Monday, March 25, 2013

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize – Winners announced

Annabel Pitcher‘s unsettling teen title, Ketchup Clouds, has been announced as overall winner of this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.

Ketchup Clouds, which had earlier triumphed in the Best Book for Teens category, is not your usual Young Adult title – lacking as it does lustful vampires or magic of any sort. It tells the story of a teenage girl who reveals a terrible secret through a sequence of letters written to a condemned murderer in a Texan jail. The idea came from Pitcher’s own experiences of writing to a death row prisoner as a teenager.
Waterstones Managing Director James Daunt said “it is refreshing to see such a compelling, stand-out and stand-alone book as Ketchup Clouds ringing the bell victoriously for UK teen fiction.”
Melissa Cox, Children’s New Titles Buyer for Waterstones described Pitcher, whose novel My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece was nominated for last year’s award, as “a genuine literary star” and her novel “a classic coming of age story” Although it deals with “death, betrayal and redemption” she added, “her handling of the subject is beautifully wrought and peppered with humour.”

Voted for entirely by booksellers, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize was created to champion new and emerging talent in children’s writing.
Pitcher was not celebrating alone however as American illustrator turned author R.J. Palacio took home the Best Fiction for 5-12s award and Rebecca Cobb triumphed in the Picture Book category.
R.J. Palacio’s book Wonder a previous Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month tells the story of a boy starting school with a facial deformity. Melissa Cox said “It is a thought-provoking read with timeless appeal… perfectly pitched at pre-teens but will equally charm older children and adults.”
Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb, illustrator for Richard Curtis and Waterstones Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson, pipped Maurice Sendak’s protégé and former Waterstones bookseller Frann Preston-Gannon to the Picture Book award. The judges praised “its wonderfully expressive young girl and beautifully realised animals looming large on the pages”, calling Cobb “definitely one to watch.”
As category winners, Pitcher, Palacio and Cobb each received a cheque for £2,000 with Pitcher, as the overall winner, picking up an additional £3,000.
The announcement was preceded by a short film of the shortlists made by 16 year-old Francesca Rogers.

Francesca was commissioned to make the film when a video she had made about Waterstones for a school project was shared on Twitter by her local Waterstones bookshop in Folkestone.
Francesca said “It came as a complete surprise when Dan from Waterstones got in touch with me, and I was even more shocked when he asked me to produce a brand new film for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. I’m really excited about how this has turned out!”
Francesca is currently raising funds for a trip to Ecuador next summer when, along with a group of fellow pupils and teachers from Folkestone School For Girls, she will work as a conservation and community volunteer. As a reward for all Francesca’s hard work, Waterstones will be donating £1000 to help fund the Ecuador trip and Francesca will also receive a £250 Waterstones Gift Card.
You can read a sample of each of the category winners:
Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher

Wonder, R.J. Palacio

Lunchtime, Rebecca Cobb


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Best Scottish Children's Books of 2012

Winners of Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2012 Announced

John Fardell, Jonathan Meres and Barry Hutchison have been named as the winners of the 2012 SCOTTISH CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARDS, Scotland’s largest Children’s Book Prize which is voted for exclusively by children. The winners of the three age categories (who receive £3,000 each) were announced today during a special ceremony at Dundee’s Caird Hall, attended by 1,000 young people from all over Scotland.
A celebration of the best of Scottish writing and illustration for children, the Scottish Children’s Book Awards are run by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with Creative Scotland.

Award-winning author-illustrator John Fardell won the Bookbug Readers category (3-7 years) for his picture book The Day Louis Got Eaten (published by Andersen Press). John said:

“I'm really delighted (and tremendously grateful!) that “The Day Louis Got Eaten” has won the Bookbug Readers category of the Scottish Children's Book Awards. It's genuinely been an honour just to be on such a terrific shortlist alongside authors and illustrators whose work I love, and to be part of these fabulous awards, which do so much to encourage children to enjoy the excitement of books. Big thanks to all the pupils who took part, and to all the teachers, librarians and the fantastic team at Scottish Book Trust who make it all happen.”

Popular Children’s author and comic Jonathan Meres won the Younger Readers Category (8-11 Years) for the first book in his World of Norm series, The World of Norm: May Contain Nuts (published by Orchard). He said:
"I'm genuinely chuffed to bits to win this prestigious award and I have to say, also genuinely surprised considering the two superb books I was up against.  Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to vote.  Not just for me, but for all the nominees."

Barry Hutchison, a previous winner of the 2010 Scottish Children’s Book Awards, won the Older Readers Category (12-16 Years) for The 13th Horseman (published by Harper Collins). Barry commented:
"The other books in my category were amazingly strong, and so to win was a brilliant surprise. Thanks to all the pupils who voted across the country - I owe you one!"

The total prize fund is £12,000, with the shortlisted authors and illustrators receiving £500 per book, and the winning authors and illustrators receiving £3,000 per book.

Record numbers of children took part in this year’s awards, with over 31,000 votes cast – a huge increase of 34% on last year - and over 1,500 Scottish schools registering to take part. The amount of children getting involved increases year on year, with the very first awards in 2006 attracting just over 2,000 votes, compared to 16,000 votes in 2010 and 23,000 votes in 2011.  

Jasmine Fassl, Children’s Programme Manager at Scottish Book Trust, commented:

“The very best thing about the Scottish Children’s Book Awards is that they get children excited about books. This year’s awards have been our biggest ever with tens of thousands of young people getting involved in reading, discussing and reviewing a selection of the most popular Scottish children’s books of the year – they all have their favourites, and they get very passionate about the book they are championing. There is nothing nicer than celebrating the books that children themselves have enjoyed reading, and the authors who take part in the SCBA, both shortlisted and winners, are playing a key part in inspiring a new generation of book lovers.”

Emma Turnbull, Development Officer, Creative Scotland, said:

“The Scottish Children’s Book Awards are a major success story, thanks to all the schools and the teachers who encourage their pupils to get involved - this year, involving more of them than ever before. The three winning books are all fantastic stories and Creative Scotland’s association with these prizes continues to be a great delight.”

 CALL Scotland has again worked with Scottish Book Trust and the authors and publishers to create accessible digital versions of the nine shortlisted books, for children and young people with physical, visual and reading or dyslexic difficulties, who can’t read the paper books. The accessible digital versions are available free of charge from CALL Scotland. You can request books by going to

 The Scottish Children’s Book Awards are not only about reading but also about writing: the popular Book Review Competition attracts hundreds of high quality entries from budding journalists and authors all over the country, hoping to win book tokens for themselves and an author visit for their school.

The Scottish Children’s Book Awards are managed by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with Creative Scotland, and supported by the Times Educational Supplement Scotland (TESS) and Waterstones.


Happy Birthday Judith!



Judith Kerr’s Creatures

A celebration of the life and work of Judith Kerr

Published 6 June (£25,00, Harper Collins Children’s Books)


Judith Kerr, one of the best-loved authors and illustrators working in Britain today celebrates her 90th birthday in June 2013. 


The books she has created including The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Mog the Forgetful Cat, and her three autobiographical novels Out of the Hitler Time, have become classics of children’s literature, loved by generations of readers.


But what of the life behind these iconic characters. In this retrospective book, Judith Kerr’s Creatures that includes illustrations, early paintings and drawings, as well as photographs and memorabilia, Judith tells her own story, and of the ‘creatures’, the much-loved characters that spring to life from the pages of her books, and the people closest to her – her parents, husband, family and friends who have played a part in her inspirational life.


She looks back on her life from her early childhood in Berlin, dramatically cut short by her family having to flee Germany when the Nazis came to power, to her time at art school and her chance meeting with her time at the BBC in the 1950s and her long and happy marriage to the celebrated screenwriter Nigel Kneale, creator of the British television’s first major hit, The Quatermas Experiment, and her own illustration and writing that have framed her life. 


The joy of this very special book is hearing the story from Judith herself, simply told with her wonderful sense of humour and honesty. There are insights into what life was like at the time and into the lives of the people around her.


As Judith says, “And that’s it, really. All being well, by the time this autobiography is published I shall be ninety. It has been an amazingly full and happy life, but it could so easily not have been so. If it hadn’t been for my parents’ foresight, if this country hadn’t given us shelter, and if sixty years ago I hadn’t gone to lunch in the BBC canteen . . .! 


Once, as a teenager talking to my father, I said that perhaps I might like to do illustration one day, and he said, “You’ll have to work very hard, because they are very good at it in this country.” He was right. They are. I think I am very lucky to have joined them.”


Hundreds of children from schools across the country have chosen

Tom Gates: Genius Ideas, Mostly by Liz Pichon as the winner of the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Story and Horrible Science: House of Horrors by Nick Arnold and Tony De Saulles as the winner of the Best Book with Facts. The winners will be announced live this evening (Thursday 7th March 5.45pm, CBBC) and receive their trophies on a special World Book Day edition of the programme which will be broadcast live.

The win for Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates series is another in a string of accolades for the author. In just two years since the first Tom Gates book was published, Pichon has been awarded the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, Red House Book Award and Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize as well as being one of the featured World Book Day authors. The series has sold over 100,000 copies and has been translated into over 20 languages. Winning the Blue Peter Book Award marks Liz as a major rising star in the children’s book world.
Horrible Science: House of Horrors

helps young readers to discover gruesome facts about the hidden aspects of everyday living with cartoon illustrated fact-filled pages. There are over five million Horrible Science books in print, with author Nick Arnold working on the titles for more than 15 years with Scholastic. House of Horrors won out over Michael Rosen’s Fantastic Mr Dahl and Walter Tull’s Scrapbook by Michaela Morgan.

The shortlist was selected by a panel of judges including
How to Be a Woman author Caitlin Moran, How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell, librarian extraordinaire Jake Hope and Blue Peter editor Tim Levell. Over 300 young Blue Peter viewers from a selection of schools across the UK and Ireland then went on to vote for their favourites to determine the overall winners. Both of the winning books are published by Scholastic.

Liz Pichon comments on her Blue Peter Best Story of the Year 2013 win
: "Just being on such an amazing shortlist was fantastic enough – but winning is absolutely AMAZING! A HUGE thank you to everyone involved: the judges, Blue Peter and to all the children who took part and voted for Tom Gates."

Author Nick Arnold comments on his Blue Peter Best Book with Facts of the Year 2013 win:
"Winning this award is better than winning the lottery since I know that The House of Horrors has been judged against the very best children's books. This is an award for entire Horrible Science team and I thank them all. Right now I feel so out of this world I am in danger of ending up on another planet!"

Illustrator Tony De Saulles:
"Nick and I are absolutely thrilled to have won the Blue Peter Best Book with Facts prize for

Horrible Science House of Horrors. We have been making Horrible Science books for seventeen years and it's brilliant to know that children still love them."

Blue Peter Editor Tim Levell comments on the winners:
"The Blue Peter Book Awards are one of the few awards chosen by children themselves, and what comes through is how child friendly the books they’ve chosen are. Our aim with the awards is to get more children reading and the winning books look so exciting and vibrant, children are guaranteed to pick up them up unprompted and that’s got to be a great result for everyone."

The shortlist for the Blue Peter Book Award was as follows:
Best Story

The Boy who Swam With Piranhas
by David Almond, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Walker Books)

Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (Walker Books)

Tom Gates – Genius Ideas (Mostly) by Liz Pichon (Scholastic)

Best Book with Facts

Horrible Science: House of Horrors

by Nick Arnold & Tony De Saulles (Scholastic)

Walter Tull’s Scrapbook by Michaela Morgan (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

Fantastic Mr Dahl
by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Puffin)