Full Medal Jacket: My mock CBCA shortlist 2021

I like how librarians and members of the children’s literature community in the US participate in Mock Newbery debates.

So I’ve decided to do my own for our own Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, also inspired by Margot Lindgren over on her blog, Momo.

Earlier in the month I attended the CBCA QLD Branch Night of the Notables. It was a wonderful night of catching up with kidlit friends – in person! – and meeting new people passionate about children’s books. It was held at the State Library of Queensland in a room with a lot of tables arranged with all of the notable books. We were divided into groups and got to spend a good 10-15 minutes perusing each table. I loved hearing the teacher-librarians’ discussions at my table.

What an opportunity! I found some books I would not have picked up otherwise, and in some cases they were my pick of the category (see Eve Pownall below).

Here goes – this is my list of 6 in each category. In other words, if I was Queen of the World – or at least of the Australian kidlit judging panel – this would be my Shortlist.

The top one in each category is the one I would choose as the winner. The others are in no particular order. I’ve also flipped the order of the categories to give some love to the non-fiction books.

My list will be different to what the judging panel choose, but that’s the fun of it. It’s all subjective. What’s your list?


Entries in this category should be books which have the prime intention of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style. Ages 0-18 years.

STRANGERS ON COUNTRY by David Hartley & Kirsty Murray and Dub Leffler

Dry to Dry: The Seasons of Kakadu by Pamela Freeman & Liz Anelli

Azaria : A True History by Marie Coote

There’s a Zoo in My Poo by Felice Jacka & Rob Craw

Saltie Mumma by Sandra Kendall

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish by Gina M Newton & Rachel Tribout


Entries in this category should be outstanding books of the Picture Book genre in which the author and illustrator achieve artistic and literary unity or, in wordless picture books, where the story, theme or concept is unified through illustrations. Ages 0-18 years. (NB. Some of these books may be for mature readers).

WHO’S YOUR REAL MUM? by Anna Zobel & Bernadette Green

How to Make a Bird by Matt Ottley & Meg McKinley

Diamonds by Armin Greder

Norton and the Bear by Gabriel Evans

The Unwilling Twin by Freya Blackwood

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me by Evie Barrow & Maggie Hutchings


Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for children who are at pre-reading or early stages of reading. Ages 0-6 years.

WE LOVE YOU, MAGOO by Briony Stewart

Ten Little Figs by Rhian Williams & Nathaniel Eckstrom

Respect by Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson and Lisa Kennedy

Anemone is Not the Enemy by Anna McGregor

I Will Always Be Older Than You by Jane Godwin & Sara Acton

What Do You Call Your Grandpa? by Ashleigh Barton & Martina Heiduczek


Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers from the middle to upper primary years. 7-12 years.

Some of the titles in this category may only be suitable for readers who are in the upper primary years as they contain mature themes, including violence. Parental guidance is recommended.

BINDI by Kirli Saunders & Dub Leffler

The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst by Jaclyn Moriarty & Kelly Canby

The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle by Pam Rushby

We Are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad

The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller


Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers in their secondary years of schooling. Ages 13-18 years.

Note: Books in this category are for mature readers and some may deal with particularly challenging themes including violence and suicide. Parental guidance is recommended.

WHEN IT DROPS by Alex Dyson

Catch Me if I Fall by Barry Jonsberg

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

The End of the World is Bigger than Love by Davina Bell

The F Team by Rawah Arja

Future Girl by Asphyxia