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Deirdre Sullivan and Karen Vaughan win CBI Book of the Year Award

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The winners of the 2021 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards were announced today in a ceremony hosted by broadcaster Rick O’Shea and shared online as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin. Since 1990, these prestigious awards have identified, honoured and promoted excellence in books for young people, and continue to offer a significant opportunity for national and international recognition of Irish talent. This year’s winners include a feminist re-telling of the timeless legend of The Children of Lir, a witty and engaging queer coming-of-age story, and a book of tales rooted in Irish Traveller culture.

Awards were made across six categories, recognising exceptional writing and illustration for young audiences by authors and illustrators who were born in Ireland, are permanently resident in Ireland or are citizens of Ireland. The winner of the KPMG Reading Hero Award was also announced, recognising a young person’s potential and celebrating their remarkable passion for books.

Galway-born author Deirdre Sullivan and Dublin-based illustrator Karen Vaughan have jointly won the coveted Book of the Year Award for Savage Her Reply, a haunting re-imagining of the Irish legend of The Children of Lir for young adult readers. Judges praised Sullivan’s wonderfully lyrical prose, describing the book as ‘a tense and haunting tale that explores heartache, loss and forgiveness, while giving voice to a woman silenced for generations.’ This is the second Book of the Year Award win for the duo, whose previous title together, Tangleweed and Brine, was awarded the overall prize in 2018.

KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Award winner, author Deirdre Sullivan said, ‘It means a huge amount as a writer to receive recognition from an organisation like Children’s Books Ireland that does such necessary and powerful work for Ireland’s young readers. Savage Her Reply was a book that allowed me to interrogate old stories, but also to connect with them and the vast amount they still have to offer us. Aífe’s isolation from the world around her, her struggles with her mental health and the abuse she experiences as a young woman are oddly prescient right now.’

Fellow winner, illustrator Karen Vaughan said, ‘Being recognised by Children’s Books Ireland, an organisation that not only works relentlessly to instill a love of reading in children but champions Irish illustrators and authors is such an enormous honour. The experience of working on a book as fierce, tender, and human as Savage Her Reply is something I’ll treasure.’


BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNER: Deirdre Sullivan and Karen Vaughan for
Savage Her Reply

HONOUR AWARD FOR FICTION WINNER: Pádraig Kenny for The Monsters of Rookhaven


EILÍS DILLON AWARD WINNER: Oein DeBhairduin for Why the Moon Travels

THE JUDGES’ SPECIAL AWARD WINNER: Oein DeBhairduin and Leanne McDonagh for
Why the Moon Travels

THE JUNIOR JURIES’ AWARD WINNER: Ciara Smyth for The Falling in Love Montage

About Savage Her Reply:

A dark, feminist retelling of The Children of Lir by the author of the multi-award-winning Tangleweed and Brine.

‘No-one else writes like Deirdre Sullivan. She is lyrical, poetic and thoroughly intoxicating.’ Juno Dawson, author of Wonderland

‘Unsettling, haunting, and darkly lyrical, Savage Her Reply is a beautiful thing.’ Louise O’Neill, author of After The Silence

A retelling of the favourite Irish fairytale The Children of Lir. Aífe marries Lir, a chieftain with four children by his previous wife. Jealous of his affection for his children, the witch Aífe turns them into swans for 900 years.

Retold through the voice of Aífe, Savage Her Reply is unsettling and dark, feminist and fierce, yet nuanced in its exploration of the guilt of a complex character.

Order your copy online here.

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