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Queensland Literary Awards 2023 Shortlist

Congratulations to all!

Children’s Book Award 2023 shortlist

Cover of The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon - it is blue and grey with an illustrated skinny dog looking into the distanceThe Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon (University of Queensland Press)

Judges’ comments: A mistreated puppy’s attempt to reconnect with his ‘ManPup’ becomes an odyssey of tragedy, hope, and love. Told in visceral poetry and illustration, this intensely focused narrative, sprinkled with portmanteau words and neologisms, showcases Fraillon’s control of voice, language, and technique to reveal one dog’s experience of our challenging world.



Cover of Jigsaw: A puzzle in the post by Bob GrahamJigsaw: A Puzzle in the Post by Bob Graham (Walker Books)

Judges’ comments: When an unexpected puzzle arrives in the post, the Kelly family dedicate time, perseverance, and hope to conquer the seemingly insurmountable problem of the lost piece. This multilayered and magical masterpiece in prose and pictures captures how past and present pieces join to complete a family’s life.



Cover of My Deadly Boots written by Hakea Hustler and Carl Merrison and illustrated by Samantha CampbellMy Deadly Boots written by Hakea Hustler and Carl Merrison and illustrated by Samantha Campbell (Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette Australia)

Judges’ comments:  A boy’s new deadly boots walk him everywhere; they are a symbol of pride, power and wonder. Inventive, energetic, and lyrical language leaves an indelible impression in this thematically hard-hitting and emotionally driven narrative. It reveals, with richly coloured illustrations, a strong sense of identity – with or without your boots.


Cover of Waiting for the Storks by Katrina NannestadWaiting for the Storks by Katrina Nannestad (ABC Books: An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Judges’ comments: Sofia is a patriotic German girl adored by her Vati and Mutti. But she also used to be Zofia, until she was stolen from her Polish family by the Nazis. Through a child’s innocent voice, Nannestad deftly balances humour and pathos against the psychological atrocities of war in this sublimely crafted novel of identity erasure, indoctrination, and survival.



Cover of Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon by Gabrielle Wang showing an illustration of a little girl gazing up at a moonZadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon by Gabrielle Wang (Penguin Random House Australia)

Judges’ comments: When eleven-year-old Zadie Ma discovers the stories she writes come true, she conjures her dream dog to bring love, joy and hope back to her family. Set in post-war Melbourne, this beautiful, nested story blends illustration, prose and magical realism in a delicately crafted ode to human resilience across generations and cultures.


Griffith University Young Adult Book Award 2023 shortlist

Cover of The Quiet and the Loud by Helena FoxThe Quiet and the Loud by Helena Fox (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Judges’ comments: The Quiet and the Loud is a poetic, moving, stylistically accomplished exploration of the triumphs and traumas of young adulthood. The novel sings with a very strong sense of place. The depictions of friendships, families, and relationships are complex and nuanced, showcasing the richness of contemporary life, love, and learning.




Cover of Completely Normal (and Other Lies) by Biffy James which is red and pink with two illustrations of women and plants over their facesCompletely Normal (and Other Lies) by Biffy James (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing)

Judges’ comments: Structurally sophisticated, Completely Normal (and Other Lies) explores grief and trauma through a young woman constantly claiming, ‘I’m fine’ when it’s clear she’s not. Stella’s journey to self-acceptance and worth reaffirms the value of quality therapy for young people, exposed and vulnerable to the impact of an all-consuming digital world.



Cover of Unnecessary Drama by Nina KenwoodUnnecessary Drama by Nina Kenwood (Text Publishing)

Judges’ comments: Hilarious and warm, this novel skilfully examines post-school teen experiences such as house sharing, first-year university and forming new friendships, alongside a layered and sensitive exploration of anxiety. With witty dialogue and prose that flows effortlessly, the novel perfectly captures the joy and the isolation of navigating early adulthood.



Cover of If You Could See the Sun by Ann LiangIf You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang (HQ Young Adult: An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Judges’ comments: Deftly navigating a unique twist on the contemporary genre, this ambitious and darkly funny novel makes great use of symbolism, metaphor, and motifs to explore themes such as class and identity. A strong sense of place, engaging narrative voice, melodic prose, and complex characterisation combine to create a compelling story.



Cover of My Spare Heart by Jared ThomasMy Spare Heart by Jared Thomas (Allen & Unwin)

Judges’ comments: In an engaging, contemporary narrative voice My Spare Heart deftly balances the capability of the strong female protagonist with the vulnerability of adolescence. With effectively lean prose, the novel subverts stereotypes and highlights the importance of culture, Country, and community, while age-appropriately navigating themes of friendship, separation, consent, and alcoholism.

Congratulations to the finalists!

Queensland Literary Awards 2023

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