Always creative, Wakefield only started writing in earnest 10 years ago at the age of 40. University was never an option. She failed her last school year “spectacularly”. “I think I’m one of the wild races … I graduated from reading thousands of books and even then I didn’t feel safe becoming a writer.”
She loves the award and remembers choosing books in the library as a kid with a glossy sticker on them, assuming it was a good book.
Founded in 1946, the CBCA Book of the Year Awards are the longest running and one of the most prestigious literary awards in Australia. This year’s winners were selected from a record 517 entries in six categories.
Harry was born in Melbourne and lives in Singapore. He is a former lifesaver and open water swimmer. The inspiration for her book came after a swim on the beach while spying on a group of school kids who were completely in love and clearly visiting for the first time.
Writing in verse wasn’t a conscious choice, it was just the way the words came to her. She says it’s a great way to tell stories. “You have to be very precise in your choice of words and get to the heart of your ideas,” she says. “It feels like a simple book to read, but it was quite complicated to edit.”
Said Harry The little wave has been described as the gateway to verse novels for children, which inspires them. It’s a “calm verse novel with soft themes about overcoming adversity,” she says. “Maybe children need books like this this year.”
The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week runs from October 17-23.
BOOK OF THE YEAR, ELDERLY READERS: Vikki Wakefield, So we change the ending
Honor books: CG Drews, The boy who steals houses;; Lisa Fuller, Ghost bird
Honor books: Emily Rodda (illustration by Marc McBride),The shine; Edwina Wyatt (illustration by Katherine Quinn), The secrets of the magnolia moon
BOOK OF THE YEAR, EARLY CHILDHOOD: Frances Watts (illustration by A. Yi), My friend fred
Honor books: Kirsty Murray (illustration by Karen Blair), When Billy was a dog; Margaret Wild (illustration by Ann James), Goodbye house, hello house
PICTURE BOOK OF THE AWARD: Chris McKimmie, I need a parrot
EVE POWNALL AWARD: Bruce Pascoe, Young Dark Emu: A True Story
Honor books: Sami Bayly, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ugly Animals;; Aunt Joy Murphy and Andrew Kelly (illustration by Lisa Kennedy), Wilam: A Birrarung story
CBCA AWARD FOR NEW ILLUSTRATOR: Jasmine Seymour, Baby Business
Kerrie is a senior cultural writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald
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