Advertisement

KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

2014 columns, Young Adult literature

A children’s lit prize of one’s own

by Danielle Binks , March 25, 20141 Comment

Readings logo

 

Earlier this year, Readings Bookstore announced the creation of The Readings Children’s Book Prize. The eligibility criteria for the 2014 Prize was specified as ‘a work of published fiction, written for children aged 5–12’.

It’s wonderful that Australia will have The Readings Children’s Book Prize alongside established awards like the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards and the Centre for Youth Literature’s (young adult-focused) Inky Awards. The Readings Children’s Book Prize will be a valuable contribution to Australian youth literature, and go a long way to bringing recognition to authors who are often ignored by other literary institutions (many State Premier’s Literary Awards don’t recognise children’s literature as a separate category, for example, and often lump it with YA or overlook it completely).

Emily Gale is a children’s & YA book specialist at Readings, and a children’s & YA writer herself. Gale played a role in shaping the Prize and dedicating it to children’s literature, saying: ‘We decided to put the energy into an area of publishing that is extremely important but doesn’t get as much love as YA. I think it comes down to the fact that there isn’t as much personal interest from adults in middle fiction, which YA has really benefited from, but it’s such a crucial reading stage and there’s so much variety there.’

Middle fiction (also called ‘MG’ or middle grade fiction) is for 8 to 12-year-olds and distinctly different from YA (for more on this distinction, read MG author Kelly Barnhill’s blog about the importance of distinguishing the two). There have been several notable MG success stories recently – Rebecca Stead’s award-winning books When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy, and the New York Times bestseller Wonder by R. J. Palacio. In Australia, Andy Griffiths and Morris Gleitzman have been beloved and bestselling authors in this age group for many years. These authors’ successes are even more impressive, because MG is such a hard readership to write, publish and sell to.

Eva Mills, Allen & Unwin’s Associate Publisher of Books for Children and Teenagers, explains: ‘Quality middle-grade children’s manuscripts have always been hard to find – we’ve always received the fewest submissions at this level. One of the most common mistakes I see in manuscripts at this level is a lack of real character development, as if 9 to 12 year olds don’t have the same depth, complexities and inner worlds as teenagers.’

But there is always high demand for quality MG, ‘We still see enormous interest in Australian authors at this readership level, from booksellers and schools as well as parents and children,’ says Mills. ‘It’s generally the age at which we see the biggest cohort of regular readers – most kids have learnt to read independently by the end of primary school, and have not yet been completely consumed by schoolwork and social media.’

That there is high demand for children’s and MG fiction is another reason The Readings Children’s Book Prize is such an important addition to Australian youth literature. Readings are helping to create recognition, media attention and prizes for this underserved demographic. And having a specific children’s prize also goes a long way to reminding people that Middle Grade and Young Adult are two distinct readerships, both immensely valuable in their own right, but deserving a prize of their own too.

Most importantly, Emily Gale believes the Prize will provide ‘a boost to Australian authors who are in the early stages of their career. We’re talking publicity but we’re also talking hard cash, let’s be honest! It’s not easy making a living as a children’s author in Australia (or anywhere for that matter).’

The Readings Children’s Book Prize shortlist will be announced April 2nd

Danielle Binks is a Melbourne-based blogger, editor and aspiring writer of young adult fiction.

ACO logo




monroe

James Tierney

Survival and Contradiction: Jacqueline Rose’s Women in Dark Times

This book’s most impressive trick is in the way it pulls together seemingly disparate figures. In this fierce, insightful and wide-ranging collection, Jacqueline Rose calls for nothing less than a reformulation of feminism. Read more »

Clive-James-typical-mix-o-014

Cosima McGrath

The Unreliable Truth of Clive James

Some authors hermit themselves away and are unknowable to the public except through their writing. Clive James, on the other hand, carries his own spotlight. Read more »

9781926428659

James Tierney

Converting the Nonbeliever: Science fiction, climate change, and James Bradley’s Clade

For most of my reading life, I passed right over the fantasy and science fiction genres. As far as I was concerned, The Lord of the Rings was a decent doorstop, Dune was a prime spot on the beach from which to check out the swell, and 2001 meant only a year of once-distant promise, and now spiralling dread. Read more »

article-2301242-18FA52E4000005DC-314_470x763

Rebecca Shaw

An Inconvenient Truth: Social stigma and menstruation

If you have heard of menstruation, you would know that it is an essential process in a little tiny thing called the EXISTENCE AND CONTINUATION OF HUMAN LIFE, and it is something that most (not all) women experience for about five days every month for a large part of their lives. It is a topic (besides shopping, lol) that women think about frequently. Read more »

fx-2015-winter-tcajpeg-069cb_c0-146-3500-2186_s561x327

Rebecca Shaw

Billy, Don’t Be a Homophobe

As a non-heterosexual person who has lived my entire life in a heteronormative world, I have a finely tuned antenna for homophobia. Loaded terms, like those used recently by Billy Crystal, are becoming more common, as it becomes less acceptable to state openly that you get an icky feeling when you see two people of the same sex kiss. Read more »

B5QJwMhIYAAfjxG

Rebecca Shaw

A Tale of Two Penises: Double Dick Dude and the invisibility of male bisexuality

For the past year I have found myself fascinated by penises. If I’d been to the races, I would have created a monstrous dick fascinator to wear as a beautiful physical representation of my mental state. But let me be clear, I have not been captivated with all or even many penises. My fascination has solely been aimed at the two penises owned by the man known only as ‘Diphallic Dude’, or more casually ‘DoubleDickDude’. Read more »

girlwalkshomealoneatnight

Anwen Crawford

Bad Cities

A Most Violent Year has an atmosphere of all-pervading dread, like a film noir, as if the polluted air of New York itself was causing people to act against their better intentions. Even more haunting and more noir is A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, a memorably audacious debut feature from American-Iranian director Ana Lily Amirpour. Read more »

cdn.indiewire

Kate Middleton

On the Trail: Wild and the voyage of the modern woman

Strayed articulates the question that drives so many pilgrimage narratives: ‘What if I forgive myself?’ That same question perhaps suggests why female-driven journeys are resonating with audiences now: self-reliance and the abandonment of a conventional life have long been male-dominated themes. Read more »

Film Review Selma

Anwen Crawford

An Urgent and Motivating Anger: The politics of Selma

How to approach a figure with the reputation of a secular saint? One achievement of Selma – and it is a film of many achievements – is to reanimate King as a living, breathing man; a man of politics, strategy, and absolute, underlying resolve. Read more »

video-undefined-22D54AFA00000578-784_636x358

Matilda Dixon-Smith

Insufferable assholes and grown up Girls

Yes, our girls are growing, learning, discovering. But all they’re really discovering is how toxic and unheroic they are, and how to use that to their advantage. They’re not going to grow out of their asshole tendencies, because they are actually assholes. Read more »

agent-carter-7683

Danielle Binks

Agent Carter and the future of the female superhero

Agent Carter has been described ‘a Triumph for Women, Marvel and TV,’ and heralded as an important new chapter in comics culture. If this supposedly groundbreaking new show fails, does it spell doom for the future of female-led superhero franchises? Read more »

39154_4f8f076801b89b442752af76ac226fc0

Anwen Crawford

Satire and Scandal: Revisiting Frontline

Frontline’s makers could not have anticipated the long, web-based afterlife of their creation, though they might not be surprised that their targets – the rampant egotism and moral hypocrisies of tabloid journalism – remain just as current. Read more »

ss_f6a450fbf737eb04c58b973f72e8817bb2b50285.600x338

Katie Williams

Brain Candy: Are game jams diluting the potential of video games?

In a world where YouTube gameplay videos narrated by hollering amateurs hold as much clout – if not more – than professional game critics, I worry that developers may be swayed to choose an easier, unimaginative, and more vacuous path to success. Read more »

cher_horowitz_closet-010_2

Katie Williams

Fashion Forward: How hidden algorithms are dressing up technology

Though we increasingly rely on technology to simplify our lives, we still want to believe that behind the scenes is a happy, human face, rather than an impassive machine that does the dirty work for us. Read more »

wowx5-artwork-012-full

Katie Williams

Killing Monsters and Making Memories: How virtual worlds facilitate communication

When I hang out with my brother, we joke, make fun of each other, and swap stories about mutual friends. Sometimes, we’ll each pack a bag of stat-enhancing potions and go out to kill large monsters. It’s been well over a year since I saw my brother in the flesh – but thanks to World of Warcraft, I interact with him on a daily basis. Read more »

Before Us_3

Jane Howard

Stuart Bowden’s Unfamiliar, Universal Worlds

It’s hard to classify the work of Stuart Bowden. His one-person storytelling theatre works are at once hilarious and melancholy. They exist in a particular space of fringe theatre: intricately crafted stories built for small rooms & small audiences, they lift and rise that audience, gathering us all up in the magic of stories & the closeness they can breed. Read more »

The-Rabbits-2015-1280x470

Jane Howard

Thinking Outside the Box Seats: The future of Australian opera and musical theatre

If we want to see new work and innovation grow in opera and musical theatre, we need to consider how they might develop within our culture. Read more »

MovingMusicAndreCastellucci1

Jane Howard

The (Sometimes) Beauty of Being Alone at the Theatre

I often go to the theatre on my own. One of the great joys of writing reviews is that even when I attend productions solo, I still get to talk (write) about them at length after the fact. Seeing theatre is a wonderful activity to do unaccompanied, because as soon as the performance starts, everyone is alone in some way. Read more »