CBCA Shortlist Predictions
Congratulations to all the CBCA Shortlisted books for 2019. I had the pleasure of predicting the shortlist for the recent NSW CBCA Branch AAA event.
It was great to talk about my favourite books published last year (in the Younger Readers category). I thought I would share with you the books I mentioned on my list – keep in mind that I could not read every book published so there are many wonderful books I’m sure I missed. Not to brag but of my selection, three of the books I mentioned made it onto the shortlist, so clearly I know what I’m talking about, or I’m a psychic.
Here are the books I selected and a brief reason why I picked them.
The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty
This book was funny yet dramatic – totally engaging page-turning stuff. I love the way Jaclyn Moriarty writes and here, with the dual narrative, you get two excellent characters telling the story and bickering with each other. A great companion piece (but also stand-alone) to The Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone. Highly recommended.
The Boy From Earth by Darrel Pitt
This book set in space was lots of silly fun, involving countless aliens and space escapades. The book is elevated by an engaging narrative and strong story arc. Plus it made me laugh. I love the synopsis: Twelve-year-old Bobby Baxter’s not the bravest kid on Earth. His list of things that scare him is up to number 689, and includes lightning, crowds, spiders, alien abductions, crocodiles, falling from great heights, falling from small heights and eggs. So when he learns that he’s the first Earthling ever chosen to attend the Galactic Space Academy, light years away from home, he’s terrified and just wants to go home to his Dad and his pet snail, Roger.
Finch by Penny Matthews
Well written drama that also has mysterious elements that draw in the reader. I found the characters and the family tensions to be completely believable. The story was compelling and lingered in my mind.
The Peacock Detectives by Carly Nugent
This was a sneaky extra book I added to my list – I really enjoyed the voice of the first person narrative and being inside her head. The book tackles some pretty hefty themes but has a gentle approach.
Lenny’s Guide to Everything by Karen Foxlee
This was also another sneaky addition because I knew it would be under consideration in the older readers category, still I think strong readers in primary school would love this book – I know I would have when I was in primary school. Bit of a tear jerker though.
Brindabella by Ursula Dubosarsky with illustrations by Andrew Joyner
Beautifully written book about the relationship between a boy and a kangaroo he rescues. Told from the human perspective and then the animal perspective. Lyrical yet economic prose. Stays with you …
Limelight by Solli Raphael
At 12, Solli Raphael was the youngest winner of the Australian Poetry Slam. Videos of his poetry slam performances have gone viral and he is a super star. This book is both a guide to writing poetry, expressing yourself and performing, as well as being a collection of poetry with a strong social and environmental focus. The writing, being that of a 12 year old, speaks to young readers and it says: you can do this too; you can express yourself through words, through poetry, through music, through art. Very inspiring.
Missing by Sue Whiting
I loved this book and was very surprised to see it missing from the notable list. I was hooked from page 1 and almost read the whole thing in one sitting. Sue Whiting was inspired by the alarming number of people in Australia who go missing every year, and especially by the idea of what it does to the people left behind with no closure about what happened … this book features two timeframes juxtaposed together – the moment Madeleine’s mother goes missing, and then over a hundred days later when her dad drags her to Panama in a last attempt to find her. A wonderful read.
How to Win a Noble Prize by Barry Marshall with Lorna Hendry. Illustration by Bernard Caleo.
This book was written by noble prize winner, Dr Barry Marshall (with the help of experienced author Lorna Hendry), an Australian scientist who received a noble prize (along with Robin Warren) for important work with gut bacteria. The book is very episodic and there is not a lot in the way of drama, but it is compelling regardless because unlike a non fiction book or wiki page, in this book you get to meet these amazing humans who have shaped the world we live in (the main character goes back in time to have conversations with these people and ask their advice on how to win a noble prize). I was very ignorant of many of the scientists featured and I loved learning more about them. Plus I love how it promotes STEM for young girls.
Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr
I never read Dragonfly Song, which came before this, but I believe it is similar in terms of setting and writing style. This book is a stand-along companion piece set in the Minoan Bronze age, 1625 BC, in the Crete region. It is written in prose and free verse. The world is totally fascinating … believing in many gods, appeasing those gods, making sacrifices, reading omens and acting on them … and of course there are the different gender and class structures in play. Wendy Orr’s research and detail make it a really rich story.