Oliver Jeffers wins 25th CBI Book of the Year Award for Once Upon an Alphabet

Louise O’Neill wins Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book for Only Ever Yours

Picturebook creator Oliver Jeffers has won the 25th CBI Book of the Year Award and is the third author ever to win both the Book of the Year Award and the Children’s Choice award for his title Once Upon an Alphabet. Presenting 26 original and innovative stories about the letters of the alphabet, the book combines clever text and engaging line drawings.

The judges said: “Every school, every home, every person should have at least one copy, as this is a book that bears repeated readings. Each letter of the alphabet is introduced with its own story, each one weaving in and out of one another, asking the reader to make connections and cross-references. Although this is an alphabet book, the cleverly constructed stories and quirky line drawings make this the perfect read for children of all ages.”

During the ceremony, students from King’s Hospital School Palmerstown and Scoil Cholmcille, Skryne, Co Meath, presented Jeffers with the Children’s Choice Award. 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 CBI Book of the Year Awards judging panel also made awards to the following:


Honour Award for Illustration: Chris Haughton for Shh! We Have a Plan.

The judges said: “Three determined but incompetent baddies and a whole world of humour in a story that is perfectly paced and revealed visually with the minimum of words through vibrant, carefully chosen colours and inventive collage. A perfect picturebook that provides space for the reader to make predictions, to draw inferences, to activate prior knowledge, to discuss, appreciate and really enjoy the expressive (and impressive) artwork. Every art-room, every classroom, every home should have multiple copies.”

Honour Award for Fiction: Áine Ní Ghlinn for Daideo.

The judges said: “Gearrscéal fada nó úrscéal gearr? Is cuma – is scéal fíor-chliste so-léite í a gheobhaidh greim docht agus a rachaidh i bhfeidhm ar léitheoirí d’achan aois. Agus iad ag éisteacht le scéalta a chéile ar thraein go BÁC, fásann gaol idir seanfhear agus gasúr óg (12) atá ag éalú óna thuistí. Cuireann rithim na rothaí ar ár suaimhneas muid agus ní bhraitheann muid i gceart an teannas agus agus dorchadas ag bagairt. Gaeilge den scoth, do dhaltaí meánscoile sa 1ú/2ú bhliain.”

Judges’ Special Award: Gabriel Rosenstock and Brian Fitzgerald for Haiku Más é do thoil é!

The judges said: “a special and innovative book with a unique blend of poetry, history, anecdote and discussion that offers readers a rich cultural and aesthetic experience’’

Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book: Louise O’Neill for Only Ever Yours

The judges said: “A powerful debut novel set in a dystopian future which reflects many of the most worrying issues in our own world. The novel gives a terrifying insight into a dark and unsettling world where young women are powerless in choosing the direction of their own lives, where their self-worth depends on their diet and their wardrobe and whether they are chosen to be a wife. Suitable for older teenagers, this novel highlights the inequalities and double standards of our own society, making it a thought -provoking read for both girls and boys.”

The CBI Book of the Year Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland. The 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. Previous winners include John Boyne for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; Sheena Wilkinson for Grounded; Marie Louise Fitzpatrick for There and Hagwitch; and Kate Thompson for The New Policeman, Annan Water and The Alchemist’s Apprentice.

Ciara Ní Bhroin, chair of the judging panel, said: “It was a delight to spend the past few months reading 80 or so award entries in the company of this year’s incredibly dedicated judging panel. The books being celebrated today highlight the excellence that children both at home and abroad can expect from Irish books. We are exceptionally lucky to be able to enjoy the skills and talents of Irish authors and illustrators writing for children.”

Elaina Ryan, director of CBI, said: “The CBI Awards are a unique opportunity not only to honour the very best in Irish writing and illustration, but to give young people a voice through the Children’s Choice Award. It is a real delight to see even more young readers than last year taking part in our shadowing scheme and enjoying the excellent and diverse books on this year’s shortlist.”