I like to pick holes in the CBCA Book of The Year for Older Readers. When I worked in libraries, every year I seethed against the judge’s “poor” choices but I’ve slacked off the last couple of years. Now’s the time to get back into my mid year apoplexies.

As an erratic reader who rarely reads all the titles on the Shortlist, let alone the Notables, I have no right to opinionate, but that never stops me.

Surprisingly I read a few of the Notables in the past year, thanks largely to my Book Group’s exceptional literary choices. I even blogged about some. After the Notables announcement I raided the library and devoured more, or they’re on my TBR pile.

By the announcement of the Shortlist I read 9 of the 16 Notables, but only three of the Shortlist. The discordance begins…

Firstly, where is In The Skin of a Monster??? I’m speechless, ok that’s a lie. Somehow we slipped into the nightmare version of our world, where In The Skin of a Monster doesn’t win Book of the Year. We’ll wake up soon or we don’t deserve Kathryn Barker’s chilling brilliance.

5/6ths of the shortlist
5/6ths of the shortlist

In my mad reading of the Notables this past month I never got around to The Flywheel by Erin Gough. So little time, so many monsters. Update: I have now.

I laughed the whole way through The Pause by John Larkin but I had problems with some aspects eg. no psychiatric professional uses the term mental breakdown, maybe in 1950. Tip for writers/publishers: boys + mental illness = shortlist.

Freedom Ride by Sue Lawson yeah but. We need indigenous books, but an indigenous author and/or protagonist would be good.

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay yes, except so long ago, so many monsters since.

I love Vikki Wakefield’s and Fiona Wood’s writing but I think they’re contractually obliged to be on the shortlist/win. Due to Inbetween Days being TBR that makes Cloudwish the clear winner. And myself clearly unqualified to call it. When I started writing this, I was only up to p.92 but I finished on the weekend. I would have started Inbetween Days, but five other books came up. Update: read it, loved it.

Not happy The Guy, the Girl, the Artist & his Ex by Gabrielle Williams didn’t make the shortlist. It was riotous, even without monsters but perhaps La Llorona is a monster.

I’m glad A Small Madness by Diane Touchell didn’t make the shortlist. I have big problems with undiagnosed/ untreated mental illness in books written for teenagers. There’s enough not talking about mental illness going on without encouraging it. I say this as someone who spent most of my life trying to hide my mental illness and causing untold problems. (And I lost a friend because he refused treatment.)

Memo to Judges: Monsters

Memo to self: apply for WA Judge. The future holds many monster books eg. My Sister Rosa

Kovo approved
Kovo approved