Announcing the winner of the 2015 Readings Children’s Book Prize

The winner of the Readings Children’s Book Prize 2015 is… Rivertime by Trace Balla!

The Readings Children’s Book Prize recognises and celebrates books that families love reading together, or that children read under the covers with a torch late into the night because they can’t bear to put it down – books they tell their friends about. It also aims to raise the profile of debut and on-the-rise Australian children’s book authors.


Rivertime is a tender and beautifully illustrated tale of a boy and his bird-watching uncle on a paddling trip along Australia’s Glenelg River. It’s a graphic novel suitable for 6- to 10-year-olds, and a perfect book for families to read together.

Rivertime is available in all of our Readings shops, or you can purchase it online with free shipping. (You can see a sneak peek of some sample pages from inside the book here). You can also buy Rivertime plus the other five shortlisted books in one specially discounted pack.

We’re holding an event to celebrate the Readings Children’s Book Prize this July. Come along and hear Trace Balla in conversation with guest judge Sally Rippin at 4.30pm on Tuesday 28 July at our Hawthorn shop. Find out more information about this free event and book your place here.

Comments from the judges of the Prize:

‘We chose Rivertime as the 2015 winner for many reasons: it is unique, we love its artistry and it is a stunning debut that heralds the arrival of an exciting new Australian author–illustrator. The attention to detail in Rivertime is extraordinary, engrossing you in the exquisite flora and fauna on each page as you follow the action. And then there are the stunning double-page spreads that allow the eye to relax and the brain to go ‘aaahh’.

It is exciting that this year’s winner is a graphic novel, a form of writing that can encourage reluctant readers as well as invite eager readers to slow down and take in what the images, as well as the words, are saying.

It is also a thrill to choose a book that is so clearly about engaging with our natural world and taking an active role in its conservation. In an age when environmental concerns have never been so worrying, children are spending less and less time outside and interacting with nature. Rivertime encourages us to remedy that with its wonderful evocation of the simple joys of paddling up a river.

Rivertime is suitable for readers aged 6–10, but we also know it is a fabulous book for families to share. Families can peruse its pages together, perhaps outdoors while engaging in some bird-watching and animal spotting. This is a book to be cherished and enjoyed over many years and we look forward to sharing our love of Rivertime with the wider world. We thank the author, Trace Balla, for creating it and we are delighted that there is a sequel coming in 2016.’

The Prize judges are Readings children’s book specialists Angela Crocombe, Alexa Dretzke, Athina Clarke, Isobel Moore, Emily Gale and Holly Harper, and guest judge author Sally Rippin.

Comments from our special guest judge Sally Rippin:

Rivertime reminds us to slow down and open our eyes to all the beauty around us. We may not be lucky enough to travel up a river for days on end, but most of us can still take our children for a stroll through a park, meander along a creek or even just peer underneath a leaf to uncover the world hidden there. In a time where we are bombarded by so much choice in how to fill our child’s day, Rivertime reminds us that it’s often the quietest moments that will be the most dearly remembered.’

Comments from winning author Trace Balla:

‘I have so much respect for Readings bookshops that I am really honoured to win this prize – thank you. This is great encouragement, and helps get my message out there which is primarily about caring, curiosity and awe for this amazing planet we call home.’

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