2021 literary prize winners for younger readers

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Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Winner of the 2021 National Book Award for Young People

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father - despite his hard-won citizenship - Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.


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Future Girl by Asphyxia

Winner of the 2021 Readings Young Adult Prize

Piper’s mum wants her to be ‘normal’, to pass as hearing and get a good job. But when peak oil hits and Melbourne lurches towards environmental catastrophe, Piper has more important things to worry about, such as how to get food. When she meets Marley, a CODA (child of Deaf adult), a door opens into a new world - where Deafness is something to celebrate rather than hide, and where resilience is created through growing your own food rather than it being delivered on a truck.


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The End of the World is Bigger Than Love by Davina Bell

Winner of the 2021 CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers
Identical twin sisters Summer and Winter live alone on a remote island, sheltered from a destroyed world. They survive on rations stockpiled by their father and spend their days deep in their mother’s collection of classic literature-until a mysterious stranger upends their carefully constructed reality. At first, Edward is a welcome distraction. But who is he really, and why has he come? As love blooms and the world stops spinning, the secrets of the girls' past begin to unravel and escape is the only option.


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Loveless by Alice Oseman

Winner of the Young Adult Book Prize 2021

Georgia feels loveless - in the romantic sense, anyway. She’s eighteen, never been in a relationship, or even had a crush on a single person in her whole life. She thinks she’s an anomaly, people call her weird, and she feels a little broken. But she still adores romance - weddings, fan fiction, and happily ever afters. She knows she’ll find her person one day … right? A journey of identity, self-acceptance, and finding out how many different types of love there really are. And that no one is really loveless after all.


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Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath Moore

Winner of the 2021 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Young Adult

Dylan and her adored French mother dream of one day sailing across the ocean to France. Paris, Dylan imagines, is a place where her black skin won’t make her stand out, a place where she might feel she belongs. But when she loses her mother in a freak accident, Dylan finds herself on a very different journey- a road trip across outback Australia in the care of her mother’s grieving boyfriend, Pat. As they travel through remote towns further and further from the water that Dylan longs for, she and Pat form an unlikely bond. One that will be broken when he leaves her with the family she has never known.


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As Fast As I Can by Penny Tangey

Winner of the Readings Children’s Book Prize 2021

Ten-year-old Vivian is determined to win a medal at the Olympic Games one day. Problem is, she hasn’t found a sport she’s any good at yet. But everyone says if you work hard enough you can achieve anything, right? So when Vivian discovers she has a talent for cross country running, finally, her Olympic dream might actually come true. But then a family illness is uncovered and all of Vivian’s plans begin to unravel. Can she keep her dream alive? Or will she be stopped in her tracks? A funny, heartfelt novel about resilience, acceptance and dreaming big.


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When You Trap A Tiger by Tae Keller

Winner of the 2021 Newbery Medal

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives. The tiger offers Lily a deal- if Lily will open her grandmother’s star jars and return what she stole, the tiger will heal her grandmother. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice … and the courage to face a tiger. A sparkling tale about the power of stories and the magic of family.


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Jefferson by Jean-Claude Mourlevat (translated by Ros Schwartz)

Winner of the PEN Translates Award

When Jefferson the hedgehog goes to his hairdresser’s, he’s shocked to discover the barber lying dead on the floor. Falsely accused of murder, Jefferson must go on the run with his best friend Gilbert the pig to uncover the real killers. Adventure, dark secrets and a most unlikely series of hair-raising events await Jefferson and his fellow animals as they travel into the Land of the Humans.


Explore the full collection of 2021 literary prize winners for kids & teens here.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Malinda Lo

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