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The Children's Book Council of Australia judges' report 2009.

There were 451 titles entered in the 2009 Children's Book Council Awards, almost exactly the same number as last year. Judges in the Information Book category read a total of 77 entries, and judges of fiction books read 374 items, nearly half of which were for Younger Readers. This strong field of entries was vibrant and highly varied in all categories, and indicative of the excellence of publishing for children in Australia.

Discussion of all titles by the panel of professional interstate judges was well informed, articulate, lively, and inclusive of different opinions and perspectives. All decisions were made following extensive debate and many rounds of voting, with the thoroughness of the process ensuring that the very best children's literature has been honoured. A number of books entered for this year's awards crossed category boundaries, including the challenging war-based title Then and the futuristic title The Changeling which may be suitable for either older or younger readers. Quite a large number of other titles were assessed in two different categories, commonly Early Childhood and Picture Book, or Younger Reader and Eve Pownall.

Judges were impressed by writing that enabled the reader to live the story rather than view it from the outside. Internal logic and the consistent development of the narrative shape of stories were also considered important. A high level of innovation in style, design, topic, concept and illustration was appreciated, and it was noted that many outstanding books featured a powerful but simple message.

Endpapers were used effectively in a number of titles, and the range of graphic styles within the stories included collage, watercolours, prints, sketches, computer-generated art-work and sequential art. Muted colours with a restricted palette were used for quieter topics, whilst bright primary colours were featured particularly in titles using Indigenous art approaches.

Subject matter frequently related to the concepts of adaptation and belonging, including explorations of the actions and emotions of those who feel that they don't belong. Consequent problems such as depression, drug use, self harm, relationship difficulties and even death were examined through carefully developed stories for older readers, whilst other creators used the picture book format to illustrate world issues such as refugees and the environment. Picture books also showed strong Australian heritage links, offering new perspectives on old stories.

Thoroughly researched historical fiction was well represented, as were futurism and fantasy. Popular culture was explored for older readers, and for younger readers the rhythms of daily life were shown through text, pictures and design. Whilst the several collections of short stories and of traditional rhymes that were entered were a little uneven in quality, they nevertheless showed a high level of creativity.

Anthropomorphism was common in books for the younger age groups. Many of these were successful, but some spectacularly unsuccessful. Camels, penguins and the usual array of Australian animals were shown in many different ways.

The standard fare of horse-and-pony-books, mostly of interest to girls, was matched with boy-focussed action-packed stories involving cockroaches, ferrets and killer whales.

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The outstanding skills of Australian illustrators were showcased across the categories, whilst authors matched this pictorial innovation with stories varying from baby-based fun to teenage angst, from harsh reality-based dramas to complex fantasy quests, and from past to present to future settings and scenarios.

OLDER READERS--Australian novels published for young adults in 2008 were generally not as strong as in most years; particularly in the genre of contemporary realism. Despite this, an outstanding core group of young adult fiction was selected for the 2009 CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers Shortlist as well as the Notables. These included a number of publications that are clearly world class in their innovative structure.

A number of the novels published in 2008 could be classed as 'crossover': aimed at an adult as well as a young adult readership. This 'crossover' trend is becoming more prevalent and leads to a blurring of the boundaries between these two audiences, impacting on a number of features such as cover design, marketing and promotion, and age of characters. It was pleasing to see a number of quality publications aimed at the younger spectrum of secondary students, many of whom are still avid readers and needing literary nurturing.

The re-emergence of the quality psychological thriller was welcomed, as were historical novels, especially those profiling little-known aspects of Australia's history. Impeccably developed fantasy worlds were created and peopled with warm-blooded male and female characters. The emergence of some promising new authorial voices was also valued.

YOUNGER READERS--This category caters for children who are independent readers but still developing an appreciation of literature. This year the category attracted 123 entries and included a wide but balanced range of genre, themes and reading levels.

Fiction based on historical themes, particularly those that highlighted details of Australian history which are no longer widely known, were welcome inclusions. They are likely to improve this age group's knowledge and appreciation of their heritage. In contrast, several books showed insights into other cultures and associated traditions and histories, encouraging readers to be aware and sensitive to the wider world. Humour was represented with varying degrees of success. But the pictorial depiction of humour for this age group was often excellent. Series of mostly humorous shorter stories with varied themes appealing to particular audiences continue to be a useful component of this category.

Fantasy still featured prominently, and several authors continued established series. There were also some new writers creating innovative and exciting speculative fiction set in Australia. Some titles were complex and highly imaginative and aimed at the higher level readers, while others used the fantasy genre to create simple works for emerging readers.

Personal growth with associated issues of grief, loss, trauma and unhappiness have been tackled without hesitation but with sensitivity and consummate skill to produce powerful and authentic stories that avoid patronising the young reader.

Some of the YR illustrated books were as strong as the novels, and this is due, in part, to the excellent offerings in the Aussie Nibbles, Bites' and Chomps series. With so many quality titles to read and consider, the Younger Readers category was a pleasure to judge, and the breadth of both themes and styles bodes well for the future.

EARLY CHILDHOOD--The Early Childhood entries for this year's Awards numbered 120. Many of them were also nominated for the Picture Book category. There were several series entered which were designed especially for the very young small format, very simple illustrations and with a minimum of text. They will provide a wonderful entry into the world of books for this particular group.

The judges were impressed with the overall quality of the entries - those books shortlisted and deemed Notable were all worthy of high praise and deserved to be recognised. Simple storylines, complemented by outstanding illustrations ensure our Early Childhood readers a wide range of high quality books to enliven their young lives and send their imaginations soaring. Recurring themes included- my place in the world, the everyday rhythms of life and simply belonging and being accepted.

It is particularly noteworthy that many of the books chosen as Notable in the Early Childhood category, were of such high standard that they were also included as Notables in the Picture Book category. This is an excellent indicator of the health and wealth of talent writing and illustrating for young children today.

PICTURE BOOKS--The judges were impressed by the large number of high quality picture books that continue to be published despite production costs and difficult economic times.

The overwhelming majority of entries in this category were books suitable for the younger age-range. Most were gentle, encouraging stories. Books with confronting themes, or themes demanding considerable maturity, were few.

Entries featured a great variety of illustrative style and use of colour. Noteworthy were very simple cartoon illustrations using a limited palette, richly and brilliantly coloured work drawing its inspiration from traditional aboriginal designs, clever use of panelling, and perspective employed in a very dramatic manner.

Once again, there were a number of self-published books in the category. While none of these met the judging criteria in sufficient degree to merit short-listing, or the designation 'Notable Book', three works among them deserve special mention. One was beautifully illustrated in a traditional Chinese style, another was an exceptionally well-designed book that told its story principally through the medium of photographs, and a third the work of a particularly talented child.

Exactly where individual illustrated books belonged in terms of the awards' categories was a matter discussed by the judges. In particular, a large number of books had been entered in both the Early Childhood and Picture Book categories, and whether they fitted the criteria of both equally well was a matter of debate. As with all judging issues, the matter was finally decided by vote in the case of each individual book.

INFORMATION BOOKS--The increased number of 77 books entered for the 2009 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books indicates a pleasing growth in local non-fiction publishing for children. It also validates the worthiness of the genre and its place in our national children's literature. The 2009 entries represent a broad spectrum of subjects, a readership from infants to adolescents and a great many approaches to stimulating design.

The variety among the entries challenges the misperception that information books are synonymous with classroom curriculum resources. Specific utility is not a criterion of the awards. Instead, the judges are ever mindful of the guiding principle of the awards which recognises books which have the prime intention of documenting factual information with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style. While a small number of entries were of the 32 pp topical spread design, as favoured by educational publishers, the judges were impressed by the majority of entries that deviated from that constrained and ubiquitous format. Across all ages, the appeal of non-fiction to the recreational reader is sure to be enhanced by the growing variety of content, presentation and style within the genre.

Thirty-one publishers, from the major houses to the self published, entered titles in the 2009 awards. Good design is vital in attracting readers and clearly presenting textual and pictorial information so it was pleasing to see some self-publishers engage professional book designers to make their books optimally attractive and functional to readers. In so doing, some corporate entries matched the publishing houses in their high standard of production and reader suitability, most notably Tuart Dwellers, published by the Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation. Smaller publishers need to be mindful of production quality; it was disappointing to note each copy of one notable title fell apart for the want of better binding.

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The entries ranged right across the broad spectrum of Dewey subject divisions with history, particularly Australian history, and natural history being the most abundant. Among the subjects, various approaches were taken in the presentation of the information. Picture books were particularly effective in conveying a strong sense and appreciation of time and place in their pictorial detail, such as The Dog on the Tuckerbox, The Boy from Bowral and Phar Lap the Wonder Horse. Judges felt some authors, in trying to present history appealingly to a new generation of readers, misused humour in text and cartoon illustration to the extent of lampooning their subjects; in other titles, cartoon illustration enhanced understanding of the text. Other authors effectively interpreted and presented Australian history through a historic survey of postage stamps and art.

Lapses in editorial diligence were evident in a small number of titles with a few factual errors, imprecise language eg pine forests have grown smaller, unclear meaning and careless writing eg The tiny Blue-ringed Octopus can fit into the palm of your hand. Writers need to be mindful of how their texts may be read and interpreted.

Conceptually and textually, some entries appeared to have been primarily intended for a mainstream audience. While having potential interest for some child and youth readers, such books, it was felt, would better suit a wider, general readership which would more fully appreciate their textual as well as pictorial content. Some titles purported to be published for children but their preliminary pages were clearly addressed to adults. It was also noted that some books listed in their recommended reading, mainstream titles that were in text and concept much more advanced than that of the text recommending them, as if their recommendations were for teachers rather than the child readers of the particular book.

In summary, the judges are impressed by the diversity and quality of Australian information books available to our children and are particularly pleased to see a growing number of titles being published for adolescent readers, notably, aptly designed books like Girlforce Friends'. The judges commend what they regard as a very distinctive and highly worthy set of six shortlisted books for the 2009 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.

All the judges feel privileged to have had the responsibility of choosing the best in Australian books for young people, and present the results of the 2009 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards here for your perusal.

Book of the Year: Older Readers--Winner

TAN, Shaun Tales from Outer Suburbia Allen & Unwin

Tales from Outer Suburbia continues the excellence that we have come to expect from Shaun Tan. One cannot describe this book without entering into superlatives. There is a richness within the pages in terms of language and illustration that is simply remarkable. Unlike many collections of short stories, this collection doesn't put a foot wrong, and Tan breathes life and wonder into each story, using his trademark illustrative style to increase meaning and enjoyment. Subject-matter ranges from the heart-warming and thought-provoking story of Eric, the exchange student, to Tan's unique take on what might happen if everyone in Australia was required to have an inter-continental ballistic missile in their backyard. As a whole work, from the end-pages and contents page to the stories themselves, Tales' from Outer Suburbia is an immense achievement, and with its production and style, it is a book that is sure to become a classic.

Book of the Year: Older Readers--Honour Books

EATON, Anthony Into White Silence Woolshed Press

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This novel, written for the upper end of the age bracket, appears to be non-fiction but unfolds to reveal an innovative fiction-style in which the author becomes a character himself. His insights balance the diary entries by the explorer, Downes, incorporating authentic Antarctic experience and drama. Highly visual language describes the journey within, as much as the race to conquer the extreme physical aspects of Antarctica. The characters move from untrustworthiness and fortitude to insanity and death, with action and emotion displayed with equal intensity. Eaton leaves the reader with a lingering sense of unease, of questions unanswered, and of the huge difficulties faced by early explorers. In all, this is a cleverly constructed historically-based adventure story.

FRENCH, Jaekie A Rose for the Anzac Boys A&R

Three girls attending an English boarding school at the beginning of the First World War are determined to make a contribution to the war effort. Their initial project is a refreshment stall for wounded soldiers, but the shortage of nursing help leads to one of them being co-opted as a nursing-aide. The young helpers, particularly the nurse, all see ugly deaths, horrendous wounds (both physical and mental) and experience unbearable conditions and impossible working hours. The story is dramatic, sad and poignant, with dashes of humour and romance. In the course of it, the girls grow in understanding and compassion, but the reader is left with a powerful sense of the futility of it all.

Book of the Year: Older Readers--Short List Books

CORNISH, D. M. Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two." Lamplighter Omnibus

Fans of this series will not be disappointed with Lamplighter. Rossumtind begins his training as a lamplighter and is drawn into the mysterious, dangerous and intriguing world of Winstermill Manse. The story abounds with fantastical creatures, spine chilling adventures and a world of mind-boggling creatures. It is a long but absorbing read, with a 100 page Explicarium to add to the extensive and exquisite detail of the narration. The author has created a fascinating world--from the intricately drawn maps and illustrative plates, to the unique and inventive language.

MARCHETTA, Melina Finnikin of the Rock Viking

Finnikin of the Rock is an accomplished and powerful fantasy novel that deals with the complexities of truth, justice and displacement of peoples. The world of Lumatere as created by Marchetta is dark and real, the connection of the characters to each other and their land is evident, and this draws the reader into the emotional experience of the book. Evanjalin/Isaboe and Finnikin are not always likeable, but paradoxically this makes the reader empathise with them more. Crisp dialogue, excellent characterisation and depth of description tempt the reader to revisit often the world of this book.

MOLONEY, James Kill the Possum Penguin

This book begins with an ordinary teenage boy in the ordinary situation of liking a girl whom he is too shy to approach, If the title doesn't stir your curiosity right from the start, then Dylan's manner of approaching Kirsty and his growing understanding of her family's situation establishes a sinister anxiety that the author skilfully sustains throughout the novel. Written simply but graphically, with insights into the minds of vulnerable and confused adolescents, this is a confronting book for older readers.

Book of the Year: Younger Readers--Winner

MILLARD, Glenda (text) Stephen Michael King (illus.) Perry Angel's Suitcase ABC

Perry Angel arrives at the Kingdom of Silk as a lost, frightened and very wary little boy. The place is at once mythical and realistic a place of growth and warmth. Perry clings to his only possession--a battered old suitcase embossed with golden letters. Whilst he is terrified of rejection, Griffin, Layla and the rest of the Silk family strive to help Perry settle into their boisterous, but loving, household. Lyrically written to involve the senses of sight, sound, touch and smell, the gentle words are enhanced by Stephen Michael King's whimsical illustrations. Rich in colour, in childhood emotions, and in early understandings about how the world works, this beautiful and sensitively developed story is a perfect follow-on to the earlier two books in the series. The Kingdom of Silk is indeed a wonderful place to be.

Book of the Year: Younger Readers--Honour Books

BATESON, Catherine The Wish Pony Woolshed Press

For Ruby everything seems to be going wrong. Her mother is expecting another baby and her best friend has abandoned her for the new girl at school. Ruby secretly wishes for bad things to happen to the 'balloon' inside her mummy and when it seems that Ruby's wish comes true, she feels lost and upset by her inexplicable actions. Magda, the elderly neighbour, suddenly becomes a large part of Ruby's world and, with echoes of Mary Poppins, she helps steer Ruby to safer waters. This is a gorgeous lyrical story, completely genuine with exceptionally well portrayed characters and relationships. There is a depth and truth in this gentle book, and Ruby is heart-warming and honest.

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GLEITZMAN, Morris Then Viking

Then, the extraordinary sequel to the award-winning Once, is at the same time, both a joy and a sorrow to read. Although it explores the very worst aspects of war, the optimism of the narrator, Felix, shines through. It is Felix's faith, naivety and trust in the world, along with Zelda's bitter stubbornness, that carries the children forward on their journey to a place of safety and shelter, but this is not enough to protect them from the shocking final incident, precipitated by Zelda's reckless sense of justice. Gleitzman's superior command of both his characters and their circumstances creates an uncomfortable, yet ultimately unforgettable, reading experience for the older end of the Younger Reader audience.

Book of the Year: Younger Readers--Short List Books

FUSSELL, Sandy Polar Boy Walker

Iluak lives in the remote and extremely inhospitable Baffin Island at a time when there is very little contact with people from outside his immediate community. This is a coming of age story, where Iluak must face many fears and challenges as he takes on a more adult role. The descriptions of his icy world are enthralling and convincing, while we see Iluak and the other characters develop, grow and prosper in this harsh but beautiful environment. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read well researched and full of adventure.

HARRIS, Christine (text) Ann James (illus.) Audrey of the Outback Little Hare

Audrey is a wonderfully engaging character. She is inquisitive and endlessly curious; forever asking questions which can be both insightful and humorous. There is a heightened sense of time and place and this is achieved in quite an understated way. You can almost smell and feel the dust of the outback, and the reader gets the sense of just how difficult life was for her family in the 1930s. Audrey is full of spirit and adventure--she is a perfect counterbalance to the hardship of the land around her.

RODDA, Emily The Wizard of Rondo Omnibus

Sensible, cautious Leo and his impulsive, irritating cousin Mimi, are making their second visit to Rondo, the magical land depicted on their antique music box. They meet up with old friends and quickly find themselves involved in the investigation of a bizarre murder. What follows is a sparkling, often very funny adventure full of encounters with characters who have their origins in nursery rhyme and fairy tale. In the course of it all, the cousins grow in self understanding and respect and sympathy for each other.

Book of the Year: Early Childhood--Winner

GRAHAM, Bob How to Heal a Broken Wing Walker

In a story told mainly through pictures, Bob Graham uses perspective and colour most effectively to reflect the emotions and situation of his characters. A pigeon is in free flight through the clouds, and we see the scene from the aerial perspective of the bird. It hits the reflective glass of a city skyscraper and falls, injured, to the ground. Our viewpoint is now that of the earth-bound, helpless bird, which coincides with that of the small child who rescues it. Brightly-clad amidst the crowd of grey city-people, young Will sees the bird and persuades his mother to take it home. The family nurse it until it is able to take to the skies once more. Full of hope and optimism, the story exemplifies respect for the feelings and efforts of the very young, and has a warm sense of family.

Book of the Year: Early Childhood--Honour Books

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KING, Stephen Michael Leaf Scholastic

This almost wordless story features only the simplest of illustrations in only a few muted colours, yet it communicates a powerful message about joy and the irrepressibility of life and growth. The chief character is a free spirited child who sprouts a seedling from his unruly hair. The seedling is eventually snipped off his head by some fearsome click-clacking scissors, and the child plants it. It grows to a tree as the child grows to an adult, and is loved by his own children. Extensive visual play, humour, movement and a final delightfully tricky ending, plus the one-word title, the high production values, and the small physical size all add up to make this a top quality book.

SULLIVAN, Rosemary (text) Dee Huxley (illus.) Tom Torn Working Title Press

In this exuberant and joyful exploration of a day in the life of a child, Rosemary Sullivan brings to life a community overflowing with love and laughter. Tom Tom has an enviable time, filled with pre-school, swimming in the Lemonade Springs with his numerous relations, and the love of his mother and grandparents. Dee Huxley's beautiful illustrations perfectly complement the graceful text, and evoke the colours and nature of the Australian outback. There is reference made in the text to the complexities of Aboriginal familial ties, and also to Tom Tom's future growth and development, which extends this gentle and caring story beyond the pages of the book.

Book of the Year: Early Childhood--Short List Books

MCKIMMIE, Chris Special Key Allen & Unwin

Special Key has a poignant but humorous voice. When sent to his room after leaving Nicky Bathgate tied to a tree, he has nothing to do except play join the dots with his freckles. His Aunty Pay, who lives in a house of raindrops, has an affinity with Key. She makes a pavlova with one strawberry for Key because strawberries also have freckles. McKimmie allows his colours and design more balance and they become a strength in this readily accessible book. He has captured a special child's view of the world.

MILLARD, Glenda (text) Stephen Michael King (illus.) Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle ABC

Bush-fires have destroyed Joe and Marigold's simple rural life, and Applesauce, their little pink pig, fears that there will be no Christmas this year. Then the Shepherd family drops by, accompanied by a couple of sheep. Then Marigold's three aunties follow, bringing food. Marigold's new baby is born while a heavenly flock of cockatoos celebrate. This uplifting story is perfectly complemented by evocative water-colour illustrations. Double-page spreads of night sky and star-lit burnt landscape create atmosphere, while beautifully composed, frameless scenes gently hint at the deeper messages in the story.

WILD, Margaret (text) Julie Vivas (illus.) Puffling Omnibus

Soft illustrations in muted colours define the actions and emotions of this simple tale. Little Puffling wants to grow up to be strong and tall and brave. Along the way he faces some genuine fears as he and his courage grows. This gentle story engages the reader in a range of sentiments including joy, sadness, fear and love. Beautifully produced on quality paper, the text is well placed and clear, matching the unfussy but broad ethic of a book with ageless appeal.

Picture Book of the Year--Winner

DUNSTAN, Kylie Collecting Colour Lothian

Olive's mother and aunty are traditional basket-weavers in the Northern Territory. In this story, she and her friend Rose learn about the roots and berries used as dyes in the crafting process. The author's use of colour, materials, page design and artistic techniques bring the activities vividly to life. Natural greens and warm orange-reds predominate, whilst wool and twisted papers suggest the texture of the baskets. Varying perspectives draw attention to the outdoor setting of the craft and the environment that supports it. The story illustrates daily lives of Indigenous women as they work through the stages of their craft, the various aspects being interspersed with fishing, eating and resting. Beginning and ending with delightful endpapers showing traditional baskets and mats, each full coloured page of the book is a unique representation of culture and colour in a local child's life.

Picture Book of the Year--Honour Books

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OTTLEY, Matt (illus.) John Marsden (text) Home and Away Lothian

Home and Away is an harrowing exploration into the effects that war can have on a family living a comfortable life in a large, affluent city. Marsden's text is uncompromising, and he offers no solutions. There is a brutality and despair about this book that cannot be denied. Ottley's illustrations and design are sublime, despite the bleak nature of the narrative. His use of paintings, collage and different fonts draws the reader further into the story, and the visual observations from different characters' points of view are a masterstroke. This is a book that pushes the reader to think beyond their comfortable existence and into the fraught, dangerous and cruel world of the refugee.

THOMPSON, Colin The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness Random House

The wonderful and quirky illustrations in this simple tale convey a range of emotions that cannot fail to tug at the youngest or toughest heartstrings--not only with happiness and sadness, but also fear, apprehension, loneliness and delightful ridiculousness. Perspectives (visual and emotional) vary throughout, ending with a unified 'happy ever after'. Each page offers visual humour to complement and enhance the storyline--with the text of the story written variously on a noticeboard, a window blind, a floor mat, a picture frame and even the washing. The book offers an affirming look at some of life's realities, realised in a quality creation with attention to production values, suitable language, unique illustrations and a well constructed story.

Picture Book of the Year--Short List Books

BLABEY, Aaron Sunday Chutney Viking

Sunday Chutney is a brilliant, vibrant character, in an interesting and diverse world. A story about someone who is so often the new girl, this book will resonate with many readers. Varied page design further enhances Blabey's quirky illustrative style which is on display in this book, and outrageous perspectives highlight Sunday's feelings of loneliness and littleness. An exploration of the way children feel about being apparently powerless, the story offers a view of the special qualities that can help them make it through life.

RIDDLE, Tohby Nobody Owns the Moon Viking

In Nobody Owns the Moon, an apparently simple tale of two friends in the city, Riddle has created a layered book that is thoughtful, subtle and emotive, with gentle touches of humour. Mixed media collages full of familiar images and popular culture references engender connectedness with Clive and Humphrey as they struggle to adapt to life in the city. Using metaphors drawn from introduced species and adaptation, Nobody Owns the Moon is essentially about the wonder of life, and appreciating small things, like coffee and cake in with a friend.

HOLFELD, Greg (illus.) Ruth Starke (text) Captain Congo and the Crocodile King Working Title Press

Captain Congo, gorilla adventurer, and his penguin sidekick are called upon to investigate the disappearance of an anthropologist in Abyssinia. Captain Congo's strength and intelligence are more than a match for the dangers awaiting the duo as they race to retrieve the missing person and a potential treasure. An outstanding, original graphic novel with stylings reminiscent of the SilverAge of comics. Varying panel styles and sizes, the use of multiple perspectives and long/short distance shots cleverly focus the attention of the reader and provide a cinematic feel to the story.

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books--Winner

HALL, Lincoln Alive in the Death Zone Random House

In 2006, an Australian mountaineer was left for dead in the 'death zone' following a successful ascent of Mount Everest. Exhaustion, oxygen starvation and cerebral oedema had taken their toll. This hard cover, real life and death adventure story is an absorbing, compelling, inspirational tale of endurance and survival. Hall's recount captures all the awe and fear felt by mountaineers as they confront the deadly grandeur of the Himalayas and the extreme challenges of the climbs. Lincoln Hall's experiences are extraordinary and his positivity, optimism and self-discipline are evident in his tale. Discrete sidebars fill out the earlier history of Everest climbers as well as other factors that contribute to the harshness and deadly reality of survival on Everest's treacherous heights. The endpapers dovetail beautifully with the tone of this book, while the 'Equipment in Action' section is invaluable in helping the reader to understand the tools used in climbing. With its stunning photographs of Everest and other dangerous peaks, this book would appeal to readers of all ages. As a real-life tale of endurance, courage and determination, this book is quite irresistible.

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books--Honour Books

DUBOSARSKY, Ursula (text) Tohby Riddle (illus.) The Word Spy Viking

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A beautifully designed and produced book, The Word Spy explores the history, usage and quirkiness of the English language in an engaging manner. Punctuation, word derivation, aspects of grammar and spelling are explained clearly. The author communicates her delight in the patterns of letters, sounds, words and expressions as she invites readers to share her knowledge as 'word spies'. The narrative framework, conversational tone, witty anecdotes, puzzles and coded messages through the text are entertaining. Coloured frames, some red pages and Tohby Riddle's amusing illustrations and appropriately varied typography enhance the book's visual appeal. The chapter on nicknames and recent developments such as text messages are of special interest to young readers. Innovative in its approach, the book presents a wealth of information in an appealing way.

GREENWOOD, Mark (text) Frane Lessac (illus.) Simpson and his Donkey Walker

With minimal text that has been so carefully scripted and beautifully delivered, this book displays considerable narrative capacity in relating the poignant story of the ambulance bearer who served for only twenty four days at Gallipoli, but who remains indelibly etched in Australian ethos. The endpapers strongly reflect the contrasts of Simpson's life and the book further touches on a boyhood friendship which was reunited on the battlefield. Greenwood's thoroughly researched account is supported by simplistic but strongly emotive illustrations that capture and portray an excellent snapshot of life and conditions at Gallipoli.

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books--Short List Books

NICHOLLS, Catriona & Janet Paterson (text) Rod Waller (illus.) The Workboot Series: The Story of Chicken in Australia Kondinin Group

This book is a further release in the Workboot series that focuses on Australia's agricultural industries. This title offers the most up to date, relevant and statistically supported information available on the topic of chicken production in Australia. Backed with excellent colourful photographs, diagrams, maps and graphs, this is a clear and concise resource providing a multi-layered insight into the subject, making it suitable for all ages. With the addition ofhumour from Blunnie the Workboot, it will also appeal to a younger reader doing research in this area.

RAMAGE, Jan (text) Ellen Hickman (illus.) Tuart Dwellers Department of Environment & Conservation, WA

In a book of superb design and production quality, the reader virtually roams around a patch of forest from dawn to dust, in the south-east corner of Western Australia. Thus immersed in the subject, the whole ecology is explored with all its senses in its natural context, like a guided bushwalk. The dynamic and manifold nature of the tuart forest, a species of eucalypt, is progressively revealed through page turnings and illustrations of commendable technical merit and verisimilitude. An extensive illustrated appendix describes the flora and fauna encountered in the narrative.

ROSS, John & Anna Booth Every Picture Tells A Story: Adventures in Australian Art Craftsman House, Thames & Hudson

All the major themes of colonists adapting to a strange natural environment, developing an economy and ultimately creating a new nation and a singular identity, are encompassed in this history of Australia. The history is topically presented through its art primarily representational painting, drawings and prints--which adds a cultural dimension to the narrative and enhances an appreciation of the interpretative nature of historising. The featured art is a judicious selection from the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. This is an attractively designed book with wide appeal and interest.

De Goldi Wins Children's Book of the Year, No Question About It!

Kate De Goldi has won the New Zealand's highest accolade in children's and young adult writing. In May she took the 2009 New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award for her novel, The 10PM Question.

The delightful tale of Frankie Parsons and his somewhat eccentric family and friends enchanted the judging panel, just as it captured the hearts of readers throughout the country, who have kept it on the bestseller lists for months.
COPYRIGHT 2009 Children's Book Council of Australia
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 2009
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