The Environment Award For Children's Literature

The Environment Award For Children's Literature

The Wilderness Society's annual celebration of Australia's finest children's nature authors & illustrators

Every year the Wilderness Society shortlists the best children's nature books, before a panel of judges crowns a winner. Showcasing some of the best writers and illustrators working in children's literature, the award promotes a love of nature in kids.

The winners of the 2021 Environment Award For Children's Literature!

The winners of the Environment Award For Children's Literature 2021 have been announced in a special awards ceremony, as part of Nature Book Week.

From a shortlist of 13 fantastic books, our panel of judges have selected the winners in each category. A huge congratulations to this year’s Environment Award for Children’s Literature winners!

The winners of the 2021 Environment Award For Children's Literature

The winner in the picture fiction category is: The Giant and the Sea

The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Hachette Australia.

"A giant stands on the shore, watching the sea. She never moves, never speaks, until the day she turns to a little girl and says, 'The sea is rising.'

The brave girl takes the message to the town. But when the people refuse to listen, the giant must find another way to save them.

Perfect for the children of the Climate Strike, this is a lyrical and deeply moving story about climate change, standing up for what you believe in, and the power of hope."

Judge Hilary Bell had a lovely conversation with Rovina and Trent about their book The Giant and the Sea.

The winner in the non fiction category is: Tree Beings

Tree Beings
by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini. Exisle Publishing (EK Books Imprint).

We depend on trees for our survival, yet few of us understand just how fascinating these beings really are. With a foreword by the world-renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall, Tree Beings is an adventure through the secret world of trees. Challenging the perception that trees are just ‘silent statues’, it focuses on four big ideas:

  • Trees give life to the planet.

  • Trees can help save us from climate change.

  • Trees are like beings.

  • Trees need our help and protection.

Along the way, you’ll meet some of the scientists and explorers who helped uncover the mysteries of the world’s oldest living things. You’ll encounter the eccentric British professor who travelled the world for seventy years telling people how trees can save us, and you’ll learn about the 9-year-old-boy who has a plan to plant a trillion trees to save the planet!

Trees are essential to our world. Tree Beings is your guide to appreciating trees through the stories of people who love them. So strap on your hiking boots, and enjoy this informative adventure through the wonderful world of Tree Beings!

Check out a conversation between judges Matthew Evans and Sadie Chrestman and Sandra and Raymond!

The winner in in the fiction category is: The Power of Positive Pranking

The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore. Penguin Random House Australia.

Green Peas is our name and pranking’s our game!

A symphony of alarm clocks at assembly? Yep, that was us. A stampede of fluffy guinea pigs? It’s next on our agenda.

But for me, Cookie and Zeke, it’s about more than just fun. We’re determined to make a difference. And when the adults won’t listen, us kids will find a way to be heard–as long as we can stay out of detention!

No activist is too small, no prank too big... and things are about to get personal.

Judge Hilary Bell caught up with Nat to talk about The Power of Positive Pranking.

Up to 6 October 2021, you can purchase the winning books or any of the other 2021 shortlisted books from our friends at Harry Hartog Bookseller, and they’ll donate 10% of sales back to the Wilderness Society to protect the places we love.

Books to good places

As part of Nature Book Week the Wilderness Society is working with First Nations communities and schools, like the Nawarddeken Academy in Arnhem land and Deadly Science, to give the fantastic nature books we received for consideration a good home.

“The Nawarddeken Academy is thrilled to be receiving a donation of books from The Wilderness Society. Being located on an Indigenous ranger base in west Arnhem Land, we have limited access to quality printed texts that embrace the natural environment,” says Olga Scholes, Nawarddeken Academy Executive Officer.

“Our country is our classroom and local ecological knowledge is critical to Indigenous Language and Culture. In a remote bicultural school like ours, reading environmental stories from other parts of the world highlights the importance of caring for our local environment.”

Corey Tutt CEO and Founder of Deadly Science says the donation of books is “Incredible! Books are freedom. To provide these Deadly books to our students is just amazing. Who knows, maybe this might be the thing that helps our students find their deadly passion.”

Meet the judges

Gavin Aung Than

Gavin Aung Than is a New York Times bestselling cartoonist and creator of Zen Pencils, a cartoon blog which adapts inspirational quotes into comic stories, and is currently working on the middle grade graphic novel series Super Sidekicks, published by Penguin Random House Australia.

After working in the corporate graphic design industry for 8 years he quit his unfulfilling job and sold his house to follow his true passion: drawing comics. His current project Super Sidekicks is a fun-filled action adventure middle grade series that pays homage to the superhero comics Gavin loved as a kid. Books 1-3 in the series are now available in Australia and New Zealand.

Gavin’s book Super Sidekicks 2: Ocean's Revenge won the Environment Award for Children’s Literature in 2020 in the fiction category.

Matthew Evans and Sadie Chrestman

Sadie Chrestman trained in the arts and lived in the US and Australia for twenty years. She has worked with authors, screenwriters and directors as well as playwrights and is enthralled with the act of storytelling. In 2009 she made the leap so many dream of, and moved to a small farm in southern Tasmania with her partner, Matthew Evans.

Matthew is a chef by trade and a farmer by desire. He has written about food, travel, and the ethics of eating for nearly 30 years, including his latest book, SOIL: The incredible story of what keeps us, and the earth, healthy.

Sadie and Matthew are now full time farmers and sustainability advocates. They fatten Wessex saddleback pigs, nurture a huge variety of organically grown vegetables in their market garden and milk two full cream cows. All this produce ends up in their on-farm dining room at Fat Pig Farm, a journey recorded in the SBS television series, Gourmet Farmer. Both Matthew and Sadie are fascinated by the magnificent, complex ecosystem beneath all our feet and how healthy soil is connected to the variety of life in every ecosystem we observe above ground. In their spare time, Sadie is learning to climb trees while Matthew is keen to whittle wooden spoons.

Hilary Bell

Hilary is an award-winning playwright, librettist and lyricist, who also writes illustrated children’s books. With artist Matthew Martin, she created The Marvellous Funambulist of Middle Harbour, and with Antonia Pesenti has produced Summer Time, Numerical Street and the best-selling Alphabetical Sydney. Her plays, operas and musicals have been produced nationally, including by the Sydney Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre, Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne, as well as Atlantic and Steppenwolf in the US, and The National Theatre in London.

Hilary is a member of playwrights' company 7-On, and a graduate of the Juilliard Playwrights’ Program, NIDA, and AFTRS. She was the 2004 Tennessee Williams Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of the South, Tennessee, and the 2012 Patrick White Fellow at the Sydney Theatre Company.

A rich back catalogue

You can check out the entire catalogue of more than 25 years of children’s nature books.

Last year's Picture Fiction category was won by Christina Booth, for her book One Careless Night, the beautiful but heartbreaking story of Australia's last thylacine (Tasmanian tiger), which died in captivity. Read more about the amazing winning title.

"I am very honoured to have my book, One Careless Night chosen as a winner of this important award," said Christina. "Every book that was entered is essential in the telling of stories that help engage, educate, and inspire our younger generation and adults to foster a love, a concern, and awareness of our environment.

"The story of the journey of the last known living thylacine is the story of all animals who have become extinct. I hope that this story will help to change attitudes and inspire action to ensure it is not the story for our current endangered species."

Take your children's love of nature further

With the help of amazing authors and illustrators, we’ve put together lesson plans to help spark curiosity in kids. Write or illustrate stories about nature and let us know how you get on!

Something for the grown-ups

For the grown-ups

Image: Dan Haley

For grown-up book worms, check out the special issue of our Wilderness Journal dedicated to all things nature and books. Including the five books that have influenced Nature Book Week Ambassador, Dr Jen Martin, throughout her life in natural science.

We've also compiled a list of some of the best nature books of recent times that should be on your shelves. From a life philosophy based on berries in Braiding Sweetgrass to the amazing way trees communicate in The Hidden Life Of Trees, there are plenty of awe-inspiring reads to get stuck into.