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2020 Professional Picks

The aim of having 5 reviewers for our Professional Picks section of the AAA PD Conference is to highlight the depth and breadth of our Australian creators and publishers. It is not to see if anyone can predict the Shortlist. Rather each Professional Pick Presenter (PPP) has the scope to discuss any book published in 2019. They are industry professionals who experience a wide range of books and seek the best. They may not read all the books nominated and do not assess the books using the CBCA judging criteria. It is their personal choice. Each PPP is a volunteer who has been reading as many books published in 2019 as they can find. They have been reading since accepting this role midway through 2019. The AAA PD Conference aims to highlight a wide range of current quality literature to increase our delegates awareness of available titles. 


We would like to thank our Professional Pick Presenters for their commitment. Now, in these uncertain times, they had the added pressure of filming themselves where possible.  

Margaret Hamilton

Picture Books - Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton has had many years’ experience in children’s books - as a children’s librarian (Parramatta City Library), bookseller, publisher and a parent. She left her position as a director at Hodder & Stoughton Australia to begin Margaret Hamilton Books with her husband Max. The company built up a reputation for high quality children’s books and was dedicated to the philosophy ‘that children have a right to the best of everything, especially books’. Margaret Hamilton Books won many awards and had considerable success on the world market. It became a Division of Scholastic Australia in 1996, where the imprint remains. Margaret’s passion for picture books, her enthusiasm for the world of Australian illustrators, and her recognition of the need for wider promotion of picture books, have led her to Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage at Blackheath, the only centre for children’s books in NSW. She has been involved with the Children’s Book Council of Australia for many years and is former Deputy Chair of the National Board. Her Order of Australia was received in 2008 – ‘for service to the arts through the promotion of children’s literature and literacy and through support for authors and illustrators’. Her first picture book B is for Bedtime was published in 2014 and was chosen as a CBCA Notable Book.

Trsitan Bancks

Younger Reader - Tristan Bancks

Tristan Bancks tells stories for the page and screen. His books for kids and teens include Two Wolves, The Fall, Detention and the Tom Weekly series. Two Wolves won Honour Book in the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards and was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. The Fall was a CBCA Notable Book and shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature.

Tristan’s books have also been recognised in multiple children’s choice awards. Tristan is a writer-ambassador for literacy charity Room to Read. He is currently working with producers to develop several of his books for the screen. He’s excited by the future of storytelling and inspiring others to create. You can find out more about Tristan’s books, play games, watch videos, chat to the author and help him try to change the world at

CBCA NSW Branch NOTE: Tristan has neglected to mention his brilliant book Detention which has been shortlisted for the Patricia Wrightson Award for Children’s Literature. Judges’ comments found here.

Luke McMaster

Older Reader - Luke McMaster

Luke McMaster is Acting Team Leader of Waverley Library's Children's & Young Adult Services team. He is a storyteller and artist who aims to inspire and engage the young people of Waverley's local community. You'll find him singing loudly on any given day at storytimes.

Rachel McIntosh

Early Childhood - Rachel McIntosh

Rachel McIntosh is a passionate primary teacher, with 13 years’ experience in the profession. She has taught across all grades including in the library in schools throughout Western and South-West Sydney and the Wollondilly area.

Rachel is the Past-President of the Western- Sydney Sub-branch of the CBCA and is a member of the Illawarra sub-branch. She is also an aspiring writer of both picture books and middle grade books. In 2014 she was the short-listed candidate for the Charlotte Waring Barton Award, for her middle grade manuscript, In His Footsteps.

As a kindergarten teacher and a mother of a 3 year old, Rachel understands the importance of rich, meaningful and engaging picture books in promoting a love of literacy and reading for young children.

Olivia O'Flynn

Eve Pownall - Olivia O'Flynn

Olivia O’Flynn started her career as a performer in theatre and television, but very quickly realised that kids’ literature was her true passion (not least because of the fart jokes). She holds a Bachelor of Performance from AADA, a Graduate Diploma of Publishing from The University of Sydney, and currently works as a children's bookseller and the Better Read Kids events coordinator at Better Read Than Dead. She is also the host of Talking Words, a podcast for adults about reading, writing and everything in-between. 

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