Every year since 1999, the NSW DET team gathers the reviews of the annual Children’s Book Council of Australia shortlisted books onto a web page. It’s a topic I find quite nostalgic, since when I worked at Scan, as editor, it was part of my job to prepare the annotations and reviews for uploading, and to do all the cross referencing.
2008 isn’t up yet, but most of the nominated books have already been reviewed in past Scans. Resources are reviewed by experienced NSW teachers, teacher librarians and DET (Department of Education and Training) curriculum specialists to a clear set of criteria, and stage levels, perspectives and curriculum links are always recommended. The May issue of Scan (vol 27 no 2) arrived in schools just this week, and the latest annual annotated list of CBCA shortlisted books (directing readers to various past issues containing the reviews) is on pp 44-45.
I very rarely get the “Books for Older Readers”, such as this year’s Love like water by Meme McDonald, for the K-6 school library since the CBCA usually specifies “for mature readers” for this section when the shortlists are announced. Love like water was reviewed in Scan (vol 26 no 3) and it was recommended only for Stage 6 (Years 11 and 12).
Scan suggests Matt Ottley’s Requiem for a beast for Stage 5 and 6 (Years 9-12). I must admit I’m quite intrigued to see it; I love Matt’s past work, and this book features a music CD to accompany the strong images!
I have picked up the information book, Girl stuff (not getting a print review in Scan until vol 27 no 3), but I’ve housed it in our Reference section and will promote it to the Stage 3 (Years 5 and 6) students by way of their class teachers. Likewise, I placed the haunting picture book Dust in my Reference section, since I wasn’t sure that parents would appreciate young students taking it home.
From the Crichton Award new illustrators’ category, I made sure that Ock Von Fiend went into Fiction, not Easy Fiction. I recall several people questioning its inclusion in Australian Standing Orders last year and, again, it’s a beautiful picture book which needs to be placed with appropriate audiences.