2023 Book Award Winners


AUSTRALIAN FAMILY THERAPISTS’ AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

Announcement of the Thirty Sixth Annual Awards

(for books published in 2022)

An annual prize of $1,500 in the Older Readers category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is to be awarded to one entrant, who will receive $1,500. The winner is:

The Bravest Word – by Kate Foster – Teenager, Matt is struggling with feelings of depression and anxiety. He feels he lets everyone down, his soccer coach, his soccer team, his mates, his parents. He tries to “push through”, often using self blaming language, and is encouraged in this by his mother who tells him to “stop being so silly”.

Matt increasingly withdraws from sport, school and friends, compounding his downward spiral of self-blame, and feelings of letting everyone down. When Matt and his dad rescue an abused abandoned dog, he finds something to motivate him. As Matt nurses the dog back to health, he turns a corner in his own wellness journey as he focusses outwards and not inwards. He starts an anonymous blog from the dog’s point of view about healing and finding love and care.

“The Bravest Word” is an authentic depiction of the experience of depression and anxiety. Matt experiences a “tight chest”, frequent tears, difficulty eating, sleeping a lot. Matt’s father supports him without pressure and eventually his mother realizes too that teenage depression is real, and that “pushing through” doesn’t work. At the end of the book, Matt’s friends open up about their mental health, and Matt says he will get through with their support, the support of the psychologist he starts seeing, and his family.

Learn more about The Bravest Word

An annual prize of $1,500 in the Younger Readers/Picture book category of the Australian Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is to be awarded to one entrant, who will receive $1,500. The winner is:

How to be The New Person – by Anna Branford – Hazel moves house and changes schools after her eldest sister has experienced bullying. Hazel struggles with the changes however she finds unexpected connections in her new environment. Those new connections assist in her new challenges. A good book for ‘tweens’ coping with transitions.

Learn more about How to be The New Person

BOOKS USEFUL FOR THERAPISTS

The following books tell stories which may enhance therapists’ insight into specific problem areas. The Committee strongly recommends that therapists read these selections critically before deciding whether or not they are appropriate to share with their particular clients. Because of the sensitive nature of some of these books it is important, if they are used, that they be only one tool within an ongoing therapeutic relationship – inclusion in this list does not mean a book is recommended as a self-help book.

BOOKS FOR OLDER READERS:

No Words – by Maryam Master – A quote from Claire Atherfold which typifies this book and the story. – “This book tackled challenging topics such as mental health, bullying and the experiences children face as refugees, No Words is quite a personal story for Master to share. It takes inspiration from her own experiences growing up in Iran and being forced to flee to Australia at the age of nine. It is a reminder that you cannot know the difficulties that others are dealing with or how much your kindness might help.

The Bravest Word – Kate Foster – Teenager, Matt is struggling with feelings of depression and anxiety. He feels he lets everyone down, his soccer coach, his soccer team, his mates, his parents. He tries to “push through”, often using self blaming language, and is encouraged in this by his mother who tells him to “stop being so silly”.

Matt increasingly withdraws from sport, school and friends, compounding his downward spiral of self-blame, and feelings of letting everyone down. When Matt and his dad rescue an abused abandoned dog, he finds something to motivate him. As Matt nurses the dog back to health, he turns a corner in his own wellness journey as he focusses outwards and not inwards. He starts an anonymous blog from the dog’s point of view about healing, and finding love and care.

PICTURE BOOKS/YOUNG READERS:

A Blue Kind of Day – by Rachel Tomlinson – A simple, poignant story by psychologist Rachel Tomlinson and artist Tori-Jay Mordey, about the power of patience, care and empathy, and listening to our bodies and to the people we love. This book is recommended to be read by caregivers and children together.

How to be The New Person – by Anna Branford – Hazel moves house and changes schools after her eldest sister has experienced bullying. Hazel struggles with the changes however she finds unexpected connections in her new environment. Those new connections assist in her new challenges. A good book for ‘tweens’ coping with transitions.

2017 AAFT Book Award

Please contact us on admin@aaft.asn.au for Book Award submission process – thank you.

Book Award Criteria

2022 BOOK AWARD WINNERS

Book Award – Older Readers Book Category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Awards for Children’s Literature Winner

Anything but Fine by Tobias Madden

Heartfelt and hilarious

Luca is ready to audition for the Australian Ballet School. All it takes to crush his dreams is one missed step . . . and a broken foot.

Jordan is the gorgeous rowing star and school captain of Luca’s new school. Everyone says he’s straight – but Luca’s not so sure . . .

As their unlikely bond grows stronger, Luca starts to wonder: who is he without ballet? And is he setting himself up for another heartbreak?

Book Award – Younger Readers/Picture Book Category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Awards for Children’s Literature Winner

One Thousand Snapshots by Steve Heron

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS… SO THEY SAY.

After losing her father in a car accident four years earlier, eleven-year-old Maddy is trying to navigate her way through life without her biggest hero; her dad.

Her guilt over what she believes was her part in his death leads Maddy on a quest to take one thousand snapshots of moments in time and with people she loves, wishing she were able to share them with him.

This leads her to an encounter with djidi djidi, a willie wagtail who reminds Maddy that there is hope, even when life seems difficult.

A story of a search for belonging and a fear of abandonment in a world of ever-changing emotions.

Maddy will make you laugh, cry and cheer for her as she takes you through her journey.

It’s picture perfect!

2021 BOOK AWARD WINNERS


Books can be ordered HERE

Announcement of the Thirty Fourth Annual Awards (for books published in 2020) can be viewed HERE

2020 BOOK AWARD WINNERS

An annual prize for books published in 2019 in the Older Readers category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is awarded for:

“Memphis Grace” – by Catriona McKeown (author) published by Rhiza Edge

A hard hitting and at times brutal story about adolescent relationships, the things that can go wrong and learning to stand up for oneself. Viz a viz how morals, determination and finding the right friends can bring to question the negative actions of others and her own violation. Graceland (the female protagonist) becomes the centre of attention and being popular. Initially she embraces this new found status, which ultimately is not what it seemed. A good book for young women who think that being popular is their aspiration. Great book for therapists.

In the Younger Readers/Picture book category of the Australian Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is awarded for:

“The Thing about Oliver” – by Deborah Kelly – A lovely story about the impact of positive family relationships managing the differences in siblings. One (Tilly) is smart and ambitious, whilst her younger brother (Oliver) is autistic. It is a great expose of how the family as a collective manages the differences and come together as a unit at the end.

BOOKS USEFUL FOR THERAPISTS

The following books tell stories which may enhance therapists’ insight into specific problem areas. The Committee strongly recommends that therapists read these selections critically before deciding whether or not they are appropriate to share with their particular clients. Because of the sensitive nature of some of these books it is important, if they are used, that they be only one tool within an ongoing therapeutic relationship – inclusion in this list does not mean a book is recommended as a self-help book.

Winning Author’s Books are can be ordered from: WOMBAT BOOKS

BOOK FOR OLDER READERS

Invisible Boys – Story depicting struggles in coming to terms with being gay and growing up in a small rural town. Four boys from differing backgrounds are confronting their secrecy without family support. The reality of suicide is evident. This book is both confronting and realistic.

Kindred 12 Queer Love OzYa Stories – What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #Own Voices collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQIA+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.

Maddie in the Middle – Maddie finds herself in a situation that escalates and doesn’t seek support to navigate the issues being faced which ultimately leads to negative consequences. Along with peer pressure playing a strong influence in Maddie’s life, the engagement of support services that deliver positive and helpful messages.

Memphis Grace – A hard hitting and at times brutal story about adolescent relationships, the things that can go wrong and learning to stand up for oneself. Viz a viz how morals, determination and finding the right friends can bring to question the negative actions of others and subsequent violation. Graceland (the female protagonist) becomes the centre of attention and being popular. Initially she embraces this new found status, which ultimately is not what it seemed. A good book for young women who think that being popular is their aspiration.

2019 BOOK AWARD WINNER

“The Things we Can’t Undo” by Gabrielle Reid (author) published by Ford Street Publishing.

This story told from many points of view, highlights the themes of sexual assault/rape and consent in regards to16 y.o. Samantha and Dylan. The snowball affect of social media coupled with the invasion of Sam’s privacy and exploitation compounds her existing sense of self and leads to her suicide.

Useful for therapists/teachers/parents/adolescents.

There was no prize awarded to any entrants in the Picture Book and Young Readers Award for this year.

BOOKS USEFUL FOR THERAPISTS

The following books tell stories which may enhance therapists’ insight into specific problem areas. The Committee strongly recommends that therapists read these selections critically before deciding whether they are appropriate to share with their particular clients. Because of the sensitive nature of some of these books it is important, if they are used, that they be only one tool within an ongoing therapeutic relationship – inclusion in this list does not mean a book is recommended as a self-help book.

BOOK FOR OLDER READERS

Unpacking Harper Holt by Di Walker (author) published by Walker Books. A compassionate and emotional novel about the loss of a mother. Written with clarity and insight, the author portrays the pain and grief well. Crisis is portrayed realistically and resolution is neither trite nor shallow, with support generated from both counselling and friendships. Would be a useful resource for families experiencing grief and loss.

PICTURE BOOKS/YOUNG READERS

My Book about Brains, Change and Dementia by Linda Moore (author), George Haddon (illustrator), published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. A well written book explaining the varying aspects of Dementia. A useful resource for children to gain understanding around the changes in behavior and the resultant affect on families.

Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature Winners 2018

The annual prize of $1,500 in the Older Readers category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is to be awarded to “Finding Nevo” by Nevo Zisin published by Black Dog Books.

A touchingly honest true story of Nevo who explores sexual and gender identities throughout adolescence. The story explores gender issues and family culture, acceptance and difference and places in between. Discusses friendships and bullying, mental health and the transitioning process.

The annual prize of $1,500 in the Older Readers category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is to be awarded to “The Build-Up Season” by Megan Jacobson published by Penguin Random House Australia.

A realistic depiction of family violence as seen through the eyes of 17 year old Illiad who is confronted by her own lived experience of violence both through her first love and recollections of an abusive father. Through the support of both her mother, grandmother and Max the boy next door, Illiad begins to learn about respectful relationships.

There was no prize awarded to any entrants in the Picture Book and Young Readers Award for this year.

BOOKS USEFUL FOR THERAPISTS

The following books tell stories which may enhance therapists’ insight into specific problem areas. The Committee strongly recommends that therapists read these selections critically before deciding whether they are appropriate to share with their particular clients. Because of the sensitive nature of some of these books it is important, if they are used, that they be only one tool within an ongoing therapeutic relationship – inclusion in this list does not mean a book is recommended as a self-help book.

BOOK FOR OLDER READERS

Paper Cranes Don’t Fly by Peter Vu (author) published by Ford Street Publishing. A helpful illustration of the enduring friendships and relationships that come together when dealing with a significant health crisis. The authors lived experience comes through and provides rich content for reflection.

PICTURE BOOKS/YOUNG READERS:

Gemma gets the jitters by Katrina Roe (author) and Leigh Hedstrom (illustrator) published by Wombat Books. A lovely story about Gemma the Giraffe who faces feelings of anxiety and worry and how she takes small steps to manage how she feels.

Grandma Forgets by Paul Russell (author) and Nicky Johnston (illustrator) published by EK Press.
A story to assist children to understand and adapt to the changes in ageing grandparents.

Harrison’s Song by Harrison Craig (author), and Ann-Marie Finn (illustrator) published by Wombat Books. A true story of Harrison who overcomes bullying and insecurities around his stuttering by finding his voice.

I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox (author), and Ronojoy Ghosh (illustrator), Omnibus Books.
A simple yet poignant depiction of Australian multiculturalism, which depicts positive messages about everyone living in peace.

The Kids Book of Feelings by Helen Martin, Judith Simpson and Cheryl Orsini (authors), and Lisa Kennedy (illustrator) published by Harper Collins Publishers.
A useful tool for both therapists and teachers to encourage the expression of feelings and emotions.

Through the Gate by Sally Fawcett (author and illustrator), published by EK Books.
A beautifully illustrated story that shows that through a passage of time change can be accepted and embraced.

Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature Winners 2017

The annual prize of $1,500 in the Older Readers category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is to be awarded to “Saving Jazz” by Kate McCaffrey published by Fremantle Press.

Jasmine Lovely has it all – the looks, the grades, the friends. But when a house party spins out of control, Jazz discovers what can happen when your mistakes go viral …

We know our kids are at risk of becoming victims of cyberbullying. But do we know how at risk they are of becoming perpetrators? This controversial new novel tackles cyberbullying from a whole new perspective.

The annual prize of $1,500 in the Young Readers/Picture Book category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is to be awarded to “Out” by Angela May George (author) and Owen Swan (illustrator) published by Scholastic Australia.

I’m called an asylum seeker; but that’s not my name …

A little girl flees her homeland, making a long and treacherous boat journey with her mother to seek asylum in Australia. Starting a new life is challenging, but they work hard to create a new home. Told from the little girl’s point of view, the story is both heartbreaking and triumphant, allowing timely and sensitive discussion of what drives people to become refugees and the challenges they face.

BOOKS USEFUL FOR THERAPISTS

The following books tell stories which may enhance therapists’ insight into specific problem areas. The Committee strongly recommends that therapists read these selections critically before deciding whether they are appropriate to share with their particular clients. Because of the sensitive nature of some of these books it is important, if they are used, that they be only one tool within an ongoing therapeutic relationship – inclusion in this list does not mean a book is recommended as a self-help book.

BOOKS FOR OLDER READERS

None for this year.

PICTURE BOOKS/YOUNG READERS:

Being Agatha by Anna Pignataro (author and illustrator) published by Five Mile Press. This is a story about difference. It’s a story about being special. It’s a story about being the very best that you can be!

Sometimes other people can see qualities that we can’t.

Dropping In by Geoff Havel (author) published by Fremantle Press. Depicts friendship around difference, acceptance, inclusion and sticking together. Typifies adolescent male behavior with all it’s nuances.

Fly-In, Fly-Out Dad by Sally Murphy (author) and Janine Dawson (illustrator) published by The Five Mile Press. An increasing number of families have to deal with the unusual dynamic of having one parent absent for weeks at a time – so this book is both relevant and timely. The book highlights children’s resilience and acceptance of different circumstances.

Just the Way We Are by Jessica Shirvington (author) and Claire Robertson (illustrator) published by Harper Collins Children’s Books. A story about celebrating difference in families and that each have their own uniqueness.

New Boy by Nick Earls (author), published by Puffin Books. An interesting story about fitting in, racism and bullying. Has good messages and helpful family support. Depicts how someone new to Australia can struggle with the “lingo”.

Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature Winners 2015

The annual prize of $1,500 in the Older Readers category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is to be awarded to “Risk” by Fleur Ferris published by Random House Australia.

risk-book-cover-image

A contemporary expose about the risks and deception of engaging in online chat rooms and predatory behaviours. The story of Sierra who engages in risk taking behaviours which culminates in her secretly meeting her online “lover” Jacob Jones.

The outcome of this meeting has long lasting effects for Sierra and her friends.

A very topical story about the lure of the internet.

The annual prize of $1,500 in the Young Readers/Picture Book category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is to be awarded to “My Happy Sad Mummy” by Michelle Vailiu (author) and Lucia Masciullo (illustrator) published by Jo Jo Publishing.

happy-sad

“Is an engaging and sensitive picture book. It fills a major gap: explaining to a young child the impact on a parent of a major mental illness such as bipolar disorder.” Highlights the importance of having a support network.

Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature Winners 2014

The annual prize of $1,500 in the Older Readers category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is awarded to “Crashing Down” by Kate McCaffrey published by Fremantle Press.

Lucy thinks that her biggest struggle for this year will be completing Year 12, however her world is turned upside down when her boyfriend is involved in a car accident and suffers a severe head injury. She subsequently finds out that she is pregnant and faces a dilemma about whether to terminate the pregnancy.

She has a good support network in her family and friends, however a sequence of complications exacerbates her ability to make clear decisions.

Cover - Crashing Down

The annual prize of $1,500 in the Young Readers/Picture Book category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is awarded to “Bully on the Bus” by Kathryn Apel published by University of Queensland Press.

A story about Leroy who dreads his daily bus ride to school because of the bully JD. JD picks on him relentlessly and he doesn’t know how to make it stop. With the support of his sister Ruby he eventually finds the courage to confide in his parents. Trusted adults provide him with the impetus to find his own strength and courage to stand up to the bully.

Cover - Bully on the Bus

Highly Recommended – Younger Readers category of the Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature is awarded to “Roses are Blue” by Sally Murphy (author) and Gabriel Evans (illustrator) published by Walker Books.

Amber Roses’s mother has a car accident which leaves her different from other mothers as she is now wheelchair bound. Amber struggles to come to terms with her difference and the resultant changes. Amber has to overcome her own embarrassment about her mother and what people will think.

Cover - Roses are Blue