For the first time, the CBCA took its awards online, announcing shortlisted authors selected from 517 entries across six categories: older readers, younger readers, early childhood, picture books, the Eve Pownall Award and the CBCA award for new illustrator.
Winners will be announced later this year when the CBCA launches Book Week, with the theme of Curious Creatures, Wild Minds.
Running for almost 80 years, the CBCA shortlist is considered a pointer to quality book reads.
Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy, whose collaboration Welcome to Country was a 2017 children’s picture book notable, impressed judges again with their “breathtakingly beautiful tribute to the Yarra River”. Readers are introduced to the Woiwurrung language and its words for the flourishing riverside flora and fauna in Wilam: A Birrarung Story, co-authored by Andrew Kelly.
Lisa Fuller, a Wuilli Wuilli woman from Queensland, has delved into her rich heritage to inspire her shortlisted young adult novel, Ghost Bird. Baby Business by Jasmine Seymour is the story of a smoking ceremony and blessing in which a new baby is welcomed to Country.
Cooee Mittigar, illustrated by Leanne Mulgo Watson and written by Seymour, is a guide to reading the Darug seasons around the Hawkesbury River region. Both Seymour and Watson are Darug women and Seymour is a descendent of Yarramundi, the Boorooberongal elder who had met Governor Phillip on the banks of the Hawkesbury River in 1791.
Cooee Mittigar evolved from Seymour and Watson’s collaboration on the development of a Darug seasonal calendar, as part of a Darug language revival project. “Cooee Mittigar is a call for everyone to remember that Sydney always was and always will be an Aboriginal place,” Seymour said. “This book is enormously important to me. Every step taken on Darug Country is part of a song that is embedded in the Aboriginal geography of this place.”
Cooee Mittigar is Watson’s first book: “I always wanted to create books to share our knowledge, as education is the key to our culture staying strong.”
Magabala publisher Rachel Bin Salleh said there was a growing appetite in Australia and globally for Indigenous children’s stories.
Some of Australia’s favourite children’s storytellers also appear in the shortlist including Emily Rodda with The Glimme (book of the year for younger readers); Tohby Riddle with Yahoo Creek: An Australian Mystery (Eve Pownall Award) and Frances Watt’s My Friend Fred (picture book of the year).
Now more than ever, young people need “relatable and inspiring characters and stories that uplift and entertain, bring them hope and help them to find a way through issues they face in their daily lives and in the wider world”, Professor Hillel said.
THE 2020 BOOK OF THE YEAR SHORTLIST
BOOK OF THE YEAR: OLDER READERS
The Boy Who Steals Houses, C.G. Drews, Hachette Australia
How It Feels to Float, Helena Fox, Pan Macmillan Australia
Ghost Bird, Lisa Fuller, University of Queensland Press
When the Ground is Hard, Malla Nunn, Allen & Unwin
Four Dead Queens, Astrid Scholte, Allen & Unwin
This Is How We Change the Ending, Vikki Wakefield, Text Publishing
BOOK OF THE YEAR: YOUNGER READERS
The Little Wave, Pip Harry, University of Queensland Press
The Thing About Oliver, Deborah Kelly, Wombat Books
The Dog Runner, Bren MacDibble, Allen & Unwin
Catch a Falling Star Meg McKinlay, Walker Books Australia
The Glimme, Emily Rodda, illustrated by Marc McBride, Scholastic Australia
The Secrets of Magnolia Moon, Edwina Wyatt, illustrated
Katherine Quinn, Walker Books Australia
BOOK OF THE YEAR: EARLY CHILDHOOD
We’re Stuck! Sue de Gennaro, Scholastic Australia
One Runaway Rabbit, David Metzenthen, illustrated by
Mairead Murphy, Allen & Unwin
Bat vs Poss, Alexa Moses, illustrated Anil Tortop, Hachette Australia
When Billy Was a Dog, Kirsty Murray, illustrated by Karen Blair, Allen & Unwin
My Friend Fred, Frances Watts, illustrated by A. Yi, Allen & Unwin
Goodbye House, Hello House, Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ann James, Allen & Unwin
PICTURE BOOK OF THE YEAR
Hello Lighthouse, Sophie Blackall, Hachette Australia
Nop, Caroline Magerl, Walker Books Australia
I Need a Parrot, Chris McKimmie, Ford Street Publishing
Three, Stephen Michael King, Scholastic Australia
The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in
Miniature, Jules Ober and Felicity Coonan, text Pierre-Jacques Ober, Walker Books
Tilly, Anna Walker, text Jane Godwin Walker, Scholastic Australia
EVE POWNALL AWARD FOR INFORMATION BOOKS
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ugly Animals, Sami Bayly, Hachette Australia
Searching for Cicadas, Lesley Gibbes, illustrated Judy Watson, Walker Books Australia
A Hollow is a Home, Abbie Mitchell, illustrated Astred Hicks, CSIRO Publishing
Wilam: A Birrarung Story, Aunty Joy Murphy and Andrew Kelly, illustrated by Lisa Kennedy.
Young Dark Emu: A Truer History, Magabala Books
Yahoo Creek: An Australian Mystery, Tobhy Riddle, Allen & Unwin
THE CBCA AWARD FOR NEW ILLUSTRATORS
Louie and Snippy Save the Sea, Grant Cowan, Berbay Publishing
Paperboy, Bethany Macdonald, Dirt Lane Press
Fly, Jess McGeachin, Penguin Random House Australia
Cooee Mittigar: A Story on Darug Songlines, Leanne Mulgo Watson, Magabala Books
Baby Business, Jasmine Seymour, Magabala Books
Little Bird’s Day, Malibirr, Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr, Magabala Books
Linda Morris is an arts and books writer at The Sydney Morning Herald