KYD YA Championship – contributors, titles and how to win

by Stephanie Van Schilt , July 27, 201216 Comments
Image credit: Wonderlane

Happy almost weekend everyone! Our usual Friday Amusement and distractions posts are on hiatus for the next few weeks because something special is going on here at Killings

Are you getting ready? Are you getting excited? Get your books out and your voting caps on because the KYD YA Championship starts next week!

From Monday 30 July until 17 August, contributors will be championing their favourite Australian YA classic from the last 30 years. At the end of each post, you will have the chance to vote to determine the winner – just follow the links.

And don’t forget that when you vote, you go into the draw to be a winner yourself – we have three amazing YA prize packs from our friends at Allen & Unwin, Penguin and Hardie Grant Egmont to give away.

Can’t wait until Monday to find out who is involved and what books will be discussed? Good, because the wait is over! Our eleven contributors and contenders for the KYDYAC crown are *drum roll* …

  • Kate O’Donnell on Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden (1993)
  • Andrew McDonald on Space Demons by Gillian Rubinstein (1985)
  • Agnes Nieuwenhuizen on Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (1992)
  • Judith Ridge on Loving Athena by Joanne Horniman (1997)
  • Lili Wilkinson on Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody (1987)
  • Holly Harper on Sabriel by Garth Nix (1995)
  • Ruth Starke on Deadly, Unna? By Phillip Gwynne (1999)
  • Alyssa Brugman on Fortress by Gabrielle Lord (1980)
  • Adele Walsh on Mandragora by David McRobbie (1994)
  • Bec Kavanagh on Came Back to Show You I Could Fly by Robin Klein (1991)
  • Jordi Kerr on The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett (2007)

If your favourite Australian YA book from the last thirty years isn’t featured in our shortlist, never fear – from Monday you can vote for it to be the KYDYAC People’s Choice winner.

We’d also love to hear from you about KYDYAC or YA in general, so jump in on the comments, follow us on Twitter (@kyd_journal, #KYDYAC) and Facebook. Also, for all updates, sign up to our e-News or subscribe to the Killings RSS feed.

  • Liza

    When you see it laid out like this, you can see what a golden age the 80s and 90s were for Oz YA – it’s a fabulous list.

  • kate o’d

    Hoo boy, get ready. This is exciting. What a brilliant list. Though, I shall not be distracted from my book, not my my champion book, oh my sure winner…ooh, Jo Horniman, Sonya Hartnett,SPACE DEMONS!…no no. Keep on track, Kate…

  • Jordi

    Am I the youngest contributor?? Representing the ’00s!

  • Judith

    Is it any coincidence that the KYDYAC is running at the same time at that other minor competition… the Olympics? I think not. Let the Games Begin! (And you all have to vote for Loving Athena because it is one of THE great under-recognised Australian YA books of all time.) (Plus I will send you dark chocolate licorice bullets if you do.)

  • Judith

    Also, small technical correction: There is no “I” at the beginning of Came Back to Show you I Could Fly. Bonus points (and dark chocolate licorice bullets) to those of us old enough to remember the song (and singer) it is a quote from.

    • Stephanie Van Schilt

      Hi Judith! Thanks ever so much for picking that up – all fixed now. The KYD team are so excited!! Let the championship begin!
      Jordi – Your book IS the youngest…but perhaps one of the many amazing titles released in the ’00s will take out the KYDYAC People’s Choice?

  • JessB

    Oh no, I love most of those books! How will I ever vote for just one?!

    Can’t wait to read the posts, I came here from Bec’s Facebook page, and I’m so excited to have discovered your site!

  • Julia T

    Hehe I remember listening to the Came back To Show You I Could Fly song, when I studied the novel in Year 9 English! Can’t remember the artist or name of the track, but now I have the words stuck in my head…and I want to go home and read the book!

    • Judith Ridge

      No dark chocolate bullets for you, Julia!

      • Jon

        Marcia Hines, ‘From the Inside’, 1974.

  • Bec

    Ooh, such a great list! Space Demons is definitely up there for me (although coming a close second of course to ‘Came Back To Show You I Could Fly). I feel like rushing down to the library and revisiting my whole YA reading list right now!

  • lisa dempster

    Haha – literary Olympics. Classic. I am pained about what to vote for in the gold category though!


Nathan Smith

Letting the Essays Do The Talking: Meghan Daum’s My Misspent Youth

In the introduction to her essay collection My Misspent Youth, Meghan Daum writes that as frank as her essays are, they ‘are not confessions’. The personal essay may have long defined Daum, but she is far from a ‘confessional writer’, a title she has long resisted. Read more »


Ilona Wallace

Between You & Me: The New Yorker’s Mary Norris on publishing, editing and insecurity

Mary Norris begins her chatty grammar guide and memoir, Between You & Me, by chronicling the odd jobs she held before she began working at the New Yorker in 1978. She delivered milk – awkwardly calling ‘Milkwoman!’ when she left bottles at each stop – and crashed the dairy truck. Read more »


Chad Parkhill

On judging the Most Underrated Book Award

The chair of the judging panel for the Most Underrated Book Award shares his observations on the award, what it means to be ‘underrated’, and the current landscape of Australian literary prizes. Read more »

ROSEANNE - On set in New York - 10/16/93 
Sara Gilbert (Darlene) on the ABC Television Network comedy "Roseanne". "Roseanne" is the story of a working class family struggling with life's essential problems.

Rebecca Shaw

Out of the Imaginary Closet: Fictional characters who should have been gay

When you are part of a group that isn’t portrayed in the same way (or only negatively, or not at all) you become desperate for that glimmer of recognition. Here are several characters that I loved as a young person, who became stand-ins for the openly lesbian characters I wanted to see so much. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. Read more »


Rebecca Varcoe

In defence of professional cheerleading

My name is Rebecca and I’m a 26-year-old woman with a shameful secret, for which I refuse to be ashamed any longer. Today I want to confess my obsession and one true love, the subject of many rants and late-night tweeting frenzies: Cheerleading. American, All-Star Cheerleading. Read more »


Adam Rivett

Tell Me, Princess: The evolution of Disney’s princess songs

Two years ago today, Disney’s Frozen was unleashed upon the world. As far as rapacious corporate behemoths go, it’s one of the more appealing, and remains surprisingly resilient to repeat screenings. But at the heart of its achievement sits one indisputable melodic and cultural phenomenon: ‘Let It Go’. Read more »


James Tierney

Bodily Limits: An interview with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Dario Argento’s 1977 horror film Suspiria suffered from a critical eclipse and a variety of censored prints, and was largely cherished in its original form by aficionados of the field. A reassessment has been building, something sure to be aided by the forthcoming publication of Alexandra Heller-Nicholas’ perceptive and elegantly written monograph. Read more »

je tu il elle 2

Eloise Ross

Existence as Minimalism: Remembering Chantal Akerman

Images of a young woman, emptying her small flat of furniture, blocking the window and sitting in the dark, still. Sitting on a mattress in a bare room, furiously writing letters with a pencil and watching the snow through the window. Meeting with a past lover and reuniting on-screen. I think about Chantal Akerman’s films more often than I can say. Read more »


Matilda Dixon-Smith

Family Matters: Please Like Me and the Aussie TV family

In a recent episode of Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me, the bouncy titles run over three little scenarios: Josh cooks dinner for his mate Tom and his boyfriend Arnold; his Mum cooks for her new housemate Hannah; and his Dad cooks for his wife, Mae. The three of them stir, sip wine and dance daggily around their kitchens in a neat metaphor for this season’s fantastic, cohesive new trajectory. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. Read more »


Alexis Drevikovsky

Have You Ever Felt Like This: Going Round the Twist again

Working from home one day, I took my lunchbreak away from my laptop and flicked idly through the TV channels, hoping for a midday movie with Reese Witherspoon or, even better, an old episode of Cheers. What I found was beyond my wildest dreams. I excitedly texted my mate Alison: Round the Twist is on ABC3! Read more »


Katie Williams

The More Things Change: Choice and consequence in Life is Strange

You can either be a benevolent hero or a monster, but few games deal with the multitudes contained by actual people. And what does it matter, anyway? There’s no such thing as regret when it comes to in-game decision-making – not when you can so easily restart the game to see what outcome will result from choosing Option B instead. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

Tom Conroy and Colin Friels in Mortido. Photo credit: Shane Reid

Jane Howard

A Shining Nightmare: Mortido‘s Sydney

Sydney is a city of shine and reflective surfaces. The glint of the harbour follows through to city high-rises clad in polished glass, bouncing off the wide windows of the mansions hugging the undulating land before it gives way to the impossibly deep and wide water. But this beauty that can betray the darkness of the city and its people. Read more »


Angela Meyer

Outrageous Fortune: Seeing Hamlet as a Cumberbitch

Jazz swells, hushing the audience, and the solid black gate of the theatre curtain opens. It reveals the lounging figure of Hamlet, playing a record, sniffing his father’s old jumper. But what I see first is not Hamlet: it is Benedict Cumberbatch. Read more »

kiss copy

Jane Howard

Great Aspirations: In the shadow of Patrick White

The text of The Aspirations of Daise Morrow is lifted directly from Patrick White’s short story ‘Down at the Dump’. It’s a wonderful thing to hear White’s judicious use of language; to understand the eyes through which he saw Australia; and to see an entire world of his creation brought to life in the theatre. Read more »