Hey cHEwY gum gums!

Last week, during the KOALA Awards ceremony streaming, there was an exciting announcement…I was made a KOALA Legend! So what does that mean? Well, it means that I’m old hahaha

But more than that, it’s recognition that I have involved in the kidslit industry over the last 10 years. I only discovered the KOALA Awards when Thai-riffic! was first nominated back in 2011, and it was a mainstay in the KOALAs, winning a few honour awards before retiring in the KOALA Hall of Fame. Over the years, other books have been included on the shortlist, including Punchlines this year.

KOALAs are the kid-choice awards for schools around NSW. It stands for Kids Own Australian Literature Award, which means that the kids have full control of the books picked for the shortlist and winners. You’re more likely to see more popular and best-selling blockbusters on this shortlist. If you want a sample of what’s hot in kids books, then the KOALAs shortlist is a great place to start.

Behind the awards themselves is a dedicated committee made up of book-loving volunteers who want to promote kids books in school libraries. They are running off the smell of an eucalypt leaf, relying on school library memberships. It’s an easy way to promote kid books at the library, and they’ll have a part to choosing the winners.

As a writer, this is awesome proof that kids are loving your book. Sometimes you get to see the proof at the ceremonies too. The KOALA Award ceremonies have always been highlights in my year. A school would host them and they usually have schools from around the area to come along. You get to see kids go crazy for you. You get to feel like a rock-star for 2 months, what’s not to like?

Awards will always be a bonus in a writer’s life. Getting this special LEGEND Award is motivation for me to keep on going for the next 10 years and beyond in this #kidslit game.
If you want to find more info about the KOALA Awards (and its VIC cousin, YABBAs), you can check out the KOALA website


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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