The winners of the 2022 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards have been announced in a special ceremony as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin.
This year’s winners include a quick-witted story of first love, a whimsical picture book with echoes of fairy tales, and a skilful début featuring the human stories behind the sinking of the Titanic.
And a special person won the KPMG Reading Hero Award, which celebrates a young person’s reading efforts and remarkable passion for books.
About the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards
Founded in 1990 and sponsored since 2020 by KPMG Ireland, the Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland. They recognise exceptional writing and illustration for young audiences by authors and illustrators who were born in Ireland, are permanently resident in Ireland or are citizens of Ireland.
Previous winners include Oein DeBhairduin and Leanne McDonagh for ‘Why the Moon Travels’, Máire Zepf for Nóinín, Deirdre Sullivan and Karen Vaughan for ‘Tangleweed and Brine’ and for ‘Savage Her Reply’, Chris Haughton for ‘Goodnight Everyone’, and former Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan for ‘One’.
This year the Awards received their highest-ever volume of submissions, at 139 entries. The winners were chosen by an independent judging panel made up of children’s book experts and one Young Judge – a young reader aged 15+ who participates in the full judging process. This year’s Young Judge was Transition Year student Clíodhna Jackson, from Coláiste Íosagáin, Dublin.
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KPMG Book of the Year
The KPMG Book of the Year Award went to Gut Feelings by C.G. Moore, a free verse YA novel that tells the story of a young gay man’s journey with an inherited, potentially fatal condition.
I learned that words,
More than weapons,
Could destroy bodies,
Could break hearts.
More than fists or fury.”
This is the story of Chris, what happened to him at age eleven and how that would change the rest of his life. A life-affirming and powerful coming of age verse novel that shines a light on chronic illness, who we are and how we live.
Praised by the judges for its engaging narrative, ‘filled with darkness and light, despair and hope, fear and desire, and love and trust’, Moore’s semi-autobiographical prose is illustrated by Becky Chilcott.
Buy Gut Feelings on Amazon
The Judges’ Special Award
The Judges’ Special Award was awarded to The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar. With wit and refreshing narrative, this début follows Irish-Bangladeshi teenager Nishat as she navigates first love, cultural appropriation and learns to reconcile her family’s expectations with her own identity.
The Henna Wars also won The KPMG Junior Juries’ Award, voted for by 100 Junior Juries of young readers throughout the country that read their way through the Awards shortlist.
The judges wish to recognise The Henna Wars as an important text for young readers, for its original portrayal of queer women of colour in Ireland.
Buy The Henna Wars on Amazon
The Honour Award for Fiction
For the second year running, Pádraig Kenny has won the Honour Award for Fiction for the second in his Rookhaven series, The Shadows of Rookhaven.
The Shadows of Rookhaven’s dark narrative follows protagonist Mirabelle as monsters from far and wide descend on Rookhaven for the Great Configuration, a once in a century event.
The judges said: ‘Kenny’s brilliant second book about Rookhaven is wonderfully paced story – with truly excellent illustrations by Bettison – exploring ideas of loss, difference, forgiveness, family and friendship.’
Buy The Shadows of Rookhaven on Amazon
2022 Honour Award for Illustration
Dublin-based illustrator Lauren O’Hara is the winner of the 2022 Honour Award for Illustration for Frindleswylde, a delicately illustrated picturebook created together with her sister, Natalia O’Hara.
This original tale contains echoes of Hans Christian Andersen as well as Russian folktales, told through whimsical illustrations.
The quality of O’Hara’s hand-drawn, watercolour illustrations were described by the judges as ‘nothing short of outstanding’.
Buy Frindleswylde on Amazon
The Eilís Dillon Award
Belfast-based author-illustrator Flora Delargy has won The Eilís Dillon Award was won by Flora Delargy, Belfast-based author-illustrator for her début, Rescuing Titanic: A True Story of Quiet Bravery in the North Atlantic.
This award is named in honour of the revered Irish children’s author and recognises an outstanding first book for children and young people.
Rescuing Titanic both written and illustrated by Delargy offers a fresh perspective on one of the world’s most famous maritime disasters.
The judges said, ‘Intertwining the stories of passengers and crews on both ships allows for a collective tale of heroism while also paying respect to the victims of the catastrophe. Illustratively, the detailed hand-drawn artwork is excellent and reveals the extraordinary research behind the project.’
Buy Rescuing Titanic: A True Story of Quiet Bravery in the North Atlantic on Amazon
KMPG Reading Hero Award 2022
Eight-year-old Daisy Magill from Co. Antrim won the KPMG Reading Hero Award, which celebrates a young person’s reading efforts and remarkable passion for books.
Daisy was nominated by her teacher, Ashleigh Moran, Seaview Integrated Primary School, Glenarm in County Antrim, who said:
‘Daisy comes to the class teacher (myself) every morning for extra support to improve her literacy skills and can be seen reading all the time. She reads all types of books and loves nothing more than a good chat and natter about the text she is reading. Daisy is my reading hero because she puts so much effort, time, sweat and tears into becoming a better reader and never resents the stories on a page but cherishes them.’
Well done Daisy!