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The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards recognise excellence in writing and illustration, in Irish or English and is open to authors and illustrators who are born in Ireland, are permanently resident here, or are citizens of Ireland.

The annual awards, now in their 30th year, are considered the highlight of the year for those involved in children’s literature in Ireland. This year the prizes for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland have been doubled on previous years. They include a €6,000 prize for the Children’s Book of the Year and a €2,000 prize for all other categories.

Watch a playback of The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2020 on YouTube here.

These include: The Book of the Year Award, The Honour Award for Fiction, The Honour Award for Illustration, The Eilís Dillon Award (for a first children’s book), The Judges’ Special Award and The Children’s Choice Award, the winner of which is chosen by hundreds of Junior Juries composed of young readers all over the island of Ireland. There’s also a new award this year for ‘Reading Hero,’ which aims to encourage involvement from young readers across Ireland. Details of the final awards ceremony will be announced soon.  

A total of 99 books have been submitted by publishers for this year's shortlist. Read by a panel of expert judges, a shortlist of ten was announced at the MAC theatre in Belfast in March 2020 -  held in partnership with Young at Art and the Belfast Children’s Festival.

The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2020 shortlist is...

THE HUG

EOIN MCLAUGHLIN (AUTHOR)

POLLY DUNBAR (ILLUSTRATOR)

Hedgehog was feeling sad.
As sad as a hedgehog can feel.
So sad only one thing could help ...

Tortoise was feeling sad.
As sad as a tortoise can feel.
So sad only one thing could help ...

In this clever flipbook, both a hedgehog and a tortoise are looking for a hug. They ask all the other animals they come across but for some reason no one will hug them. Until a wise owl explains: Hedgehog is too spiky; Tortoise is too bony. And that's when they find each other! A beautiful, heartwarming picturebook with all the universal appeal of Guess How Much I Love You.

The Hug

SCÚNC AGUS SMÚIRÍN

MUIREANN NÍ CHÍOBHÁIN (AUTHOR)

PADDY DONNELLY (ILLUSTRATOR)

A really cute, comfort-blanket story, featuring a truly loveable hero. Little Scúnc (Skunk) is inseparable from his soft toy friend, Smúirín (Sniffy). They go everywhere together. One of the things Scúnc most likes about Smúirín is his unmistakeable smell. Anytime Scúnc feels sad or anxious, a sniff of Smúirín makes everything ok again. Until the day that Smúirín loses his special smell. What can Scúnc do to make Smúirín his lovely old sniffeable self again? Could Mommy Skunk help to put things right?

Tá grá mór ag Scúnc beag dá bhréagán bog, Smúirín. Is é Smúirín an compánach is ansa leis ar domhan. An rud is deise faoi Smúirín ná an boladh atá uaidh. Ach lá amháin, cailleann Smúirín a bholadh. An féidir le Mamaí an scéal a chur ina cheart?

Scúnc agus Smúirín

THE TIDE

CLARE HELEN WELSH (AUTHOR)

ASHLING LINDSAY (ILLUSTRATOR)

Grandad doesn’t remember things like he used to. But I love him as much as I always have. And I know that he loves me. A story about families, laughter, and how we can help a loved one with dementia live well. Warmly illustrated, this book charts a busy day at the beach for a little girl and her grandad while her interior monologue mulls over her discussions with her mum about her grandad’s forgetfulness. Images and text wash in and out of the child’s present experience and recent memories, and beautiful colours and shapes combine with an accessible and unsentimental text to create a cleverly comforting, coherent reflection on living and loving with dementia.

The Tide

MADAME BADOBEDAH

SOPHIE DAHL (AUTHOR)

LAUREN O’HARA (ILLUSTRATOR)

A timeless story celebrating friendship and imagination, from an exciting new voice in children's literature. Mabel lives with her parents in The Mermaid Hotel, by the sea. Mabel likes to keep an eye on the comings and goings of all the guests. Then one day a particularly in-ter-est-ing old lady comes to stay. There is something very suspicious about her, with her growly voice and her heavy trunks and her beady-eyed tortoise. And why does no one know her REAL name? There can only be one answer, Mabel decides ... this guest is a SUPERVILLAIN. But even supervillains have a soft side, and as an unlikely friendship grows between the pair, their fantastical exploits take them well beyond the corridors of their seaside home.

Madame Badobedah

MÓR AGUS MUILC

KIM SHARKEY (ILLUSTRATOR)

A picturebook of a traditional tale for children, wonderfully illustrated with endearing characters and a hard learnt lesson for Mór and Muilc: you shouldn’t believe everything you hear! A colourful picturebook for children based on a traditional tale told by John Óg Ó Colla from Gaoth Dobhair. Is follows two characters, Mór and Muilc, who come across a crab on the beach. These two characters often get carried away and they mistake the crab for Death. Mór and Muilc quickly run away from the crab. They warn their friends as they run only to create more hysteria as they travel from place to place. The lessons learnt are: you should not let your fears get the better of you, and you shouldn’t always believe what you hear! The book is wonderfully and sensitively illustrated by Kim Sharkey, which makes it a book that children will love to come back to. The story is from the great tradition of chain tales which are found worldwide.

Scéal béaloidis é seo a d’aithris John Óg Ó Colla do Dhónall Ó Cnáimhsí as Gaoth Dobhair agus é ina pháiste. Is scéal traidisiúnta é faoi bheirt charachtar, Mór agus Muilc, agus mar a chasann siad le portán ar an trá agus na heachtraí a tharlaíonn ina dhiaidh sin. Tá an scéal maisithe go gleoite ag Kim Sharkey. Leabhar pictiúr é seo bunaithe ar ramás thraidisiúnta Gaeilge. Cuireann sé síos ar bheirt charachtar shamhailteacha, Mór agus Muilc, agus na heachtraí a bhíonn acu i ndiaidh dóibh casadh le portán ar an trá. Ceapann Mór agus Muilc gur an bás atá sa phortán agus imíonn siad ina rith le heagla. Casann siad le cuid mhór carachtair ag teitheadh dóibh agus imíonn siad mar ghrúpa ag rith ón phortán. Is ramás simplí agus siamsúil é a thaitníonn le páistí óga. Tá an obair ealaíona thar cionn agus beidh meas mór ag páistí sna carachtair dhaite atá tríd an leabhar. Foghlaimítear dhá cheacht ón scéal: níor cheart ligint den eagla an bhuaidh a fháil ort agus níor cheart éisteacht le gach rud a chloiseann tú.

Mór agus Muilc

THE STAR-SPUN WEB

SINÉAD O’HART (AUTHOR)

With her passion for scientific experimentation and her pet tarantula Violet, Tess de Sousa is no ordinary orphan. When a stranger shows up at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, claiming to be a distant relative come to adopt her, Tess hopes to find some answers to her mysterious origins. But as she adjusts to her new life at Roedeer Lodge, it becomes clear that Norton F. Cleat knows more about Tess – and the strange device left with her when she was abandoned as a baby – than he’s letting on. And when Tess discovers that the Starspinner is the gateway between her world and a parallel world in which war rages, she realizes she may be the key to a terrible plan. A plan she must stop at all costs...

The Star-Spun Web

THE DEEPEST BREATH

 MEG GREHAN (AUTHOR)

The Deepest Breath is a beautifully written, poetic, lyrical and insightful story of one girl’s coming into full awareness of who she is, and who she might want to love. For readers age 10+. Stevie is eleven and loves reading and sea-creatures. She lives with her mum, and she’s been best friends with Andrew since forever. Stevie’s mum teases her that someday they’ll get married, but Stevie knows that won’t ever happen. There’s a girl at school that she likes more. A lot more. Actually, she’s a bit confused about how much she likes her. It’s nothing like the way she likes Andrew. It makes her fizz inside. That’s a new feeling, one she doesn’t understand. Stevie needs to find out if girls can like girls – love them, even – but it’s hard to get any information, and she’s too shy to ask out loud about it. But maybe she can find an answer in a book. With the help of a librarian, Stevie finds stories of girls loving girls, and builds up her courage to share the truth with her mum.

The Deepest Breath

TOFFEE

SARAH CROSSAN (AUTHOR)

I am not who I say I am.
Marla isn't who she thinks she is.

I am a girl trying to forget.
Marla is a woman trying to remember.


Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn't empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there – and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee. Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be. But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really? The astonishing new novel from the incomparable, multi-award-winning and Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan.

Toffee

ALL THE BAD APPLES

MOÏRA FOWLEY-DOYLE (AUTHOR)

The stunning new novel about silenced female voices, family secrets and dangerous truths from the author of The Accident Season. On Deena's seventeenth birthday, the day she finally comes out to her family, her wild and mysterious sister Mandy is seen leaping from a cliff. The family is heartbroken, but not surprised. The women of the Rys family have always been troubled – ‘bad apples’, their father calls them – and Mandy is the baddest of them all. But then Deena starts to receive the letters. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family's blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions, but a curse, handed down to the Rys women through the generations.

Mandy has gone in search of the curse's roots, and now Deena must begin a desperate cross-country hunt for her sister, guided only by the letters that mysteriously appear in each new place. What Deena finds will heal their family's rotten past – or rip it apart forever.

All The Bad Apples

NÓINÍN

MÁIRE ZEPF (AUTHOR)

Nóinín is a shy, reserved teenager. When she meets a young man online, she knows he isn’t like the others boys at school: he understands her totally and she falls for him, head over heels. She doesn’t have much time anymore for her best friend, Eimear – she’s hooked on her newfound love. When Nóinín ventures out to meet him offline, she never comes back. Heartbroken, Eimear blames herself for Nóinín’s disappearance. How can anyone know who to trust?

Casann Nóinín, déagóir cúthail, ar fhear óg ar an idirlíon. Níl sé cosúil leis na gasúir ar scoil: tuigeann sé go smior í, agus titeann sí i ngrá. Ní maith léi am a chaitheamh lena cara is fearr, Eimear, níos mó – tá sí go huile is go hiomlán gafa. Nuair a théann sí chun casadh leis an fhear óg, ní thagann sí ar ais. Cuireann Eimear an milleán uirthi féin. Nochtann an sceon, an briseadh croí, agus leochaileacht an duine. Léigh scéal Eimear agus í ag dul i ngleic le ceisteanna faoi iontaoibh a bheith agat as daoine agus as an saol.

Nóinín