Inis Magazine Reviews the CBI Book of the Year Award shortlist

The CBI Book of the Year Award shortlist is here!

At last, the CBI Book of the Year Award shortlist has been announced: 9 titles showcasing the excellence of Irish writing and illustration. 9 titles to surprise, delight and perhaps shock. At any rate, 9 titles to be excited about, if only as you wait for the final reveal in May.

In the meantime, here are the thoughts of our reviewers (not the judges’!) on each of the shortlisted books. Surprise, delight and shock indeed… (click on the link for the full review). What do you think?


The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

Boyne’s serious central theme is the evil of bullying and the difficulty for the bullied child to avoid capitulation by becoming a bully himself. I would question whether this laudable aim might be not better served in a less obvious iconic context. Swastikas, jackboots and Nazi uniforms risk triggering preconditioned reader responses. (Review by Celia Keenan)


Irelandopedia by John and Fatti Burke

This is one for all the family to enjoy. Whether it evokes nostalgia, inspires a new appreciation of this special island, or prompts many a family trip, this is certainly a book to treasure. (Review by Emily Daly)


Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers

Heart-warming, entertaining, visually engaging and beautifully printed, Colfer’s words and Jeffers’ illustrations are a perfect match. The graceful marriage between text and image, story and character and humour and philosophy make this picturebook very special indeed – everyone must read it! (Review by Olivia Lally)


One by Sarah Crossan

Following in the footsteps of The Weight of Water and Apple and Rain, Sarah Crossan’s latest title for older readers, One, is just as insightful, impactful and inspiring. (Review by Síne Quinn)


The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde

This gripping story has the dark atmosphere of books such as the Hunger Games series, and ends on an intriguing note that might promise a sequel. And that would be another fine thing. (Review by Catherine Ann Cullen)


The Day the Crayons Came Back by Oliver Jeffers and Drew Daywalt

Equally strong as a stand-alone title or a sequel, it is a masterwork of design and humour, bigger and bolder than its predecessor. (Review by Olivia Lally)


Gulliver written by Jonathan Swift, retold by Mary Webb, illustrated by Lauren O’Neill

Lauren O’Neill’s incredible artwork is so gloriously vivid in colour, her page design so exquisitely staged and her characters so full of wit and personality they practically leap from the page. And each element combines meticulously to breathe new life into Swift’s epic tale and magical storytelling. (Review by Ciara Houlihan)


Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

In a climate where rape features regularly in TV shows as a titillating plot point with no lasting harmful effects this book starkly illustrates how rape ruins lives. Harrowing and unremittingly bleak, Asking For It makes for difficult reading. (Review by Bridgeen Gillespie)


Ná Gabh Ar Scoil by Máire Zeph & Tarsila Krüse

Is iontach gleoite an tslí ina léiríonn an t-údar buairt agus briseadh-chroí na máthar agus í ag fágáil slán lena pháiste. … Cuireann léaráidí breátha Kruse go mór le greann agus le gliondar an scéil, mar gan dabht ar bith cuirfidh an leabhar seo idir thuismitheoirí agus páistí ag gáire. Ní chreidfidh páistí cé chomh seafóideach is atá an mháthair, agus ní chreidfidh na tuismitheoirí cé chomh cliste is ata an t-údar. (Review by Enda McKenna)