I am thrilled that my book Just a Dog has made the shortlist for 2011 Children’s Book Council of Australia Award in the Younger Readers category. It’s a real honour to be on a list with the following wonderful books and equally wonderful writers and illustrators.
Bauer, Michael Gerard Just a Dog Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia
Bongers, Christine Henry Hoey Hobson Woolshed Press, Random House Australia
Branford, Anna; Ill. Sarah Davis Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot Walker Books Aust
Carmody, Isobelle The Red Wind Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
McKinlay, Meg; Ill. Leila Rudge Duck for a Day Walker Books Australia
Murphy, Sally; Ill. Rhian Nest James Toppling Walker Books Australia
It’s obvious to me that the CBCA Judges will be faced with a terribly difficult task in selecting a winner, so I thought I’d just put forward a few suggestions and a couple of observations that might help make the task a little easier.
Now I know what some of the more cynical amongst you will be thinking about now. ‘I bet he’s going to try to influence the judges to somehow choose his own book.’
Well, shame on you! Just because a number of the Judges are disgraced ex-members of FIFA means nothing! They are all totally incorruptible and beyond reproach. (I know this because Chris Bongers told me all her cheques have been returned uncashed and my offers of romantic candle lit dinners for two have been met with howls of laughter.)
So anyway in the spirit of ‘no strings attached’ goodwill, I offer the CBCA Judges the following advice:
1. To avoid the terrible accusation of gender bias, it would make perfect sense to just give the award without fear or favour to the only male on the shortlist – whomever that may be.
2. Of course you also don’t want to leave yourself open to claims of being ageist either so perhaps you could just go for the most mature amongst the nominees. (Isn’t it delightful to see so many gorgeous young women being nominated this year!)
3. We all know that during the Second World War Australian citizens with German ancestry or even just those with German sounding names (eg Beckenbauer; Bauerhoff; Bauerhaus) were often badly treated and unfairly discriminated against. Isn’t it time we started to redress this injustice? I say ‘Ya!’
4. There have long been rumours that the CBCA is over-run with ‘cat people’ and is therefore anti-dog. Ridiculous you say? Well ask yourself this – When was the last time a book about a dog won a CBCA prize? Never! Has the CBCA ever made an official statement supporting the role of dogs in literature? No, they have been suspiciously silent on the whole issue! All just coincidence? I think not!
5. Finally, I think what we all want from a CBCA winner is someone non-controversial. I mean, we don’t want to announce the winner with great fanfare and then have a Miss Universe style scandal on our hands do we?
Now I don’t for a minute intend to cast nasturtiums on the good names of my fellow nominees, however ….
CHRIS BONGERS: Look I know Chris. We’re good friends and neighbours. I love her dearly. She even launched my book Just a Dog for me here in Brisbane. Her own nominated book Henry Hoey Hobson is fantastic … but … it does have that slight undertone of vampire-ishness and questionable creatures of the night.
Do we really want our kids caught up in the Dark Arts? Now I’m not for a minute suggesting that Chris Bongers is the female version of Voldemort or anything like that … but have you ever heard her speak out against him? I don’t know about you, but I find this all passing strange ….
ISOBELLE CARMODY: I’ve had the thrill and honour of meeting Isobelle a few times. She is a wonderful writer and absolutely lovely … and yet … she seems to spend a lot of her time holed up in Prague. I’m sure it’s all perfectly innocent. But do the words ‘Tax Evasion’ mean anything to you?
SALLY MURPHY: Sal is another great writer and also a facebook buddy of mine (along with Chris and Isobelle). She is a beautiful person and certainly beyond the ugly tentacles of scandal … except … I have a terrible suspicion she cheats at Scrabble!
“Surely not!” I hear you scream. Yes, I’m afraid so. I have seen evidence of this very thing myself. Many times on facebook I’ve stared horrified as she makes up words that couldn’t possibly be legitimate just so she can win. Do we really want to give a CBCA award to someone who plays fast and loose with the very building blocks of our language? (That’s called a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is one where the expected response is implied or understood. But just in case you have any doubts at all, the answer here is, “NO!!!!”)
MEG McKINLAY: I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Meg but from what I read she’s had an interesting and varied background. For example: On the long and winding path to becoming a children’s writer, Meg has worked in a variety of jobs including swim instructor, tour guide, translator and teacher.
Nothing wrong with that I hear you say … only … how come she can’t hold down a steady job for long? Now I’m definitely not implying that Meg might be unstable or unreliable and therefore shouldn’t be trusted with the country’s most prestigious literary award. That would be for others to judge – psychiatrists and mental health experts spring to mind. I’m keeping right out of it. (But seriously, that is a lot of chopping and changing of occupations. And did she move on of her own free will or was she pushed? I guess we’ll never know.)
ANNA BRANFORD: I haven’t met Anna either so obviously I am in no position at all to make comments on her suitability or otherwise as a CBCA winner … however … there were a couple of things that caught my eye when I read her biographical details. Things such as: Anna Branford was born in the Isle of Man and spent her early childhood in Sudan and Papua New Guinea before moving to Australia.
Makes you wonder why she had to move around so much doesn’t it. I mean, what were you running from Anna? Then it goes on to add: Anna is a doll maker and a sociology lecturer at Victoria University. Doll maker? Sociology Lecturer? Given her globe-trotting exploits, does any of that really seem plausible to you? International Arms Dealer I’m guessing!
Anyway that’s about all I have to say about the awards. I’m more than happy to leave the decision in the very capable hands of our wise and perceptive CBCA JUDGES.
Although I think we’d all agree that a unanimous vote for a mature aged, dog-loving, male-type-person of German ancestry, who has led a boring and therefore saint-like and blameless life, would be a breath of fresh air!
ps And if any CBCA Judges happen to be reading this. Remember that fine food, candle light, wine, a hot tub and me are just a phonecall away …
You have far too much time on your hands MG! After reading your incessant rambling I take it that you are trying to lean the judges towards Chris? Am I right. You do after all mention her more then once and her name has therefore stuck in my brain. I always did have a problem with comprehension.
Laughing out loud alone at my desktop. I’ll thank you now. xx
I go away for one week, Michael, one week, and this is what I find on my return. You taunt the Dark Lord, name He Who Must Not Be Named, and spread scurrilous rumours about your fellow scribes. Far be it from me to threaten a mature aged, dog-loving, male-type-person of German ancestry, who has led a boring and therefore saint-like and blameless life, but didn’t you ever wonder why Xeroderma pigmentosum sounded like a curse out of Harry Potter? Be afraid, MGB, be very afraid….
I did it all for YOU Chris! The claims I made against you were totally ludicrous and therefore will be completely ignored by the judges but what I said about those ‘other-staters’ has a whiff of truth about it so they’ll be eliminated right away. Also did you notice how YOURS was the only book I praised? And of course after my blog the judges can’t possibly pick me otherwise they leave themselves open to accusations of undue influence. I’ve sacrificed myself for you CB and taken the others with me! You can thank me later.
I have just read your blog to my year 8 English class. They are duly shocked by your nasturtium casting – and concerned about the prospect of ever playing me at Scrabble.
Sally do you think it’s right that you should be turning young, impressionable minds against me?
All’s fair in love and awards, MGB!
congratulations, Michael, on being on the shortlist —- and I admire your unbiased and helpful advice to the judges; I am sure they will find much in it of value 🙂 now if all those on the shortlist could be as helpful as you 🙂
Thank you for your support John. I do what I can.
Another fine mess you’ve got yourself into 😉 … But good luck anyhow!
Oh – and I’d watch out for She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named if I were you, I hear tell she placed the last of her horcruxes in a copy of Just a Dog. While pearched precariously on the edge of my seat, awaiting the decision that the judges appear to have already made, I’ll just do my best not to think about you and a “hot tube” (? .. !? … ??!??) =\ … tho, scrolling up, I see that typo must have been dealt with since the email notification came out =)
Yes Scott fortunately I picked up that typo. I shudder to think what people may have read into that!
Have you no shame?! Suddenly wanting to become a well known published author nominated for enviable awards and honour seems a slightly reckless and foolhardy desire when it is possible one could be pitted against the likes of your fine but scurrilous self. Jedenfalls, ich liebe die Hunde! Viel gluck Herr Bauer:-)
Mein lieber Herr Bauer – the WA judge wouldn’t mind another trip to Brisbane and some fine dining. I hear E’cco is very good – didn’t make it last time. I’m with Trish. Let’s pretend that the decision is still in our hands 🙂 Signed: Just a Judge.
Hi Judi. I’m booking a place at the Ecco table for QLD and WA! Any other takers?
And so this is how we finally meet, a fine proving ground, Bauer. Or is it Gerard-Bauer? Do you really think the CBC should put its faith in a writer who hedges his bets on his own name?
As for your Mr Mosely book (which I loved, by the way), are you familiar with Gordon Korman’s seminal “No More Dead Dogs”, in which the main character utters the memorable lines “Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down”?
Does it therefore follow that a book involving a precariously positioned pooch (spoilers!) must ascend to the crown? Time will tell. Get the gloves on, Bauer, or Gerard, or whatever you’ve decided your name is this week…
Insert winky and/or smiley things here to avoid potential misunderstanding and/or lawsuits.
Thanks for dropping by.
I don’t know that Gordon Korman book but it sounds like a winner! I’ll keep my eye out for it.
Sorry about the post. I really am an all right sort of person. Just ask anyone. Well, not anyone. Try to pick some one who actually likes me.
Congratulations on the shortlisting! I hope we can meet up in person some time soon.
No apology needed! I love a good verbal jousting match. And congrats back at you! I really did love your book, though it may have also made me weep a little.
Off now on the quest to find someone who likes you. Should I pack a lunch?
Good one Meg! I think when we eventually meet we’re going to get on juuuuuuust fine.
What happens when the Qld judge takes you up on your offer? Has your bluff being called? Email me Mike, let’s make this happen (I am not mentioning that the decision has already been made…)
What? Decision already made? No fine food and candle light for you!
You are incorrigible MGB, and leaving yourself wide open to slander charges. I hope all these lovely people have your sense of humour. I loved it!!
A wonderfully unbiased account 🙂 Good luck Michael! (and all the other [un]deserving nominees)