The Children’s Book Council of Australia’s (CBCA) 2021 shortlist is full of tales to take you away this Book Week and beyond.

Escape between the pages of these ‘Book of the Year’ contenders recommended by All Hallows Catholic Primary school teacher librarian, Sharon Seymour, and St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove’s resource and information coordinator, Elizabeth Lansdown.

Picture Book

Ellie’s dragon, Bob Graham

Ellie and her adorable friend, Scratch, do everything together. But why is Scratch beginning to fade? A touching story about the power of imagination and growing up. Bob Graham’s tender tale and delightful illustrations will appeal to young and old alike. 

Early Childhood

Anemone is not the enemy, Anna McGregor

Every day the tide washes into Anemone’s rock pool, bringing possible friends to play. But who wants to play with a friend who stings? Then one day, Anemone meets Clownfish… A tale of friendship and symbiosis.

Younger Readers

The Book of Chance, Sue Whiting

Twelve-year-old Chance has a good life. She has a loving mama, her pet dog and an almost-sister who lives next door. But she is about to learn a secret that will change everything she believes about herself. A heartfelt mystery novel for upper primary and secondary readers.

We are wolves, Katrina Nannestad

Liesl Wolf and her family are forced to flee their home in East Prussia as the Russian army invades. When she, her brother Otto and her baby sister, Mia, find themselves lost and alone, they must take dangerous risks and make daring choices in order to survive. A compelling, touching story that has its roots in truth, for upper primary and secondary readers.

Older Readers

When Rain Turns to Snow, Jane Godwin

This book’s central character, Lissa, struggles with issues that many teenagers will relate to, including loneliness and toxic relationships. The added mystery of why Reed turns up at Lissa’s house with a baby ensures this book is an engaging read that teenagers of any age will find relatable.

The Lost Soul Atlas, Zaina Fraillon

This book combines reality and fantasy to explore issues such as family, love, homelessness and poverty. Zaina Fraillon’s compelling main character, Twig, is challenged to make decisions that will affect not just his future but that of his best friend.

Eve Pownall Award

Azaria: A True History by Maree Coote

The disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain is an iconic story in Australia’s recent history. This book brings the story to a new audience and challenges us to re-examine the role of the police, media and public in the treatment of Lindy Chamberlain. This book is suitable for children, but secondary school students and adults will find lots to challenge their notion of justice and fairness.

Strangers on Country by Dave Hartley & Kirsty Murray

Based on research from the National Library of Australia’s collections, this book tells the story of five instances of contact between Indigenous communities and European convicts and shipwreck survivors who needed help during the nineteenth century. Each chapter tells the story from both perspectives and is followed by facts and information to spark further research and discussion.

Book Week is on 21 – 27 August. Read the full CBCA shortlist here.