Book Week 2021 will be held between Saturday 21 August and Friday 27 August. The CBCA Book Week theme for 2021 is Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds.
When is CBCA Book Week 2022?
The CBCA Book Week 2022 will take place between 20-26 August 2022.
This Book Week shortlist makes an easy, curated shopping list for all levels of readers.
As you’d know, it’s currently a very challenging business, arts and community environment. Please continue to celebrate excellent Australian children’s literature by supporting authors and booksellers and buying more books!
CBCA also provides Book Week resources for parents and teachers, including colouring-in sheets, DIY bookmarks and craft ideas.
Also if you’re struggling with Book Week costume ideas check out the range from CostumeBox – they have a wide range, including perfect teacher costumes!
Book of the Year 2021 Shortlist: Picture Book
These picture books are suitable for ages 0-18 years – some of these books may be for mature readers.
Freya Blackwood’s new book beautifully combines words and pictures to tell a story of the relationship between twins.
Jules and George are the same in every way. It is quite impossible to tell them apart. Like all twins, Jules and George do everything together. But after a long, hot day at the beach, even twins sometimes disagree …
There’s a special element of humour in Philip Bunting’s books, perfect for parents have a laugh, and Not Cute is no exception.
Quokka did not like being cute. Not one bit. The romping, stomping, chomping tale of one stubbornly adorable marsupial.
Norton likes the limelight, and the bear’s imitation is intimidating! Gabriel Evans has used beautiful watercolour and pencil illustrations in Norton and the Bear.
Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Or is it just annoying? This irresistible read-aloud helps children deal with the sensitive topics of conformity, individuality and belonging in an accessible, kid-friendly way. Whether you’re more like Norton or the bear, this story will show you that there’s room for all kinds of creative expression.
Bob Graham has done it again! His stories are invariably fun and a bit heartwarming, and Ellie’s Dragon is no exception.
Bob Graham’s Ellie’s Dragon features his signature quirky illustrations and imaginative text in a delightful tale about a pet dragon that engages other children, but remains invisible to adults.
When Ellie is very little, she finds a newborn dragon fresh from the egg on a supermarket shelf, and calls him Scratch. He is quite the sweetest thing she has ever seen! From that day on, Ellie and Scratch do everything together. Ellie’s mum and her teacher can’t see her fiery friend, but all her friends can – and, over the years, Ellie’s dragon grows to be big, house-trained, and very affectionate. And Ellie is growing, too… A moving story about the wonders of imagination and the nature of growing up from one of Australia’s most revered bookmakers.
Beautifully written by Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Matt Ottley, How to Make a Bird looks at the wonders of migratory birds, and touches on climate change.
Extraordinary imagery and rich language spark the reader’s imagination as they enter the creative world of a young girl.
From award-winning author Meg McKinlay and celebrated artist Matt Ottley comes a moving and visually stunning picture book that celebrates the transformative power of the creative process from inception through recognition to celebration and releasing into the world. We shadow the protagonist as she contemplates the blue print of an idea, collects the things that inspire from the natural world to shape a bird. And breathes life into it before letting it fly free. It shows how small things, combined with a little imagination and a steady heart, can transform into works of magic.
This hilarious book was inspired by rainbow cockroach poo found in a cutlery draw, and Your Birthday Was the Best! is brought to life by Maggie Hutchings and Felicita Sala.
From the author of the best-selling Mermaid! and Unicorn! and one of the world’s hottest new picture-book illustrators comes the story of a plucky young cockroach who gate-crashes a birthday party – with hilarious results. Funny, silly and surprisingly cute, Your Birthday Was the BEST! is the perfect blend of downright gross and delightfully entertaining.
Book of the Year 2021 Shortlist: Early Childhood
These books are appropriate in style and content for kids aged 0-6 years who are pre-reading or in the early stages of reading.
In my experience, kids (particularly toddlers) find birds particularly fascinating. Satisfy that interest, and learn about different birds, with Busy Beaks by Sarah Allen.
Spend a day with Australia’s most vibrant and unique feathered friends.
Full of splashing shorebirds, clattering cockatoos, parading penguins and greedy galahs, Busy Beaks is the perfect introduction to birds of all shapes and sizes.
Celebrate motherhood, diversity and families with Who’s Your Real Mum? by Bernadette Green & Anna Zobel.
‘Elvi, which one is your mum?’
‘They’re both my mums.’
‘But which one’s your real mum?’
When Nicholas wants to know which of Elvi’s two mums is her real mum, she gives him lots of clues. Her real mum is a circus performer, and a pirate, and she even teaches spiders the art of the web. But Nicholas still can’t work it out! Luckily, Elvi knows just how to help Nicholas understand.
An empowering story about a non-traditional family that celebrates exactly what defines it — love.
Need a present for a toddler? Look no further than No! Never by Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman.
A cautionary tale about a little girl who drives her parents up the wall when she starts answering ‘No! Never!’ to all their requests – and what happens when the tables are turned on her.
There was a child,
The sweetest ever,
Until she learned these words:
Georgie is a sweet little girl who always makes her parents happy… until she discovers one powerful phrase: No! Never!
It suddenly becomes her answer to every request, from tidying up her toys to going to bed. Her parents are at their wits end, but what happens when they decide to try saying No! Never! themselves?
A lovely, lively look at the Terrible Twos (or Threes, or Fours, or Fives…) from mother-daughter team Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman, with debut illustrator Mel Pearce. Perfect for any parent dealing with tantrums, defiant behaviour or communication issues.
Anemone is not the Enemy, by Anna McGregor, is lots of fun to read around, with dialogue between sea creatures.
‘I’m trying to make friends, not enemies. So why do I always sting everyone?’
Anemone lives alone in the rock pool. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. All Anemone wants is a friend, but friends are hard to make when you accidentally sting everyone who comes near you. Perhaps Clownfish has a solution to the problem…
A funny tale of mishap, misunderstanding, and the search for true friendship in an ocean rockpool.
A fun book by Heidi McKinnon, There’s No Such Thing dispells doubts about imaginary creatures lurking in the dark.
A funny, warm and reassuring story from the internationally acclaimed creator of I Just Ate My Friend and Baz & Benz.
Bear can’t sleep. Did you hear that? Did you feel that? What was it? It wasn’t a hungry giant or a blood-sucking spider or a fire-breathing dragon because there is NO SUCH THING… Is there?
We Love You, Magoo by Briony Stewart includes a full page spread of Magoo in the mud, which actually inspired the illustration style throughout.
Magoo has his own ideas about what a dog should do – in the kitchen, in the car, at dinnertime and bedtime! But there are so many rules! So many things a dog can’t do.
But wait! Magoo, THIS is for you…
Silly dogoo, we do love you!
A perfect read-aloud picture book that captures Magoo’s energy and emotion in every line. A classic in the making – joyous and playful, this will be read again and again. Pitched perfectly at the preschooler, just learning the rules who loves being the boss. Gorgeous illustrations and a rhyming text that’s a delight to read out loud.
Book of the Year 2021 Shortlist: Younger Readers
These books are appropriate in style and content for kids age 7-12 years in middle and upper primary years. Some of the themes may have themes appropriate for readers at the older end of the age bracket, so parental guidance is recommended.
Told through Aster’s eyes, Aster’s Good, Right Things aims to destigmatise mental illness and show children that there is a path out, in a deeply personal story for the author, Kate Gordon.
I can’t let go of them – the good, right things—because if I do I’ll turn into a cloud and I’ll float away,
and a storm will come and blow me to nothing.”
Aster attends a school for gifted kids, but she doesn’t think she’s special at all. If she was, her mother wouldn’t have left. Each day Aster must do a good, right thing—a challenge she sets herself, to make someone else’s life better. Nobody can know about her ‘things’, because then they won’t count. And if she doesn’t do them, she’s sure everything will go wrong. Then she meets Xavier. He has his own kind of special missions to make life better. When they do these missions together, Aster feels free, but if she stops doing her good, right things will everything fall apart?
The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst is the third in the Kingdoms and Empires series by Jaclyn Moriarty.
Long ago, the little Prince of Cloudburst was stolen from the seashore by a Water Sprite. Now, ten years later, the prince has found his way home. The King and Queen are planning the biggest party in their Kingdom’s history to welcome him. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Kingdoms and Empires, Esther Mettlestone-Staranise is looking forward to another year at Katherine Valley Boarding School.
But she arrives to find a number of strange and unsettling changes.
For one, her new teacher is rumoured to be an Ogre. Two mysterious students have joined the school, and one of Esther’s classmates is an undercover Spellbinder. Most disturbingly, the mountains surrounding the school – usually a delight of glaciers, teashops, lakes and Faeries – are now crowded with wicked Shadow Mages.
As secrets and dangers escalate, Esther must find the answers to several puzzles. Why is her teacher behaving so oddly? Which of Esther’s classmates is the Spellbinder, and can they really protect the school from gathering hordes of Shadow Mages? Could the Stolen Prince of Cloudburst be connected?
How can Esther – who is not talented like her sisters, nor an adventurer like her cousin, but just Esther – save her family, her school and possibly her entire world?
Worse Things by Sally Murphy is an engaging book written in verse from the perspective of three kids, and shows their differences and common ground.
From the award-winning author of Pearl Verses the World and Toppling comes a story about connections, the ways they are made and what happens when they are lost. When you’re part of the team the sideline is a place of refuge of rest of reprieve. But when you’re out of the team the sideline changes. Suddenly it’s the loneliest place of them all. After a devastating football injury, Blake struggles to cope with life on the sideline. Jolene, a gifted but conflicted hockey player, wants nothing more than for her dad to come home. And soccer-loving refugee, Amed, wants to belong. On the surface, it seems they have nothing in common. Except sport. A touching and inspirational story about the things that bind us all.
Narrated by the oldest sibling, We Are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad is an emotional, and at times heartbreaking, read.
Sometimes it’s good to be wild. Sometimes you have to be wild. When the Russian Army marches into East Prussia at the end of the war, the Wolf family must flee. Liesl, Otto and their baby sister Mia find themselves lost and alone, in a blizzard, in the middle of a war zone. Liesl has promised Mama that she will keep her brother and sister safe. But sometimes, to survive, you have to do bad things. Dangerous things. Wild things. Sometimes to survive, you must become a wolf.
A story about a girl from an everyday family, Bindi by Kirli Saunders is written in verse and portrays an indigenous girl with a strong and proud heritage.
Meet 11-year-old Bindi. She’s not really into maths but LOVES art class and playing hockey. Her absolute FAVOURITE thing is adventuring outside with friends or her horse, Nell. A new year starts like normal—school, family, hockey, dancing. But this year hasn’t gone to plan! There’s a big art assignment, a drought, a broken wrist AND the biggest bushfires her town has ever seen! Bindi is a verse novel for mid-upper primary students. Written ‘for those who plant trees’, Bindi explores climate, bushfires, and healing. Written from the point of view of 11-year-old, Bindi and her friends on Gundungurra Country.
Chance Callahan started her life far away from Woolongong, where she now lives in this suspenseful narrative by Sue Whiting.
Chance is a black-and-white thinker until she realises that sometimes there are shades of grey.
Chance is in Year 7 and thinks she has it all – a loving mother, dog Tiges, best friend and almost-sister next door. But when a reality TV team makes over her house, she discovers newspaper cuttings from the past that cause her to question the world as she knows it and everyone in it. Then she finds herself caught between two realities, identities and worlds. Face-to-face with the truth, Chance has a very difficult decision to make, which almost splits her in two. This powerful story explores what is true and what is fake in today’s world. And while Chance is all about the truth, she ponders whether “Maybe being truthful was really just a big lie.”
Buy The Book of Chance from QBD Books | Amazon | Booktopia
Book of the Year 2021 Shortlist: Older Readers
These books are appropriate in style and content for teenagers age 13-18 years who are in high school. The themes and language are suitable only for mature readers – for instance there are themes of suicide and violence.
The End of the World is Bigger than Love is a magical realism story written by Davina Bell, narrated by twins with unique voices. It’s a great choice for readers who need a challenge.
Identical twin sisters Summer and Winter live alone on a remote island, sheltered from a destroyed world. They survive on rations stockpiled by their father and spend their days deep in their mother’s collection of classic literature—until a mysterious stranger upends their carefully constructed reality. At first, Edward is a welcome distraction. But who is he really, and why has he come? As love blooms and the world stops spinning, the secrets of the girls’ past begin to unravel and escape is the only option.
A sumptuously written novel of love and grief; of sisterly affection and the ultimate sacrifice; of technological progress and climate catastrophe; of an enigmatic bear and a talking whale—The End of the World Is Bigger than Love is unlike anything you’ve read before.
The Lost Soul Atlas by Zana Frallion shines a light on the importance of memories, and highlights important social themes such as family, homelessness and poverty.
A powerful story of hope and friendship, from the author of The Bone Sparrow.
Loyalty is tested, and a cruel twist of fate leads to an act of ultimate betrayal in this epic story that spans a city, a decade, and the divide between life and death itself.
Twig is all alone after his dad goes missing. But when he meets Flea, a cheerful pickpocket, the pair become fast friends. Together, Twig and Flea raise themselves on the crime-ridden streets, taking what they need and giving the rest to the even-poorer. Life is good, as long as they have each other. But then Twig wakes up in the Afterlife. With just a handful of vague memories, a key, a raven, and a mysterious atlas to guide him, he tries to piece together what happened, and to find his way home.
A mystery set in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin will be enjoyed by readers in the whole 13 – 18 age range.
A beautiful and timely coming-of-age story about finding out who you are in the face of crisis and change. Perfect for fans of Kate DiCamillo, Fiona Wood and Emily Rodda.
A runaway, a baby and a whole lot of questions…
Lissa is home on her own after school one afternoon when a stranger turns up on the doorstep carrying a baby. Reed is on the run – surely people are looking for him? He’s trying to find out who he really is and thinks Lissa’s mum might have some answers. But how could he be connected to Lissa’s family – and why has he been left in charge of a baby? A baby who is sick, and getting sicker… Reed’s appearance stirs up untold histories in Lissa’s family, and suddenly she is having to make sense of her past in a way she would never have imagined. Meanwhile, her brother is dealing with a devastating secret of his own.
Metal Fish, Falling Snow is Cath Moore’s YA debut full of complex and interesting characters.
Dylan and her adored French mother dream of one day sailing across the ocean to France. Paris, Dylan imagines, is a place where her black skin won’t make her stand out, a place where she might feel she belongs. But when she loses her mother in a freak accident, Dylan finds herself on a very different journey: a road trip across outback Australia in the care of her mother’s grieving boyfriend, Pat. As they travel through remote towns further and further from the water that Dylan longs for, she and Pat form an unlikely bond. One that will be broken when he leaves her with the family she has never known. Metal Fish, Falling Snow is a warm, funny and highly original portrait of a young girl’s search for identity and her struggle to deal with grief. Through families lost and found, this own-voices story celebrates the resilience of the human heart and our need to know who we truly are.
Where We Begin is a suspenseful novel by Christie Nieman with complex themes; racism, family violence, trauma, first nations, teenage pregnancy and alcoholism.
Seventeen-year-old Anna is running into the night. Fleeing her boyfriend, her mother, and everything she has known. She is travelling into the country, to the land and the grandparents she has never met, looking for answers to questions that have never been asked. For every family has secrets. But some secrets – once laid bare – can never be forgiven. A dark, deeply compelling, coming-of-age YA novel from the author of As Stars Fall.
Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal is the debut from #ownvoices author Anna Whateley, with a protagonist that offers an eye-opening fresh perspective.
At sixteen, neurodivergent Peta Lyre is the success story of social training. That is, until she finds herself on a school ski trip – and falling in love with the new girl. Peta will need to decide which rules to keep, and which rules to break.
Peta Lyre is far from typical. The world she lives in isn’t designed for the way her mind works, but when she follows her therapist’s rules for ‘normal’ behaviour, she can almost fit in without attracting attention. When a new girl, Sam, starts at school, Peta’s carefully structured routines start to crack. But on the school ski trip, with romance blooming and a newfound confidence, she starts to wonder if maybe she can have a normal life after all. When things fall apart, Peta must decide whether all the old rules still matter. Does she want a life less ordinary, or should she keep her rating normal? A moving and joyful own voices debut.
Book of the Year 2021 Shortlist: Non-Fiction Book
The Eve Pownall Award is awarded to books providing factual content, often with beautiful illustrations to appeal to children.
Following her 2020 nomination for The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals, Sami Bayly has done it again as author and illustrator of The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals!
Dangerous animals get a bad rap, but this beautifully illustrated encyclopaedia helps us appreciate the incredible features of some of our more hair-raising animal species.
You will learn interesting facts about these fascinating species, (many of which you won’t have even known were deadly) such as how they have adapted to survive and whether we should be threatened by these animals or appreciate them for their incredible features. Children and adults alike will pore over the breathtaking scientific illustrations of unusual animals from the geography cone snail to the wolverine, the Irukandji jellyfish to the slow loris, debating their relative dangerous features, learning about science and nature along the way.
Maria Coote’s Azaria: A True History is written about the Azaria Chamberlain tragedy, with Lindy Chamberlain as the main character.
It breaks down big themes to make them more accessible for younger readers including the error in judgement that allowed people to form a mob mentality, and ignoring the knowledge First Nations people and natural history.
Explore the changing seasons of Kakadu National Park in Dry to Dry: The Seasons of Kakadu by Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli, with parallel sections of narrative and factual text.
This Nature Storybook follow-up to the award-winning Desert Lake is a stunningly illustrated and extraordinary story of the yearly weather cycle and attendant changing wildlife of Kakadu National Park, from the Dry to the Wet to the Dry again.
In the tropical wetlands and escarpments of Kakadu National Park, the seasons move from dry to wet to dry again. Those seasons have shaped the astonishing variety of plants, animals, birds, insects … migratory birds by the thousands, grasshoppers and owls, lizards and turtles, fruit bats and spear grass. And, gliding past them all in the rivers and waterholes, the long, sinuous shapes of crocodiles…
Strangers on Country by is a carefully researched and sensitively presented story based on the stories of Aboriginal peoples first contact with early white colonisers. Each account is told from the perspective of an Indigenous person, then from the castaway or convict receiving refuge from the community.
This book was inspired by and based on Living with the Locals: Early Europeans’ Experience of Indigenous Life by John Maynard and Victoria K. Haskins.
Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish by Gina M Newton and Rachel Tribout is a beautiful book for animal lovers, and demonstrates the impact that citizen scientists can have on our environment.
A beautiful picture book about a quirky little fish that is famous for walking on its ‘hands’. Have you ever seen a fish that could do a handstand? This is the story of a quirky and primitive little fish that is famous for two reasons: walking on its ‘hands’ (pectoral fins), and being one of the first marine fish in the world to be listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Spotted Handfish has survived since the time of the dinosaurs – until now. Invasive seastars, pollution and climate change mean that this unique Australian is in serious trouble – hands up if you want to know more! Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish is perfect for primary aged readers.
Matthew Flinders – Adventures on Leaky Ships by Carole Wilkinson and Prue Pittock is written in narrative format but gives a factual overview of Flinders’ life.
Matthew Flinders was determined to map the entire coast of the continent we now call Australia. His story is packed to the gunwales with adventure – storms and shipwrecks, death and danger, a race to beat the French. But more than this, it is a story of loyalty to his crew, love for his wife, and affection for the brave little cat who sailed with him.
Book of the Year 2021 Shortlist: New Illustrator
This annual award recognises the work of an emerging Australian children’s book illustrator.
Ribbit Rabbit Robot is written by Victoria Mackinlay and illustrated by Sofya Karmazina. The use of fun and lively illustrations throughout, including the cover and end pages, has brought the characters to life!
his lamp is enchanted and I am the genie. I’ll grant all your wishes, but don’t be a meanie…
When a friendly frog, a greedy rabbit and a robot with a short fuse discover a magic lamp, chaos follows…and friendship is found.
Also nominated as Early Childhood book of the year, No! Never!, written by Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman, is humorously and energetically illustrated with digitally coloured hand drawings. They compliment the words to highlight the building emotion, and lure readers in with speech bubbles.
Seven Seas of Fleas, by Dave Petzold, is a funny book! And the fun energetic illustrations serve to highlight the humour and personality of the characters.
A flying boy and seven bees are chased by fleas, but an unexpected friendship forms.
Bryce McFee is an ordinary boy bored with washing the flea-ridden family dog. So, he escapes to his imagination and flies across the backyard with a dandelion and seven bees. Trouble strikes when a swarm of pesky fleas gives chase, threatening to ruin his adventure. Ultimately, an unlikely friendship is formed between the flying boy and the fleas. A fun rhyming story that exercises the imagination.
Shirley Purdie is an eponymous book, with simple earth toned illustrations.
Told in English and Gija, this is the story of Shirley Purdie, famous Gija artist, as told through her paintings, as part of the Ngaalim-Ngalimboorro Ngagenybe exhibition created for the 2018 National Portrait Gallery exhibition So Fine: Contemporary women artists make Australian history. The exhibition will be rehung, in Gallery 1, to coincide with the launch of My Story, along with a series of cultural engagement activities based on My Story.
This is the first book in the Kimberley Art Centre Series. The series focuses on developing the skills of Kimberley Aboriginal artists in children’s picture book storytelling and illustration.
Created by Zeno Sworder, This Small Blue Dot is illustrated with original pencil and crayon drawings, creating a sense of childhood nostalgia.
A young girl introduces the newest member of her family to the small wonders, big lessons and other important stuff that make being a child so special.
With a strong message of interconnectedness, hope and empowerment, This Small Blue Dot follows a little girl exploring the big and small things in life. From contemplating our place on this ‘blue dot’ to the best Italian, Chinese and Indian desserts, the book provides a broader, more inclusive view of who we are, where we come from and where our dreams may take us.
The pastel pencil illustrations are done on darker surfaces in Go Away, Worry Monster! written by Brooke Graham and illustrated by Robin Tatlow-Lord. This helps to create a night time atmosphere, and brings the worry monster to life.
Worry Monster loves ‘helping’ Archie worry, especially the night before he starts his new school. Archie feels so anxious that his head hurts, his tummy flutters and his heart pounds. He soon realizes that the only way to feel better is to make Worry Monster go away. He does his belly breaths and challenges his inner fears by facing facts. Go Away, Worry Monster! gives children useful strategies to cope with their anxieties and stress, showing them how to make their own Worry Monsters leave.
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