told in verse, and revolves around three primary school children from the beach and outback. For the Older Readers space, This is How We Change the Ending by Vikki Wakefield, took out the award, recognised for being “a gritty story about a suburb in decline where the main character, Nate, learns to hide his intellect and emotions. His love for his younger brothers, stepmother, and even his abusive father, is a driving force that enables the powerless to become powerful.”


The Eve Pownall Award was won by Bruce Pascoe for Young Dark Emu: A Truer History. The CBCA judges said this beautifully produced book presents a powerful argument debunking the notion of Terra Nullius which positioned Indigenous Australians as nomadic hunter gatherers. This younger readers’ version of Dark Emu is an engaging discussion, accessible to primary school and young adult readers.


The CBCA Award for New Illustrator was won by Baby Business, illustrated and written by Jasmine Seymour, which tells the story of a smoking ceremony performed to welcome a baby to Country. The judges were particularly struck by Seymour’s depiction of smoke and her use of line, texture and colour to represent cultures.


Overall, the judges noted the increase in new creators appearing in many categories (170 in total) and the record number of unique entries (517), and said this augurs well for the future of Australian children’s literature.


The Awards mark the official beginning of CBCA Book Week, which is usually held in August, but which were postponed in 2020, for the first time in the 75 year history of the Awards, due to COVID-19 restrictions.


CBCA Book Week is running from 17 to 23 October, in 2020 with the theme ‘Curious Creatures, Wild Minds’. The 2021 theme will be announced at the end of CBCA Book Week on Friday October 23.


For the full list of 2020 CBCA Book of the Year Award Winners and Honour books, please visit the CBCA website.

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