2021 Environment Award for Children’s Literature Shortlists

The shortlists for the 2021 Environment Award for Children’s Literature have been announced. The Australian awards celebrate the best children’s nature books with the winners being announced in early September. Here are the 13 shortlisted titles:

NONFICTION

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

Ninja Bandicoots and Turbo-Charnged Wombats by Hazel Flynn

Tree Beings by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini

The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants

The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants by Philip Bunting

PICTURE BOOKS

Bandits

Bandits by Sha’an d’Anthes

Brother Moon

Brother Moon by Maree McCarthy Yoelu, illustrated by Samantha Fry

The Giant and the Sea

The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson, illustrated by Rovina Cai

Give Me Some Space! by Philip Bunting

Image for Larry Leadbeater : Field Notes from a Fairy Possum

Larry Leadbeater: Field Notes from a Fairy Possum by Jo Watson

FICTION

The Carbon-Neutral Adventures of the Indefatigable EnviroTeens

The Carbon-Neutral Adventures of the Indefatigable EnviroTeens by First Dog on the Moon

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best by Charlotte Barkla, illustrated by Sandie Flett

The Power of Positive Pranking

The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore

Planet Weird (WeirDo #15)

Planet Weird by Anh Do, illustrated by Jules Faber

Long Distance by Whitney Gardner

Cover image for Long Distance.

Long Distance by Whitney Gardner (9781534455665)

The author of Fake Blood returns with another fantastical graphic novel. Vega’s parents have moved her from Portland to Seattle, leaving behind her best friend. Vega loves astronomy, something she shared with her best friend. She still has her telescope, but no one to watch the stars with. To help her transition to her new home, Vega’s parents send her off to a summer camp designed to help her make new friends. Vega isn’t interested in making new friends, so she is stand offish to the other kids. As things around camp get stranger, including a camper who changes his appearance regularly to try to make friends, rocks that are speakers, no cellphone service, and really strange food, Vega must join forces with the other campers to figure out what is actually going on.

Gardner’s middle-grade graphic novel is a genuine look at moving away from friends and the struggle to regain your footing and make new ones. Gardner though takes it much farther explaining the weirdness of all summer camp experiences in a fresh way. When all is revealed at the end of the book, readers will have the satisfaction of having figured it out along with Vega and the other characters. The pacing of the different elements is nicely done as is the consistent look at loneliness and friendship throughout.

Gardner’s art style is bold and clear. She offers readers a diverse cast of characters, including Vega herself who is a character of color and also has two fathers for parents. The format feels larger than most with some of the images taking up the entire page with great impact. The entire book feels effortlessly modern.

A perfect summer read, particularly for those who have done summer camps. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.