‘Labour of love’ wins children’s book award

Author Deirdre Sullivan and illustrator Karen Vaughan have won the Children’s Book of the Year (CBI) Award with the fairytale Tangleweed and Brine.

Illustrator Karen Vaughan and author Deirdre Sullivan for 'Tangleweed and Brine'. Picture: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Now in their 28th year, the CBI Book of the Year Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland and celebrate excellence in children’s literature and illustration.

They are open to books written in English or Irish by authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland and published between January 1 and December 31 each year.

Previous winners include Sarah Crossan for One, John Boyne for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Sheena Wilkinson for Grounded, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick for Hagwitch and Oliver Jeffers for Once upon an Alphabet.

Praising this year’s winner, the judges described it as a “remarkable book” and “a significant and timely contribution to Irish young-adult literature and feminist literature for young people”.

“Deirdre Sullivan’s simultaneously rich, delicate and stark text is powerfully enhanced by Karen Vaughan’s haunting black and white illustrations.

“Combining the timeless allure of dark fantasy with subversive explorations of female embodiment and systems of women’s suffering and triumphs, this incisive, exquisite, collection promises an enthralling and unsettling experience,” said the judges.

Reacting to the win, Ms Sullivan said she was “overwhelmed and delighted” to have won the main award.

Tangleweed and Brine has been a labour of love, on myself and Karen’s parts, we have put a lot of our hearts and souls into it. I think it’s particularly meaningful and moving that the awards chose to focus on old stories made new in such a significant week, and fingers crossed for a more feminist Ireland.

Illustrator Karen Vaughan said she was “speechless, shocked and honoured, especially considering the company we’re in”.

During the ceremony in Smock Alley in Dublin, students from Kings Hospital presented Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan with the Children’s Choice Award for Moonrise.

Voted for by young readers from across the country, this award winner is chosen by shadowing groups who read and judged the 10 shortlisted titles and voted for their favourite.

This year the shadowing scheme was supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and UNESCO Dublin City of Literature.

Eoin Colfer’s ‘Illegal’: Special award; Kevin Waldron’s ‘Chocolate Cake’: Award for illustration; Sheena Wilkinson’s ‘Star by Star’: Honour award.

Chair of the judging panel, Dr Patricia Kennon said the awards continue to showcase the very best in Irish literature for young people and was to the fore in bringing exciting young writers to Irish audiences.

“Exploring and discussing the best of Irish children’s literature has been very rewarding and enjoyable, both professionally and personally,” she said.

“The jury panel inclusively draws together a wealth of expertise across different sectors in the children’s literature arena including booksellers, teachers, students, academics, authors, illustrators, teachers, and Irish-language specialists.

“This wide range of knowledge is a crucial aspect of the awards and I would like to thank the judges for their rigour, dedication, and respect for young readers.”

CBI acting director Jenny Murray said that across almost three decades the awards have cemented a long-established history of “showcasing the very best of what Irish authors, illustrators and publishers have to offer to the children and young readers in Ireland and further afield”.

The CBI Book of the Year Awards judges also made awards to the following:

  • Honour award for fiction: Sheena Wilkinson for Star by Star.
  • Honour award for illustration: Kevin Waldron for Chocolate Cake.
  • Judges’ Special Award: Eoin Colfer for Illegal.
  • Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book: Meg Grehan for The Space Between.


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