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 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize – CYA Category. The longlisted entries include:
- The Great Gallipoli Escape – Jackie French (HarperCollins Publishers)
- Running with Ivan – Suzanne Leal (HarperCollins Publishers)
- The Killing Code – Ellie Marnie (Allen & Unwin)
- The Bookseller’s Apprentice – Amelia Mellor (Affirm Press)
- Waiting for the Storks – Katrina Nannestad (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
- The Upwelling – Lystra Rose (Hatchette Australia)
- The Mud Puddlers – Pamela Rushby (Walker Books)
- Iris and Me – Philippa Werry (Ahoy! An Imprint of The Cuba Press)
- Tilda – Sue Whiting (Walker Books)
The Judging Panel
The 2023 judging panel for the CYA category included Christopher Cheng (Chair), Dr Craig Cormick and Lauren Keenan.
According to Christopher Cheng, “The judges were so very pleased with the variety of themes, and the creative and courageous writing approaches (including verse) in the nine long listed titles from Australia and New Zealand in this year’s Children’s and Young Adult Novel Award Category. These titles exposed wars (in China, the Lebensborn Program, Gallipoli and Theresienstadt), suffragettes, female code breakers, an orphanage, evacuees, and bookstores. Some of these titles revealed uncommon and uncomfortable slices of history.”
“Time slip, often cumbersomely portrayed, was cleverly approached where required and with integrity. A common theme of friendship is running through many of the titles and it was pleasing to read titles written in verse or through multiple voices.”
“Extensive research was demonstrated, with complex and in-depth factual notes added to the title, which was then cleverly written into the storylines.”
“These are powerful and engaging historical titles that young readers will want to devour.”
The Great Gallipoli Escape by Jackie French
About Jackie French
Jackie French AM is an award-winning writer, wombat negotiator, the 2014-2015 Australian Children’s Laureate and the 2015 Senior Australian of the Year. In 2016 Jackie became a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to children’s literature and her advocacy for youth literacy. She is regarded as one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors and writes across all genres. ‘A book can change a child’s life. A book can change the world’ was the primary philosophy behind Jackie’s two-year term as Laureate. For further information, visit:
About The Great Gallipoli Escape
Sixteen-year-old Nipper and his Gallipoli mates Lanky, Spud, Bluey and Wallaby Joe are starving, freezing and ill-equipped. By November 1915 they know that that there is more to winning a war than courage. The Gallipoli campaign has been lost.
Nipper has played cricket with the Turks in the opposing dugout, dodged rocket fire and rescued desperate and drowning men when the blizzard snow melted. He is one of the few trusted with the secret kept from even most of the officers: how an entire army will vanish from the Peninsula over three impeccably planned nights.
Based on first-hand accounts of those extraordinary last weeks of the Gallipoli campaign, this is the fascinating ‘lost story’ of how 150,000 men – and their horses and equipment – were secretly moved to waiting ships without a single life lost. An unforgettable story told through the eyes of a boy who lied about his age to defend his country.
A Quote from Jackie French
“Those who claim you can’t predict the future from the past are possibly scared of the answers, or don’t know enough history. This award celebrates the research to find the stories of the past we never knew, or have forgotten or mythologised, like the ‘vanished’ history of the evacuation of Gallipoli. Turning history into compelling stories shows young people how knowing our past is vital to understanding the problems of the present day, from climatic disasters like flood or bushfire to war or discrimination, and how to face and solve those problems in the future. I am honoured and privileged to be on the longlist.”
Running with Ivan by Suzanne Leal
HQ (HarperCollins Publishers)
About Suzanne Leal
Suzanne Leal is the author of novels The Teacher’s Secret, Border Street and The Deceptions, for which she won the Nib People’s Choice Prize and was shortlisted for the Davitt Awards and the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award. A senior member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and facilitator at community, corporate and literary events, Suzanne is the host of Thursday Book Club, a relaxed, friendly book club connecting readers online. For further information, visit:
About Running with Ivan
Thirteen-year-old Leo Arnold hates his life. He doesn’t want a new school, a new house or a new family. And he definitely doesn’t want to be sharing a room with his new stepbrother, Cooper.
What Leo wants is to be somewhere else, far away. So when he uncovers an old music box and turns the key, he is astonished to find himself in Prague, surrounded by whispers and fears of a second world war. A war that ended decades ago.
In Prague, Leo meets Ivan, a Czech boy, and the two become friends. But when World War Two finally erupts, the unimaginable becomes real and the boys are imprisoned. Fearing the worst, Leo and Ivan frantically search for an escape. A search that sends them running.
Running against time.
Running for their lives.
A Quote from Suzanne Leal
“I am so delighted to be on the longlist for this prestigious prize. My congratulations to my fellow longlisted writers and my thanks to the judges, to Elisabeth Storrs, and to Edward Federman and the ARA Group for their generous and enthusiastic support of the arts.”
“From my childhood, historical fiction has beguiled me, magically sending me back in time to discover how the world was and how to make sense of it now. By propelling us back to bygone eras, historical fiction ignites the imagination, engages the curiosity and feeds the mind. This is why it is so important.”
The Killing Code by Ellie Marney
(Allen & Unwin)
About Ellie Marney
Ellie Marney is a multi-award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of crime thrillers, including The Killing Code, None Shall Sleep, White Night, No Limits, the Every series, and the Circus Hearts series. Her books are published in ten countries and have been optioned for television. She’s spent a lifetime researching in mortuaries, interviewing law enforcement officers, talking to autopsy specialists, and asking former spies how to make explosives from household items, and now she lives quite sedately in south eastern Australia with her family. For further information, visit:
About The Killing Code
1943. World War II is raging across Europe and on the Pacific front. Kit Sutherland is hiding a huge secret when she is unexpectedly recruited to work as a young codebreaker at Arlington Hall, a US Signals Intelligence facility.
When Kit’s roommate doesn’t return home from a dance, it sparks a search that ends in a gruesome discovery. And soon it turns into a horrifying pattern: Government girls are being murdered in Washington, DC.
Kit joins forces with three other girl codebreakers, Dottie, Moya and Violet, and as they work to crack the killer’s code, two things become terrifyingly clear: the murderer they’re hunting is getting closer every moment … and Kit’s own secret could put her in more jeopardy than she ever imagined.
A Quote from Ellie Marney
“It’s a massive honour to see The Killing Code on the ARA Historical Novel Prize CYA long-list, and I’m hugely grateful – not just for myself, but as a crucial acknowledgement of the incredible work and sacrifices of the women who worked in signal intelligence as Allied codebreakers during World War II. For such a long time, the dedication and service of these women codebreakers lay concealed beneath the Official Secrets Act in every Allied country. It was a genuine privilege to explore and reveal even a small part of their story in The Killing Code. Without historical fiction, so many lives and stories go unnoticed and forgotten; I’m delighted that the recognition of prizes like this one allows us to shine a light on the hidden corners of history.”
The Bookseller’s Apprentice by Amelia Mellor
About Amelia Mellor
Amelia Mellor began her writing career as her secondary school’s resident playwright in Year 11. As part of her creative writing course at the University of Melbourne, she completed a thesis on the reinvention of the Industrial Revolution in children’s fantasy literature. Her debut novel, The Grandest Bookshop in the World, has won an Australian Book Industry Award, an Indie Book Award, a NSW Premier’s Literary Award and a Booksellers’ Choice Award. When she isn’t writing, Amelia enjoys hiking, gardening and drawing. For further information, visit:
About The Bookseller’s Apprentice
Return to Amelia Mellor’s magical Melbourne in the prequel to best-seller The Grandest Bookshop in the World.
Twelve-year-old Billy Pyke has a talent for sorting things out, whether it’s his chaotic family home or the busy book stall at Paddy’s Market. In 1871, the market is the loud, smelly, marvellous heart of Melbourne, and Billy is delighted to work at the book stall there for the eccentric Mr Cole. When his new friend Kezia warns him of a sinister magician called the Obscurosmith, Billy can’t believe her stories of magical deals gone horribly wrong – until he sees them happening. And the night that the Obscurosmith crosses a terrifying and dangerous line, Billy realises something: if he wants the Obscurosmith stopped, he’ll have to do it himself.
Award-winning author Amelia Mellor delivers another race-against-time adventure in this action-packed prequel to The Grandest Bookshop in the World. Loaded with tricks, riddles, magic and mayhem, The Bookseller’s Apprentice is perfect for Mellor fans and newcomers alike.
A Quote from Amelia Mellor
“I’m so thrilled that The Bookseller’s Apprentice is longlisted for the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize! One of my major goals with Apprentice was to educate and immerse readers in the social history of Melbourne through my detailed research. Paddy’s Market (the Eastern Market) was a fascinating place but during its heyday, classism and racism defined its cultural perception. To have my novel about the place longlisted for this prestigious award feels like a glorious ‘take that’ to the snobbery of the Victorian era!”
Waiting for the Storks by Katrina Nannestad
(ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
About Katrina Nannestad
Katrina Nannestad is an award-winning Australian author. Her books include the CBCA-shortlisted 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 historical novel Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief. For further information, visit:
About Waiting for the Storks
It’s the Second World War and Himmler’s Lebensborn Program is in full flight when eight-year-old Zofia Ulinski is kidnapped by the Germans. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, just like the other Polish children taken from their families and robbed of their names, their language, their heritage.
But when Zofia is adopted into a wealthy and loving German family, it is easier, it is safer to bury her past, deep down, so everything is forgotten. Until the Polish boy arrives.
And the past comes back to haunt her.
From Katrina Nannestad, multi-award-winning author of We Are Wolves and Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief, comes a story about family lost and found, and the choices we make when we don’t have a choice at all.
A Quote from Katrina Nannestad
“I am so very honoured and excited that Waiting for the Storks has been included in this longlist of wonderful books. This is a huge encouragement for me as a writer. In dealing with the children stolen by the Nazis through the Lebensborn Program, my story is not without its echoes throughout history. My hope is that young readers will not only be fascinated and entertained by Waiting for the Storks, but will make connections with other historical events, and ponder their own place and role in history.”
The Upwelling by Lystra Rose
About Lystra Rose
Lystra Rose, a descendant of the Guugu Yimithirr, Birri Gubba, Erub and Scottish nations, is an award-winning writer and editor who lives in a land where the rainforest meets the sea . . . Yugambeh-speaking country (Gold Coast), Australia. When she’s not catching waves with her husband and their two groms, Lystra is editing Surfing Life magazine and is the executive producer of Surfing Life TV (globally broadcasted on Fuel TV). She is the first female editor-in-chief of a mainstream surf magazine in the world. Surfing is Lystra’s daily reminder to ‘let fear be your friend, not your foe, and use it to do the things you love or were meant to do’. It’s also her creativity generator. The Upwelling is Lystra’s debut novel. For further information, visit:
About The Upwelling
Three misfits. Two warring spirits. One chance to save the world.
Kirra is the great-granddaughter of a truth dreamer, and, like Great Nanna Clara, no-one believes her night-visions are coming true. When an end-of-the-world nightmare forces her to surf where her brother was killed, she time-slips into a place that could ruin her life, here, and in the Dreaming.
Narn is the son of a well-respected Elder and holds an enviable role in his saltwater clan. Though he bears the marks of a man, many treat him like an uninitiated boy, including the woman he wants to impress.
Tarni is the daughter of a fierce hunter and the custodian of a clever gift. Somehow, she understands Kirra when no-one else can. But who sent this unexpected visitor: a powerful ancient healer or an evil shadow-spirit?
When death threatens all life, can a short-sighted surfer, a laidback dolphin caller and a feisty language unweaver work together to salvage our future?
A Quote from Lystra Rose
“I’m stoked to make the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize longlist. In upper primary school, I discovered historical fiction (Playing Beatie Bow and Anne of Green Gables) and fell in love with this genre. It allows every person of any age, race, gender, rich or poor, to time travel through history. I’m always curious about how people lived in bygone days and amazed at our similarities—struggling with fragile emotions but in a different way. This kind of questioning started on my surfboard at Kirra Point (Yugambeh-speaking Country) and led to five years of researching, yarning and writing The Upwelling.”
The Mud Puddlers by Pamela Rushby
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, five 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:
About The Mud Puddlers
What lies hidden in the mud? What might happen if you look at it too long? And what will happen if you let it go?
Twelve-year-old Nina is not happy. Her scientist parents are spending a year in Antarctica. And Nina’s being sent to London to stay with her Aunt Bee, an intertidal archaeologist, who lives on a converted barge on the Thames. She’s also a keen mud larker, combing the river mud for fascinating, long-forgotten articles from past lives. Nina arrives with an Attitude. Her parents have never left her behind before. It takes time for her to settle in, helped by the MudPuddlers, a local group of enthusiastic amateur mud larks, and especially by Molly, an elderly MudPuddler living on a nearby barge. Molly draws Nina into the magic and mystery of the ancient river and its treasures. When she finds herself stranded in time, in the Blitz in 1940, Nina and a very unwilling fellow traveller, Tom, become runaways, fumbling their way across wartime England, desperate to return to London. Will they ever see their families again?
A Quote from Pamela Rushby
“I’m thrilled that The Mud Puddlers has been included in the longlist for the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize. I had such a wonderful time researching this book: it all started when the stars aligned and the tides were (finally!) low enough for me to go on a mud larking guided walk on the Thames. And it went on to learning how to get a narrowboat through a lock, life on a houseboat, bothering museums in London … wouldn’t be dead for quids, would you? Thanks HNSA – I greatly appreciate this.”
Iris and Me by Philippa Werry
(Ahoy! An Imprint of The Cuba Press)
About Philippa Werry
Philippa Werry is a writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays. Her interest in history has produced titles such as Anzac Day, Best Mates, Waitangi Day, Armistice Day, Lighthouse Family, The New Zealand Wars, The Telegram, The Water Bottle, Quarantine, The Other Sister and This Is Where I Stand. Iris and Me was the runner-up of the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize 2022. Her work has also appeared in the School Journal, educational publications and in various anthologies and has been broadcast on radio. Several of her books have been shortlisted for awards and she is a frequent speaker with the Writers in Schools programme. She lives in Wellington. For further information, visit:
About Iris and Me
“This is the story of a long journey and a true friend. It is the story of other things, too: sisters (three) ships (many) secrets (a multitude) … I don’t have a name of my own, but my friend does. Her name is Iris.”
So begins the story of Iris Wilkinson, who wrote poetry, novels and journalism under the pen name Robin Hyde. In January 1938 she left New Zealand for England. On the way, intrigued by glimpses of China, she ventured inland despite the war raging there, becoming one of the first women war correspondents – a feat that was all the more remarkable because she struggled with mental health and suffered a disability that meant she had a lifelong limp. Her story is narrated by a loyal but mysterious companion who asks the reader to guess their secret.
Iris and Me is an imaginative account of the adventures of one of Aotearoa’s most significant writers, presented in a form that Hyde herself would have loved – the verse novel. It was the runner-up for the NZSA Laura Solomon Cuba Press Prize 2022.
A Quote from Philippa Werry
“It’s a thrill and total delight to know that Iris and Me has been longlisted for the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize, and I feel honoured to be in the company of the other longlisted authors. How wonderful to have a prize especially for historical writing and writers, and for those of us who love the challenge of trying to make history alive and relevant for today’s young readers. It has also been an honour to bring the story of Iris Wilkinson – who wrote under the name of Robin Hyde – to a new audience, and I hope her bravery, courage and determination will inspire readers of the book. Grateful thanks to the ARA Group and HNSA for supporting this prize, and thanks also to my wonderful publisher, The Cuba Press.”
Tilda by Sue Whiting
About Sue Whiting
Sue Whiting is a children’s and young adult author and editor who lives and works in a small coastal village south of Sydney. She has written numerous books in a variety of genres: fiction and nonfiction, picture books through to YA, including the best-selling The Firefighters and Missing, the award-winning A Swim in the Sea and the CBCA Notable Books, Get a Grip Cooper Jones, Platypus and Beware the Deep Dark Forest. Sue was Publishing Manager and Senior Commissioning Editor at Walker Books Australia for many years, before leaving in 2016 to concentrate on her writing and to work as a freelance editor, writing coach and mentor. A former primary school teacher with a special interest in literacy education and children’s literature, Sue is a highly experienced speaker who loves sharing her passion for story and storytelling, reading and writing with people of all ages. For further information, visit:
L.M. Montgomery meets Ruth Park in a story of friendship, hope and resilience.
You have a big heart. And people blessed with a big heart have a choice to make. Do they fill that heart with light and love or do they fill it with darkness and hate? This is your choice to make, Matilda. Make it wisely.
Tilda Moss refuses to believe her papa has abandoned her and left her, alone and orphaned, in Brushwood Convent and Home for Girls, no matter what Sister Agatha says. A promise is a promise and Papa promised he would be back for her as soon as he returns from the war.
But Tilda is convinced the dreadful Sister Agatha is out to get her. Why is she so hateful all the time? She insists that Matilda declare to all at the convent that she is an orphan. She is not an orphan and she will never say it! Something is amiss and Tilda and her best friend Annie need to find out what before it is too late.
A Quote from Sue Whiting
“I am absolutely thrilled to be longlisted for the HNSA’s ARA Historical Novel Prize. I wrote Tilda to explore the challenges Australians faced in the early 1900s, so I could better understand my grandmother’s unfortunate childhood: motherless at two, abandoned by her father and ultimately forced into institutional care. Set in Adelaide in 1901, Tilda is a story of hope, determination and resilience that allows young readers to step back in time and walk with a feisty young girl intent on never giving up, despite her dire circumstances. Thank you HNSA and ARA for shining a spotlight on the importance of historical fiction.”
ABOUT ARA GROUP
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 Melbourne Writers Festival, the Monkey Baa Theatre, the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Crown Sponsor of the Taronga Zoo and Significant Partner of the Story Factory.