Penny Tangey wins the Readings Children’s Book Prize 2021

We are thrilled to share that the winner of the Readings Children’s Book Prize is As Fast As I Can by Penny Tangey! This thrilling and entertaining sporty adventure will delight readers of ages 8-12.

Ten-year-old Vivian has her life sorted already – she’s determined to go the Olympics. She just doesn’t know in which sport! She’s tried nearly everything, but now she’s found her love of cross country running. She becomes determined and trains really hard. Everything changes however, when a family illness is discovered, and Vivian has to learn to adjust.

As Fast As I Can is a beautiful story about dreams, resilience and determination. Vivian is a fierce character, whose honesty and, at times, stubbornness drive the plot. When Vivian’s dream is challenged, Tangey demonstrates an exceptional ability to navigate the reader through difficult changes in the family, while also maintaining a light humour. Tangey is a natural and funny storyteller, and her book will be eagerly devoured by independent readers – especially those looking for something sporty – as well as being a fantastic choice for a family read-aloud.

This is the second time Tangey has been shortlisted for this prize. Her first middle grade novel Stay Well Soon was shortlisted in 2014. Her young adult novels Clara in Washington and Loving Richard Feynman are also both acclaimed. We’re pleased to offer a special pack of both Stay Well Soon and As Fast As I Can at a special price of $26.99!

As Fast As I Can was chosen by a panel of Readings children’s book specialists – Angela Crocombe (manager of Readings Kids), Sam Kelly (bookseller at Readings Doncaster and host of Doncaster’s middle fiction book club), Tye Cattanach (bookseller at Readings Kids), and me – along with our 2021 guest judge, author Emily Gale.

We were unanimous in our awe for this book. Tangey has crafted a timeless story about finding passions and strength, and listening to our bodies and families. We were inspired by Vivian’s drive. The judges particularly praised how realistic the primary school setting and friendships felt, as well as Tangey’s ability to handle sensitive topics and changes in Vivian’s family. Gale says: ‘Tangey’s depiction of a primary school felt like a real and down-to-earth slice of Australian life, and I loved her deft handling of friendships and family dynamics. Above all, Vivian’s humour, honesty, hopefulness and grit make her a memorable and enduring character.’

Congratulations again to the five authors who were shortlisted alongside Tangey: Nat Amoore (The Power of Positive Pranking), Danielle Binks (The Year the Maps Changed), Maxine Beneba Clarke (Aussie Kids: Meet Taj at the Lighthouse), Amelia Mellor (The Grandest Bookshop in the World) and Kirli Saunders (Bindi). Our judging panel wouldn’t be the first to note the absolute excellence of Australian children’s books in 2020.

Emily Gale was instrumental in establishing the Readings Children’s Book Prize in 2014 to celebrate books that children and families will love, and to raise the profile of exciting emerging Australian authors. Eight years later, it is a privilege to work with Gale again and hear her invaluable thoughts on Australian children’s publishing. About the prize, she said, ‘Awards that actively promote Australian literature to the public, and remunerate emerging writers, are crucial in a landscape where homegrown books have to fight relentlessly for space. I relished every book on this list; they all deserve the attention of booksellers, librarians, teachers and of course children across Australia and beyond.’

As the 2021 winner, Tangey will receive $3,000 in prize money. We’re beyond excited to share As Fast As I Can with new readers.

As Fast As I Can

As Fast As I Can

Penny Tangey

$16.99Buy now

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