Thousands of students across the country have voted a Perth teacher’s picture book their favourite of the year.
Carnaby Rise Primary School teacher Sean E Avery’s book Frank’s Red Hat has been awarded the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s (CBCA) Shadow Judging Picture Book of the Year for 2023.
The shadow judging program involves a network of young Australian readers who analyse and pick winners from the books shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards.
Frank’s Red Hat tells the story of Frank, a penguin with ideas. It is a story about never giving up on your talents, because even though what you do may not be appreciated right now, it may be in time. Possibly by someone you’d least expect.
Avery, who also illustrates his books, said it was fantastic that Frank’s Red Hat won the award.
“It is a wonderful feeling to know the kids, teachers, and librarians of Australia are behind my little picture book,” he said.
“It has made me more determined than ever to create books that kids love and connect with.”
Avery teaches students from Years 3 to 6 and hopes his books will inspire the next generation.
“I’d like my kids to see that normal, everyday people like myself make books,” he said.
“Taking the mystique out of this line of work makes it more accessible for everyone. I always let my kids know that if they want to work in the arts like I do, all they need is passion and consistency. It's possible for everyone. Work hard. Stay focused. Have faith. Follow your passion.
“For anyone who's ever felt the call to make art, do it. Making something out of nothing is a powerful thing. Embrace the impulse whether it takes the form of dancing, drawing, cooking, knitting, sculpting, writing or anything else that sets your soul on fire. You won't regret it.”
Avery said he often takes inspiration from the classroom.
“Students always say crazy and inspiring things I incorporate into my books. One young lady once suggested I write a book called 'Ducky the Spy'. So I did – I acquired a two-book contract to make it a graphic novel series. One of the best suggestions ever from a student,” he said.