IBBY Australia proudly announces its biennial Honour Books for 2018. Many Australian authors and illustrators for young people have a deep concern for the plight of refugees. It happens that the two books selected, one for excellence in Writing, one for excellence in Illustration, treat themes of migration and the search for a safe place.
Subhi is a refugee of Rohingya origin, born in an Australian permanent detention centre, and life behind the fences is all he has ever known. But as he grows, his imagination gets bigger too, fed by The Night Sea, the faraway whales and the birds. One night Jimmie, a scruffy, impatient girl, appears from the other side of the wires, bringing a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it, she relies on Subhi to unravel her own family’s love songs and tragedies. Subhi and Jimmie might both find a way to freedom, but not until each of them has been braver than ever before. The writer succeeds—mostly through Subhi’s first-person narrative —in presenting the claustrophobic world of the detention camp, with its tedium and heartbreak, major and petty cruelties and unexpected humour. The reader is left pondering themes of hope, freedom, friendship, memory and the power of stories.
Zana Fraillon was born in Melbourne, studied history and became a primary teacher. She has written picture books for young children, a series for middle readers, and No Stars to Wish On, about a boy taken from home and put in an orphanage. Her most recent book, The Ones That Disappeared, tells of trafficked children searching for freedom. The Bone Sparrow has featured on a number of awards lists in Australia and overseas, including the Amnesty CILIP Honour 2017, for which a judge wrote: ‘The characters are sharply observed throughout and, in Subhi, Zana Fraillon has created an unforgettable voice’.
For Illustration: Teacup by Matt Ottley (text by Rebecca Young), Scholastic Press
Teacup is the story of a boy ‘who had to leave home’ and his long and arduous journey by sea, bringing with him only a book, a bottle, a blanket and a teacup full of earth from the place where he grew up. The journey includes peaceful days, and days when storms threaten to overturn his boat. When at last he reaches land, it does not feel complete . . . until another traveller joins him. Matt Ottley has crafted images of this transformative journey, using a combination of oil paintings and digital art. He has brought dramatic and luminous skyscapes and seascapes, skilful changes in perspective and studies of reflection to the spare, poetic text to create an eloquent tale of migration. The symbols of the teacup, the soil and the tree that grows from it will evoke recognition in many readers.
Matt Ottley was born in Papua New Guinea, moved to Sydney as a child, and worked as a stockman in Queensland before finally studying fine arts and music. In addition to being one of Australia’s most highly regarded children’s book creators, he is also a musician and composer. He has illustrated over 20 children’s books, including Luke’s Way of Looking (text Nadia Wheatley); Requiem for a Beast: a Work for Image, Word and Music (text Matt Ottley); Home and Away (text John Marsden); and Tree: A Little Story about Big Things (text Danny Parker). Teacup was winner of the Patricia Wrightson Award 2016 (NSW Premier’s Awards).
Every two years an Advisory Panel of three children’s literature experts makes the selection from all books published in the period. These outstanding books become Australia’s representative books in a travelling exhibition of about 150 international titles. The exhibition will be shown at the IBBY Congress in Athens in 2018, at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and in many other countries.
Dr Robin Morrow AM
IBBY Australia Inc
Tel: +61 (0)2 9484 1904 10 October 2017