In todays' Irish Times, there is a thought-provoking article focusing on the upcoming CBI Book of the Year Awards by Robert Dunbar. As Irelands' premiere authority on childrens' literature, Dunbar has devoted a lifetime to the consideration of excellence in the field, so when he speaks, I think it is most wise to listen. In what is a rather brief article, Dunbar gives a lot up for consideration. He is very good at that....making you think. The aspect Dunbar would like you to consider here is this notion of excellence; what does it mean and where are we with it today. For example, the Eilís Dillon Award (for first-time writers) is sadly missing from the CBI Awards list for one reason only; that no 'first-time' submission was deemed worthy of inclusion in the shortlists.
I don't want to belabour this post with endless thoughts on Dunbars' thoughts, but I do think it's worth considering this question of excellence and where we stand with it. The shortlist this time has gone from 10 to 8 submissions, all excellent offerings in their own right. The awards will be announced on the 13th of May. I, for one, am waiting with bated breath!
Here's the link to Dunbars' article; well worth a read!