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CBCA Shortlist 2021

Book of the Year: Older Readers

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers in their secondary years of schooling. Ages 13-18 years (NB: These books are for mature readers and some may deal with particularly challenging themes including violence and suicide. Parental guidance is recommended).


The end of the world is bigger than love

The end of the world is bigger than love
Bell, Davina

She said we didn't know what theworld out there had become. We had been alone there so long on that tiny island, in that tiny church. But in the night, I couldn't bear it. My chest beat like wings. Identical twin sisters Summer and Winter live alone on a remote island, sheltered from a des...

The lost soul atlas

The lost soul atlas
Fraillon, Zana

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 fri...

When rain turns to snow

When rain turns to snow
Godwin, Jane, 1964-

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 so...

Metal fish, falling snow

Metal fishfalling snow
Moore, Cath

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 diffe...

Where we begin

Where we begin
Nieman, Christie

"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.

Peta Lyre's rating normal

Peta Lyre's rating normal
Whateley, Anna

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…



Book of the Year: Younger Readers

Some of the titles in this category may only be suitable for readers who are in the upper primary years as they contain mature themes, including violence. Parental guidance is recommended.

Aster's good, right things

Aster's goodright things
Gordon, Kate, 1982-

Eleven-year-old 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 goodright thing-a challenge she sets herself, to make someone else's life better. Nobody can know about her things, becau...

The stolen prince of Cloudburst

The stolen prince of Cloudburst
Moriarty, JaclynKingdoms and empires book ; 3

A magical tale of mystery and adventure that proves that sometimes even ordinary middle children can be heroes. Long ago, the little princeofCloudburst was stolen from the seashore by a Water Sprite. Now, ten years later, theprince has found his way home.

Worse things

Worse things
Murphy, Sally, 1968-

WorseThings follows the lives of three main characters: Blake, an Aussie Rules football player who suffers a devastating injury; Jolene, a hockey player who hates the game and and is grieving over the recent death of her father; and Amed, a soccer-loving, non-English speaking orphan who feel...

We are wolves

We are wolves
Nannestad, Katrina

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.


Saunders, Kirli

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.

The book of Chance : a novel

The book of Chance : a novel
Whiting, Sue (Susan Allana), 1960-

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 cutti...



Book of the Year: Early Childhood

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for children who are at pre-reading or early stages of reading. Ages 0-6 years.

 Busy beaks
Busy beaks
Allen, Sarah (Illustrator)

Spend the day with Australia's most vibrant and unique feathered friends. Full of splashing shorebirds, clattering cockatoos, parading penguins and greedy galahs, this book is the perfect introduction to birds of all shapes and sizes.


Who's your real mum?

Who's your real mum?
Green, Bernadette

"Elvi, which one is yourmum?" "They're both my mums." "But which one's yourrealmum?" When Nicholas wants to know which of Elvi's two mums is her realmum, she gives him lots of clues. Her realmum is a circus performer, and a pirate, and she even teaches spiders the art of we...


No! Never! : a cautionary tale

No! Never! : a cautionary tale
Hathorn, Elizabeth

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...



Anemone is not the enemy

Anemone is not the enemy
McGregor, Anna

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.


There's no such thing

There's no such thing
McKinnon, Heidi

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 NOSUCHTHING... Is there?


We love you, Magoo

We love youMagoo
Stewart, Briony

A classic in the making - joyous and playful, this will be read again and again. Pitched perfectly at the pre-schooler, just learning the rules who loves being the boss. Gorgeous illustrations and a rhyming text that's a delight to read out loud.



Picture Book of the Year

Entries in this category should be outstanding books of the Picture Book genre in which the author and illustrator achieve artistic and literary unity or, in wordless picture books, where the story, theme or concept is unified through illustrations. Ages 0-18 years (NB. Some of these books may be for mature readers).


The unwilling twin

The unwilling twin
Blackwood, Freya

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 ...


Not cute

Not cute

Quokka did not like being cute. Not one bit. The romping, stomping, chomping tale of one stubbornly adorable marsupial.


Norton and the Bear

Norton and the Bear
Evans, Gabriel, 1991-

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 thebear, this story will s...


Ellie's dragon

Ellie's dragon
Graham, Bob, 1942-

No friendship is imaginary. 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.


How to make a bird

How to make a bird
McKinlay, Meg

This book 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 s...


Your birthday was the best!

Your birthday was the best!
Hutchings, Maggie

A plucky young cockroach gate-crashes a birthday party with hilarious results.



Eve Pownall Award

Entries in this category should be books which have the prime intention of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style. Ages 0-18 years.


The illustrated encyclopaedia of dangerous animals

The illustrated encyclopaedia of dangerous animals
Bayly, Sami

Dangerousanimals get a bad rap, but this book helps us appreciate the incredible features of some of our more hair-raising animal species. With more than sixty ofthe most deadly and dangerousanimals from across the world to explore, every page of this beautifully illustra...


Azaria : a true history

Azaria : a true history
Coote, Maree

What happens when the truth gets lost? Where wild animals and people meet, tragedy can strike. But when a tiny baby is stolen by a dingo, people simply cannot accept such a thing. Prejudice and gossip grip the nation, and the tragedy transforms into a fight for the truth. 


Dry to dry : the seasons of Kakadu

Dry to dry : the seasons of Kakadu
Freeman, Pamela, 1960-Nature storybooks

"In the tropical wetlands and escarpments ofKakadu National Park, theseasons move from dryto wet todry again. Those seasons have shaped the astonishing variety of plants, animals, birds, insects ... migratory birds by the thousands, grasshoppers and owls, lizards and...


Strangers on Country

Strangers on Country
Hartley, David

This book is fiction and non-fiction. The fictional part tells the story of five white castaways or runaways who were found and cared for by Indigenous groups. There are five pairs of stories: each pair of stories has one written by an Indigenous author and one by a non-Indigenous author. 


Hold on! : saving the spotted handfish

Hold on! : saving the spotted handfish
Newton, Gina M.

Subject: 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 things: walking on its 'hands' (pectoral fins), and being the first marine fish anywhere in the word to be listed onthe IUCN Red List of Threat...


Matthew Flinders : adventures on leaky ships

Matthew Flinders : adventures on leaky ships
Wilkinson, Carole

MatthewFlinders was a country boy who wanted to be a sailor. He lived at a time when ocean voyages took months, sometimes years. His life at sea was full of adventure and danger. He was the first to sail all the way around Australia. He drew the first complete map of the continent.


CBCA Award for New Illustrator

This Award aims to recognise and encourage new talent in the field of Australian children's book illustration. Ages 0-18 years


Rabbit & Robot and Ribbit

Rabbit & Robot and Ribbit
Bell, CeceCandlewick sparksRabbit & Robot ; [2]

Rabbit is excited. He is going to surprise his good friend Robot at home! But Robot is already engrossed in a game of checkers with another friend, Ribbit. Now Rabbit is the one who is surprised, and a bit jealous. While Robot thinks everything Ribbit says is funny, all Rabbit hea...


No! Never! : a cautionary tale

No! Never! : a cautionary tale
Hathorn, Elizabeth

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...


My story = Ngaginybe jarragbe

My story = Ngaginybe jarragbe
PurdieShirley, 1948-Kimberly Art Centre series

I am ShirleyPurdie. This is mystory = Ngayin-ga Birrmarriyan-nga Berrembi jarragbengaginybeMy mother shows me how to get bushtucker and she shows me how to paint. Now I'm a famous artist. My paintings are all over the world hanging in important places. Happy times. 


This small blue dot

This small blue dot
Sworder, Zeno
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, m...