Today the Children's Book Council of Australia released their 2012 Book of the Year Shortlist and their 2012 Notables List. It's awesome to see some less familiar names among the better-known ones, because it means I have some serious reading to catch up on.
Here's the collection of shortlisted books:
Book of the Year: Older Readers
- Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel, Michael Gerard Bauer
- A Straight Line to my Heart, Bill Condon
- The Golden Day, Ursula Dubosarsky
- The Dead I Know, Scot Gardner
- Ship Kings: The Coming of the Whirlpool, Andrew McGahan
- When We Were Two, Robert Newton
- Crow Country, Kate Constable
- Brotherband: The Outcasts, John Flanagan
- Nanberry: Black Brother White, Jackie French
- The Truth About Verity Sparks, Susan Green
- The Golden Door, Emily Rodda
- Bungawitta, Emily Rodda
- The Runaway Hug, Nick Bland and illustrated by Freya Blackwood
- Come Down, Cat!, Sonya Hartnett and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo
- That's Not a Daffodil!, Elizabeth Honey
- The Last Viking, Norman Jorgensen and illustrated by James Foley
- No Bears, Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Leila Rudge
- Rudie Nudie, Emma Quay
- Look, a Book!, Freya Blackwood and Libby Gleeson
- The Dream of the Thylacine, Ron Brooks and Margaret Wild
- For All Creatures, Rebecca Cool and Glenda Millard
- A Bus Called Heaven, Bob Graham
- No Bears, Leila Rudge and Meg McKinlay
- Flood, Bruce Whatley and Jackie French
Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
- The Little Refugee, Anh and Suzanne Do, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
- One Small Island: The Story of Macquarie Island, Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch
- Surrealism for Kids, Queensland Art Gallery
- Bilby Secrets, Edel Wignell and illustrated Mark Jackson
- Fromelles: Australia's Bloodiest Day at War, Carole Wilkinson
- Playground, Nadia Wheatley (Ed) and illustrated by Ken Searle
I feel certain it's in my best interest as a growing writer to just work my way through the entire list, right? Right. How about you? Have you read any of the books on the shortlist? Or are there any you're particularly excited to get your hands on?
Though I haven't read any of the Ishmael books yet, I'm currently reading another by Michael Gerard Bauer, and his writing is certainly award-worthy. In amongst the hordes of trilogies and series and the ubiquitous paranormal fantasies, it's refreshing to find what I -- quite wrongly, certainly -- think of as "real" fiction. I'm eating up dystopia with the best of them, and I love a bit of time travel or fantasy, but beautiful stories about realistic people set in a world we immediately recognise as our own is something quite special. Michael Gerard Bauer is doing that kind of writing, and it's very cool.
I've never read anything by Ursula Dubosarsky, and I should totally remedy that. But Jackie French, Emily Rodda, Bruce Whatley, Bob Graham, Nadia Wheatley, Alison Lester, and Elizabeth Honey were staples during childhood and the teen years for my siblings and I; they're bound to be good. I have a huge respect and affection for Anh Do, so I'm very keen to read the book he wrote with his sister (both of whom star in the gorgeous Australian film, Footy Legends). And I'm pretty proud that Queensland Art Gallery made it to the shortlist with their book, Surrealism for Kids. I'm merely irrationally proud, of course, since it's a weird form of local patriotism that makes me feel almost as if I played some part in the publication of "my" museum's book -- like football fans who shout "we won!" when actually it was their team that did all the work.
What else is tantalising? Well I've picked up A Straight Line to My Heart several times during trips to my favourite independent bookstore. Always it got put back on the shelf because my wishlist is infinitely larger than my budget. Obviously, though, I really must read it!
And my mother recently bought Flood for my little brother. It's a beautiful reflection on the devastation after the Brisbane floods and the rebuilding that had to follow. It gives me shivers for reasons that are hard to describe. I think it's something to do with recognising that here is a work of art created in response to a city-changing, life-altering event that was a part of my lifetime -- that I, even in a small way, witnessed. I think we are often apt to brush away our life experiences as trivial -- to downplay dramas once the dust has settled. This book reminds us not to forget too soon, and I'm glad it made the shortlist.