10 titles shortlisted for 2023 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards

8th February, 2023

A magical retelling of Cinderella as Gaeilge; wild and wonderous stories of adventure; tales of seeking asylum and Direct Provision; unsung stories of Ireland's mythical goddesses reimagined; and a gripping mystery which brings together two girls from opposite sides of Northern Ireland's political divide. These are among the picture books, short story collections and young adult novels shortlisted for the 2023 KPMG Children's Books Ireland Awards, which were announced today (08.02.23) by RTÉ broadcaster Rick O’Shea at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast.

Selection of of picture books, short story collections and young adult novels shortlisted for the 2023 KPMG Children's Books Ireland Awards

This year's shortlist, which includes four debut authors, will compete for the KPMG Children's Books Ireland Book of the Year and five other awards, including honours for fiction, illustration and a Junior Juries' Award which will be decided by young readers from across the country. A total prize fund of €16,000 will be awarded to this year's winners, who will be announced at a special ceremony at the International Literature Festival Dublin on Wednesday, 24th May.

The Shortlist

Among the shortlisted titles for younger readers are:

An Slipéar Gloine, an Irish language retelling of the famous Cinderella fairytale, written by debut children’s author Fearghas Mac Lochlainn and illustrated by Paddy Donnelly (Futa Fata).

The Boy Who Lost His Spark, an atmospheric long-form picture book, written by award-winning author Maggie O'Farrell, and illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Tarrazzini (Walker Books).

One & Everything, a thought-provoking celebration of stories and written languages, written and illustrated by Sam Winston (Walker Books).

Be Wild, Little One, an uplifting picture book which explores the beauty of nature, written by debut author Olivia Hope and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

The Wilderness, a colourful adventure tale of bravery and friendship, written and illustrated by Steve McCarthy (Walker Books).

For readers aged nine and up, the shortlist includes:

Girls Who Slay Monsters, a collection putting strong female characters back at the heart of Ireland's ancient myths and legends, written by debut author Ellen Ryan, illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald (HarperCollins Ireland).

Run for your Life, a moving and empathetic telling of a young girl's experience of seeking asylum in Ireland, written by Jane Mitchell (Little Island Books).

The Lost Girl King, a sophisticated fantasy tale which puts a twist on the myths of Tír na nÓg, written by Catherine Doyle (Bloomsbury Children's Books).

The Book of Secrets, a unique supernatural page-turner drawing on traditional Irish folklore, from debut author Alex Dunne (The O'Brien Press).

Truth Be Told, a young adult novel which explores family secrets, religious differences and suppressed sexuality, written by Derry-based writer and peace-worker, Sue Divin (Macmillan Children's Books).

Founded in 1990 and sponsored since 2020 by KPMG Ireland, the KPMG Children's Books Ireland Awards are recognised as the most prestigious awards for children's books in Ireland, celebrating the best of Irish writing and illustration for young people.

Children's Books Ireland, the national charity and arts organisation which administers the awards, has assembled an independent panel of expert judges for the 2023 Awards, including a Young Judge, aged 15+, and a network of Junior Jurors nationwide.

Speaking at the announcement of the 2023 shortlist, Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said: ‘Year after year, we are blown away by the incredible talent in Irish children’s writing and illustration, and this year’s shortlist raises the bar yet again. The shortlisted books announced today represent voices from across the island of Ireland, drawing on some of our most ancient myths and legends and the diverse experiences of children and young people today. We’re delighted that our Junior Juries will have such a rich tapestry of Irish writing and illustration to dig into!’

Seamus Hand, Managing Partner of KPMG Ireland, said: ‘We’re delighted to once again support these awards and to help promote the benefits and enjoyment children gain from reading from an early age. The quality of the shortlisted nominees is fantastic and it highlights the great writing and illustration talent that we’re so fortunate to have here in Ireland.’

The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards and Junior Juries programme are supported by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Funding.

Damian Smyth, joint Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: ‘We are lucky to have a wealth of hugely talented writers and illustrators here on the island of Ireland. These awards recognise some of the most outstanding books of the last year – the picture books, stories and novels that have captured the hearts and imaginations of young readers. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to be associated with these important awards and offer our congratulations to all those who have made this year’s shortlist.’