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Shortlist announced
Cover image for the book Lenny's Book of Everything.
Karen Foxlee
Allen & Unwin
Cover image for the book The Little Wave.
Pip Harry
University of Queensland Press
It sounded better in my head book cover
Nina Kenwood
Text Publishing
Cover image for the book This Is How We Change Everything.
Vikki Wakefield
Text Publishing
Cover image for the book Impossible Music.
Sean Williams
Allen & Unwin
Cover image for the book How It Feels to Float.
Helena Fox
Pan Australia

Shortlist comments

Entries for the 2020 Ethel Turner Award demonstrated that Australian Young Adult Fiction is thriving and continues to push boundaries. Books submitted in this category may be largely categorised as social realism in their focus, grappling with tough issues such as grief, loss, adversity and more in a sensitive and complex way. Many entries also employed humour and playfulness to offer fresh and quirky narratives. The judges also noted the rise of more striking narratological structures employing multiple perspectives, stream of consciousness, verse content and manipulation of time structures. The judges found all books ended offering a sense of hopefulness for the characters and the worlds these characters inhabited.

The judging panel

Jane McCredie

Senior Judge

Jane McCredie is an award-winning journalist, writer and reviewer who has been widely published in Australia and internationally. A former book publisher, she is the CEO of Writing NSW and the founder and director of the Quantum Words Festival of writing about science. She is the author of Making Girls and Boys: Inside the science of sex and was coeditor of the 2013 anthology of The Best Australian Science Writing. Jane is a graduate of the Australia Council’s arts leaders program and has previously chaired both the Christina Stead and Douglas Stewart panels of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Paul Macdonald

Paul Macdonald is the owner of The Children's Bookshop, established in 1971, the oldest specialist children's bookshop in NSW. Paul has a Master of Education, working almost 20 years as a teacher of Upper Primary and Secondary. He has won numerous awards in teaching such as a Quality Teacher Award, The Premier's English Scholarship and awards for his co-ordination of Regional Shakespearean Festivals. Paul won the inaugural Maurice Saxby Award in 2012 for his contributions to raising the profile of teen fiction and was the winner of the 2016 Lady Cutler award for services to children's literature and literacy in Australia. 

photo of sarah ayoub

Sarah Ayoub

Sarah Ayoub is a journalist and author whose work has been published in the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, Girlfriend, ELLE, Marie-Claire, SBS, ABC The Drum, Cosmopolitan and more. She teaches journalism and writing at the University of Notre Dame, where she is a PhD candidate researching the representations of culturally diverse females in Australian YA literature. She is a regular fixture at schools and writer's festivals around the country, has been invited to speak at Children's Literature events both locally and abroad, has worked with Sweatshop and the Stella Prize, and is a mentor to the youth curators of The Sydney Writer's Festival YA program.  Her second novel, The Yearbook Committee, was longlisted for The Gold Inky, Australia's premier teen choice award. 

Erin Gough

Erin Gough is the author of two novels for young adults; The Flywheel, which won the Ampersand Prize; and Amelia Westlake, winner of the Readings Young Adult Book Prize and the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature. Her books have been published in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Canada and the United States.

About the Prize

The Ethel Turner Prize ($30,000) is offered for a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry written for young people of secondary school level. Books containing the work of more than four authors, including anthologies, are not eligible for nomination. In the case of books containing original illustrations which are integral to the success of the book, the judges may determine that the award be shared by the writer/s and the illustrator. 

About Ethel Turner

The Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature is named after Ethel Mary Turner (1870–1958), author of Seven Little Australians. Turner was born in England. Her mother migrated with her daughters to Sydney in 1880 after the death of Turner’s stepfather. Together with her sister Lilian she was educated at Sydney Girls’ High School where they edited their own magazine Iris. After they left school in 1889 they founded the monthly Parthenon. Both sisters later became novelists. Ethel worked as the editor of the ‘Children’s Page’, first for the Illustrated Sydney News and later for the Australian Town and Country Journal. Her first novel and best-known work Seven Little Australians was published in 1894 and quickly sold out. It was translated in several languages and has been in print for more than 100 years. In her lifetime Turner wrote thirty-four volumes of fiction, short stories and poems and was awarded several prestigious literary awards for her works.

Past winners and shortlists



Cover image of The Ones That Disappeared
Zana Fraillon
Hachette Australia
Cover image of In The Dark Spaces
Cally Black
Hardie Grant Egmont
Cover image of The Build Up Season
Megan Jacobson
Penguin Random House Australia
Cover image of A Shadows Breath
Nicole Hayes
Penguin Random House Australia
Cover image of The Blue Cat
Ursula Dubosarsky
Allen & Unwin
Cover image of Ballad for a Mad Girl
Vikki Wakefield
Text Publishing


Book cover of One Thousand Hills
James Roy and Noël Zihabamwe
Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia
Book cover for The Ghost by the Billabong by Jackie French
Jackie French
HarperCollins Publishers
Book cover for Elegy by Jane Abbott
Jane Abbott
Penguin Random House Australia
Cover image of The Boundless Sublime.
Lili Wilkinson
Allen & Unwin
Book cover for The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis
Will Kostakis
Penguin Random House Australia