IBBY Honour books and the Australia Honour Books List 1962-2018

IBBY Australia Inc and the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature have developed a unique travelling exhibition of books for young readers.

For the first time ever in Australia, a travelling exhibition of international IBBY Honour Books including 191 outstanding books, selected by 70 of the member countries of IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People), as Honour Books for 2018. Each country chooses one for writing, one for illustration, and with an option for an honour book for translation. These books are chosen as ‘representative of the best in children’s literature from each country . . . furthering the IBBY objective of encouraging world understanding through children’s books’. The books provide a comprehensive snapshot of current publishing for children, and reflect the variety and creativity of contemporary children’s literary and illustrative culture.

Alongside these international books is a display of all the Australian IBBY Honour books selected since 1962, when Australia first began to make nominations. In the words of author Ursula Dubosarsky, this collection is ‘not only of literature but also of changing social circumstances, values and preoccupations over the fifty-five years.’ Adults and children will recognise favourites, as well as meeting some lesser-known books for them to explore.

An annotation for each book helps visitors to view it in a context of time and place. This exhibition will expand the minds and hearts of those of any age-group. The exhibition closed in Canberra on 20 October with plans for the exhibition to travel through August 2019.

The IBBY Australia Honour Books List 1962-2018 (PDF).


Ursula Dubosarsky on the “Sharing Stories” exhibition in Canberra

Australian children’s author Ursula Dubosarsky spoke at a preview of the first-ever exhibition in Australia of the IBBY Honour Books, hosted by Woden Library as part of the National Centre of Australian Children’s Literature “Sharing Stories” program, celebrating the International Year of Translation. The exhibition is open from 2-20 October 2018 at the Woden Library and features a never-seen-in-Australia exhibit of 191 outstanding children’s books in translation from 70 countries around the world.

Ursula has kindly shared a copy of her speech:

So, what is this exhibition? IBBY, for those who may not know, stands for the International Board on Books for Young People. It’s an organization based in Switzerland with member countries, including Australia, all around the world, whose aims, broadly speaking, are to promote international and cross-cultural understanding through the encouragement and sharing of high quality children’s literature and most importantly access to that literature for children everywhere, whatever the circumstances.

IBBY was officially founded in Zurich in 1953, born in the disillusioned atmosphere that followed six years of catastrophic war in Europe and the Pacific. It was led by the inspirational and indefatigable German-Jewish writer Jella Lepman who had a devout conviction that through exposing children around the world to great children’s literature we might find ourselves living in a more peaceful and more tolerant world
One of IBBY’s earliest initiatives was the creation of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen medal, awarded every two years for a lifetime’s work to a writer, and since 1966 also to an illustrator. Famously two Australians have each won this medal, writer Patricia Wrightson and illustrator Robert Ingpen. The medalists are chosen by an exclusive international jury and everyone in IBBY Australia is tremendously excited that Robin Morrow, our erstwhile IBBY President, is to be a member of this jury from next year, a stunning tribute to her international standing in the field.

In association with the Hans Christian Andersen Medal IBBY member countries also select every two years their country’s honour books, one for writing, one for illustration, and with an option for an honour book for translation. These honour books, are, according to IBBY, intended to be “representative of the best in children’s literature from each country … furthering the IBBY objective of encouraging world understanding through children’s” books. Full collections of Honour Books from all over the world since the practice began in 1956 are held at the IBBY headquarters, at the International Youth Library in Munich, and in specialist children’s literature libraries from St Petersburg to Kuala Lumpur.

But we don’t have to go to any of these far flung places today – the books have come to us here in Woden library all the way from Switzerland. The exhibition is in two parts. Firstly you will see all the IBBY honour books for writing, for illustration and for translation for 2018, 191 books from 70 countries around the world, a fascinating and comprehensive snapshot of current international publishing for children and a reflection of the variety and creativity of contemporary children’s literary and illustrative culture.

Obviously in these few words I can’t tell you about every book, so I will just give you a brief sort of birds eye view of what you will see in the exhibition. The greatest number of the honour books for writing are prose fiction. Some of the subject matter is quite serious – there are realist novels about children confronted with stress or displacement, from Argentina, Demark, Germany, Greece, Lebanon, Holland, South Africa and Swizterland; stories about disability from Bolivia and Canada; stories about refugees from Belgium, Poland and the United Arab Emirates. There are several historical novels – from Italy is a story set in the 1930s and from Sweden another set in the 1940s. From Cambodia a book that takes place during the Khmer Rouge; another from China during the Cultural Revolution in Shanghai in the 1960s; and another from Korea about the colonization of Korea by Japan in the early 20th century; the honour book from Colombia is set during contemporary military conflict and a story from Chile is takes place during recent student uprisings.

For younger children the stories tend to be lighter – there are animal stories from Egypt, Ghana, Mongolia, Peru, Rwanda and Uganda; there are philosophical fables Cyprus, France, Hungary Slovakia Tunisia and the Ukraine. There are funny stories from Finland, Russia, Slovenia and New Zealand –“From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle” from the wonderful Kate de Goldi ; gentle coming of age stories from Costa Rica and Palestine, a novel about sport from Japan, fantasy novels from the Czech republic, Finland Iceland Indonesia Lithuania Mexico Norway and Croatia. I was particularly charmed by a novel from Ecuador about a boy who has a tiny Martian living in his ear. As I said the selected books are dominated by prose fiction, but there are several poetry collections – from Haiti, Latvia, Armenia, Moldova and Spain, and one book of short stories from Austria in Arabic and German about the author’s Syrian childhood and strangely enough only one non-fiction title – a biography of Nelson Mandela from Israel.

Turning to the illustrated books, what a pleasure to see such ingenuity and brio from all around the world. Most of the books are in colour, although there are black and white illustrated books from Estonia and Chile; imaginative collage from China and Cyprus; and a book from Mongolia which combines ancient rock art and modern illustration. There are wordless picture books from Slovenia and Canada; a graphic novel from Denmark; a newly illustrated version of the Little Prince from the Ukraine, and a French book called the Ribbon where an actual ribbon is part of the book and is transformed in function as you turn each page. The subject matters are equally varied, from folk tales to history, from the whimsical – life in Italy as a Professional Crocodile – to an obviously very serious book from Japan about the atomic bomb. Everyone will have their favourites – my own is a poetic picture book from Lebanon, about a little girl in an apartment block watching the people below crossing the street at the traffic lights, over and over again, in all weather. She calls out to them, through the glass waving, shouting but nobody sees her or notices she’s there.

As I mentioned earlier, it is the International Year of Translation. The selection of Honour Books in translation is absolutely central to IBBY’s aim of fostering cross-cultural connections. How delightful to think of Eleanor Farjeon’s “The Little Bookroom” in Chinese; Neil Gaiman in Persian; Astrid Lindgren in Armenian and Mongolian; Hebrew folk tales translated into Japanese; Sanskrit fables into Khmer; an English African story into Kinyarwanda. And I was very charmed to see Ruth Krauss 1952 “A Hole is to Dig” illustrated by Maurice Sendak translated into Catalan.

In contrast to this display of contemporary publishing the second part of the exhibition is historic, and consists of all the Australian IBBY Honour books selected since 1962, when Australia first began to nominate. And what an impressive and seminal collection it is. Of course such a collection is not only of literature but also of changing social circumstances, values and preoccupations over the fifty five years which you will observe for yourselves. In terms of literary and artistic values, however, looking at the list I was quite astonished. There are all sorts of lists out there of outstanding Australian children’s books chosen each year, and it is natural and indeed inevitable that when you look at such lists from past years you will see names and books that have disappeared into time and not been heard of since. This IBBY Honour list however is remarkable in that just about every name on the list since 1962 continues to be held in high esteem. IBBY Australia should be extremely proud of having such a record of what appears to be most excellent and perspicacious judgment.

Just to finish, can we say confidently that the ideals of IBBY born after World War Two, of the power of great children’s literature to change the world for the better, have had any effect? When we read the news we may feel some intense despair. But that is not a reason to abandon the project. One of Jella Lepman’s other great lasting legacies was the establishment in 1949 of the International Youth Library in Munich, an exceptional archive of world literature for children. I visited the library on invitation some years ago, and wandered around the old Bavarian moated castle it’s housed in until I came across a small museum in honour of the German writer Michael Ende, himself a winner of the Hans Andersen medal. In the English- speaking world Michael Ende is of course most famous for “The Never Ending Story”, but in Europe it is his novel “Momo” that is most loved – and I must thank IBBY’s Margot Lindgren for telling me about Momo. (And I strongly recommend to everyone Margot’s marvelous blog on children’s books, MOMO time to read.)

Momo is a parentless illiterate innumerate child who lives on the edge of a city in a ruined amphitheatre. One day she has a conversation with a street sweeper about how he keeps on working, in the face of despair of ever getting the job done, and this is what he tells her:

“Sometimes, when you’ve a very long street ahead of you, you think how terribly long it is and feel sure you’ll never get it swept… But you must never think of the whole street at once, you understand? You must only concentrate on the next step, the next breath, the next stroke of the broom, and the next, and the next and the next. Nothing else.”

What is on display here at Woden Library is a selection of patient steps, gentle breaths and brush strokes, and the next and the next and the next. I wish you all the deepest pleasure and inspiration in exploring the exhibition.

CBCA NSW Branch announces winner 2018 Lady Cutler Award

The Children’s Book Council of Australia NSW Branch is pleased to announce that Karen Jameyson has been chosen as the 2018 recipient of the LADY CUTLER AWARD.

Karen has devoted her life to the promotion and dissemination of great children’s literature. Through her editing, reviewing, advocacy, volunteer work and writing, Karen has enriched and supported the work of Australian children’s authors and illustrators and promoted their work internationally.

Karen’s passion for children and their reading has been a feature of her role at The School Magazine where she has liaised with publishers and publicists to select forty books each year for the School Magazine’s Bookshelf section. Each month student readers have eagerly turned to the Bookshelf section first to see what book is being featured and to race to the library to borrow. According to Tohby Riddle, Karen has brought “a keen and knowledgeable eye for quality” to this task. Her enthusiasm for authors and illustrators, both emerging and well known and her relationship with publishers knows no bounds.

She has supported the CBCA since her arrival in Australia, joining the NSW Branch committee and volunteering on national conference committees. Most recently Karen has been a key contributor to the revitalisation of IBBY Australia. IBBY Australia President Robin Morrow comments: “Karen is a quiet but strong member of the committee offering wise advice and practical hard work, as well as her deep knowledge of literature. We all value her collegiate spirit and friendship.”

The Lady Cutler Award commemorates the contribution to the Children’s
Book Council NSW Branch by former patron, Lady Helen Cutler, and is presented for Distinguished Service in the field of Australian Children’s Literature.

Karen Jameyson will receive this award in Sydney at the Lady Cutler Event to be held on the evening of September 14, at the Royal Automobile Club, Sydney. All are welcome to attend this event. Guest speaker delivering the Maurice Saxby Oration is Bruce Pascoe. Bookings may be made online at https://trybooking.com/WETA


Preview the Exhibition of IBBY Honour Books

IBBY members and friends are invited to a Preview of the Exhibition of IBBY Honour Books. For the first time in Australia, this travelling exhibition showcases outstanding books from IBBY member countries. IBBY Honour Books 2018 comprises 191 books in 50 different languages from 61 countries and the Australian IBBY Honour Books (1962 to 2018).

Sunday 7 October 2018, 2.00 pm
Woden Public Library, Canberra

See IBBY AGM 2018 flyer for details

The exhibition preview is preceeded by the IBBY Australia AGM
and guest presenters at 1:30pm

Join or renew your membership

IBBY Australia membership for the coming financial year (1 July 2018–30 June 2019)
is now available. Please join (or renew) and help us continue as an independent body, introducing Australian authors and illustrators for young people to the world stage.
IBBY’s activities include:

  • Nominating Australian authors and illustrators for the prestigious international
    Hans Christian Andersen Medal and IBBY Honour List
  • Encouraging young Australian authors and illustrators through the Ena Noël Award
  • Providing books to children in need through the Children in Crisis Fund

IBBY AUST membership form 2018

Ena Noël Award 2018

Press Release

Ena Noël Award 2018: THE IBBY AUSTRALIA ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD for a young emerging writer or illustrator

The panel of three judges is pleased to announce the winner is :

Will Kostakis for The Sidekicks  published by Penguin Random House

sidekickcoverWEBMeet the Sidekicks: a swimmer, a rebel and a nerd. Through the different relationship each shared with Isaac, they become more than these public personae.  Each young man deals with grief and the situation that forces them together to deal with Isaac’s untimely and suspect demise.  The relationships with each other and the people around them bring them to face difficult choices they need to make, the choices that free them to be the multi-dimensional people they truly are. These peripheral characters enhance but do not overwhelm the narrative. This intricately designed narration weaves the stories of  Ryan, Harley and Miles together. These characters scream silently out for help, and each finds strength or solace if in different places. Sidekicks concludes with Miles narrating an external film sequence.  The boys come together around the picnic table providing a new catalyst for the future, a future where they can remember and finally forget Isaac.

Will-Kostakis-pic-by-Walker-Rowseywebsize-1The Sidekicks is Will’s third novel for young adults, and American debut. His first novel, Loathing Lola, was released when he was just nineteen, and his second, The First Third, won the 2014 Gold Inky Award. It was also shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year and Australian Prime Minister’s Literary awards. As a high school student, Will won Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year for a collection of short stories.

The judges note it was  a pleasure to read such a broad and diverse selection of Australia’s emerging children’s and YA authors and illustrators and what an honour to select such a truly deserving book. Congratulations to Will Kostakis and the publishers.

The Ena Noël Award – to encourage young emerging writers and illustrators has been a significant identifier of talented authors and illustrators since inception in 1994. Thank you to all the publishers who entered creators of such a wide range of formats for this award.

Please see the link  for more details on previous recipients.


International Children’s Book Day featuring Tamsin Janu, Matt Ottley and Robin Morrow

IBBY Australia invites you to celebrate International Children’s Book Day by hearing Tamsin Janu and Matt Ottley, creators of books which open windows for young readers and Dr Robin Morrow on books as windows on refugee experiences.

Saturday 7 April 2018, 2:00pm onwards.

Tickets are on sale.

Download the flyer.