KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2021: Meet the Judges

Children’s Books Ireland was delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2021 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards on 9 March. The shortlist showcases excellence in writing and illustration for children and young people, and presents an impressive and powerful picture of the status of contemporary Irish children’s literature. To arrive at this year’s shortlist, the judging panel read a total of ninety-nine books by authors and illustrators who are Irish by birth, residency or citizenship, and deliberated via Zoom over the course of six months. The judging process is shaped by rigorous debate and guided by the over-arching criterion of excellence. We would like to sincerely thank the eleven-strong panel – which brings together expertise from librarianship, academia, publishing, bookselling, and includes an author-illustrator and a young judge. Find out more about the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2021 judges below:

The Chair of this year’s judging panel, Pádraic Whyte is associate professor of English and the current director of the Children’s Literature MPhil programme at the School of English at Trinity College Dublin. He is co-editor of Children’s Literature Collections: Approaches to Research (Palgrave, 2017) which won the International Research Society for Children’s Literature Edited Book Award, 2019. Pádraic was co-recipient of a major Irish Research Council/Government of Ireland research grant to establish the National Collection of Children’s Books (NCCB) project. The NCCB catalogue and database can be found at He lectures on a range of topics at undergraduate and postgraduate level including Irish literature and theatre, gender and sexualities, critical approaches to children’s literature (which includes Young Adult literature), boyhood and children’s literature, and agency and empowerment in literature for young adults.

Sarah Fitzgerald is a seventeen-year-old bookworm and reading ambassador. She has done lots of work on promoting reading in Ireland through literary research and through her role as a Cruinniú na nÓg and Irish Book Week ambassador. Her website is used to keep people updated on her work. 

D’oibrigh an Dr Finín Ó Séaghdha mar léachtóir i gColáiste Oideachais Eaglais na hÉireann.  Faoi láthair is Comhalta Taighde Cuairte é i gColáiste na Tríonóide. Iar-uachtarán de chuid Cumann Litearthachta na hÉireann is ea é agus is stiúrthóir agus teagascóir é ag Ionad Oideachais Pobail d’Aosaigh Warrenmount.

Dr Finian O’ Shea lectured in education at Church of Ireland College and is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at Trinity College. He is a past-president and honorary lifetime member of The Literacy Association of Ireland.  He works a volunteer EAL and adult literacy tutor at Warrenmount Adult Community Education Centre.

Mary Roche PhD is author of the award-winning Developing Children’s Critical Thinking through Picturebooks (Routledge 2015) which is now a feature of the National Primary Language Curriculum. A former teacher, Mary lectured in teacher education, both primary and post-primary, and is now a tutor in the School of Education, University College Cork. An education consultant and school adviser, she is a co-convenor of Network Educational Action Research Ireland (NEARI) and co-author of several books on action research. You can follow Mary on Twitter @marygtroche.

Dr Sinéad Moriarty is a Teaching Fellow in Children’s Literature at Trinity College Dublin. She received her MA and PhD at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature in the University of Roehampton. Her work focuses on representations of wilderness, landscape, and environment in children’s literature. She was a founding editor of Roundtable a postgraduate journal of English and Creative Writing at University of Roehampton. She has published on topics including mapping in literature for children, twentieth century Robinsonades, and food in ‘Heroic Era’ Antarctic children’s books. Her first monograph Antarctica in British Children’s Literature will be published by Routledge in 2020. 

Is leabharlannaí meánscoile agus aistritheoir í Siobhán McNamara. Bhí sí ina heagarthóir Gaeilge le hInis ó 2014 go 2020.

Siobhán McNamara is school librarian in Gonzaga College SJ and a former committee member of the School Library Association in the Republic of Ireland. She also translates from Russian to English and Irish. She was Irish-language editor for Inis from 2014–2020. Siobhán has been a devoted bookworm for as long as she can remember and she loves books because they transport you to faraway times and places and help you understand other people’s lives and minds. When she’s not reading she can be found cycling, knitting, or admiring flowers and trees. 

Siobhán Callaghan is a PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin. Her project is funded by the Irish Research Council and examines representations of childhood displacement in contemporary historical fiction for children set during the Second World War. She is a member of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature and is a reviewer for Children’s Books Ireland and RTÉ Radio One’s Arena. 

Conallach ó dhúchas é Joe Kelly atá ag obair mar leabharlannaí meánscoile i mBaile Munna. Déanann sé iarracht an léitheoireacht ar son pléisiúir agus an scríbhneoireacht chruthaitheach a chur chun cinn.

Originally from Donegal, Joe Kelly is JCSP Librarian in Trinity Comprehensive Ballymun where he tries to encourage creative writing and develop a culture of reading for pleasure. 

Sue Miller is currently Education Librarian in Dublin City University Library. She is active in children’s literature bibliography and collection development and has a particular research interest in teaching and learning with children’s literature in the classroom.

Céimí Gaeilge de chuid University College Dublin is ea Gráinne Ní Mhuilneoir.  Chaith sí seal ag obair i bhfoilsitheoireacht sa Ghaeilge (ar leabhair do dhaoine óga agus do dhaoine fásta). Anois, tá sí mar bhainisteoir ar An Siopa Leabhar, atá lonnaithe ar Shráid Fhearchair agus a phléann go speisialta le leabhair Ghaeilge.

Gráinne Ní Mhuilneoir has worked in Irish-language publishing for children and adults. She is currently the manager of An Siopa Leabhar, the independent Irish-language bookshop based on Harcourt Street in Dublin. 

Author and illustrator James Mayhew has been creating books for children for over thirty years, including the best-selling Ella Bella and Katie series. He loves experimenting with different illustration techniques and finding just the right approach for each new project. Alongside his work in publishing, James works with a variety of orchestras and musicians, presenting concerts that combine music and art, created live on stage, including the Royal Albert Hall. His collaborators include the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, illustrating classics like The Firebird. He lives in Suffolk, where the skies and light are perfect for artists.