Carnegie Medal and YA Book Prize-shortlisted author Sarah Crossan has won the 26th CBI Book of the Year Award - making her the fourth author ever to win both the Book of the Year Award and the Children’s Choice award with her title One (Bloomsbury Childrens).
The CBI Book of the Year Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland, celebrating "excellence" in children’s literature and illustration, open to authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland, whether in English or Irish.
Crossan's win celebrating One, a story about conjoined twins also shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the YA Book Prize 2016, was revealed today (24th May) at a ceremony held in Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. Students from King’s Hospital School Palmerstown and St Brigid’s National School Glasnevin presented Crossan with the Children's Choice award, which is voted for by young readers from across the country, part of a scheme supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and UNESCO Dublin City of Literature.
The story charts the lives of Grace and Tippi, conjoined twins placed under constant medical and psychological care, and homeschooled until the age of 16 when the teens have to go to school for the first time and negotiate "a world of prejudice, friendship, first love and gossip". It is written in blank verse.
The judges said: "Crossan’s signature blend of lyricism and realism addresses complicated dynamics of family, identity, sisterhood and difference. Told in verse and in the first person, this elegant, sensitive story will stimulate reflections and conversations about discrimination, diversity, difficult choices and the bonds of love."
Also at the event, Lauren O’Neill won the Honour Award for Illustration for Gulliver (O'Brien Press), a "beautifully illustrated, dynamic retelling" of Gulliver’s time with the Lilliputians which is both "captivating" and "immersive" according to judges.
The Honour Award for Fiction went to Louise O’Neill for Asking For It (riverun), winner of the Irish Book Awards 2015, described as an "important novel for twenty-first century Irish Young Adult literature and for youth culture in Ireland", according to the judges, examining issues of consent, victim blaming and rape culture. The judges added: "O’Neill’s scalding exploration of sexism, scapegoating, sexual assault and the ethics of using and abusing social media offers immense crossover appeal for young adults and adults alike."
Finally, both the Judges’ Special Award and the Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book went to father and daughter team John and Fatti Burke for Irelandopedia (Gill and Macmillan), a compendium of facts, figures and fascinating findings about our little Emerald Isle. The book contains doublepage spreads for each county, complete with detailed illustrations and "accessible, engaging" text. The judges called it "an endless treasure trove of facts" and an absorbing book to immerse "even the most reluctant reader".
Patricia Kennon, chair of the judging panel, said: "It was an honour to spend some of 2015 and 2016 reading almost 90 award entries with our incredibly dedicated and hardworking judging panel. The books being celebrated today highlight the excellence that children both at home and abroad can expect from books created by Irish authors and illustrators. We are exceptionally lucky to be able to enjoy the skills and talents of a diverse groups of Irish authors and illustrators writing for children."
Jenny Murray, acting director of CBI, said: "The Children’s Books Ireland Awards are the most unique children’s book awards in the country, allowing us not only to honour the very best in Irish writing, illustration and publishing, but to give young people a voice through the Children’s Choice Award. We were delighted to see a large increase in the number of young readers taking part in our shadowing scheme this year and enjoying the books on this year’s shortlist, across genre and age group."