Along with artist Jon Sommariva, Australian writer Tom Taylor has been honored with one of Australia’s greatest honors for children’s literature. While he is best known for his work on various DC Comics series, including Nightwing and Titans, Taylor has also written a number of independent graphic novels aimed at young readers. One of these novels, The Neverlanders, has just been recognized with a historic award.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Taylor and Sommariva’s win. The Neverlanders has been recognized by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) with the Children’s Book of the Year Award for Older Readers. Based on Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, The Neverlanders is set in a “gritty, reimagined world.” The story centers around a found family of child runaways, who form a new army of Lost Ones after learning of the existence of Neverland and a new pirate leader who seeks to steal its magic. The graphic novel was first published by Razorbill Publishing in August 2022.
Why The Neverlanders’ Win Is Notable
The Neverlanders‘ win is notable as it marks the first time the CBCA has presented an award to a graphic novel in the organization’s 77-year history. In the past, literary organizations tended to look down on graphic novels and comic books as a medium, considering them a lesser form of literature. However, these attitudes have begun to change among academics in modern times, and the fact that The Neverlanders was honored indicates both the shift in attitudes and the quality of the work produced by Tom Taylor and Jon Sommariva. Taylor spoke about the educator bias against graphic novels, while discussing his historic win with The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’ve grown up in this environment where comics have almost been dismissed in Australia – or it felt like that,” Taylor recalled. “Not only is it the greatest storytelling medium in the world, but it’s also the greatest educational tool for reluctant readers.” Taylor went on to affirm that graphic novels are a medium, not a genre, and that he felt that comics were an essential tool for teachers and librarians seeking to promote reading among modern youth.
The CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Award for Older Readers is only the latest of the many accolades which Tom Taylor has earned in recent years. In July 2023, Taylor won the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series for his work on Nightwing with artist Bruno Redondo. Taylor has also won the 2021 Comic Arts Award of Australia for his writing on Suicide Squad: Bad Blood, the 2020 Shadow Award for Best Graphic Novel for his Hellblazer graphic novel Rise and Fall, and the 2018 Ledger Award for the Injustice 2 tie-in comic.
The Neverlanders is now available from Penguin Random House.