Yesterday, I learned that Duck for a Day (illust. Leila Rudge) had been selected as a Notable in the Younger Readers Category of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards. An hour later, I learned it was on the shortlist. Shortly after, my inbox looked like this:
Thank you, lovely, supportive writing friends. Thank you, Children’s Book Council. I never imagined my duck might quack loudly enough to be noticed. I’m thrilled.
And I’m mindful, too, of the many books that didn’t make it on to the various lists (Duck is my fourth book, my first listing). With every award, there’s a chorus of excitement and head shaking. What about this one? And that one? Why that one?
I always think back to the time I entered a national poetry competition. I received a phone call saying my work had won a prize and asking if I could attend the announcement, which was local. I duly trotted along, not knowing where my prize fell on the spectrum that ranged from First and Second to a handful of Commendeds.
As it turned out, my poem was Commended. After the announcement, I was asked if I would read it. Since I didn’t have a copy with me, the organisers gave me the one I had submitted, the one which, unbeknownst to them, had some of the judge’s comments scrawled in pencil on the back.
They weren’t comments about the poem as such, but about its placing. There was a number 1, circled, then rubbed out. Then the number 2 written, with a question mark. Then another 1, another question mark. Then, finally, a C.
This was a shame, of course, given that the difference between C and 1 was $850. But what it brought home to me was that there really wasn’t that much space between C and 1, apart from the $$. That on a different day, I might have just as readily been 2 or 1. That today, not having seen these scrawls I should never have seen, I would have gone away not knowing that. And that there were most likely several other poets who only knew they had won nothing, who were a bee’s whisker away from a prize.
There was only one judge for this prize. I can’t imagine what it must be like when there are several.
I can’t read too much into it, or too little. But I’m delighted, nonetheless.
Somewhat inexplicably, The Truth About Penguins failed to get a gong in the Information Books category, although it has been pointed out to me by Norman Jorgensen that it may contain some factual errors which knocked it out of the running. He wonders, for example, if penguins don’t actually like pizza.
I ask you – does that seem likely?