Lisa Fuller wins the Readings Young Adult Book Prize 2020

We are absolutely delighted to announce Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller as the winner of the Readings Young Adult Book Prize for 2020. Ghost Bird is a terrifying and spooky thriller set in country Australia and against a backdrop of family relationships, small- town grudges and casual racism. It is a cracking read for ages 14 through to adult that will scare the pants off you and make you question your biases.

Our four staff judges – Bec Kavanagh (Readings Kids), Claire Atherfold (Readings State Library), Joe Murray (Readings Kids) and I (Readings Kids) – were joined by YA author Amie Kaufman (The Illuminae Files, The Aurora Cycle, The Starbound Trilogy) to make the final decision on the winner. Kavanagh put it most succinctly when she said: ‘Readers looking for late-night scares will devour Ghost Bird. Fuller’s debut probes the deep tears in Australian culture, in its peoples and lands. In the forbidden depths of the mountain lies something powerful and terrifying, something that – when disrespected – will come out of the darkness to eat you alive. This is a book that will get under your skin, in more ways than one.’

Kaufman added to this praise: ‘ Ghost Bird kept me reading well into the night – with all the lights on! The novel draws you deep into the bonds between sisters, family, and community, and is a fantastic addition to the Australian speculative fiction scene, from a truly talented Murri author. This book is for everyone, and I loved it.’

Fuller also received our 2019-2020 Teen Advisory Board’s ‘seal of approval’. Board member Chenuli Halgamuge says: ‘Lisa Fuller, what a legend. She absolutely delivers with Ghost Bird which has everything you could possibly ask for: action, comedy and a sprinkle of romance. Stacey is not afraid to break the rules and make her own, and I respect her for that.’

Fuller is a Wuilli Wuilli woman from Eidsvold, Queensland, and is also descended from Gooreng Gooreng and Wakka Wakka peoples. She is the first First Nations writer to win one of Readings’ three book prizes.

In response to the news of her win, Fuller responded generously: ‘There are no words for how honoured I am to win the Readings Young Adult Book Prize. I feel like I’m watching my dreams come true and I’m in complete shock. Thank you so much to Readings, the judges, and all of the amazing shortlisted authors!’

While there can only be one winner, we had a very strong field to choose from this year and want to again congratulate our shortlisted authors: Wai Chim (The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling); Holden Sheppard (Invisible Boys); Katy Warner (Everywhere Everything Everyone); Meg Caddy (Devil’s Ballast); and Susan White (Take the Shot).

Kaufman commented: ‘The Readings Young Adult Book Prize highlights the fact that the Australian YA scene is bursting with talent. The fantastic 2020 shortlist shines a light on some of the very best and is a chance for readers to support up-and-coming home-grown talent.’

The Readings Young Adult Book Prize has been recognising Australian authors since 2016 and has given early attention to authors such as Zana Fraillon, whose novel The Bone Sparrow was awarded the prize in 2017 and later went on to win the internationally recognised Amnesty CILIP Honour. Erin Gough (Amelia Westlake) and Eleni Hale (Stone Girl) have also been supported by the Readings Young Adult Book Prize and have seen a significant boost in sales and awareness of their books.

We hope that you will support this exciting new author and the prize by grabbing yourself a copy of Ghost Bird. Just be prepared for a sleepless night…


Due to the impact upon Readings of the ongoing global health crisis, we are unable to offer prize money for any of our three prizes in 2020. We do hope these prizes will still guide readers towards wonderful emerging voices.

Ghost Bird

Ghost Bird

Lisa Fuller

$19.95Buy now

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