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Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2024: Catfish Rolling, by Clara Kumagai, named book of the year

Debut young-adult novel takes top prize as five more winners selected from record 158 entries

Catfish Rolling, the debut young-adult novel by Clara Kumagai, has won book of the year at the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards. The novel, which is situated between modern-day Japan in the wake of a deadly earthquake and a magical dimension rich in mythological notes, touches on identity, relationships and grief, along with the ethics of scientific study, exploitation and capitalism. It is published by Zephyr.

Five other awards were presented to authors and illustrators, in partnership with International Literature Festival Dublin:

  • Honour award for fiction: Treacle Town, by Brian Conaghan (Andersen Press)
  • Honour award for illustration: Three Tasks for a Dragon, illustrated by PJ Lynch (Walker Books)
  • Eilís Dillon award for debut children’s book: Wider Than the Sea, written by Serena Molloy (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • Judges’ special award: The Hare-Shaped Hole, written by John Dougherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
  • KPMG junior juries’ award: The Hare-Shaped Hole written by John Dougherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

The winners were selected by an independent panel that included two young judges, plus a network of junior jurors across the island of Ireland. The judging panel read a record 158 titles from writers and illustrators born or based in Ireland.

Elaina Ryan, the chief executive of Children’s Books Ireland, said: “This year’s award winners showcase the outstanding quality and variety of contemporary Irish children’s literature. The fact that so many of the winners and shortlistees are debuts is remarkable – the awards are an opportunity for us to celebrate both emerging and established creators and to connect them with their audiences.


“Through our junior-juries programme we have seen the joy and excitement these shortlisted books have sparked in over 12,700 young readers across Ireland. Today, in front of an audience of 600 excited readers, we’re proud to recognise the talent and hard work of these extraordinary writers and illustrators whose work will no doubt be such a formative part of so many young readers’ childhoods.”