The 10 Books Shortlisted for the 2023 Children’s Book of the Year Awards

Jill Holtz

February 10, 2023

childrens book awards shortlist

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The finalists for the Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2023 have been announced and there are some fantastic choices! With books for all ages included, here are the 10 books on the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2023 shortlist for this year’s award.

KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2023 shortlist

The ten shortlisted books for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards this year range from picture books to short story collections to teen fiction, covering all ages and reading abilities including:

  • Unsung stories of Ireland’s mythical goddesses reimagined
  • A magical retelling of Cinderella as Gaeilge;
  • Wild and wonderous stories of adventure
  • Tales of seeking asylum and Direct Provision
  • a gripping mystery which brings together two girls from opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political divide.

This year’s shortlist, which includes four debut authors, will compete for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year and five other awards, including honours for fiction, illustration and a Junior Juries’ Award which will be decided by young readers from across the country.

The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards recognise excellence in writing and illustration in Irish or English and are open to books by authors and illustrators who were born in Ireland, are permanently resident in Ireland or are citizens of Ireland and which were published between 1st January and 31st December each year.

Children’s Books Ireland, which administers the awards, will as ever be working closely with ‘Junior Juries’ – groups of children and young people who will read and judge the shortlisted titles. The Juries’ scores decide the winner of the Junior Juries Award, giving children a real way to participate in the awards and make their voices heard.

Five other awards will also be made – The Book of the Year Award, The Honour Awards for Fiction and Illustration, the Judges’ Special Award, and the Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book, named in honour of the revered Irish children’s author Eilís Dillon.

The winning books will be announced at a ceremony on 24th May 2023 at a special ceremony at the International Literature Festival Dublin.

Girls Who Slay Monsters

girls who slay monsters

Girls Who Slay Monsters, written by Ellen Ryan and illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald, published by HarperCollins Ireland.

This outstanding book brings oft-forgotten goddesses and heroes of Irish mythology out of the depths of an ancient past and into the reader’s present. Ryan’s wonderfully rich (and well-researched!) text and Macdonald’s sophisticated palate combine beautifully to create an innovative book that celebrates storytelling, curiosities, and female power.

Firmly anchored in the landscape of this island, the book reminds us that these tales are forever etched into our hills and the valleys and the lakes and beaches; our mythic past is present in the everyday.

Buy Girls Who Slay Monsters from

Run For Your Life

run for your life

Run for your Life, written by Jane Mitchell, published by Little Island Books

This compelling novel follows the story of Azari who ends up living in one of Ireland’s grim and inhumane Direct Provision centres when she and her mother are forced to flee their own country. For Azari, running – a passion she brings with her from home – provides her with a sense of power, confidence, and happiness, as she navigates the difficulties of a new life in Ireland.

Respectfully written with wonderfully vivid and complex characters, Mitchell’s brilliant narrative is one of freedom and constraint, secrets and lies, hope and heartache.

Buy Run For Your Life on Amazon

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The Book of Secrets

The Book of Secrets, written by Alex Dunne, published by The O’Brien Press

This fast-paced story inspired by Irish myth and folklore brilliantly intertwines the real and the magical. Eleven-year-old Cat Donnelly has the Sight, like others in her family before her, and so is particularly open to all things supernatural.

Set around Hallowe’en when the Trooping Fairies descend on the small town of Clonbridge, this is an exciting adventure with just the right level of creepiness – dark, but not too dark. There’s a real urgency to the writing, sweeping readers along through an original and imaginative tale of magic in contemporary Ireland.

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The Boy Who Lost His Spark

The Boy Who Lost His Spark, written by Maggie O’Farrell and illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Tarrazzini, published by Walker Books

This remarkable and moving story of Jem as he tries to adapt to his new life in the countryside, is a refreshingly quiet tale about the necessity of having a little bit of magic in life. Unhappy with his lot, Jem begins to see his world differently when a mischievous little creature called a nouka makes its presence known.

The calmness of the tale reminds readers that they are in the hands of assured and expert storytellers: writer and illustrator have created a special narrative that readers will want to revisit time and time again.

Buy The Boy Who Lost His Spark on

The Lost Girl King

The Lost Girl King, written by Catherine Doyle, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

This thrilling adventure story reinvents the world of Tír na nÓg and brings it to a new generation of young readers. When Amy and Liam head west for the summer to stay with their grandmother – a literature professor – their whole world begins to open up.

They soon discover a waterfall that acts as an entrance to Tír na nÓg, the land of eternal youth – but something in this magical world has gone very wrong. In Amy and Liam, Doyle constructs such credible and marvellous characters who begin to realise the power and potential they hold within.

Buy The Lost Girl King on

Be Wild, Little One

be wild little one

Be Wild, Little One, written by Olivia Hope and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

This is a heart-warming and inspiring call to be wild, to be brave, to go out and meet the world. Expertly written and beautifully illustrated, this inclusive book brings the reader on a journey into jungles, across skies, into the deep blue seas, along snow-capped mountains, up to the rooftops, and through stormy skies.

This enchanting picturebook demonstrates how so much can be said with just a few words and is a wonderful reminder of the life-affirming world that surrounds us.

Buy Be Wild, Little One on


Our book scavenger hunt for kids is great fun – and you might find your kids get distracted by some reading while they are at it!

The Wilderness

the wilderness steve mccarthy

The Wilderness, written and illustrated by Steve McCarthy, published by Walker Books

This fun and playful picturebook follows the story of the Vasylenko family as they head out to brave the wilds and search for adventure – well, all members of the family except young Oktober, who prefers to find his adventures in the safety of books. Until one day he discovers that maybe the Wilderness isn’t as monstrous as he thought.

This original tale engages with the importance of dealing with your feelings and shows the transformative potential of a different point of view.

Buy The Wilderness on Amazon

An Slipéar Gloine

An Slipear Gloine

An Slipéar Gloine, written by Fearghas Mac Lochlainn and illustrated by Paddy Donnelly, published by Futa Fata

A refreshing take on the story of Cinderella, this Irish-language retelling brings new life to an old classic. Fantastic pictures and playful rhyming text work together brilliantly to tell the tale of Luaithrín bhocht, tormented by her sisters Smaoisín agus Straoisín, as well as by her leasmháthair Camilla, until the prince arrives with the titular glass slipper, transforming Luaithrín’s fate.

Full of humour and wit, this is a book that readers will want to return to again and again.

Buy An Slipéar Gloine on

One & Everything

one & everything

One & Everything, written and illustrated by Sam Winston, published by Walker Books

The stunning and thought-provoking book can be appreciated on multiple levels as it brings the reader on a round-the-world journey through the importance of stories and storytelling.

A meditation on language and script, on how we communicate, and on the perils of thinking that one single story is the most important story of all, this is an original and unusual book that – through text and illustration – celebrates the power of stories and the excitement they bring to our existence.

Buy One & Everything on Amazon

Truth Be Told

Truth Be Told, written by Sue Divin, published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

Set in contemporary Northern Ireland, Truth be Told is a beautifully-written Young Adult novel full of distinctive voices. Tara and Faith are from different backgrounds and religious denominations but when they meet they realise that they have a lot in common – they look just like each other.

As they try to figure out who they really are, they must delve deep into the past of their families and communities, uncovering secrets that some would prefer remained hidden.

Buy Truth Be Told on Amazon

The 10 Books Shortlisted for the 2023 Children’s Book of the Year Awards – Mykidstime

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Published On: February 10th, 2023 / Categories: Entertainment, Ireland / Last Updated: March 2nd, 2023 / Tags: /

About the Author: Jill Holtz

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls

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