On judging the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Clayton’s shortlist

Yep, it pays to take on challenges!

I’m talking about judging children’s books. I’ve never judged anything before – to put my head on the block as the Younger Reader judge for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Claytons Shortlist was always going to be a challenge.

For example, Younger Reader books can vary from picture books to novels. From 32 pages to 320!  Why did I leave the fat ones till last?!

If you have a quizzical look in your eyes about the term Claytons then you’re not alone. Many Australians and New Zealanders of a certain vintage remember the ubiquitous ad on TV and the radio where actor Jack Thompson starred. Here’s the funny blooper they made whilst shooting the ad – Thompson’s larrikin nature features.

Claytonsthe drink you have when you’re not having a drink!”

This non-alcoholic, non-carbonated beverage was coloured and packaged to resemble bottled whisky. Even though it’s not marketed any more (why am I not surprised, its taste was forgettable), the name Claytons entered the Aussie and Kiwi vernacular to represent a “poor substitute” or “an ineffective solution to a problem”. It can also be used to describe something that is effectively in existence but does not take the appropriate name.

In the case of the CBCA Claytons Shortlist, it’s anything but a poor substitute.

Every year before the real CBCA Shortlist for the best Children’s or Young Adult books is announced, five brave people stand up in front of their peers, colleagues and the teacher-librarian community to announce their chosen Clayton’s six. There are five categories – Early Childhood, Younger Reader, The Eve Pownall Award, Picture Books and Older Readers.

Now you might like reading books – as I do. But for this job, you must read a multitude of books (in my case over 95 because luckily I’d already read 15 of the list). And you have a month or two to do it in. And what did I get that was more than I bargained for? I got to read boxes of fabulously entertaining, funny, poignant, exciting, interesting, sad, brilliant Australian children’s books – something I never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise. Australian children’s books are ALIVE AND WELL!

And which 6 books did I choose as my Younger Reader Shortlist? You’ll have to come on Tuesday night to find out!! 🙂

Of course, my six may turn out to be none of the real six finalists that I’ll announce afterwards – so I’ll cover myself by saying I’ve chosen books I hope will win – they’re the ones that I still think about even in the midst of those clamouring 100+ titles.

The CBCA (Qld) Shortlist Function 2011 is next Tuesday night, 12th April. It’s at the Auditorium, St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School, 11 Ruthven St, Corinda, Brisbane.

If you’d like to go to it, email qld@cbca.org.au – $15 per CBCA member / $20 non-member. Click here to see the Judges list on the shortlist flyer.



7 thoughts on “On judging the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Clayton’s shortlist

  1. I only had 4 or 5 weeks to read them all, Alison. I was going cross-eyed at the end, I can tell you!!
    Didn’t have to write a report but I’ve got an allotted time to talk about the 6 books I picked on Tuesday night, plus mention the other 5 that I wish I could have picked as well. I’ll post some piccies after Tuesday night. 😛


  2. Well, we all know what you’ve been doing this year Sheryl. That’s a lot of reading.
    Did you end up writing a Clayton’s judge’s report?
    If so, was it a real one? lol.
    Have a fabulous night and looking forward to hearing how it goes.


  3. Yes, I’ll certainly be mentioning that and more in my presentation next Tuesday, Janeen. It was an excellent experience and I’d do it again if they’ll have me!! 😛 Lovely to hear from you. xx


  4. Good on you, Sheryl. A daunting task, I can well imagine! Next you’ll be writing about how much you gained from the experience – or how it added to your own writing career in some form or another. Well done.


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