I have just finished reading the following article:

Challenges of choosing a short list of top books for Children’s Book Council of Australia awards

Children’s book award judge Michelle Prawer gives a good insight into the criteria for a book worthy of an award. This is very useful for any aspiring author like myself.

The book has to be outstanding to make the CBCA shortlist, and to do this it must have the following:

  • have a great story
  • be well crafted
  • characters must be well developed
  • it must do something clever and different

Many authors have been privileged enough to receive this award such as Mem Fox, Alison Lester, Shaun Tan, etc.

From the past 2 years of my journey as an aspiring children’s author I have picked up and learnt many other useful bits of information about the criteria of what a great picture book entails. Such as:

  • a title that gives you some idea of what the story is about
  • a great opening line
  • problem of the story must come in early in the story (somewhere in the first 2-3 pages)
  • main character/protagonist must solve the problem not the parent or adult
  • main character must try at least 3 times to solve the problem
  • some evidence of growth must be evident in the main character

Meanwhile the story must flow with pace and be original. If it isn’t an original theme then there must be a twist to make it different from the similar stories it can be comparable too. On top of this you must consider the illustrations. Don’t tell what is going on in the story if this can be illustrated. Save on the word count. The phrase that I keep hearing over and over again is: Show, don’t tell!


Obviously, it would be a dream come true to write a book that was considered good enough to be on the CBCA shortlist. So next week I am going to take some holiday time (with the kids on a campsite), away from the computer to focus on my manuscripts. Editing, redrafting, revisiting and taking some of my own advice to try and get a step closer to my dream!

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