The Wilderness Society’s annual celebration of Australia’s finest children’s nature authors, The Environment Award for Children’s Literature , has announced the 13 books that have made the 2021 shortlist, from 100 entries.

Every year, the Wilderness Society shortlists the best children’s nature books, before a panel of judges crowns a winner for three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Picture Fiction. The award showcases and celebrates some of the best writers and illustrators working in children’s literature.

The winners will be announced in September at a special event during Nature Book Week (6 – 12 September).

The 13 books on the 2021 shortlist paint a vibrant picture of our environment – from astronauts longing for a life on earth, to First Nations stories and adventurous fairy possums.  They also highlight the current climate issues facing the world today, with one book featuring a child’s desperate pleas for action falling on deaf ears as the seas rise around her town.

The Nature Book Week and Environment Award for Children’s Literature Ambassador is ecologist and science communications expert, Dr Jen Martin. Joining her as judges of this year’s Award are acclaimed playwright and children’s author, Hilary Bell; the New York Times bestselling cartoonist and creator of last year’s Fiction Winner,Gavin Aung Than; as well as sustainability advocates, Sadie Chrestman and Matthew Evans, who were both featured on SBS’ TV series, Gourmet Farmer.

‘Books for children about nature hold an incredible position of power in the world right now. At a time when many kids are spending more time indoors as a result of the pandemic, books have the power to connect us to nature, even when we can’t be in it,” said  Nature Book Week and Environment Award for Children’s Literature Ambassador Dr Jen Martin.

“The Environment Award for Children’s Literature celebrates the superbly talented authors and illustrators who are ensuring our kids have the opportunity to get lost in nature without leaving home,” said Dr Martin.

Maree McCarthy Yoelu, 2021 shortlisted entrant and author of Brother Moon said, “It’s such an honour to be shortlisted in the 2021 Environment Award for Children’s Literature. Brother Moon shines a light on the important relationships our First Nation’s people have had with nature all along and it’s what I hope for all our children to acquire – a true connection with the natural world.”

Never before has such an award been more necessary, said Hilary Bell, Award judge and acclaimed playwright and children’s author. “We are facing the greatest challenge in human history – that of protecting our planet and ensuring for our children a future that’s worth living.

“Authors of children’s books are tasked with addressing this fact in a way that doesn’t scare young readers but rather,  inspires them. A book that is beautifully illustrated or written with wit and charm encourages children to appreciate nature, to enlist their adults into action, and to take comfort in knowing they’re part of a greater movement.”

Past winners of the award included acclaimed Australian children’s authors Tim Winton, Paul Jennings, Jackie French, the late Narelle Oliver, Coral Tulloch, Graeme Base, and Wendy Orr.

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 until 16 July.

2021 Shortlist


  • The Giant and the Sea by Trent Jamieson, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Hachette Australia.
  • Bandits by Sha’an d’Anthes. Hachette Australia.
  • Give Me Some Space! By Philip Bunting. Scholastic Australia—Omnibus Books.
  • Brother Moon by Maree McCarthy, illustrated by Samantha Fry. Magabala Books.
  • Larry Leadbeater: Field notes from a Fairy Possum by Jo Watson. Little Steps Publishing.


  • The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants by Philip Bunting. Scholastic Australia—Omnibus Books
  • Hold on! Saving the Spotted Handfish by Gina Newton, illustrated by Rachel Tribout. CSIRO Publishing.
  • Tree Beings by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini. Exisle Publishing (EK Books Imprint).
  • Ninja Bandicoots and Turbo-Charged Wombats by Hazel Flynn. Piccolo Nero (Black Inc Books)

Picture Fiction

  • Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best by Charlotte Barkla, illustrated by Sandy Flett. Penguin Random House Australia.
  • The Carbon-Neutral Adventures of the Indefatigable EnviroTeens by First Dog on the Moon. Allen & Unwin.
  • The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore. Penguin Random House Australia.
  • Weirdo #15: Planet Weird by Anh Do, illustrated by Jules Faber. Scholastic Australia.