CBI Book of the Year Awards Shortlist Announced!

Ten titles will compete for the 25th CBI Book of the Year Awards 2015, the most prestigious awards for children’s books in Ireland.

The shortlist for the 25th CBI Book of the Year Awards was revealed today, Wednesday 11th March 2015. Each of the ten titles will compete for the high calibre awards, which includes the innovative Children’s Choice Award, voted for by young readers across the country. The winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held on 19th May at Dublin’s Light House Cinema.

The shortlisted titles are:

When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Daideo by Áine Ní Ghlinn

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Haiku Más é do thoil é! by Gabriel Rosenstock illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald

Primperfect by Deirdre Sullivan

Beyond the Stars compiled by Sarah Webb

Founded in 1990, The CBI Book of the Year Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland. They are a celebration of excellence in children’s literature and illustration and are open to books for all ages written in English or Irish by authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland and published between 1st January and 31st December each year. Previous winners include John Boyne for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; Sheena Wilkinson for Grounded, Marie Louise Fitzpatrick for There and Hagwitch and Kate Thompson for The New Policeman, Annan Water and The Alchemist’s Apprentice.

Ciara Ní Bhroin, chair of the judging panel that read almost 70 titles, said: “The ten shortlisted titles showcase the range of excellent books being created by Irish authors and illustrators. From incredibly vibrant and engaging picturebooks to hard-hitting, thought-provoking novels for teenagers and young adults, this shortlist offers every child a rich and satisfying reading experience. With both the English and Irish language showcased, myself and the CBI Book of the Year Awards judges were enthused to encounter so many books dealing with a range of diverse experiences.”

Children’s Books Ireland (CBI), which administers the awards, will again be working closely with reading groups from schools, libraries and bookshops across Ireland. These young readers will choose the winner of the Children’s Choice Award. Five other awards will be made in May also –The Book of the Year Award, Honour Awards for Fiction and Illustration, the Eilís Dillon award for a first children’s book and the Judges’ Special Award.

Elaina Ryan, Director at CBI said: “Making books a part of every children’s life is key to what we do at Children’s Books Ireland. With the ten books on this year’s shortlist, CBI is honoured to be able to highlight the very best that Irish authors, illustrators and publishers have to offer, truly world-class books. We know that this shortlist will encourage children and young people around the country to engage with books they will love to read.”

This year’s shortlist contains one title from a former CBI Book of the Year Award winner, Chris Haughton whose A Bit Lost took the overall prize in 2011. Three authors are new to the CBI Book of the Year Awards shortlist: Louise O’Neill for Only Ever Yours, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald for The Apple Tart of Hope and Brian Conaghan for When Mr. Dog Bites.

A summary of each shortlisted title follows:

WHEN MR DOG BITES by Brian Conaghan

Publisher: Bloomsbury (London)

ISBN: 978-1408842539 (HBK)


Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. For Dylan, life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that escapes whenever he gets stressed. And, as a sixteen-year-old virgin and pupil at Drumhill Special School, getting stressed is something of an occupational hazard. But then a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he’s going to die next March. So he grants himself three parting wishes: three ‘Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It’. It isn’t a long list, but it is ambitious, and he doesn’t have much time. But as Dylan sets out to make his wishes come true, he discovers that nothing – and no one – is quite as he had previously supposed.

Judges’ Comments

Dylan Mint is a sixteen-year-old living with Tourette’s Sydrome. This coming of age story is by turns touching, hilarious and innovative in its use of language. Conghan writes with a finely tuned ear to the true ways in which teenagers communicate. The book delivers some excellent talking points for teenagers and young adults around the nature of masculinity, friendship, family and love.

APPLE AND RAIN by Sarah Crossan

Publisher: Bloomsbury (London)

ISBN: 978-1408827130 (PBK)


When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels whole again. She will have an answer to her burning question – why did you go? And she will have someone who understands what it means to be a teenager – unlike Nana. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bitter sweet, and Apple wonders who is really looking after whom. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is, that she begins to see things as they really are.

Judges’ Comments

Sarah Crossan’s insightful, thoughtful, heartfelt poetry is juxtaposed against prose that is stark by contrast. Both poetry and prose work together to paint a vivid picture of a teenage girl coping with the loss of and subsequent reunion with an absent, occasionally untrustworthy mother. This first-person narrative completely captures Apple’s pain and anger, bewilderment and confusion. There is much to discuss and to explore, touching on themes of immigration, prejudice, love, family and coming of age.

SHH! WE HAVE A PLAN by Chris Haughton

Publisher: Walker Books (London)

ISBN: 978-1406342321 (HBK)


Four friends, three big and one little, are out for a walk. Suddenly, they spot it – a beautiful bird perched high in a tree! They simply MUST have it and – SHH! – they have a PLAN. So they tip-toe, tip-toe very slowly, nets poised – “Ready one … ready two … ready three … GO!” But, at the turn of the page, we find a ridiculous bunch of very tangled characters and a blissfully oblivious bird, flying away. One hilarious foiled plan after another and it’s clear that this goofy trio CANNOT catch that elusive birdie! But the littlest of this group, a quiet spectator up until now, knows that a bit of kindness and sweetness can go a lot further than any elaborate scam. Will his three friends follow his gentle lead or will they get themselves into even more trouble?

Judges’ Comments

Three determined but incompetent baddies and a whole world of humour in a story that is perfectly paced and revealed visually with the minimum of words through vibrant, carefully chosen colours and inventive collage. A perfect picturebook that provides space for the reader to make predictions, to draw inferences, to activate prior knowledge, to discuss, appreciate and really enjoy the expressive (and impressive) artwork. Every art-room, every classroom, every home should have multiple copies.


Publisher: HarperCollins (London)

ISBN: 978-0007514274 (HBK)


The letters of our alphabet work tirelessly to make words that in turn make stories, but what if there was a story FOR each of the letters instead? Turn the pages of this exquisite book to find out… Here you will discover twenty-six short stories introducing a host of new characters (plus the occasional familiar face). From Edmund the astronaut with his awkward fear of heights, via the dynamic new investigative duo of the Owl and the Octopus, through to the Zeppelin that just might get Edmund a little bit closer to where he needs to be, this book is packed with funny, thrilling, perilous and above all entertaining tales inspired by every letter in the alphabet.

Judges’ Comments

Every school, every home, every person should have at least one copy, as this is a book that bears repeated readings. Each letter of the alphabet is introduced with its own story, that weave in and out of one another asking the reader to make connections and cross-references. Although this is an alphabet book, the cleverly constructed stories and quirky line drawings make this the perfect read for children of all ages.

THE APPLE TART OF HOPE by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Publisher: Orion (London)

ISBN: 978-1444006926 (HBK)


The best baker in the world, Oscar Dunleavy, is missing. Everyone presumes he is dead but no one seems too surprised. Only Meg, his best friend, and his little brother Stevie are shocked. Surrounded by grief and confusion, Meg and Stevie are determined to find out what happened to Oscar, and together they learn about loyalty and friendship and the power of never giving up hope.

Judges’ Comments:

Twenty chapters make up twenty ‘slices’ of a deep-filled apple tart: the interwoven and beautifully written alternating narratives of Meg and of her best friend Oscar. He is missing, presumed dead by his own hand. The sliver or two of magic realism adds piquancy to the story, gradually revealed, of how sustained bullying combines with insecurity and poor communication skills to (almost) destroy even the most popular of students.

DAIDEO by Áine Ní Ghlinn

Publisher: Cois Life (Dublin)

ISBN: 978-1907494420 (PBK)


Buachaill ar a theitheadh óna thuismitheoirí. Seanduine ar a theitheadh óna pháistí. Castar ar a chéile iad ar an traein go Baile Átha Cliath. Éisteann siad le scéalta a cheile. Tuigeann siad a chéile. Cén toradh a bheidh ar an gcairdeas nua seo?

Judges’ Comments

Gearrscéal fada nó úrscéal gearr? Is cuma – is scéal fíor-chliste so-léite í a gheobhaidh greim docht agus a rachaidh i bhfeidhm ar léitheoirí d’achan aois. Agus iad ag éisteacht le scéalta a chéile ar thraein go BÁC, fásann gaol idir seanfhear agus gasúr óg (12) atá ag éalú óna thuistí. Cuireann rithim na rothaí ar ár suaimhneas muid agus ní bhraitheann muid i gceart an teannas agus agus dorchadas ag bagairt. Gaeilge den scoth, do dhaltaí meánscoile sa 1ú/2ú bhliain.

ONLY EVER YOURS by Louise O’Neill

Publisher: Quercus (London)

ISBN: 978-1848664159 (PBK)


The Handmaid’s Tale meets Mean Girls in this bold and original debut. In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim. Best friends freida and isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year. But as the intensity of final year takes hold, isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known…

Judges’ Comments

A powerful debut novel set in a dystopian future which reflects many of the most worrying issues in our own world. The novel gives a terrifying insight into a dark and unsettling world where young women are powerless in choosing the direction of their own lives, where their self-worth depends on their diet and their wardrobe and whether they are chosen to be a wife. Suitable for older teenagers, this novel highlights the inequalities and double standards of our own society, making it a thought -provoking read for both girls and boys.

HAIKU MÁS É DO THOIL É! by Gabriel Rosenstock illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald

Publisher: An Gúm (Dublin)

ISBN: 978-1857918229 (PBK)


Gheobhaidh tú freagra na ceiste sin, chomh maith le mórán ceisteanna eile faoin haiku, sa saothar spraíúil seo le Gabriel Rosenstock. Ar an aos óg atá an saothar seo dírithe ach bainfidh idir óg agus aosta sult as an léargas a thugtar ann ar dhomhan iontach an haiku.

Judges’ Comments

Saothar fíor-shuimiúil, fileata é seo. Éiríonn leis an údar (agus is file é féin) an léitheoir a mhealladh gan aon stró i saol agus filíocht haiku ón 18ú aois sa tSeapáin go dtí an lá atá inniu ann. Ní fada go mbeidh an léitheoir faoi gheasa ag draíocht an fhile, í/é beo i saol liteartha aoibhinn álainn, ag féachaint ar an dúlra agus ag smaoineamh faoi, agus sleachta Haiku ag rith go tréan lei/leis.

PRIMPERFECT by Deirdre Sullivan

Publisher: Little Island (Dublin)

ISBN: 978-1908195906 (PBK)


No, don’t DO it! Prim’s alive (though the dashing Roderick is, alas, no more). She’s sixteen. She’s trying to make sense of her mum’s diaries. She is trying desperately to make Joel be friends with her again, but he’s all friends with Karen (aka the devil) now, and Prim’s found a boy called Robb-with-two-bees, and then there’s Steve the Goblin, and her dad’s getting together with you’ll-never-guess-who, and as for what’s going on with Ciara and Syzmon … Everything’s a little imperfect.

Judges’ Comments

Life, death, and everything in between. Young people reading the final instalment in the diaries of Primrose Leary (and, in this book, of her mother) will wish more final instalments were as insightful, as honest, as touching, and as laugh-out-loud funny. Few writers deal so sensitively, so convincingly and so intelligently with the ups and downs, hopes and disappointments – the realities – of young adulthood. Read these diaries – laugh, and weep.

BEYOND THE STARS compiled by Sarah Webb

Publisher: HarperCollins (London)

ISBN: 978-0007578467 (HBK)


Beyond the Stars features twelve tales of adventure, magic and wonder, written by some of the most outstanding talents in children’s fiction today, including John Boyne, Eoin Colfer, Judi Curtin, Roddy Doyle and Derek Landy, with stunning illustrations from the likes of Chris Haughton, Chris Judge, P.J. Lynch and Niamh Sharkey.

Judges’ Comments

A beautiful collection of twelve proper short stories, no textbook excerpts here! There is a great freshness and variety to the stories and the illustrations, donated by twenty-three of Ireland’s best and best-loved authors and illustrators to raise funds for Fighting Words, the creative writing centre in Dublin where so many young people have written and illustrated their own stories. The stories range in subject from dogs in space, to invisible cats and ancient warriors, most suitable for the 8-12 age group. The anthology includes a story from competition winner Emma Brade, age 14, who will surely be an inspiration to young students with ambitions of writing and publicationhttps://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif.