Our Judges for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards
Every two years, each state and territory CBCA Branch selects a person to represent the branch on the national judging panel for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards.
From 2016 the Judging Panel is split into five parts: 3 x Judges for the Picture Book of the Year Award, 3 x Judges for the Early Childhood Book of the Year Award, 3 x Judges for the Younger Reader Book of the Year Award, 3 x Judges for the Older Reader Book of the Year Award and 3 x Judges for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.
The judges work under the direction of an Awards Coordinator/s. According to the published criteria, they select a Short List of up to six books per category, from which they may choose a winner and two honour books per category.
Current WA State Judge 2020-2021
WA State Judge 2020-2021- Book of the Year Younger Reader
Jan Pocock is the Teacher Librarian at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School. She has a Bachelor of Education with a major in English Literature and has taught from K - 12 in a variety of schools including rural and remote. She has also worked in a variety of roles from Teacher, Head of Department and Principal. Jan has always had a passion for reading and developing a love of reading amongst children. Her key focus has been finding the book that fits the child, promoting reading for pleasure and encouraging students to open themselves to new experiences using reading and books. She is an avid reader herself and is happy to read anything from picture books to adult novels, any book, any genre. However, she will happily discard what she isn't enjoying. Life is way too short, and there are too many amazing books, to read books you don't love!
WA State Judge 2020-2021- Book of the Year Early Childhood
Sandi lives and breathes stories, as a reader, writer and storyteller. Sandi has spent eighteen years working in educational libraries and has a in Diploma Library and Information Studies. She served on the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award committee between 2012 and 2017 and is the critique coordinator for the Australia West region of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Sandi is passionate about diversity in storytelling and engaging readers with stories. She believes that a teetering stack of books waiting to be read is an essential component of every household.
Previous WA State Judges
WA State Judge 2019 - Book of the Year Older Reader
Anne-Marie Strother has a Bachelor of Education majoring in English from Edith Cowan University. Her English teaching career spans over 30 years and has stretched across the expanses of WA. In addition to English teaching Anne-Marie spent 4 years as a teacher-librarian in a K-12 school learning the depth and breadth of children’s literature.
Anne-Marie has judged in previous years for the CBCA including all categories 2014-2016, YR 2017 and OR 2018. She revels in the judging process and the delightful prospect of discovering wonderful pieces of literature.
WA State Judge 2019 - Book of the Year Younger Reader
Felicia Harris is currently a Teacher Librarian at the School of Isolated and Distance Education in Western Australia. She has taught for 23 years in various schools throughout Western Australia and the ACT.
Felicia has developed Moodle forums and Saba lessons, enabling students from around the world, to write reviews and discuss their favourite books and authors. She also coordinated the Author Online series, enabling students from around the world to interact with Australian authors and illustrators. In 2015-16 Felicia was a judge for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.
WA State Judge 2018 - Book of the Year Early Childhood
Ruth has lived in Australia since 1975. She obtained a Graduate Degree in Library and Information Studies, after teaching at all levels from high school to education support. Ruth has been Principal Librarian for the Shire of Harvey for more than twenty years, managing four busy public libraries. Ruth views libraries as hubs of the community, offering learning resources for all ages, social spaces for all members of the community, displays and events, author talks, book clubs and children’s activities. Her personal interest is in the early childhood years, this is when the foundations of literacy are laid down.
Ruth is a keen traveller and often spends her time doing voluntary work overseas. These experiences have given Ruth a broad understanding of the immense value of literature and literacy.
WA State Judge 2018 - Book of the Year Younger Reader
I have spent the majority of my life in schools or education of some kind. Whether as a student, an English teacher, an aerobic or Gymbaroo instructor or a librarian, I have always been involved in teaching.
My love of reading was fanned early with evening family trips to the library, clothed in pyjamas and snuggled into a corner reading anything I could find. From an early age I forced my father to read Snugglepot and Cuddlepie with monotonous regularly, which resulted in a deep-seated hatred of Banksia nuts. Little Women soon followed as a favourite, still holding a special place in my heart. I was fortunate to be part of a family who firmly encouraged and fuelled a love of reading, so much so, that my mother's Christmas present to her children and grandchildren is always a book; bought with care and love.
After teaching across the length and breadth of WA, I settled in Capel, in the beautiful South West region. I am a mother to two girls, 15 and 11, wife to Len, all of whom are also never without a book. In 2008 we, as a family, spent a year travelling around Australia. It was a unique and wonderful experience, one also filled with many visits to town libraries and second-hand bookstores. The three places consistently visited over our year away, were libraries, second-hand book stores and playgrounds. Our family joke is that we should write a book about our travels entitled, ‘Best places to play and read around Australia’.
I am excited and honoured to be a part of the judging panel for the CBCA Book of the Year. Even if it means finding extra storage space to house the many books I will read over the course of my tenure.
WA State Judge 2016-2017 - Book of the Year Older Reader
Dr Margaret Kristin Merga is a lecturer and researcher at Murdoch University in WA. In 2012 she received an Australian Postgraduate Award to undertake the West Australian Study in Adolescent Book Reading, which examined adolescents’ attitudes toward reading books for recreation, and the impact of social influences on adolescent engagement in the practice. In 2015 Margaret was awarded an internal grant to conduct the International Study of Avid Book Readers.
Recently she won an Ian Potter Grant to conduct the Western Australian Study in Children’s Book Reading in 2015/2016, and a Collier Charitable Foundation to explore the practice of reading aloud to children. She is also working at Deakin University performing further research in the area of adolescents’ attitudes toward reading books in the digital age. Her findings have been published in a range of international peer-reviewed journals and shared at local, national and international conferences.
WA State Judge 2016-2017 - Book of the Year Early Childhood
WA State Judge 2014- 2015
WA State Judge 2013
The WA Branch welcomes Bev as the incoming judge for the national Book of the Year Awards for 2013 as Tehani's move to Tasmania means she has been unable to complete her 2-year stint as WA judge.
I was born in a chilly and foggy corner of North East England which is a marvellous incentive to stay indoors and read. I spent my childhood reading. Studying languages at University enabled me to read lots more books, now in languages other than English. I travelled extensively looking for the perfect job, and quite by accident took a part-time position in a bookshop in South Africa. A light-bulb moment! I had not realised that one could actually be paid for doing the best job in the world namely, reading books and talking to like-minded people about them. Since the mid- 1970s I have worked in many aspects of bookselling, including retail bookshops, mail-order, special needs and education. A passion for children’s literature has grown over the past 20 years and I am now happily working for a specialist educational resource company. I have been asked to judge a number of writing competitions both overseas and here in Perth. Being the children’s judge for the WA’s Premier Award has been a highlight for me, and I am delighted to have been chosen to be the CBCA judge for 2012/2013 for WA.
WA State Judge 2012
My earliest reading memories are of my beloved Grandma reading the complete novel of Black Beauty two and a half times to my brother and I while we drove across the Nullarbor Plain, relocating from WA to QLD. Some thirty years later, I'm back in WA and still reading! During the intervening years, I've gone through passions for so many genres, starting, naturally, at horse books, and currently immersed in speculative fiction. I've become an editor and publisher, reviewer and judge, and love all aspects of my reading life, which fits in beautifully with my work life as a teacher librarian. I get to read across the age spectrum, discovering old favourites and new gems with my kids, following the trends in YA for work, and enjoying books for my own pleasure as well. What could be better?
I'm so delighted to be participating in the CBCA Awards process for 2012 and 2013. Over the past several years I've judged short story competitions, the Aurealis Awards and the WA Premier's Book Awards, and the CBCA Awards have been an aspiration for some time! Thank you to the WA Branch for giving me this opportunity. I'm really looking forward to it.
WA State Judge 2010 -2011
Back in WA after ten very enjoyable years in Tasmania, I am honoured to be the next judge representing the West. In Tasmania, I was part of the organising committee of the 2003 joint conference between CBCA and ASLA, Island Journeys. So much hard work, but so many rewards, and even today people reminisce fondly about their highlights of those few days in October.
As a teacher-librarian in both states, the collection development that supported the library's reading and literature programs was always the fun part of the job description. Who wouldn't enjoy visits to bookshops, often with keen readers in tow, and spending a budget as wisely as possible? I didn't think it could get any better - until I was fortunate enough to become joint editor of Fiction Focus, a journal from the Curriculum Materials and Information Service (CMIS) of the WA Department of Education. Surrounded by new titles from publishers every day and working with passionate and knowledgeable colleagues, this was a dream job, if ever there was one.
Always a reader, married to a reader, with children and grandchildren who are readers, there are books in every room of the house we share on the beautiful south coast with two Bengal cats and a whippet pup. I collect interesting editions of Alice - a legacy of two years spent in Oxford and a love for the literary heritage of the city of dreaming spires. I look forward to contributing to the Awards judging process in 2010.
WA State Judge 2008-2009
As an ex-Pom who has made Australia my home for thirty years, my passions are travelling, walking, playing music and, of course, reading. Being an English teacher and librarian my reading encompasses the classics, biographies, popular fiction and children’s stories – the most enjoyable of all. Storytelling for the youngest listeners at the library and for all ages at local functions is supported by my daily Books at Breakfast segment on Harvey Community Radio.
I find that reading aloud can be a great way to determine the quality of a children’s story – illustrating whether the writing is lucid, rhythmical, and suitable for the relevant age group.
I have been Principal Librarian at the Shire of Harvey for more than ten years, finding the variety, busyness and service to many different sorts of people stimulating and enjoyable. Having recently completed an M. Ed in which I examined the role of public libraries in Lifelong Learning, I am now looking forward to the new challenge and honour of judging books for the CBCA Awards.
WA State Judge 2006-2007
WA State Judge 2004-2005