Psychologists for Peace (PFP) Children's Peace Literature Award

The goal of this biennial Award is to promote the peaceful resolution of conflict by recognising and encouraging Australian authors of children s books with that theme. There is a $2000 prize for the award winning author.

Psychologists for Peace recognise authors who promote the peaceful resolution of conflict through their work. With children living in an increasingly threatened world, the organisation believes that it is important to present young people with constructive alternatives to violence and hostility. They believe that literature has a significant influence on children's attitudes and behaviour. Therefore, they wish to support and encourage authors whose work promotes peace and the understanding of others.

This award is coordinated by Members of the South Australian PFP Group.


Arnie Avery by Sue Walker (Walker Books) has won this year’s Children’s Peace Literature Award.

Arnie Avery was selected from a shortlist of seven titles, compiled by a panel of psychologists and children’s literature experts. Other titles shortlisted for the award this year are: Alice Miranda at School (Jacqueline Harvey, Random House); I Found a Friend(Beth Norling, Viking); Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel (Michael Gerard Bauer, Omnibus); Matty Forever (Elizabeth Fensham, UQP); Shrieking Violet(Emma Quay, Scholastic); and What Now, Tilda B?(Kathryn Lomer, UQP).

2009 winners

The winners of the 2009 Children's Peace Literature Award were announced on 21 October 2009 by The Minister for Education, Hon Jane Lomax-Smith MP at the launch of the Human Rights Learning in Action Showcase. 

Audrey Goes to Town and Winter of Grace were selected from seven short-listed books and from more than 100 entries of books for children published between 1 July 2007 and 30 June 2009. The judges felt that these two books, one for primary readers (7 - 11 years) and one for teenagers, best met the criteria for the award.

Winning entries

Audrey Goes to Town by Christine Harris (Little Hare Books)

Audrey Goes to Town

Audrey and her family temporarily relocate to Beltana when Audrey's mother is expecting another baby. They board with Mrs. Patterson, known locally as Patterson's Curse (a noxious weed). She is a prickly woman who has strict rules and a list of dos and don'ts for the children. When Audrey's mother is taken suddenly to hospital, Mrs. Patterson declares that Audrey has become her "project". She wants to ensure that Audrey learns good manners, how to knit and how to behave like a lady. However she does not anticipate Audrey's perceptive response, "And you're mine. I'm looking for your good side."

A situation which could have developed into unpleasantness is slowly changed by Audrey's beguilingly honest, direct, humorous and compassionate approach to her carer. Audrey makes an effort to please. She is kind and thoughtful but does not allow herself to become a victim. Audrey acknowledges Mrs. Patterson's kind gestures and is prompt to express her gratitude. Indeed warmth and generosity are modeled by the Beltana community. Audrey's perseverance is rewarded when she realizes that Mrs. Patterson's grimness is mainly due to the sorrows she has experienced in her life. Mutual trust and appreciation develop. As Audrey says, "At first it was hard to find things on your good side. But then it got easier. You've got one, all right".  

Winter of Grace (Girlfriend Fiction)

Winter of Grace by Kate Constable (Allen & Unwin)

This book deals with the unusual but important theme of the role of religious affiliations for young people trying to understand the world and human relationships. Readers are gripped by an engaging story about two Year 11 girls who keep us intrigued with action and controversy and what might happen next.

The main character Bridie is searching for a set of beliefs or ideas to make sense of life. Her encounter with Christian fundamentalism brings her into conflict with her mother and her best friend Stella, who each have reasons for rejecting organised religion. A variety of religious beliefs is portrayed, and Bridie's quest is not over by the end of the book. The underlying message is that people with different religious beliefs including atheism can all be sincere seekers after truth and an honorable code of behaviour. Bridie comes to realise she needs to think and explore for herself. Her reconciliation with Stella is based on recognising that friendship and trust allow people to disagree about religious beliefs without damaging their relationship.

The model of respect for diverse belief systems and their adherents is a timely one in our age. 

Cassie (Girlfriend Fiction)2009 Other Shortlisted Finding Darcy

Cassie - Barry Jonsberg (Allen and Unwin) - Christine Harris (Little Hare Books) - Holly hates her name, her looks and her life. She isn't inwith the right crowd and she has little hope of dating the gorgeous Raph McDonald. With Cassie staying, she has to move out of her bedroom into the tiny, smelly spare room, and she feels her life couldn't be more unfair. So when Demi, the coolest girl in school, invites Holly on a makeover shopping spree, she jumps at the chance. Even Cass can see that Holly is stretching her wings. But will she fly or fall? Before long, Holly learns that appearances can be deceptive and friendship can blossom in unexpected places... More

Ishmael and the Return of the DugongsFinding Darcy - Sue Lawson (Black Dog Books)Josie and the Michael Street Kids (Aussie Chomps)

Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs - Michael G Bauer (Omnibus) -Scobie, Zorzotto, Prindabel, Kingsley and Leseur are back at St Daniel's for Year Ten. Ishmael is feeling confident that he is over the worst of Ishmael Leseur's Syndrome, and withBarry Bagsley neutralised for the time being, is hoping for a smooth ride. Ages 10+. More

Josie and the Michael Street Kids - Penni Russon (Penguin)Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley

Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley - Aaron Blabey (Penguin) - Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley are the best of friends. Butthey are different in almost every way ...Pearl likes solving mysteries and moves rather fast in the world. Charlie likes taking baths and watching his garden grow. So how can Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsely be such goods friends? A delightfully uplifting tale about self-belief, courage - and above all - the power of friendship. More

Tragic Comment- Coverage commenced


Don't Call Me Ishmael!
2007 winner

Michael Gerard Bauer for his book Don’t Call Me Ishmael, was the winning entry for the 2007 Children’s Peace Literature Award.

Don’t Call Me Ishmael was selected from seven short-listed books and from more than 100 entries of books for children published from August 2005 to July 2007.

Judges Comments

The judges were impressed by the book’s literary merit, engagingly humorous style and the main character’s empathy and support for others and ability to put himself into his adversary’s shoes in order to resolve conflict. Don’t Call Me Ishmael was the stand out winner of the Award.

Prue Blaikie, from SA PFP says:

What we were looking for was a book that was both appealing to children, and, demonstrated that they can, through their actions, resolve conflicts in positive ways for all involved ie a book that children will want to read and which also provides a model on which children can base their own behaviour. This book had it all – it was funny, engaging, well written and the main character, Ishmael, actively chose to behave in ways which would help rather than damage both his friends and his adversary. It was the unanimous and clear choice by all of the eight judges on the panel.

The winning and short-listed books were selected by a combined panel of psychologists and children’s literature experts for their literary merit and for demonstrating a constructive, non-violent approach towards the resolution of conflict.

2007 Children’s Peace Literature Award Shortlist
  • Don’t Call me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer - Winner
  • Born to Bake by Phillip Gwynne 
  • Lost Property by James Moloney
  • The Worry Tree by Marianne Musgrove 

    The Goldseekers by Greg Bastian 

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  • Don’t Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer (Omnibus)

    Don't Call Me Ishmael!Ishmael Leseur’s parents had a sense of humour when they named him after the hero in the famous novel Moby Dick.  Now 14 years old and in Year Nine, Ishmael is one of the targets for the class bully, Barry Bagsley and his followers, not least because of his name.  When their new home class teacher, the young and beautiful Miss Tarango is able to give Barry back as good as he has given, Barry increases his torment of Ishmael.  Except for one notable exception, Ishmael’s response is to keep out of the way or simply to suffer the torture in silence.

    Things change when new boy James Scoby comes to school and Ishmael is asked to look after him, a difficult task for Ishmael as Scoby’s unusual behaviour and physical characteristics make him a prime target for harassment.  Scoby, however, is made of tougher stuff and is able to counteract Barry’s taunting and bullying.  Led by Scoby, Ishmael reluctantly finds himself part of a debating team made up of a group of fellow misfits.  Together they experience both spectacular but hilarious failure as well as great success and as a result Ishmael has the opportunity to give Barry a taste of his own medicine.  The choice Ishmael makes is a win for both of them.

    This novel about the challenges, embarrassments, friendships and exploits of young adolescent boys is written with great skill, humour and appeal.  It shows the importance of sticking up for your mates and that serious conflict can be resolved by brain power, thoughtfulness and sensitivity to the position of others rather than through revenge.

    Buy Don’t Call Me Ishmael from Fishpond Books

    The Goldseekers by Greg Bastian (Angus & Robertson)

    The Goldseekers

    All nine year old Miju and her thirteen year old brother Kai dream about is making enough money on the goldfields of New South Wales in the 1850’s to be able to return home to their village in China. They were brought to Australia against their will and they must save enough money for their passage home.

    Sam, who is eleven, and his dad, Bill, are also trying to make their fortune on the goldfields to get the medical attention Sam’s sick mother needs. Sam befriends Miju and Kai and tries to show his father that they are good people.

    On the night Miju invites them for dinner at their campsite they all experience the violence and racial conflict of a group of drunken men against the Chinese. Kai and Miju are forced to hide in a cave in the hills for their own safety and Kai’s distrust of Europeans increases. But not all people on the goldfields hate the Chinese and it is through the perseverance of Sam’s friendship and the luck the little dog Ah-poo brings that they all find out what really matters in life.

    The Children’s Peace Literature Prize promotes the resolution of conflict by peaceful means and The Goldseekers demonstrates how this is possible in a way that also builds racial understanding and respect in a book for primary aged students.

    Buy The Goldseekers from Fishpond Books

    The Story of Tom Brennan by JC Burke (Random House)

    The Story of Tom Brennan

    Following an angry drunken night Tom’s older brother, Daniel, crashes his car leaving two friends dead and his cousin paralysed.  The small town in which they live is angry, and the family is forced to move in with Tom’s grandmother in another town some distance away.  The impact of the crash is far reaching and ongoing. 

    The journey for Tom and his family is a hard one.  There are relationships and conflicts to be dealt with on many fronts.  Through rugby and the support of his uncle, Tom (and his family) slowly rebuild their lives.

    This is a powerful novel for older adolescents and young adults that illustrates the widespread impact that one unthinking act can have on the lives of many.  The novel fits the theme of the Children’s Peace Literature Award as all the characters learn to deal with their inner conflicts, and the impact that has on resolving the conflicts in their relationships. 

    Buy The Story of Tom Brennan from Fishpond Books

    One Whole And Perfect Day by Judith Clarke (Allen & Unwin)

    One Whole and Perfect Day

    Sixteen-year-old Lily Sansom sees her family as thoroughly dysfunctional. There’s her grandfather, bristly, outspoken Pop, who threatens his grandson with an axe because he thinks Lonnie is not knuckling down to life, her sweet grandmother May who is in the habit of talking aloud to an invisible friend, and her psychologist mother Marigold, who works in a daycare centre for the elderly and is in the habit of bringing even dementia patients home so that their carers can have a  break.

    Lily is tired of being the sensible one in the family, the reliable daughter who cooks and cleans and does well at school, and she’s tired of family gatherings that end in storms from Pop, or waywardness from older brother Lonnie. She longs for the family to have just one whole and perfect day when nothing goes wrong, and decides that it should coincide with the 80th birthday party May is planning for Pop.

    The conflict in this delightful young adult novel is interpersonal, intergenerational and interracial, and Clarke shows how such conflicts can be defused by empathetically imagining oneself in another person’s shoes and by listening carefully to what people are actually saying – including oneself.

    Buy One Whole And Perfect Day from Fishpond Books

    Born to Bake by Phillip Gwynne (Penguin – Aussie Bites)

    Born to Bake (Aussie bites)

    Rick Bickworth is in Year Six at Cobdolla Primary School and is rated by everyone, including himself, as ‘average’. One day he finds he has a definite talent for baking cakes. His mother also prides herself on her baking ability, only her cakes are rated second-best at the local Agricultural show. When one of Rick’s cakes is secretly entered into the competition by a friend, and beats his mother’s entry to win first prize, Rick is astounded and his mother devastated.

    This story, suitable for years 2 to 3 at Primary school, is told with humour and sensitivity. It explores issues of self-esteem and assertiveness in children. The conflict between Rick and his mother is resolved by them assisting each other to bake a cake for the state final of the competition.

    The resolution of conflict by peaceful means-cooperation, respect and mutual support-fits the theme of the Children’s Peace Literature Award.    

    Buy Born to Bake from Fishpond Books

    Lost Property by James Maloney (Penguin)

    Lost Property

    Lost Property tells the story of 17 year old Josh and the family’s relationship with his estranged brother, Michael who left the family home two years ago and has not returned since. Josh works at the Lost Property office at the main city railway station during the school holidays.
    A surprise event at the Lost Property Office leads Josh on a quest to locate Michael. This journey for Josh is not without its risks and set-backs but ultimately leads Josh to a reunion with his brother.
    The novel is well written, humorous and passionate, and explores the issues between the family members with integrity and humility. The range of emotion from the mother’s anxiety to Michael’s need for separateness and particularly to Josh’s desire to resolve the family conflict is all dealt with realistically.
    This novel fits the theme of the Children’s Peace Literature Award with its specific focus on the protagonist making his own decisions in order to effectively manage the conflict. In a sense, it’s a rite of passage for 17 year-old Josh with some of his choices not necessarily being the most productive but with outcomes that are relevant at the time.

    Buy Lost Property from Fishpond Books

    The Worry Tree by Marianne Musgrove (Random House)

    The Worry Tree

    Sensible and sensitive Juliet is stressed about many aspects of her family and school life. Sharing a room with her little sister, Oaf, brings its problems. Her two best friends compete for her friendship, grandmother is bored and mother is frustrated by father’s junk always cluttering the house. Nothing seems to be easily solved and Juliet is  confirmed as ‘Worrywart’.

    When Juliet is relocated to her father’s study as a way of helping to relieve some of the family tensions, she discovers an old mural which her grandmother calls the Worry Tree. “You hang your worries on the tree each night so they don’t keep you awake”. Nana  explains to Juliet. This simple and pleasurable strategy provides a focus for Juliet to acknowledge her individual worries and focus on discovering positive and creative  solutions.

    The novel is fresh, lively and humorously written. It focuses on a loving family which although confronted with the usual tensions of daily life, is prepared to work together to seek positive outcomes for all. It is a most suitable book for middle primary years.

    Buy The Worry Tree from Fishpond Books

    Winners 1987 - 2005|

    2005 Kirsten Murphy for The King of Whatever - Penguin Books Young Adult Fiction


    Irini Savvides for Sky Legs - Hodder Headline Australia.


    James Moloney for Touch Me - University of Queensland Press (UQP)


    Phillip Gwynne for Deadly Unna - Penguin Books


    James Moloney for A Bridge to Wiseman's Cove - University of Queensland Press (UQP)


    Brian Caswell for Deucalion - University of Queensland Press (UQP)


    Isobelle Carmody for The Gathering - Puffin, and Bob Graham for 'Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten' - Penguin Books


    Libby Gleeson for Dodger - Puffin


    Victor Kelleher for The Makers - Puffin


    Gillian Rubinstein for Space Demons - Omnibus Books


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