KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2023—winners announced
In the Speranza tent in Merrion Square the atmosphere buzzed with anticipation from the hundreds of schoolchildren invited to yesterday’s ceremony for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards, as part of International Literature Festival Dublin.
Now in its 33rd year, the prize aims to identify, honour and promote excellence in books for young people by Irish authors and illustrators. Sponsored by KPMG since 2020, the awards offer a total prize fund of €16,000 across seven categories.
Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland gave a warm welcome and told the audience that this was their largest in person event ever, with 585 people joining live and plenty more viewing the event via the livestream.
Over 300 children around the country read ten selected titles which were chosen from 139 submitted and acted as Junior Jurors, deciding the winner of the Junior Juror category.
Elaina Ryan congratulated all of the authors, publishers and illustrators on the shortlist.
“Here at Children’s Books Ireland we know how important it is to celebrate reading, to make it fun and interesting and to shout loud about books we think readers will love…Reading changes lives. It certainly changed mine and I know the same will be true for many of yours. We hope that all of our junior juries will carry on reading far, far beyond this process.”
With the nominees all gathered, Dr Pádraic Whyte, the Judges’ Chair, presented the shortlist and announced the winners of the different categories.
The 2023 Winners
The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Award
Girls Who Slay Monsters, written by debut author Ellen Ryan and illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald (Harper Collins).
Listen to Ellen Ryan read the opening of the book here, and find out about Shona Shirley Macdonald’s illustration process.
Honour Award for Fiction
The Boy Who Lost His Spark by Maggie O’Farrell, illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Tarrazzini (Walker Books).
Honour Award for Illustration
The Wilderness written and illustrated by Steve McCarthy (Walker Books).
Eilís Dillon Award (for a first children’s book)
The Book of Secrets by Alex Dunne (The O’Brien Press).
The Judges’ Special Award
An Slipéar Gloine, written by debut children’s author Fearghas Mac Lochlainn and illustrated by Paddy Donnelly (Futa Fata).
Read about how Paddy Donnelly approaches his craft in Under the Covers.
The Junior Juries’ Award
Girls Who Slay Monsters by debut author Ellen Ryan, illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald (HarperCollins Ireland).
Award winner Ellen Ryan
After winning not one, but two awards, Ellen Ryan, author of Girls Who Slay Monsters told us what winning the award means to her.
“When I was a young child, I struggled to concentrate…a teacher said I wouldn’t make it through school. But one thing I was good at was reading and that was the foundation on which I built my confidence and every success in later life. Children’s Books Ireland recognise this power in reading and they build on it…I am so honoured to be in the company of all of these authors who write such beautiful and necessary stories.”
With so many amazing stories recognised, the selection and shortlist this year shows how Ireland’s children’s literature scene is thriving, with the promise of plenty more to come from the talented artists assembled for the awards ceremony.