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Winners of the KPMG Children’s Books Awards announced


Winners of the 2022 KPMG Children’s Books Awards announced

The winners of the 2022 KPMG Children’s Books Awards were announced yesterday in a ceremony hosted by broadcaster Rick O’Shea, as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin in Merrion Square.

Book of the Year Award

C.G. Moore won the KPMG Book of the Year Award for Gut Feelings (UCLan Publishing). The book follows the author’s own journey through chronic illness while also identifying as gay, and the struggles he went through growing up.

Praised by the judges for its engaging narrative, ‘filled with darkness and light, despair and hope, fear and desire, and love and trust’, Moore’s semi-autobiographical prose is paired with Becky Chilcott’s powerful illustration in this excellent work of young adult fiction.

Judges’ Special Award

The Judges’ Special Award was presented to the bestselling author Adiba Jaigirdar for her debut novel, The Henna Wars (Hachette). The book follows Bangladeshi-Irish teenager Nishat as she navigates first love, cultural appropriation and learns to reconcile her family’s expectations with her own identity.

The Henna Wars also won the the KPMG Junior Juries’ Award, having been voted for by 100 Junior Juries of young readers throughout the country that read their way through the awards shortlist. The judges wish to recognise The Henna Wars as an important text for young readers, for its portrayal of queer women of colour in Ireland.

Honour Award for Fiction

For the second year running, Pádraig Kenny has won the Honour Award for Fiction for his Rookhaven series, with The Shadows of Rookhaven (Pan MacMillan), illustrated by Edward Bettison.

In the first book, The Monsters of Rookhaven, we follow protagonist Mirabelle, who lives with a family of monsters inside a mansion, hidden by a magical barrier. When that barrier is breached, all hell breaks loose.

In The Shadows of Rookhaven, the extended monster family descend upon the house of Rookhaven for the Great Configuration, a once in a century event. The judges said, ‘Kenny’s brilliant second book about Rookhaven is a wonderfully paced story – with truly excellent illustrations by Bettison – exploring ideas of loss, difference, forgiveness, family and friendship.’

Honour Award for Illustration

Dublin-based illustrator Lauren O’Hara won the 2022 Honour Award for Illustration for Frindleswylde (Walker Books), a delicately illustrated picturebook created together with her sister, Natalia O’Hara.

The book follows a mysterious boy called Frindleswylde, who sneaks into Cora and Granny’s house in the woods and steals a light that shines in their attic window, meaning that Granny can’t find her way home through the woods.

Cora chases him, and when he jumps down a hole in a fish pond into his magical frozen kingdom, she follows him. He agrees to give Cora her light back, but only if she can complete three impossible tasks.

The quality of O’Hara’s hand-drawn, watercolour illustrations was described by the judges as ‘nothing short of outstanding.’

The Eilís Dillon Award

Belfast-based author-illustrator Flora Delargy won the Eilís Dillon Award for her debut, Rescuing Titanic: A True Story of Quiet Bravery in the North Atlantic (Wide Eyed Editions).

This award is named in honour of the revered Irish children’s author and recognises an outstanding first book for children and young people.

Written and illustrated by Delargy, the book offers a fresh perspective on one of the world’s most famous maritime disasters. The judges said, ‘Intertwining the stories of passengers and crews on both ships allows for a collective tale of heroism while also paying respect to the victims of the catastrophe.’ They also praised the hand-drawn artwork, which ‘reveals the extraordinary research behind the project.’

Reading Hero Award

Eight year old Daisy Magill, from Seaview Integrated Primary School, Glenarm in County Antrim won the KPMG Reading Hero Award. This award is given to a young person on the island of Ireland who deserves special recognition for their reading efforts.

Daisy was nominated by her teacher, Ashleigh Moran, who said, ‘Daisy is my reading hero because she puts so much effort, time, sweat and tears into becoming a better reader and never resents the stories on a page but cherishes them.’

Chair of the judging panel, Dr. Pádraic Whyte from Trinity College Dublin, said, ‘This has been an extraordinary year for Irish children’s books, and huge congratulations to the brilliant and talented illustrators and writers who received awards today. These awards demonstrate that children’s literature in Ireland is not only thriving but is also producing high quality, world-class, engaging, and inspiring works for a wide range of younger readers.’

The Awards

Ten titles were shortlisted for the awards, with six winners. The shortlisted titles include Cluasa Capaill ar an Ríby Brigid Bhreathnach and Shona Shirley Macdonald (Futa Fata), The Summer I Robbed a Bank by David O’Doherty and Chris Judge (Penguin), There’s a Ghost in this House by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins), and Maybe… by Chris Haughton (Walker Books).

The KPMG Children’s Books Awards are the leading children’s books awards in Ireland. They recognise exceptional writing and illustration for young audiences by authors and illustrators who were born in Ireland, are permanently resident in Ireland or are citizens of Ireland.

Previous winners include Deirdre Sullivan and Karen Vaughan for Tangleweed and Brine (Little Island) and for Savage Her Reply (Little Island), and former Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan for One (Bloomsbury).

Judging panel

The winners were chosen by an independent judging panel made up of children’s books experts and one Young Judge – a reader aged 15+ who participates in the full judging process.

This year’s Young Judge was Transition Year student Clíodhna Jackson, from Coláiste Íosagáin, Dublin.