Children’s Books Ireland award winners revealed

Chris Haughton, Peadar Ó Guilín and Deirdre Sullivan win major prizes

Picturebook maker Chris Haughton has won the 27th Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Award with his book Goodnight Everyone at a ceremony held in Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. Chris was also the recipient of the Honour Award for Illustration for the same title.

The judges said: Chris Haughton’s vibrant illustrations combine perfectly with deceptively simple narrative in this mesmerising bedtime tale. Chronicling a series of animal yawns, the colour palette gradually darkens as the world of the forest is painted in sunset. Haughton’s use of cut-outs is particularly effective and the star maps in the endpapers add a mystic dimension to this captivating story.”

During the ceremony students from Scoil San Carlo, Leixlip and King’s Hospital School, Palmerstown presented author Peadar Ó Guilín with the Children’s Choice Award for his novel The Call. Voted for by young readers from across the country, this award winner is chosen by shadowing groups who read and judged the 10 shortlisted titles and voted for their favourite. The shadowing scheme was supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Unesco Dublin City of Literature.

Deirdre Sullivan won the Honour Award for Fiction for Needlework. The judges said: “Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan is a poetic and eloquent exploration of violation, abuse, neglect and advocacy of the transformative power of art. Starkly genuine and sincere, Sullivan’s powerful use of the metaphor of tattooing invites reflection about identity, difference, self-protection and self-invention. This searing yet delicate representation of adolescent experience will resonate deeply with teenagers and is a story that needs to be told and needs to be read.”


The Judges’ Special Award went o Tadhg Mac Dhonnagaín, Jennifer Farley, Brian Fitzpatrick, Tarsila Krüse and Christina O’Donovan for Bliain na nAmhrán. The judges said: This sumptuous illustrated collection of songs in Irish invites young and old audiences to celebrate the seasons and the natural world. Accompanied by a CD and beautifully illustrated by a team of accomplished illustrators, this multimedia collection offers a special aesthetic experience. Cabhraíonn na hamhráin Ghaeilge seo le daoine, idir óg agus aosta, ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar na séasúir agus ar an dúlra. Is eagrán maisithe é seo de na hamhráin agus tá léaráidí áille sa chnuasach seo a thugann eispéireas céadfach dúinn. Tá dlúthdhiosca ar fáil in éineacht leis an eagrán maisithe.”

Paul Gamble won the Eilís Dillon award for a first children’s book for The Ministry of Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things. The judges said: Get ready for a rollercoaster of zaniness, adventure and hilarity! This debut novel by Paul Gamble skilfully juxtaposes the fantastical, thoughtful, comic and mundane. The relentlessly curious Jack, on a mission to find his missing friend, is recruited into the secret Ministry of Strange and Unusual and Impossible Things (Ministry of S.U.I.T.s) which deals with all the weird creatures and objects in the world. Enhanced by witty footnotes and explanatory subsections, this deliciously imaginative and immersive novel is a joy to read.”

The CBI Book of the Year Awards are a celebration of excellence in children’s literature and illustration and are open to books written in English or Irish by authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland the previous year. Previous winners include Sarah Crossan for One, John Boyne for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; Sheena Wilkinson for Grounded, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick for There and Hagwitch and Oliver Jeffers for Once upon an Alphabet.

Dr Patricia Kennon, chair of the judging panel, said: “It’s been a personal and professional pleasure to have spent the last year with our passionate, accomplished and dedicated judging panel reading and discussing over 80 award entries. This year’s winners and shortlist celebrate the impressive talent, creativity and imaginative power of the best in Irish writing and illustration for young people across two languages and a diverse and rich range of formats, audiences and genres.”

Elaina Ryan, director of CBI, said: “In 2017 Children’s Books Ireland is celebrating twenty years of making books a part of every child’s life in Ireland. It is with great satisfaction that we celebrate the CBI Book of the Year Awards winners today, knowing that we are highlighting and appreciating the hard work of Irish authors, illustrators and publishers in creating excellent books for young readers.”