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 2021 Environment Award For Children's Literature shortlist

The winners of the Environment Award For Children's Literature 2021 will be announced in a special awards ceremony, taking place in Nature Book Week from 6 to 12 September. It's a packed week of events with workshops and talks where we discuss all things nature books, presided over by our Nature Book Week Ambassador, science communicator Jenny Martin.

Below are the 13 fantastic books that made it into the shortlist for the 2021 Environment Award For Children's Literature. And we are also proud to announce our panel of judges!

The shortlist for 2021

From an extensive list, 13 amazing titles have made it into the shortlist. If you want to purchase any of the books, pop into independent booksellers Harry Hartog or buy from the shortlist on the Harry Hartog website - 10% of sales will be donated to the Wilderness Society.

Watch the judges reveal the books that made it into the 2021 shortlist:

Books are shortlisted in three categories: Picture fiction, Fiction and Nonfiction.

Here is the 2021 Environment Award for Children’s Literature shortlist:

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."

Bandits by Sha’an d’Anthes. Hachette Australia.

Fern lives in a colourless, lifeless city and has only ever seen trees as pictures in her books. Fern is told that the bandits who come in the middle of the night to steal from the city dwellers are bad guys, but when she follows them back to their home she discovers a land of colour, life, friendship and a future she believes in.

BANDITS is the second picture book from Sydney-based artist Sha'an d'Anthes, whose career has seen her travel, show and sell her work all over the world.

Give Me Some Space! by Philip Bunting. Scholastic Australia—Omnibus Books.

Una dreams of a life in Space.

Life on Earth is just so so-so.

But how will she get there? And will she complete her mission to discover life in Space? And did she remember to feed Neil the goldfish?

Brother Moon by Maree McCarthy, illustrated by Samantha Fry. Magabala Books.

Beneath the dark sky of the Northern Territory, Hippy-Boy is captivated when Great-Grandpa Liman tells him the mysterious story of his brother and how it guides his connection to Country.

Great-Grandpa is a masterful storyteller and, as the tale unfolds, he finally reveals his brother is the moon—a wonder of the universe. Hippy-Boy learns how his great-grandfather uses the phases of the moon when he goes hunting and fishing, and why it is important for us all to have an understanding of the natural world.

Liman (Harry Morgan), the author’s grandfather, was a respected Wadjigany man, a leader amongst his people and the community. Liman was born at Manjimamany in the Northern Territory in 1916. He was a canoe maker, hunter, community mediator, and a family man who lived off the land and travelled the seas. Liman spoke Batjamalh, his first language, and other languages from the Daly River area.

Larry Leadbeater: Field notes from a Fairy Possum by Jo Watson. Little Steps Publishing.

Larry is a tiny fairy possum with a tremendous problem.

He’s on a mission to find a home that’s just right for him.

Brimming with friendship and optimism, his adventure invites us into a world where even the most challenging circumstances can be overcome.

Purchase any of the shortlisted books from independent bookseller Harry Hartog and they’ll donate 10% of sales to the Wilderness Society to protect the places we love.

The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants by Philip Bunting. Scholastic Australia—Omnibus Books.

The answers to life’s

biggest questions can

be found in the smallest

places, once you’re

ready to look.

Get set for an insightful

(and hilarious) peek into

what we can learn from the

world of the ant.

Hold on! Saving the Spotted Handfish by Gina Newton, illustrated by Rachel Tribout. CSIRO Publishing.

This is the story of a quirky and primitive little fish that is famous for two reasons: walking on its ‘hands’ (pectoral fins), and being one of the first marine fish in the world to be listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Dive into the undersea world of this quirky little species and discover how scientists are stepping in to help save them.

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!

Ninja Bandicoots and Turbo-Charged Wombats by Hazel Flynn. Piccolo Nero (Black Inc Books)

Why are 1,000 trees needed for every koala in a zoo? How do you check a tree-kangaroo’s pouch for joeys? Why is a wombat’s poo really square? And how do dogs help look after ‘extinct’ bandicoots?

In this factual, involving book, 9-12 year-olds learn about endangered Australian wildlife, including Leadbeater's and Mountain Pygmy Possums, Baw Baw Frogs, Wedge-Tailed Eagles, Orange-bellied Parrots and Guthega Skinks, and they meet the zookeepers and conservation experts working hard to save them.

There are funny and moving adventure stories, and every chapter includes 'What Can I Do to Help?', with practical suggestions for children and their families.

Edie's Experiments 2: How to Be the Best by Charlotte Barkla, illustrated by Sandy Flett. Penguin Random House Australia.

I'm Edie and I'm obsessed with science.

So I was sure that Annie B and I would win the Eco Fair competition.

Then Dean Starlight arrived and started sabotaging our project.

Now the competition has become an epic science battle of robotic spider attacks, exploding foam and sneaky spying.

Dean thinks he's the best scientist of Class 5Z, but we'll show him…

The Carbon-Neutral Adventures of the Indefatigable EnviroTeens by First Dog on the Moon. Allen & Unwin.

Meet our superheroes:

- Binky, aka The Monotreme!

- Worried Norman, once bitten by a radioactive croissant and now Pastry Person!

- Letitia, an occasionally bossy science-wombat and genius inventor!

Together, they are the EnviroTeens and they are about to get very, very angry. Singleuse Plastic Brendan may have an evil plan to destroy all the world's turtles with his dastardly tur-tele-pooter but, believe it or not, there is something even more sinister than an angry plastic bag on a garbage island in the middle of the ocean ... Climate change! Oh no! The EnviroTeens will do anything to stop this impending disaster: scale slippery volcanoes, scurry through forests full of poisonous armpit monsters, even meet Senator Ian, the Climate Denialist Potato. But can three teenagers and a chicken save the whole world? Why not, nobody else is! Maybe they are in with a chance? I can't look, it's too exciting!

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.

Weirdo #15: Planet Weird by Anh Do, illustrated by Jules Faber. Scholastic Australia.


Not only is it PLANET DAY,

it’s also Weir Do’s BIRTHDAY!

And his party’s going to be so HUGE

you’ll see it from space!

It won’t be easy . . . but it will be FUNNY!

If you want to purchase any of the books pop in to independent booksellers Harry Hartog or head to their website; 10% of sales will go to support the work of the Wilderness Society.

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, we've 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.