In conjunction with its generous sponsor ARA Group, the Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) has announced the nine talented authors, and their outstanding novels, selected in the Longlist for the 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize – Children and Young Adult Category. The longlisted entries include:

The ARA Historical Novel Prize shortlist will be announced on Wednesday 22 September. The winners will be announced at the HNSA virtual conference on 22 October 2021.

The Judging Panel

The 2021 judging panel for the CYA category included Paul McDonald (Chair), Thuy On and Catherine Mayo.

According to Paul McDonald, “The Judges of the 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize were impressed by both the quality and certainly the diversity of entries for this year’s inaugural Children’s and Young Adult Novel Award Category. Entries demonstrated great writing, extensive research and offered great appeal for young readers.”

The Boy Who Stepped Through Time by Anna Ciddor

About The Boy Who Stepped Through Time

When Perry steps into a crumbling ruin while on holiday in France, he is not expecting to be transported back 1700 years to Roman times. While he hunts desperately for a way home, he must blend in as a slave – even if it means eating mice for dinner! Gradually, Perry is caught up in the fascinating world of grand Villa Rubia and a life he could never have imagined. But when he makes a new friend, he thinks he might already know her terrible fate. Perry is faced with an impossible choice: to find his way home or stay and guard his friend’s life – and risk being trapped in the past forever…

About Anna Ciddor

Anna Ciddor has always been fascinated by the past. It would be her dream come true to step through time! Instead, she immerses herself in research and hunts out the tiniest details so she can bring the past to life in her imagination – and in her books.Anna’s meticulous work has been recognised by a grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, three of her novels have been selected as Notable Books by the Children’s Book Council of Australia, and several have been translated into other languages to be enjoyed around the world. For further information, visit:

“I am so grateful to the ARA and HNSA for making this prize possible, and thrilled to have The Boy Who Stepped Through Time included on the longlist. I worked with a researcher who happened to be my sister, and we had great fun searching together for interesting details of Roman life I could use for the plot and settings. It was a thrill every time I managed to weave in some amazing authentic element, and I am delighted that other people seem to be deriving as much pleasure from reading it as I did creating it!”

Night Ride into Danger by Jackie French

About Night Ride into Danger

Six mysterious passengers and seven dark secrets. Who can be trusted?

It’s a dark and dangerous journey for the Cobb and Co night mail coach, but when his coach-driver father is injured, young Jem Donovan must take the reins.

Surely a boy like Jem can’t handle a team of four horses and guide the coach on a rough bush track through fog and untold dangers?

But there are six passengers on the coach tonight, each with a secret.

And if Jem can’t get them all to their destination by morning, the seventh secret could be deadly …

About Jackie French

Jackie French is an author, historian and wombat negotiator from the Araluen Valley who draws her adventures from stories of the past, and has lived in many of the ways her ancestors did, 200 or even 20,000 years ago, and still practices a few of them. She has also been Australian Children’s Laureate, Senior Australian of the Year and is a passionate advocate of the power of a book to change a child’s life, or change the world. For further information:

“Adventures in the past are safe - close the cover and the danger is over. But with every work of historical fiction we gain resilience as we relive the challenges our ancestors survived. We also learn that change is inevitable, and not to fear it. Our ancestors survived ice ages, wars, pandemics - and eventually every tyranny has faded, and even pandemics passed, conquered with only quarantine and kindness. History provides the most powerful gift of hope.”

Heroes of the Secret Underground by Susanne Gervay

About Heroes of the Secret Underground

A timely and powerful time-slip story inspired by the author’s family in Budapest during the Holocaust.

Louie lives with her brothers, Bert and Teddy, in a hotel run by their grandparents. It is one of Sydney’s grand old buildings, rich in history … and in secrets. When a rose-gold locket, once thought lost, is uncovered, it sends Louie and her brothers spinning back in time. Back to a world at war: Budapest in the winter of 1944, where their grandparents are hiding secrets of their own …

About Susanne Gervay

Awarded the Lifetime Social Justice Literature Award by the International Literacy Association, Order of Australia, nominee for Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and as the child of refugees, Susanne is committed to empowering young people through story. Her young adult books reach into search for identity from the second rise of feminism Shadows of Olive Trees, sexual consent The Cave to disability Butterflies.  Her younger I Am Jack books have become rite-of-passage on school bullying. An advocate for literacy, she is an author ambassador for Room to Read, Books in Home and many reading campaigns. For further information:

“The lessons of the Holocaust are searingly relevant to this day. Seventy-five years after the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart, still tell new lies, adopt new disguises, and still seek new victims,’ were the words of Prince Charles at the World Holocaust Forum. Heroes of the Secret Underground is inspired by my family who survived the Holocaust and those who have faced war. It was written to empower our young people to vigorously oppose the ongoing spread of hatred and bigotry to become advocates of justice.”

The Detective’s Guide to Ocean Travel by Nicki Greenberg

About The Detective’s Guide to Ocean Travel

For as long as she can remember, Pepper Stark has wanted one thing: to join her father, the Captain, aboard the magnificent RMS Aquitania on a voyage to New York. She has never been allowed to set foot on her father’s ship – until now.

From the decadent food to the star-studded passenger list, travelling First Class on Aquitania is every bit as glamorous as Pepper had imagined. And most dazzling of all is American stage sensation Perdita West, wearing the world-famous Saffron Diamond around her neck. When the priceless jewel disappears mid-voyage, Pepper unexpectedly finds herself entangled in the crime.

With the Captain’s reputation at stake, Pepper and her new friends set out to solve the mystery. But finding a missing diamond isn’t so easy on Aquitania, where everyone has something to hide …

About Nicki Greenberg

Nicki Greenberg is an award-winning author and illustrator of more than thirty books including works of fiction, picture books and graphic novels. Her first series of picture books was published when she was just fifteen years old. She later spent ten years disguised as a lawyer while maintaining a not-so-secret Other Life as a comics artist and children’s book author. Nicki’s innovative graphic adaptation of The Great Gatsby was awarded a White Raven at the Bologna Book Fair, and her adaptation of Hamlet was joint winner of the 2011 Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year award. For further information:

“I am thrilled to be long-listed for the ARA CYA Historical Novel Prize. This book was my first foray into both historical fiction and mystery writing, and probably the most fascinating, challenging and exciting experience of my writing career. The golden age of transatlantic travel is a vanished world: the ships themselves have completely disappeared, and surprisingly few fragments remain of the millions of stories that played out on board. Researching that world, I felt a yearning for what had been lost. That feeling spurred me on to glean all the bright threads - of vernacular, technology, music, fashion, manners and mores - that I hoped would bring the story to life and make it sing.”

The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

About The Grandest Bookshop in the World

Pearl and Vally Cole live in a bookshop. And not just any bookshop. In 1893, Cole’s Book Arcade in Melbourne is the grandest bookshop in the world, brimming with every curiosity imaginable. Each day brings fresh delights for the siblings: voice-changing sweets, talking parrots, a new story written just for them by their eccentric father.

When Pearl and Vally learn that Pa has risked the Arcade – and himself – in a shocking deal with the mysterious Obscurosmith, the siblings hatch a plan. Soon they are swept into a dangerous game with impossibly high stakes: defeat seven challenges by the stroke of midnight and both the Arcade and their father will be restored. But if they fail Pearl and Vally won’t just lose Pa – they’ll forget that he and the Arcade ever existed.

About Amelia Mellor

The Grandest Bookshop in the World has won the Indie Bookseller’s Children’s Award, the Australian Book Industry Award for books for children aged 7 to 12 and the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. It was also a CBCA Notable Book and shortlisted for the Readings Prize. When she isn’t writing, Amelia enjoys hiking, gardening and drawing. Amelia is an English teacher in regional Victoria. For further information:

“I’m delighted to be nominated for the first Children’s and Young Adult ARA Historical Novel Prize. Historical fiction is such a great way to engage young readers in times and places beyond their own experiences. It’s wonderful to have this prize not only endorsing me through this longlisting, but also supporting and encouraging writers of historical fiction. Thank you, Historical Novel Society! Thank you, ARA Group!”

We Are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad

About We Are Wolves

Sometimes it’s good to be wild. Sometimes you have to be wild.

When the Russian Army marches into East Prussia at the end of the war, the Wolf family must flee. Liesl, Otto and their baby sister Mia find themselves lost and alone, in a blizzard, in the middle of a war zone. Liesl has promised Mama that she will keep her brother and sister safe.

But sometimes, to survive, you have to do bad things. Dangerous things. Wild things.

Sometimes to survive, you must become a wolf.

About Katrina Nannestad

Katrina Nannestad is an award-winning Australian author. Her books include We Are Wolves, The Girl Who Brought Mischief, the Travelling Bookshop series, the Girl, the Dog and the Writer series, the Olive of Groves series, the Red Dirt Diaries series, the Lottie Perkins series, and the forthcoming novel Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief.  We Are Wolves has been shortlisted in the 2021 CBCA Awards, the 2021 Book Links Awards, and the 2021 Queensland Literary Awards, as well as being longlisted in the 2021 ABIA Awards and winning best designed children’s fiction book at the 2021 ABDA Awards. For further information:

“I am thrilled that We Are Wolves has been longlisted. Historical novels are a wonderful way to bring history alive for young readers, and awards like this help to promote an important part of literature and learning. I hope my story, inspired by the true stories of the Wolfskinder, shows the tragedy of war and its effect on innocent children, while also highlighting the power of kindness and love to change lives, even save lives. History teaches us lessons that should inspire us to fight for a better world. “

Echo in the Memory by Cameron Nunn

About Echo in the Memory

What if memories never die? When fifteen-year-old Will is sent away to stay with his grandparents in rural New South Wales, he finds the isolated farm strangely familiar; except the memories he’s channelling are not his own. But whose are they? And why does his grandfather share the same haunting link? As two stories unfold, nearly 200 years apart, two boys exiled to what feels like the end of the earth struggle to find their identities and voices in the face of abandonment and tragedy. A page-turning YA novel that explores the darker moments of our convict past and how they resonate today.

About Cameron Nunn

Cameron Nunn is an English and History teacher in Western Sydney, where he lives with his wife Belinda. He has a PhD from Macquarie University in child convicts and was awarded the NSW Premier’s History teacher’s scholarship to research child convicts in the archives in London. Echo in the Memory is the result of that research. Cameron’s first novel, Shadows in the Mirror is also available from Walker Books.

“I love the history of ordinary people. It’s their stories that make our nation. It is an honour to be able to be considered for the ARA Historical Novel Prize and to have their stories heard.”

The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle by Pamela Rushby

About The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle

1873 England: Orphaned Hattie goes to live with her great uncle and aunt in their crumbling castle in the English Fens. There, Great Aunt Iphigenia hosts flamboyant mummy-unwrapping parties to save her home from ruin – until the mummy supply runs out. On a dangerous search for more, a thousand miles up the Nile, Hattie is haunted by these ancient souls and tries to free them with unexpected consequences. A potent blend of fantasy and history, this rambunctious story has it all!

About Pamela Rushby

Pamela Rushby is the author of over 200 books for children and young adults, as well as children’s TV scripts, documentaries, short stories and freelance journalism. Pam has been an advertising copywriter, pre-school teacher, and producer of educational television, audio and multimedia. She has won several awards, including the NSW Premier’s Ethel Turner Prize, six CBCA Notable Books – and a bag of gold coins at a film festival in Iran! Pam believes the strangest, most riveting, heart-breaking, laugh-out-loud stories aren’t fiction. They’re real. They come from history. And she loves tripping over unusual incidents from history – and then writing about them. For further information, visit Pamela’s website.

“I love tripping over little-known events in history. When I discovered Victorian mummy-unwrapping parties I was desperate to write about them. Somehow fantasy crept in and I included an orphaned heroine, a mysterious mist-shrouded castle in the Fens, a family of house-keeping cats, and a thousand-mile journey up the Nile in (illegal) search of ancient Egyptian mummies. I wrote the book I would have loved to read when I was ten! The historical details, I hasten to add, are all accurate: I used the diaries of two intrepid Victorian lady adventurers (and mummy smugglers!) on their journeys on the Nile.”

Harmony by Richard Yaxley

About Harmony

In 1914, Tom Stott falls in love with Gracie O’Donnell, but their love is thwarted by circumstance and war. Tom finds himself part of the blood-soaked landings at Gallipoli, while Gracie marries another. A deception, born in a place and time on the brink of war, traverses the world as successive generations seek freedom in a century of change. It isn’t until American teen Noah Clifford joins his mother Deborah, his grandfather Will and his great-grandmother Gracie in Australia that the secrets of the past are revealed, secrets that will take them back to the beaches of Gallipoli…

About Richard Yaxley

Richard Yaxley is the author of eight novels. He is a former winner of the Prime Ministers Literary Award and the Queensland Premiers Literary Award, both for Young Adult Literature, and his novel This Is My Song was the 2020 ACU Book of the Year. A secondary school teacher for over thirty years, Richard has master’s degrees in human rights and cultural studies. In 2012, he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to education, literature and performing arts. For further information:

“Harmony is a narrative reworking of stories and characters that emanate from my family’s history. That which was spoken about and acknowledged merges with the greater body of material, the unspoken and unacknowledged, to form a whole which is as fictional as it is possible. This process has engendered a novel which is about understanding the connections that bind our past and present worlds, and recognising how our willingness to embrace those connections can define our individual and collective humanity. For me, the writing of Harmony became a fulfilling adventure in seeking love, family and truth.”



ARA Group provides a comprehensive range of building services and products to major customers throughout Australia and New Zealand and – through its workplace giving program, The ARA Endowment Fund – plays a proud and positive role in the community.

The ARA Endowment Fund currently donates 100 per cent of the interest earned annually to The Go Foundation, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation and The David Lynch Foundation.

ARA Group has also sponsored the Historical Novel Society Australasia’s biennial conferences since 2017, is Principal Partner of Sydney Writers Festival, the Monkey Baa Theatre, the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and Presidential Partner of Taronga Zoo.

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