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New Picture Books: possible contenders for 2021 Childrens Book Council of Australia Awards?

There was a record number of entries for the 2020 CBCA Book of the Year Awards, indicating children’s publishing in Australia is alive and well, writes Margaret Hamilton. To get the shortlist Download the list here

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Here are a few new books that could be entered for the 2021 awards:

ANISA’S ALPHABET by Mike Dumbleton & Hannah Sommerville (Midnight Sun).

This unique alphabet hightlights the plight of refugees in a very special and moving way, beautifully illustrated in watercolour, pen and pencil drawings. An alphabet for all ages.

AUSTRALIANS ALL LOVE EASTER EGGS by Colin Buchanan & Sarah Hardy (Scholastic).

All the animals band together to get Easter eggs to a remote town. A clever story, dedicated to the town of Bourke. Get it to go with your eggs!

AZARIA: a true history by Maree Coote (MelbourneStyle).

Confronting, inspiring and heartrenching, the story of this epic injustice is told like a fairy tale, magnificently illustrated. A lesson for all ages.

THE BAD BASSINIS by Clair Hume & Tom Jellett (Scholastic).

Dealing with bullies is hard but if you’re a cute little dog, there are ways. Amusing and reassuring.

 BEAR WAS THERE by Sally Anne Garland (New Frontier).

A sensitive and cosy story about finding love in unexpected places. Atmospheric and very appealing illustrations.

BIG HUG, LITTLE MOUSE by Lisa Kerr (Walker).

Hugs are contagious and extremely worthwhile, but when you lose your hugs how do you get them back. Cute story and illustrations in this book for early childhood.

 EXTRAORDINARY by Penny Harrison & Katie Wilson (New Frontier).

Highlighting that the simple things in life are also extraordinary. Important every day, but especially in these challenging times. Colourful and expressive illustrations.

HEART AND SOUL by Carol Ann Martin & Tull Suwannakit (Scholastic).

A tender, heartwarming story about the power of music played with heart and soul. Beautiful and delicate watercolour, pencil and ink illustrations.

ISLA’S FAMILY TREE by Katrina McKelvey & Prue Pittock (EK).

Mum is pregnant with twins and Isla says the family is too full. She learns a lot about family trees and how they grow. Simple line and colour illustrations.

JELLY BOY by Nicole Goodwin & Christopher Nielsen (Walker).

A cautionary tale about conserving our oceans and the danger of plastic bags. Colourful and suitable watery illustrations.

MONKEY’S TAIL by Alex Rance & Shane McG (Allen & Unwin).

Between the jungle endpapers front and back is a touching story of self-belief and staying positive, with striking illustrations.

MY WONDERFUL GRANDMOTHER by Kate Knapp (Angus & Robertson). The latest in the Ruby Red Shoes series, where she highlights what’s wonderful about her grandmother.

A perfect book to share with grandchildren, especially during the crisis!

NEVER FORGET by Clare Hallifax & Simon O’Carrigan (Omnibus).

A moving commemoration of those who fought in World War One with fascinating illustrations referring to original Anzac artists.

THE NIGHT OF THE HIDING MOON by Emma Allen & Sher Rill Ng (NLA).

An empowering story using shadow puppets with fascinating information about this ancient Asian custom and making your own puppets.

NO! NEVER! by Libby Hathorn, Lisa Hathorn-Jarman & Mel Pearce (Lothian).

Dealing with tantrums is ably portrayed in this entertaining book from this award-winning author and debut illustrator.

OLD MacDONALD HAD A FARM, illus by Matt Shanks (Scholastic). A very entertaining Australian version of the classic rhyme, with appropriately hilarious illustrations.

THE OTHER BROTHER by Penny Jaye & Heidi Cooper Smith (Wombat).

I love promoting local authors! Penny is involved in the CBCA Blue Mountains. A touching story of accepting a new family member.

RESPECT by Aunty Fay Muir, Sue Lawon & Lisa Kennedy (Magabala).

An Indigenous introduction to respect that could well be applied to us all. Vivid illustrations, in this first of a four books series.

ROO KNOWS BLUE by Renee Treml (Puffin).

Perfectly pitched to early readers, this playful and catchy text simply highlights colours with large bold type and illustrations. Great to share with a child on your lap.

SAY CHEESE! by Frances Watts & Marjorie Crosby-Fairall (Scholastic). It’s chaos trying to get all the children together for a class photo. If they’d only be still and say ‘cheese’! Very relatable with very funny illustrations.

TABITHA AND THE RAINCLOUD by Devon Sillett & Melissa Johns (EK). Most of us have bad days when nothing goes right. This appealing story is about coping in spite of a raincloud hanging overhead. Engaging illustrations that will appeal to young readers.

TOGETHER THINGS by Michelle Vasiliu & Gwynneth Jones (EK). A little girl remembers the adventures she used to have with her father, but now they’ll do different things because he is ill. Sensitively illustrated.

WHAT DO YOU CALL A BABY. . . ? by Kamsani Bin Salleh (Magabala).

Especially for the very young, a simple board book introducing them to baby animals of all kinds.

WHAT THE FLUFFY BUNNY SAID TO THE LAZY LLAMA by P Crumble & Chris Saunders (Koala). Fluffy Bunny has to gather all the animals together for the sports carnival, but the llama poses problems! Simple, appealing illustrations.

WILLY-WILLY WAGTAIL by Helen Milroy (Magabala).

Another wonderful book from this publisher, introducing all Australians to the work of Indigenous writers and illustrators, the first in the ‘Tales from the Bush Mob’ series. A high quality production with striking illustrations.

THE WONDERFUL WISDOM OF ANTS by Philip Bunting (Scholastic).

This creator’s books are always striking, with fascinating topics laced with humour. Another welcome addition to his work.


Margaret Hamilton AM is a CBCA Former Deputy Chair, National Board CBCA Awards Foundation, Member of the Committee of Responsible Persons
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