Saturday, August 19, 2017

Children's Book Council of Australia 2017 winners

Well I was wrong again.  Nearly every book I thought would win - didn't!  We gathered our 900+ students together on Friday and announced the awards for 2017.  Every student knew I was hoping for Gary and so there was a huge cheer when this book received an honour.

At least I had blogged one winner or honour book in each category so we will start there :

Picture Book of the Year
Winner - Home in the Rain by Bob Graham
Honours - Patchwork Bike and Mechanica

Book of the Year for Younger Readers
Winner - Rockhopping by Trace Balla
Honours - Captain Jimmy Cook discovers Third Grade and Dragonfly Song

Early Childhood Picture book of the Year
Winner - Go Home Cheeky Animals by Johanna Bell
Honours - Nannie Loves and Gary

Eve Pownall Award (Non Fiction)
Winner - Amazing Animals of Australia's National Parks
Honours - A to Z of endangered Animals and Genes

I will be talking about Dragonfly Song in a future post.  I am happy to see this book has gained an Honour.

From the short list the books which were popular with our students and the books which generated the most discussion over the last few months were :

Chip by Kylie Howarth
This one worked really well with students in grades 1 and 2.  The students enjoyed the problem solving, airshow tricks and final scene when chips are replaced by fish.  My school is near the beach so the students easily related to the issue of seagulls and chips.

Fabish by Neridah McMullin
We read this book to students in Grades 2-6.  Use of a narrative as a factual recount was very popular and students were interested to see how hard the trainer worked to save his horses.  The illustrations in this this book are just perfect and all classes gasped when we turned to the page filled with flames.

One Photo by Ross Watkins
I was concerned about reading this book with our students.  We do have children who have grand and great grand parents who have dementia.  I shared my own family photos with each class and we read this spare text very slowly with students in Grades 4 and 6.  Their quiet attention showed me this important story touched their hearts.  It was also interesting to explain old technology of film cameras.

Out by Owen Swan
Our senior students spent several weeks exploring other picture books about the refugee experience. We linked Out with Ziba came by boat and an excellent new photo essay Where I live by Rosemary McCarney. After exploring many different text all four classes voted for The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman as the best book on this topic.

My Brother by Dee Huxley
I was concerned this book might be too complex but when I shared it last week with my Grade 6 students our discussions were so deep and insightful.  Students recognised the journey the brother makes through his grief and the quiet acceptance of the ending illustration. As with One Photo we read this minimal text very slowly and I lingered over each illustration. I am sure there are many things I still need to discover about the complex cross referencing in this moving book.

Gary by Leila Rudge
Yes this was my favourite in the Younger Readers selection.  We shared this book with all our K-2 students.  I think this book had an excellent balance between illustrations and text.  The other pigeons explained their adventures to Gary and we see their conversation as a set of symbols which later appear on Gary's map.   We even had some students talking to pigeons in the playground and calling them Gary!

Mechanica by Lance Balchin
The premise for this book is wonderful.  I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction and Mechanica was a good way to introduce this genre to my Grade 6 students.  This is a book that would work well with a class for an in depth exploration of Darwin and the complex vocabulary used throughout the book. We will pass this book onto a couple of our classes now that the Book Week announcement has been made.

Finally I am so happy to see Bob Graham as the Winner for 2017 having been a fan of his books since I first started working in school libraries back in 1985.  I treasure my copy of Pete and Roland and enjoy the way Bob explores tiny but meaningful events in our lives.  We spent two sessions with each class lingering over the details in this book and this week I am looking forward to sharing it with our older students.  Take a minute to read this article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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