2021 CBCA Notables

The Children’s Book Council of Australia have announced their notables list for 2021. The lists cover the best books for teens through preschoolers. The lists are basically the longlists for the CBCA Book of the Year awards. The shortlists will be announced in March with the winners announced in August. Here are the books that made the notables lists:


Before the Beginning

Before the Beginning by Anna Morgan

Catch Me If I Fall

Catch Me If I Fall by Barry Jonsberg

Deep Water

Deep Water by Sarah Epstein

The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love by Davina Bell

The F Team

The F Team by Rawah Arja

Future Girl

Future Girl by Asphyxia

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix


Loner by Georgina Young

The Lost Soul Atlas

The Lost Soul Atlas by Zana Fraillon

Metal Fish, Falling Snow

Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath Moore

Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal

Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley

Please Don't Hug Me

Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr

When It Drops

When It Drops by Alex Dyson

When Rain Turns to Snow

When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin

Where We Begin

Where We Begin by Christie Nieman


Across the Risen Sea

Across the Risen Sea by Bren MacDibble

Aster's Good, Right Things

Aster’s Good, Right Things by Kate Gordon

Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief by Dee White


Bindi by Kirli Saunders, illustrated by Dub Leffler

The Book of Chance

The Book of Chance by Sue Whiting

The Fire Star

The Fire Star by A.L. Tait

The Grandest Bookshop in the World

The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor


Haywire by Claire Saxby

The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn

The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn by Kate Gordon

Her Perilous Mansion

Her Perilous Mansion by Sean Williams

The January Stars

The January Stars by Kate Constable

The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle

The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle by Pamela Rushby

The Republic of Birds

The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller

The Secret Library of Hummingbird House

The Secret Library of Hummingbird House by Julianne Negri

The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby (released in U.S. in March 2021)

We Are Wolves

We Are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad

When This Bell Rings

When This Bell Rings by Allison Rushby

Worse Things

Worse Things by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Sarah Davis

The Year the Maps Changed

The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus by Steven Herrick


Anemone is not the Enemy

Anemone Is Not the Enemy by Anna McGregor

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1, 2, 3 by Frané Lessac

Bear in Space

Bear in Space by Deborah Abela, illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Bin Chicken

Bin Chicken by Kate & Jol Temple, illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh

Busy Beaks

Busy Beaks by Sarah Allen

Coming Home to Country

Coming Home to Country by Bronwyn Bancroft

I'll always be older than you

I’ll Always Be Older Than You by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Sara Acton

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots by Penny Harrison, illustrated by Evie Barrow

No! Never! A Cautionary Tale

No! Never! by Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman, illustrated by Mel Pearce


Pink! by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Judith Rossell


Respect by Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson, illustrated by Lisa Kennedy

Ruby Red Shoes : My Wonderful Grandmother - Kate Knapp

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother by Kate Knapp

Shapes and Colours - John Canty

Shapes and Colours by John Canty


Soon by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Jedda Robaard

Ten Little Figs - Rhian Williams

Ten Little Figs by Rhiân Williams, illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom

There's no such thing!

There’s No Such Thing by Heidi McKinnon

This Small Blue Dot

This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

We Love You, Magoo

We Love You, Magoo by Briony Stewart

What Do You Call Your Grandpa?

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

Who’s Your Real Mum?

Who’s Your Real Mum? by Bernadette Green, illustrated by Anna Zobel


Anisa's Alphabet

Anisa’s Alphabet illustrated by Hanna Sommerville, written by Mike Dumbleton

The Biscuit Maker

The Biscuit Maker illustrated by Liz Anelli, written by Sue Lawson

Colin Cockroach Goes to Caloundra - Chris McKimmie

Colin Cockroach Goes to Caloundra by Chris McKimmie

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Diamonds by Armin Greder

Ellie's Dragon

Ellie’s Dragon by Bob Graham

The Fire Wombat

The Fire Wombat by Jackie French & Danny Snell

Give Me Some Space!

Give Me Some Space by Philip Bunting

Girl from the Sea

Girl from the Sea illustrated by Jane Tanner, written by Margaret Wild

Good Question: A Tale Told Backwards

Good Question: A Tale Told Backwards illustrated by Annie White, written by Sue Whiting

Hello, Jimmy!

Hello Jimmy! by Anna Walker

How to Make a Bird

How to Make a Bird illustrated by Matt Ottley, written by Meg McKinlay

I saw Pete and Pete saw me

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me illustrated by Evie Barrow, written by Maggie Hutchings


Jelly-Boy illustrated by Christopher Nielsen, written by Nicole Godwin


Littlelight by Kelly Canby

My Shadow is Pink

My Shadow Is Pink by Scott Stuart

Norton and the Bear

Norton and the Bear by Gabriel Evans

Not Cute

Not Cute by Philip Bunting

Sing Me the Summer

Sing Me the Summer by Jane Godwin & Alison Lester

Sometimes cake

Sometimes Cake illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie, written by Edwina Wyatt

The Unwilling Twin : Twins - Freya Blackwood

The Unwilling Twin by Freya Blackwood

Who am I?

Who Am I? by Philip Bunting

Who’s Your Real Mum?

Who’s Your Real Mum? by Bernadette Green, illustrated by Anna Zobel


Wolfred by Nick Bland


Wombat by Philip Bunting

Your Birthday was the BEST!

Your Birthday Was the Best! illustrated by Felicita Sala, written by Maggie Huchings

EVE POWNALL AWARD (For factual materials ages 0-18)

Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather by Stephanie Owen Reeder, illustrated by Tania McCartney

AZARIA: A True History

Azaria: A True History by Maree Coote

The Daddy Animal Book - Jennifer Cossins

The Daddy Animal Book by Jennifer Cossins

Dry to Dry: The Seasons of Kakadu

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

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

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

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals by Sami Bayly

Kookaburra : Nature Storybooks - Claire Saxby

Kookaburra by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Tannya Harricks

Little Lon - Andrew Kelly

Little Lon by Andrew Kelly, illustrated by Mark Jackson & Heather Potter

Matthew Flinders - Carole Wilkinson

Matthew Flinders – Adventures on Leaky Ships by Carole Wilkinson, illustrated by Prue Pittock

The Mummy Animal Book

The Mummy Animal Book by Jennifer Cossins

Saltie Mumma

Saltie Mumma by Sandra Kendall

Ngaginybe Jarragbe (My Story)

Shirley Purdie: My Story, Ngaginybe Jarragbe by Shirley Purdie

Strangers on Country

Strangers on Country by David Hartley & Kirsty Murray, illustrated by Dub Leffler

There's A Zoo in My Poo

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

Will the Wonderkid : Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback - Stephanie Owen Reeder

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback by Stephanie Owen Reeder

Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued by Peter Sís

Cover image

Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued by Peter Sís (9781324015741)

As Czechoslovakia is taken over by the Nazis in 1938, one quiet man stepped forward and saved almost 700 children. At age 29, Nicky was invited to visit Prague while on a ski trip. At the same time, Vera was growing up outside of Prague, happily adopting stray cats. They were one of the only Jewish families in the town, but that didn’t matter in their lives. The in October the German army marched into Czechoslovakia and Vera’s parents learned of a British man who was saving children. That man was Nicky. Understanding that he could do something, he worked in Prague making lists of children and finding train connections. When he returned to London, he found foster families for the children and acquire visas and tickets with his own money, sometimes needing to create his own stamps. Vera left home with 76 other children on a train. In total, 669 children reached London safely. No one heard of Nicky’s quiet work until his wife found the records. Then Nicky’s work was revealed to everyone on a popular TV show, and his life is still celebrated.

Sís has created a haunting yet also celebratory nonfiction picture book that describes the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia through a child’s eyes and also offers the lens of a man who realizes the potential human disaster about to occur and does something to rescue the children. The tension between the two is beautifully done, creating a deep understanding of what was at stake and the speed at which something needed to happen. The book is one that will make you actually cry, particularly towards the end when the survivors are there to thank Nicky for what he did for them. Crushingly moving.

As always Sís’s art is entirely its own style. He offers overhead maps of Vera’s small town and her life. He also shares maps of Europe and whimsical images that are almost folkloric in their storytelling. It’s a lovely mix of story, truth and heroism.

Truly remarkable, this is a picture book to read with tissues nearby. Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Norton Young Readers.