Making history: The 2023 Children’s Book of the Year Winners

The 2023 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards acknowledges the work of writers and illustrators that enrich the imaginations of our young readers.

The prestigious annual Book of the Year Awards continues to celebrate quality Australian literature for young people, with themes around friendships and family bonds explored in the 2023 entries.

In a first in the award’s history, the winner of the Older Readers category is a graphic novel from author Tom Taylor. ‘I’m so excited that, for the first time in its 77-year history, a comic book has won the Book of the Year for Older Readers. To me, comics are the greatest storytelling medium on the planet, and potentially the most powerful educational tool available for reluctant readers.’

The awards coincide with the start of Book Week, which runs from 19 – 25 August. This year’s theme is ‘Read, Grow, Inspire’, with schools and early learning centres across Australia celebrating throughout the week.

Here are the winners in the six categories, with comments from the Children’s Book Council Award judges:

Book of the Year: Older Readers

Neverlanders by Tom Taylor and Joe Sommariva, Penguin Random House Australia.

‘A beautifully presented work, with dark, funny, insightful writing supported by dynamic and powerful images. The story is well-paced, chronicling the journey of a contemporary “found family” tale embedded within the metatextuality of a fantastical Peter Pan narrative.’

Completely Normal (and other lies) by Biffy James, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing.

The Other Side of Tomorrow by Hayley Lawrence, Scholastic Australia.

Book of the Year: Younger Readers

Runt by Craig Silvey, Allen & Unwin.

‘This book is about the struggles of country life but also about community and how it rallies around a girl and her dog. Annie’s attempts to fix everything are good natured and her eventual realization that not everything needs to be fixed is heartfelt and well earned.’

Evie and Rhino by Neridah McMullin and illustrated by Astred Hicks, Walker Books Australia.

The Raven’s Song by Zana Fraillon and Bren MacDibble, Allen & Unwin.

Book of the Year: Early Childhood

Where the Lyrebird Lives by Vikki Conley and illustrated by Max Hamilton, Windy Hollow Books.

‘This book delights and entices the reader from beginning to end. Lush green spreads fill the pages, beautifully capturing the setting of cool climate forests in watercolour and pencil.’

Bev and Kev by Katrina Germein and illustrated by Mandy Foot, Little Book Press.

Snap! by Anna Walker, Scribble Kids’ Books.

Picture Book of the Year

My Strange Shrinking Parents written and illustrated by Zeno Sworder, Thames & Hudson Australia.

‘Every part of this book design has been crafted with enormous care. The sublime artwork situates itself within an Eastern aesthetic, making nods to the Willow Pattern story, while still giving voice to a surreal reality of immigrant life.’

Dirt by Sea illustrated by Tom Jellett written by Michael Wagner, Penguin Random House Australia.

Paradise Sands: A Story of Enchantment by Levi Pinfold, Walker Books Australia.

The Eve Pownall Award

DEEP: Dive into Hidden Worlds, by Jess McGeachin, Welbeck Publishing.

‘This imaginatively presented hardback reference book seamlessly brings together a large variety of information about the unseen elements of Earth’s sea and land life, outer space and the human body. Contemporary issues are also included making the information very relatable to readers. The information is interesting and the language is clear and presented in accessible small chunks, with a bit of humour.’

Come Together: Things Every Aussie Kid Should Know about the First Peoples by Isaiah Firebrace and illustrated by Jaelyn Biumaiwai, Hardie Grant Explore.

Wild Australian Life by Leonard Cronin and illustrated by Chris Nixon, Allen & Unwin.

Award for New Illustrator

Tiny Wonders by Sally Soweol Han, University of Queensland Press.

‘The visible pencil lines create a sense of life, and the opening page is instantly engaging. Colour is used purposefully and symbolically throughout to portray character, setting, mood and themes of life, vibrancy and nature.’

Find out more

Visit the Children’s Book Council of Australia for more details. You can also watch the video of the awards presentation below.

The awards coincide with Book Week, 19 – 25 August 2023, with the theme Read, Grow, Inspire.

Wanting to purchase some of the winning books? We are pleased to share a special offer for readers of The Parents Website.  Click on this link for an automatic 10% discount* that will apply at checkout.

T&C’s *Offer applied at checkout and cannot be used with any other. Does not apply to digital subscriptions, magazines, eBooks, gift certificates or postage.

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