Belfast author makes history by winning three gongs at Children's Book Ireland awards

Author Kelly McCaughrain with schoolchildren from Dublin at Smock Alley Theatre after winning the CBI Book of the Year Award today. Pic: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Author Kelly McCaughrain has won the prestigious Children's Book Ireland (CBI) Book of the Year Award with Flying Tips for Flightless Birds.

The Belfast author made a little bit of history at the awards ceremony in Dublin when, for the first time in the 29-year history CBI Book of the Year Awards, she also won in two other categories, the Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book and the Children’s Choice Award.

The winning book - Flying Tips for Flightless Birds - was described by one of the judges as a "warm and funny story of adolescence" which explores "family, friendship and first love with an authenticity that is both engaging and emotionally satisfying".

"Through the eyes of the two main characters – one through very clever use of a blog – we learn the pros and cons of being different and of managing life in the margins," said the judge.

Students from Synge Street CBS presented Ms McCaughrain with her third award of the afternoon, the Children’s Choice Award. Voted for by young readers from all over the island of Ireland, the winner is chosen by shadowing groups who read the shortlisted books and score them in the same way as the adult judging panel.

Director of CBI Elaina Ryan praised Ms McCaughrain's "unprecedented" win.

"This was a shortlist packed with debuts, and today’s winners represent a new wave of artists whose work is truly extraordinary," she said.

"Kelly McCaughrain’s achievement in winning three awards is unprecedented, and we feel especially validated that our adult judging panel chose the same overall winner as the Children’s Choice, which was voted for by over 260 groups of children and young people all over the island of Ireland."

Chair of the judging panel Áine Ní Ghlinn said the awards showcase the best of Irish literature for young people.

"The 2019 Book of the Year awards showcase the absolute best in Irish literature for young people. This year’s jury read and re-read more than 80 books in both Irish and English and finally selected the ten books that achieved the highest level of literary excellence."

"The panel included authors, illustrators, teachers, students and academics and brought together a wealth of experience and expertise in all aspects of children’s literature. My sincere thanks to all of them for their time, passion and wisdom and my congratulations to all who made it to the shortlist," she said.

    Other awards included:

  • Honour Award for Fiction: Brian Conaghan for The Weight of a Thousand Feathers
  • Honour Award for Illustration: Aga Grandowicz for Dr Hibernica Finch’s Compelling Compendium of Irish Animals
  • Judges’ Special Award: Joanna Donnelly and Fuchsia MacAree for The Great Irish Weather Book.

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