2011 winners by category.

Fiction

Traitor by Stephen Daisley

Judges’ Comments

Stephen Daisley’s first novel, Traitor is brilliant, poignant and provoking.

Its tactile, redolent evocation of the physical world of sheep-farming in New Zealand and of warfare at Gallipoli—while this recalls material in many Australian novels—is also and utterly distinctive.

Myths and propaganda are quietly set aside. The moral imperatives to which rare (and in this case reticent) individuals can attend are strikingly set forth.

Here is another arresting renovation of what maleness—and decency in anyone—might be.

Non-fiction

The Hard Light of Day by Rod Moss

Judges’ Comments

The Hard Light of Day draws a picture of Aboriginal Australians living in the Centre that we have rarely experienced on such a moving level.

Rod Moss with unflinching, knowing vision, reveals the harsh realities of the day-to-day lives of Aboriginals with devastating force and insight. Nothing is spared—the pain of chronic ill health, the alcoholism, the mutual violence, the aimlessness of the dislocated and the impoverished.

Moss went to Alice Springs as a young art teacher and his moving memoir is complimented by a remarkable portfolio of his realistic paintings and photographs. Together they tell the story of his intimate friendship with the traditional owners of Alice Springs, the Arrernte people, and particularly the friendship between Moss and the tribal elder, Arranye.

This friendship is the spiritual backbone of the book, which is starkly realistic, yet both enriching and encouraging, transcending the often desperate circumstances.

Young adult fiction

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Judges’ Comments

Graffiti artist Shadow and his friend Poet, who tags his images with words, are enigmatic figures who haunt the night and the dreams of a girl named Lucy.

On the last night of Year 12 Lucy, Jazz and Daisy hook up with Leo, Ed and Dylan to search for the tantalising duo. But the boys know whom the artists are and are keeping something secret. And all of them are falling in or out of love. Leo and Ed (who has dropped out of school) have always got money troubles and are on the brink of pulling a crime. This night is charged with emotion, danger and hope.

Told from alternating points-of-view, Crowley perfectly captures the teenagers’ tenderness and their toughness. Lucy and Ed might seem marginalised, but they dream big and are not limited by their circumstances. The novel’s dual focus skilfully mirrors Lucy and Ed’s own game of hide-and-seek in the night as they search for the truth about each other and the world they inhabit.

This is a heart-stopping romantic adventure, singing with a love of art and language.

Children’s fiction

Shake a Leg by Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod

Judges’ Comments

When three boys go into a pizza shop in far north Queensland they get much more than just a meal. For there they meet a pizza-maker, an Aboriginal man, who reveals not only the secrets of great pizza—but the stories that he draws upon for inspiration.

Shake a Leg seamlessly marries cultures in ways that are unexpected, humorous and revealing. This picture book introduces three traditional dances and the stories that inspired them. These dances are shown to be part of a living culture and Jan Ormerod’s images elegantly capture the dancers’ movement, power and grace.

Writer Boori Monty Pryor is of the Birri-gubba and Kunggandji Nations, from far north Queensland. His life as a storyteller, dancer, actor and writer richly informs Shake a Leg, an extraordinary partnership with Jan Ormerod, the Western Australian born and internationally acclaimed illustrator.

Ormerod’s page designs deftly blend graphic novel and picture book formats, reflecting the theme of diversity and oneness that is at the heart of this big-hearted and original story. Shake a Leg is a book of enduring pleasure and reward, challenging the boundaries of culture, and of what a picture book can be.