The Muriel Barwell Award for Distinguished Service to Children's Literature

The Muriel Barwell Award for Distinguished Service to Children's Literature is a biennial award of The Children's Book Council of Australia WA Branch.

Congratulations Jennifer Jackson!


Jennifer Jackson and CBCA WA Branch President Jan Nicholls


The announcement that Jennifer Jackson was the 2020 recipient of the Muriel Barwell Award for Distinguished Service to Children’s Literature was met with squeals of delight and wild applause at the CBCA Book Week dinner on Friday 16 October.

As the Director of Paper Bird Children’s Books and Arts, Jennifer has made a huge impact on the children’s literature scene in WA by creating a space which is so much more than a book shop.

In 2017 to coincide with Paper Bird’s first anniversary Jen offered exclusive studio space for 3-month periods, free of charge, in the form of Paper Bird Fellowships. Fellows participate in a workshop or writer/artist talk during the residency to engage the community in their work. The 13 Fellows to date are unanimous in their praise of Jen for such validation and practical support.

Aware of the need for a holistic approach to education and child-rearing, Jen generously offers her space for child-related workshops such as yoga, music, dance, mother-baby groups and discussions of parenting issues. Paper Bird offers workshops and clinical services for children with special needs. Inkling Arts and Story Lab workshops are open to everyone, and there is the opportunity for scheduling specific workshops to meet the needs of a group of people. A paediatric Speech Pathologist, is on hand 2 mornings a week for consultation. Twice weekly story telling sessions are held under the beautiful tree in the courtyard.


Jennifer Jackson and her team from Paper Bird Books and Creative Arts


Jen’s championing of Noongar stories culminated in the inaugural Woylie festival held over the Easter long weekend in 2018. This huge undertaking showcased local and interstate Aboriginal storytellers over five wonderful days of music, dance, spoken word and art and has now become an annual event.

Under Jen’s capable direction this dedicated children’s story house has rapidly evolved into a dynamic cultural hub with writers, story tellers & illustrators on hand, workshops and kids’ book clubs, book launches, and discussion panels plus inviting gallery space and somewhere to immerse yourself in a good read. It is an essential part of a growing literary precinct in the West End of Fremantle.

Jen’s passion for children’s literature, her networking skills, her generosity in sharing the space and her ideas make her a very worth recipient of the Muriel Barwell Award for 2020.

Gail Spiers
Convenor Muriel Barwell Award for Distinguished Service to Children’s Literature



Jennifer Jackson and Muriel Barwell OA



The Muriels

The ‘Muriels’ in 2018.

Back row: Jenni Woodroffe, Peter Williams, Muriel Barwell, Celia Cole. Front row: Frané Lessac, Mary Gimondo, Jan Nicholls. Absent: Elaine Forrestal.




Muriel Barwell’s name is synonymous with children’s literature in Western Australia.  In July, 1974 she opened Haddons, a specialist children’s bookshop in London Court.  This small space, crammed floor to ceiling with the best books for children from around the world was the only one of its kind in Perth.  Muriel’s vast knowledge and welcoming manner made it a haven for parents and children alike.  Muriel spent much of her time liaising with Education Department librarians, guiding and advising their purchases

Muriel was instrumental in revitalising a somewhat flagging CBCA Branch in the 1970s with a new committee and fun filled meetings at Haddons in the early years. Muriel held the position of Branch Treasurer providing sound and stable financial advice for some 17 years.

She was a founding member on the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre Board and a strong supporter of WAYRBA, receiving a Certificate of Excellence in 1991.
While Muriel's influence has been largely state based, her contribution has been recognised more widely winning the Nan Chauncy Award in 2006 and being awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2007.

The Award

A recipient will have demonstrated significant service to children’s literature beyond his or her professional commitments over a period of time in Western Australia.

Service can be demonstrated in a variety of ways such as:

  1. Committed volunteer work with a children’s literature-related association (such as the WA Branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) or the like).
  2. Working with children, parents or community groups.
  3. Study in the field of children’s literature.
  4. Judging literary / literature awards.
  5. Assisting and promoting writers, illustrators and publishers of children's book.


  • Nominees need not be a member of the CBCA.
  • Nominees cannot receive the Award more than once.
  • Nominees who have been unsuccessful can be renominated without restriction in subsequent years.
  • Nominees must be living at the time nominations close.


  • Nominations must be submitted with the official nomination form.
  • Nominations shall be no more than 2 A4 pages.
  • Judges can consider submissions only on the written evidence provided.
  • Brief references to published sources are admissable.


  • The Award will be administered by a convenor appointed by the WA Branch.
  • A call for nominations shall be published in the April Branch newsletter of the year of the Award.
  • The closing date for the Award will be 30 June. Late entries will not be considered.
  • There shall be 3 judges; the Award Convenor and two Branch committee members selected after nominations have been received.
  • Copies of the nominations shall be sent by the Award Convenor to the judges 3 weeks prior to the finalisation of judging.
  • The Branch President will be responsible for informing the recipient of the Award which will be presented at the Book Week dinner.
  • The recipient will be presented with a certificate, a citation and a gift crafted in WA.


  • The list of nominees and the judges’ deliberations shall be confidential.
  • The nomination of the recipient shall be retained in the Branch Archives.
  • All other nominations and notes shall be destroyed.


  • Nominations must be sent to the Award Convenor at by 30 June.

Past Award Winners

2018 Jan Nicholls
2016 Celia Cole
2014 Jenni Woodroffe
2012 Elaine Forrestal
2010 Frané Lessac
2008 Mary Gimondo
2006 Peter Williams