An exhibition opened recently at the City of Perth Library showcases the West Australian
winners of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards (BOYA). Over the past few years, the West
Australian Branch members have gathered a full complement of CBCA BOYA winners’ books
which are used for display at their various events and now this exhibition is bringing some of
that collection to the wider public. Gail Spiers and Jan Nicholls have been instrumental in
putting the exhibition together which includes in addition to the display of winning books,
artefacts, biographical information and a digital slideshow on the enormous video wall in the
The very first Award in 1946 was won by West Australian Leslie Rees for The Story of Karrawingithe Emu, a salute to our unique wildlife. This was followed a few years later in 1954 with Australian Legendary Tales, stories of the Euahlayi people of North-Western NSW, collected by K. L. Parker, edited by Henrietta Drake-Brockman and illustrated by Elizabeth Durack. These works are steeped in Australian culture and its natural wonders and reflect the tropes of Australian publishing at the time. As the books showcased at the library range from 1946 up to 2022 the exhibition is a stark snapshot of trends in publishing, both in the physical attributes of the book and in the changes in subject matter.
Over the following decades, West Australian creators have won in most categories of the
Awards. Jan Ormerod, won Picture Book of the Year in 1982 with Sunshine. This work without
written text, is focused on the child in a domestic setting. Jan won again in the Early Childhood category in 2014 with The Swap, illustrated by Andrew Joyner and in 2011 with Maudie and the Bear, illustrated by Freya Blackwood. In 1998, Elaine Forrestal’s issues-based work, Someone Like Me which focused on bullying won the Younger Readers’ category. Twenty years later in 2018, Bren MacDibble’s work How to Bee, an ‘issues’ book of its day, this time climate change, was the winner in that same category.
In 1999, Shaun Tan won Picture Book of the Year with The Rabbits. This work, written by John
Marsden is a searing tale of colonization made more powerful by Tan’s surreal illustrations.
Tan’s signature talent was recognized in the Picture Book category again in 2007 with The
Arrival, in 2014 with Rules of Summer and in 2019 with Cicada. In 2009 his Tales from Outer
Suburbia which features fifteen short illustrated stories based on Tan’s memories of growing up in suburban Perth won the Older Readers’ category.
Local creators have continued to shine in the Picture Book category with winners in 2003, In
Flanders Fields illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever and text by Norman Jorgensen, and in 2021
How to Make a Bird with Matt Ottley’s illustrations and Meg McKinlay’s text. In 2021 Davina
Bell became the state’s second winner in the Older Readers’ category with The End of the World is Bigger Than Love. In that same bumper year of firsts, No! Never!, by Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman, illustrated by Mel Pearce, won in the Early Childhood category. The most recent winner in 2022 is A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr in the Younger Readers’
The exhibition which runs until the end of October is worthy of attention not just because it is a visual feast of local talent but it is also a fascinating historical insight into how our writers
reflect so tellingly the societal concerns and issues of their time. It is as much a sociological
history as it is one of publishing trends reflecting the interests and concerns of readers. Some of these books are out of print and the exhibition is an opportunity to promote the works and
their successful West Australian creators.
Our 19th ANWOS was held on Friday 18 March 2022 at the Bendat Centre in Dodd St, Wembley from 6.00-9.30pm. Attendance was capped at 150 seated guests (50% of venue capacity because of Level 2 covid restrictions imposed by the state government) and tickets sold out within a week of the event. Guests had to show proof of double vaccination before entry, sign in via QR code on Service
WA, wear masks and maintain social distance. MC Jan Nicholls welcomed everyone and acted as timekeeper coordinating the presentations.
Fremantle Press sponsorship kindly covered the venue hire costs and they were represented on the night by publisher Cate Sutherland. Three out of the 18 presenters on the program were published by Fremantle Press.
Westbooks, as always, was the official book supplier with Michelle Murphy and Julie Bumford ably taking care of book sales on the night.
Of the 18 presenters originally invited two had to withdraw citing Covid concerns – Cindy Lane and James Foley. Seven were new to ANWOS and all presenters gave spectacular performances, entertaining the capacity audience with their wit, humour and originality.
Catering was supplied by Butterfly Catering; the platters were beautifully presented as always, with the food varied, tasty and plentiful. All wine was donated from a variety of sources.
A decision was made not to sell raffle tickets in the current Covid situation even though this represents a lost opportunity to raise funds for the Branch. Consideration will be given to incorporating the cost of raffle tickets into future ticket prices. Five raffle prizes of bags of books from various donors were given out including signed copies by many of the presenters.
Briony Stewart generously donated her charcoal sketch of a character from Bedtime Sorted which will be framed and offered for Silent Auction at the CBCA Book Week Dinner in August 2022.
Thanks to all committee members who combined in a magnificent team effort both in the lead-up and on the night. Thanks also to partners and family members who assisted.
- Jan Nicholls, A Night with our Stars Convenor
There was a standing ovation for Jan Nicholls, the 2021 recipient of the Nan Chauncy Award, at the CBCA WA Book Week dinner on 20 August. As Jan was unable to attend the official presentation in Adelaide due to Covid restrictions, the CBCA Chair, Wendy Rapee, recorded the reading of Jan’s award citation and this was viewed at the dinner.
Jan was presented with a gift made of Tasmanian Huon pine in honour of Nan Chauncy, an award-winning Tasmanian author in the 1950s and 1960s, before giving her heart-felt acceptance speech.
There is no doubt that Jan Nicholls is a most worthy recipient of the 2021 Nan Chauncy Award for her outstanding contribution to Australian children’s literature through passionate advocacy, mentoring and volunteer work.