Shortlist for the 2022 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards

9th March, 2022

The titles competing for this year’s KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards have been revealed today, Wednesday 9th March. The extraordinary diversity of topics explored in the ten shortlisted titles incudes monkeys and mangoes; a heist; a haunted house; a tale of the Titanic rescue; folk legend retellings from Ireland and from Russia; a coming of age verse novel dealing with chronic illness; a story of first love, and a witty yet hard hitting tale of a mother’s alcoholism. The selection comprises a spread of books for young readers of all ages – from picturebooks to young adult novels.

Selection of book covers shortlisted for the 2022 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards.
Shortlist for the 2022 Children's Books Ireland Awards

Founded in 1990, the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards are the most prestigious awards for children’s books in Ireland and celebrate Irish writing and illustration for young people. The ten shortlisted titles will compete for a total of six awards. The winners will be announced by book-loving broadcaster Rick O’Shea, at an online ceremony on 24th May as part of International Literature Festival Dublin.

The shortlisted titles are:

Cluasa Capaill ar an Rí written by Bridget Bhreathnach and illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald

Not My Problem written by Ciara Smyth

The Summer I Robbed a Bank written by David O’Doherty and illustrated by Chris Judge

There’s a Ghost in this House written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Rescuing Titanic: A True Story of Quiet Bravery in the North Atlantic written and illustrated by Flora Delargy

The Henna Wars written by Adiba Jaigirdar

Frindleswylde written by Natalia O’Hara and illustrated by Lauren O’Hara

Gut Feelings written by C.G. Moore and illustrated by Becky Chilcott

The Shadows of Rookhaven written by Pádraig Kenny and illustrated by Edward Bettison

Maybe … written and illustrated by Chris Haughton

For the youngest readers, Maybe … by Chris Haughton tells a humorous tale of three playful monkeys pushing boundaries in order to enjoy some delicious mangoes. There’s a Ghost in this House, by picturebook creator Oliver Jeffers, takes readers age 4+ on a journey through a house that might be haunted … Cluasa Capaill ar an Rí written by Bridget Bhreathnach and illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald retells an ancient folk tale.

Frindleswylde by sisters Natalia O’Hara and Lauren O’Hara takes us on a wintry adventure. Rescuing Titanic tells the story of the RMS Carpathia and its role in rescuing passengers from the ill-fated Titanic. The Summer I Robbed a Bank written by David O’Doherty and illustrated by Chris Judge is a fresh and fun heist story. The Shadows of Rookhaven is the second in the series from author Pádraig Kenny and illustrator Edward Bettison, last year’s winner of the Honour Award for Fiction.

Three Young Adult novels are also included in this year’s shortlist. Gut Feelings written by C.G. Moore and illustrated by Becky Chilcott is a coming-of-age story, dealing with chronic illness and sexuality. The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar follows Irish-Bangladeshi teenager Nishat as she navigates first love. Not My Problem is the second novel from Ciara Smyth who won the Junior Juries’ Award in 2021.

As in previous years, Children’s Books Ireland, the national charity and arts organisation that administers the awards, will be working closely with ‘Junior Juries’ – groups of children and young people who will read and judge the shortlisted titles. The Juries scores decide the winner of the Junior Juries’ Award, giving children a meaningful way to participate in the awards and make their voices heard. The awards judging panel also included a ‘Young Judge’, Clíodhna Jackson, who read and adjudicated alongside her adult counterparts.

Judges Chair Pádraic Whyte said:

‘These awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the excellence of recent Irish children’s literature. In a market that can often seem over-crowded, particularly given the dominance of texts from the UK and the US, this is a chance to showcase the brilliant talents of Irish writers and illustrators and to highlight the world-class nature of these shortlisted books. Congratulations to all the amazing illustrators and writers who have been shortlisted today!’

In total, six awards will be made: The Book of the Year Award, The Honour Awards for Fiction and Illustration, the Judges’ Special Award, the Junior Juries’ Award, and the Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book, named in honour of the revered Irish children’s author Eilís Dillon.

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said:

‘Each year we take huge pride in announcing the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards shortlist and surveying the landscape of children’s publishing in Ireland. This year is no exception, with such talent, humour, innovation and empathy shown across the age ranges and in both languages. Children’s writers and illustrators in Ireland are second to none and we have no doubt that our Junior Juries will thoroughly enjoy reading this year’s shortlisted titles.’

Seamus Hand, Managing Partner, KPMG Ireland, said:

‘We are really delighted to be associated with the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards. They reflect the great importance of literacy, the value in instilling a love of reading at an early age and the huge depth of talented writers and illustrators we are so fortunate to have in Ireland. This talent and the quality of our shortlist will clearly pose a real challenge for our judging panel. Best wishes to everyone on our shortlist.’

Children’s Books Ireland are supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Funding.

Paul McVeigh, Acting Head of Literature 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 picturebooks, 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.’

The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards recognise excellence in writing and illustration in Irish or English and are open to books by authors and illustrators who were born in Ireland, are permanently resident in Ireland or are citizens of Ireland and which were published between 1st January and 31st December each year. Founded in 1990, the Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland. Each year a panel of judges read all of the books submitted by publishers, some one-hundred and thirty-nine titles in 2021, and a shortlist is announced in March at the Belfast Children’s Festival. The final awards ceremony takes place in May in partnership with the International Literature Festival Dublin. Previous winners include Oein DeBhairduin and Leanne McDonagh for Why The Moon Travels, Máire Zepf for Nóinín, Deirdre Sullivan and Karen Vaughan for Tangleweed and Brine and for Savage Her Reply, Chris Haughton for Goodnight Everyone, and former Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan for One.

The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards and Junior Juries programme are kindly supported by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Ecclesiastical Movement for Good Awards.