Behind the Scenes at Nicholson Street

Eight students from Nicholson Street PS in Balmain, all aged 11 to 12, and in their last year of primary school, volunteered to participate in the Shadow Judging trial, as an extra-curricular activity.

Each student read all the CBCA Book of the Year 2021 Younger Readers Shortlist, over seven weeks beginning late in June, and including the school holidays.

Covid 19 lockdown happened and so the whole project was conducted from the students’ homes. Students read the school library’s copies, along with borrowed ones, with Covid-safe book swaps, some of their parents were happy to purchase copies for them. They wrote comments on post it notes and in a reading journal using the CBCA judging criteria and Aiden Chamber’s Tell Me framework questions as their guide.

Mr Lee, their wonderful class teacher organised weekly  8.15 am Zoom catch-up meetings. A member of the CBCA NSW Branch committee acted as facilitator. Students tried to share their reading without unduly influencing other readers’ judgements. Prior to their final Zoom, on the day of the CBCA Book of the Year announcement, each recorded their own choice of winner.

At the judging Zoom, each talked about their winner. There was discussion and a chance for students to change their choice if they wished, but that did not happen. We knew that in the real judging process there is a goal of consensus, but with eight judges that would be difficult, so instead there was a vote. The students enjoyed the process, particularly reading and comparing the different books.

The meeting lasted about 50 minutes, was recorded with parental permission as a video, later edited deftly by our NSW Branch President to its current length of 6 minutes. If you missed it first time around listen in now …

A big thank you to the eight participants: Adriana A, Apolline B, Isabella B, Isabel L, Audrey M, Anneliese N-B, Dylan P and Louisa S.

Go Away Worry Monster

Jayden F, from Holy Saviour, has reviewed the storybook ‘Go Away Worry Monster’ which was illustrated by Robin Tatlow-Lord and nominated in the New Illustrator category.

Holy Saviour School kids sometimes thought that this book was actually a bit scary but the kids were still happy about this book because it is also a bit funny, especially the part when we saw the boy with his mouth open with no teeth.

The theme was illustrated by the use of purple crayon. Lots of people thought that the colour was very dark which helped to show us how worried the main character was and that the book was set at night. Everyone loved the yellow crayon swirl that looked so real!

People who were reviewing said that this amazing book was so striking they said that this would be the best looking product out of all of the CBCA books!

People actually felt the book. They said it was really strong paper, so strong that one person could not rip it. People said it was of great quality.

Some kids said that they have never experienced this kind of book before because the crayon colour was like a colour disco. At our school we do the Bounce Back Book so it could help us with learning about emotions. The dog, boy and even owl all share emotions in the book, you can see this in the book clearly. The students at our school really loved this. It was good to read such a colourful book to help us think about how to stop worrying.

No Never!

Indiana H has written this review of No! Never! which is illustrated by Mel Pearce and is nominated in the New Illustrator category.

I think that the pictures are incredible but maybe there are too many. The pictures made me feel happy because they were so bright. The pictures are really powerful but more writing would have made it even more powerful.

The pictures match the actions in the story. It was clever how the illustrator drew the child having a temper tantrum so big. I think that the style is more cartoon than realistic which was perfect for the story as it was written about a child. The pictures give you a lot of information about how each of the characters are feeling. The little girl’s eyes get bigger as she gets angrier. The parents also look very frustrated and this makes the story come to life. The book is very appealing with bright crayon-like visuals. The book is a good looking product that any child would want to buy at the shops. 

The illustrations were made with pastel and crayon. The cover was hard and glossy. The cover is of such good quality it acts like it will never break. It is really really, really good quality parents could read it with their kids again and again

The pictures were different from what I have seen, very original. My favourite character was the little girl because she was sassy, but I like how the tables turned in the end. It is realistic, based on real life about a child having a tantrum. But I like this book so much it is an amazing book and I will read it again.

Seven Seas Of Fleas

Daniel I. is a student from Holy Saviour PS and here’s his review of another contender in The New Illustrator category.

The illustrator of the Seven Seas of Fleas, Dave Petzold, makes the story very colourful and exciting. It was a book that I really enjoyed. My favourite page was the one with the food on the dog that the fleas wanted.

The images do suit the story because the images have lots of colour and the words match as well. I also think that the style of the book is super good and the pictures match the actions. The illustrator used a lot of blue and yellow and lots of white in the background to make the colour stand out.

It also would be appealing to kids and I would be very enticed to read this if I was younger because the pictures were very colourful. The characters have different emotions on every page like happiness and excitement and the dog is itchy and has lots of fleas. I think it’s very original because I have never seen anything like this book before.

Shirley Purdie: My Story, Ngaginybe Jarragbe

Let’s enjoy Miller T’s review of the book Shirley Purdie. It is illustrated by Shirley Purdie and is nominated in the New Illustrator category of this year’s awards.

The cover of the book is very detailed and creative because the illustrator used dot paintings which is what I would expect from an indigenous illustrator.

The images suit the story well because the shapes and patterns display tell the story around the English and Aboriginal text. The dot paintings are very effective on the pages and I like the theme as well. The story appeals to children because the dot paintings are a thing that children can probably do so it inspires them to do it themselves. The pictures stand out because she used very stand out colours to paint the pictures and used colours that I think you could make using dirt, clay and things from nature.

There’s a lot of aboriginal things in the story and a lot of aboriginal cultural stuff. I like how she tells us about what the aboriginal people do. The characters are very realistic because that’s what they did back in the day. I would like to learn how to draw all the trees and all the people. The pictures taught me about what aboriginal people did like what they ate, where did they get it from. When you draw the dirt it looks like actual dirt. The trees are very realistic because the colour and execution of it was good. The animals are very realistic as well because she coloured it well. The clothes are kind of good but not excellent. Shirley Purdie would be a good book to teach others about aboriginal culture.

Ribbit, Rabbit, Robot

Jacob P a student from Holy Saviour PS choose to review the storybook Ribbit, Rabbit, Robot which is illustrated by Sofya Karmazina. It is nominated in the New Illustrator category of the Book of the Year Awards.

The book Ribbit, Rabbit, Robot has a lot of colour and detail with the drawings and the pictures. The illustrations have more detail than the texts. I think if this book was in a library a lot of people would pick it up because the characters are very appealing. The robot is my favourite character because even though it is a robot it has real feelings and expressions drawn on his face. I like the story because it looks like the characters are moving in the story, especially the page where the frog takes a book and it looks like the books are falling over. I also liked that at the start and the end there was a map because it shows where the characters were and it looks like it is hand drawn. The cover of the book stands out because the title is written so big with the characters and the title being so big. I think people would buy the characters if they were soft toys.

The pictures are very original; they do look different to what I’ve seen before in the book. This book has more illustrations than text so would appeal to a kinder kid. It was fun reading it in class to see the funny expressions on the characters’ faces. It was clever having the frog and genie reading the book at the end.

This Small Blue Dot 

Charlie W, a student at Holy Saviour PS, reviews This Small Blue Dot which was nominated in the New Illustrator category.

This small blue dot is a very attractive book because of its illustrations. It is so colourful that little kids would love it. It has so many splashes of red, green, blue, purple, pink, yellow and white. But the best thing of all is that Zeno combined so many different colours together like green and blue, yellow and green and red, green and white and red, pink and blue. The images show that the girl is always having a different expression on every page and is so original. I have never ever seen a book as colourful as this one. I think that the best thing is that the girl is grey and everything else is colourful and makes her look so sad. And I can’t wait to read more of Zeno Sworder’s books. 

Balmain Blitz the Best Books

Take the time to appreciate this panel of Shadow Judges from Nicholson Street PS Balmain East in NSW give their final reviews and votes in this year’s Book of the Year Awards. I don’t want to be a spoiler so sit down and listen in as they nominate their winner in the Younger Readers category.