on shortlists and awards and things

17 February, 2012 ·

Today the three-way blogging conversation between Sally Murphy, Meg McKinlay and myself continues with the topic of things like shortlists, awards and recognition. You can find Sally’s post here and Meg’s post here.

It has always been a special delight of mine to see a book I love properly acknowledged. I cheered audibly when Sonya Hartnett won the Astrid Lingren Memorial Award for The Silver Donkey. I bought myself a second copy just for the pleasure of seeing it properly celebrated. I also have fond memories of my primary school class reviewing all the books on a shortlist one year and picking our own winners. The judges eventually concurred with my choice, which was Emily Rodda’s Pigs Might Fly. I took this as affirmation of my own impeccable taste and I’m sure behaved insufferably all week as a result.

And of course there are other books which I feel badly deserve this kind of recognition and never seem to get it. I won’t list those in case it seems like rubbing it in, but I will say that my mind’s eye can very clearly see all the appropriate stickers on the covers.

A particular shortlist that led to much undignified dancing and whooping in my home was the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Award last year, because it included Meg, Sally and myself. (I wrote about it at the time, here and here.) It meant that our books could be part of book week, so all kinds of people became involved in bringing our stories to life. I don’t think I knew, when I first received the happy phone call, quite how amazing it would be. School children sang and watched puppets and actors recreate Meg’s book, Duck for a Day, on stage. Children created fabulous domino topples all around Australia, inspired by Sally’s book, Toppling. And I was so excited to discover a video of children at Hassal Grove outlining their own brilliant plots, in manner of Violet Mackerel.

Samuel Johnson wrote, “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.” I like this idea very much and I watched with astonishment as the books we began were finished over and over in beautiful, exciting, creative ways, all week long.

However, because I am the sort of person who slightly dreads any kind of formal, proper, you-really-ought-to-try-and-do-something-with-your-hair-Anna-or-at-least-brush-it occasions, I also get a bit nervous about awards and ceremonies when they involve me personally. So I love the photos on Stephen Michael King’s website of him receiving one of many awards for his beautiful books. I think they are absolutely perfect.

And I do not think he brushed his hair.

[The original images appear here with some lovely text too, not to mention a long list of very thoroughly earned awards.]


  1. Jo I love the photo of Stephen Michael King too! He looks just like the lovely kind-hearted and slightly "unbrushed" characters in his delightful books!
    February 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm ·
  2. anna Doesn't he Jo?? I think he's just brilliant! It looks as though he lives somewhere beautiful too...
    February 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm ·
  3. Meg McKinlay Oh, I just love those photos of Stephen Michael King. How wonderful! Would that all awards ceremonies could be so lovely. That Johnson quote is just right, also. And I, too, have been so excited to see the many creative things that readers and other artists have been doing with all of our work (a production of Pearl is on the way, too). There is something oddly satisfying about becoming raw material for others; it feels like becoming part of the fabric of things somehow. And as an aside, I am with you on the hair issue, too. If I have been working at home a lot, I sometimes lose track of my hairbrush and am chagrined to finally locate it in a bag I haven't used for some days ...
    February 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm · Reply
  4. Sally Murphy Love this, Anna, and can so relate to the: "I also get a bit nervous about awards and ceremonies and things when they involve me personally." I'm not sure why. I can stand up in front of people and talk, been doing it all my life. But throw an award into the mix, and I go a bit crazy. What should I wear? Will they want me to speak? What will I say? I think it's that old self-doubt thing - asking myself, on some level, if I'm really worthy.
    February 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm ·
  5. Rebecca Newman I have really enjoyed you three blogging on the same topics. And I was very pleased to see you all on the CBCA shortlist --- I admit some smug satisfaction at the time a la your Pigs Might Fly experience. I KNOW A GOOD BOOK WHEN I SEE ONE and all that. :-)
    February 17, 2012 at 10:52 pm · Reply
  6. Jill Bergman Speaking of awards, there's a little blog award for you today over at Art on the Page! http://artonthepage.blogspot.com/ You're the best, Anna!
    February 18, 2012 at 1:46 am · Reply
  7. Meg McKinlay Anna, is it odd that I keep coming back here just so I can smile at those pics of SMK again and again? They are so very cheering.
    February 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm · Reply
  8. anna Jill, thank you so much! I shall have to start making my shortlist for who to pass it on to :) And Meg, possibly, but that makes two of us!
    February 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm ·