Norman Jorgensen's The Smuggler's Curse has won the 2017 West Australian Young Readers' Book Award (WAYRBA).
Jorgensen is an enduring favourite with local kids. He won the WAYRBA Hoffman Award, presented to the highest ranking WA author, three times: in 2009, 2012 and 2015. This year the Hoffman was not awarded because Jorgensen won the Older Readers category outright. He now joins a list of winning authors that includes Philip Pullman, Tamora Pierce, Melina Marchetta, John Marsden and Stephenie Meyer.
Speaking from a holiday in rural Rajasthan, Jorgensen said his wife, Jan, was so excited she told everyone on the tour bus, making him an instant celebrity.
‘After that news, I had to ride on the roof of the bus because my head wouldn't fit through the door,’ said Jorgensen. 'The WAYRBA is such a great initiative. It was originally set up decades ago to encourage kids to read, but has since evolved into the award that all children's books creators want to win. And I just did. I am so proud and happy that the readers in WA schools enjoyed my book enough to vote for it.’
The WAYRBA is a statewide readers' choice award. Young readers are invited to nominate, through their libraries, books they have enjoyed. From this the WAYRBA committee draws up three lists of books that are then read and evaluated by kids as 'terrific', 'good', 'okay' and 'awful'. The results are tallied to find the winner.
‘The school librarians and library officers who support WAYRBA, buy the books, set up displays, encourage their students to read and then collate the votes for the hard-working team on the WAYRBA committee are all to be congratulated,’ said Jorgensen. 'I've been a fan of this tiny but dedicated, underfunded group for years.’
Other Western Australian authors shortlisted across the three categories this year include Pandamonia's creators Chris Owen and Chris Nixon, as well as Mark Greenwood, Kylie Howarth and Dianne Wolfer.
The Smuggler's Curse is available from education suppliers, all good bookstores and online. Bookmarks and a free teaching activity can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org.