All of the winners of the Children’s Books Ireland Awards are women

The five women include writers and illustrators of verse novels and Irish language books.
All of the winners of the Children’s Books Ireland Awards are women
Maire Zepf
Maire Zepf

All of the winners of the Children’s Books Ireland Awards are women.

The five women include writers and illustrators of verse novels and Irish language books.

Máire Zepf, Northern Ireland's first Children's Writing Fellow, won the coveted Book of the Year Award for her verse novel, Nóinín.

She tells the dark story of the online grooming of a shy teenage girl who falls for a boy she meets online. When she goes to meet him she never returns.

The judges said it is a very modern and accessible tale of the dangers of social media.

Sarah Crossan
Sarah Crossan

Ireland's former Laureate na nÓg, Sarah Crossan, won the Honour Award for Fiction for her verse novel, Toffee.

Her book is about the relationship between a teenage girl, who has run away from her abusive father, and an elderly woman with dementia, who mistakes her for a close childhood friend.

The judges found that complex themes of identity, child and elder abuse, memory loss, loneliness and connection are explored with sensitivity, honesty, warmth and respect.

Ashling Lindsay won the Honour Award for Illlustration for her artwork in The Tide, written by Clare Helen Welsh.

The judges remarked on the exquisite illustrations in the book, a poignant portrayal of a young girl coming to an understanding of her grandfather's memory loss.

Kim Sharkey won the Ellís Dillon Award for her first children's book, Mór agus Muilc, two strange characters who are joined by others in a dance towards their doom.

The judges describe the retelling in picture and text of an unusual and dark tale as stylish, quirky and admirably faithful to the oral Irish tradition.

Kim Sharkey
Kim Sharkey

Meg Ryan received the Judges' Special Award for The Deepest Breath, a verse novel about a girl exploring emerging sexual identity, friendship and love.

The judges describe the verse novel as thoughtful, exquisitely gentle and heart-rendering.

The new Reading Hero Award was presented to Harry Darcy, 11, a young reader from Gorey, Co Wexford.

His best friend, Rossa Comerford, 11, nominated Harry for the award because Harry always had his head in a book no matter where he is.

Meg Grehan
Meg Grehan

Reading and rugby are Harry's two favourite things, and he has been known to do both together. He reads on the subs' bench at matches while waiting to take to the field and he could not resist dipping into a book at his birthday party.

Teachers, parents, guardians, relatives, friends and librarians were asked to nominate their reading hero.

The winners were announced by book-loving broadcaster, Rick O'Shea, and celebrated online for the first time in the award's 30 year history.

The annual awards, sponsored by KPMG, recognise excellence in writing and illustration in Irish or English and are open to books by authors and illustrators who are born in Ireland, are permanently resident in the state or are Irish citizens.

A panel of judges read 99 books submitted last year and a shortlist of 10 was announced in March.

    The winners:
  • Toffee by Sarah Crossan: the relationship between a runaway and an elderly woman with dementia
  • The Tide, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay:  a girl coming to an understanding of her grandfather’s memory loss
  • Mór agus Muilc, illustrated by Kim Sharkey: an unusual dark tale from oral Irish culture as told by John Óg Hiúdaí Neidí Ó Colla
  • The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan: an exploration of anxiety, emerging sexual identity, friendship and love
  • Nóinín by Máire Zepf: the online grooming of a girl and the aftermath of shocking crime from the perspective of her best friend

More in this section