I feel that the CBCA has slightly tweeked their judging criteria this year. The categories for the Early Childhood Prize and Picture Book of the Year have been clearly differentiated by how the illustrations are used and by the ages of their readers.
CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood:
Entries in this category should be books suitable in content and style for pre and beginning readers for children in the age range 0 to 6 years (infants and pre-school level). This include works of fiction, poetry, wordless, board and concept books. The illustrations reflect all the text on the page and often do NOT add extra meaning to the storyline.
CBCA Picture Book of the Year:
Entries in this category should be books of the genre in which the text and illustrations achieve artistic and literary unity and the story, theme or concept is enhanced and unified through the illustrations. A picture book can be written and illustrated by a sole creator or a collaborative effort between two or more creators. The text and illustrations work cohesively. The illustrations are an integral part of, or extend the meaning on the page. The age range for this category is 0 to 18 years.
Gwyn Perkin’s A Walk in the Bush has won this year’s Picture Book of the Year Award. Perkins is both the author and the illustrator.
He uses simple pen drawings, a soft colour palette & Photoshop to create an evocative, heart-warming stroll through the Australian bush. Perkins is based on a little island in the middle of Pittwater in northern Sydney, he also spends a lot of time in the Blue Mountains. All three areas are lovingly depicted in this book.
Perkins is obviously an advocate for mindful walking as opposed to serious hiking. His granddad character takes the time to listen to the birds, notice changes in the flora and smell the gum leaves. He tells bad granddad jokes to his grandchild/cat character and is constantly encouraging Iggy to engage with the natural world around.
One of the big successes here is Perkin’s ability to tell so much of the story via believable, tender body language (instead of dialogue). There is genuine affection and caring between the two characters, even when they sit quietly enjoying the peace of the bush. Meanwhile the watchful wildlife constantly bring your attention back to the connection between the granddad and Iggy.
Each picture is a double page spread. Words are kept to a minimum while feeling oozes from every detail. Sharing this book with my colleagues produced oodles of laughs and bucket loads of awww’s!
A worthy winner indeed of a book prize the celebrates the beautiful and meaningful combination of art and words.
Perkin’s follow up book, A Day at the Show is equally as charming, funny and delightful. I also loved the nostalgic feeling I got from wandering around an old-style country show with granddad and Iggy…and chook. A 2019 contender for sure!