It can seem a very strange and challenging time to be presenting a childrens' book awards ceremony, or any kind of ceremony for that matter. Covid_19 restrictions make it impossible for us to gather and celebrate in the traditional way. So we think of something different...
Yesterday at high noon (!), the childrens' books people of Ireland gathered in front of their computers, laptops and phones for the 30th annual (and first ever online) presentation of the Childrens Books Ireland Book Awards. Partnering with KPMG (another first), CBI reached out in the joy and excitement that is always present at these events to celebrate the finest additions to an extraordinary canon of literature for children and young people produced by Irish authors, illustrators and publishers.
The shortlist of outstanding books (shown above) has now been carefully considered, discussed and perused and, with Rick O'Shea presenting the worthy winners were announced in each of the five categories. Young people played a significant part in awards announcements this year, sharing their thoughts on the winning titles and giving us a fresh, vibrant assessment of them. Many thanks and a huge "well done!" to the Junior Jurors for their impressive insight and enthusiasm.
Before I continue with the book awards, I must mention the addition of a new award this year; the KPMG Reading Hero award. Nominated by his friend and classmate, this award went to Harry Darcy of Gorey, co Wexford. Known as a "book guru", Harry can always be found with a book in hand and ready with recommendations for all. Well done, Harry!
And now the awards...
The Honour Award for Fiction goes to Sarah Crossan for the wonderful novel, Toffee. Covering issues such as dementia, homelessness, abuse and questions of identity, this is an emotional, exquisite teen novel.
The Honour Award for Illustration was given to The Tide by Aisling Lindsay. Junior Jurors Phoeba and Freya Fallon noted that this beautiful picture, about a young girl coming to terms with her beloved grandfathers memory loss, is "nice and cosy".
The Eilís Dillon Award for a debut childrens book went to illustrator Kim Sharkey for Mor agus Muilc. Written by John Óg Hiúdaí Neidí Ó Colla, this is a retelling of an old Irish tale as gaeilge given new vibrancy.
The Judges Special Award was received by Meg Grehan for her lyrical verse novel The Deepest Breath. It is the story of 11-year-old Stevie as she struggles with issues of identity, sexuality and social perception...and it is gloriously beautiful.
And finally, the winner of the Book of the Year Award is Máire Zepf for the wonderful book Noinín. This verse novel as gaeilge covers the story of a shy, lonely teenage girl caught in the vicious web of online grooming. Timely, urgently important and beautifully woven.
And as you can see, women authors were heavily represented this year, with all five awards going to women.  A brilliant statement, as well as being an exposé of the finest childrens books in Ireland.
Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!
If you would like to catch-up on the awards themselves and feel the excitement as it happened, below is the link for the KPGM Childrens Books Ireland Awards 2020.


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