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Author refuses Nestl
01.01.70 | Anna Richardson
Author Sean Taylor has refused to accept his prize money after winning the Nestlé Children's Book Prize 2007. Taylor's picture book When A Monster is Born, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (Orchard), took the Gold Award in the under-fives category. But Taylor said he did not feel able to accept his half of the £2,500 prize cash, citing "questions surrounding Nestlé’s marketing of breast-milk substitutes".
At Wednesday's ceremony, the author accepted the award--voted for by thousands of schoolchildren across the UK--but refused the cheque. He said: "When a Monster is Born is a book that has something to do with choices. Some of these choices seem to be life-giving and some of them seem to take life away. I hope that I have made a life-giving choice. I have decided to refuse this cheque and ask that it goes back where it came from."
Taylor has now released a letter to prize organiser Booktrust, in which he says the decision was taken after consultations with campaign group Baby Milk Action, Nestlé and "an authoritative third party with experience in the field". He says that while "many of Nestlé’s controversial activities took place in the past and the company has taken steps to improve its practice," there is still the risk that "profit is put before infant health", and adds that "the actions of some of [Nestle's] employees on the ground are inconsistent with company policy . . . For these reasons I do not feel that Nestlé are the most appropriate sponsors for this major children’s book prize".
Booktrust said it was "disappointed" at Taylor's decision, emphasising that the 23 year-old prize "recognises high standards in children’s literature and stimulates a love of reading." It added that in light of Taylor's refusal of the money, "we are surprised to have been approached by his publishers [Orchard] for the Nestlé Gold Award winner sticker artwork to advertise Nestlé’s public endorsement of his winning book".
In a statement Nestlé said it "firmly believes that breast-feeding is the best way to feed a baby and we are strongly committed to the protection and promotion of breast-feeding. We were very happy to explain this position to Mr Taylor at a meeting in November, following which he chose to remain on the shortlist and subsequently accepted his award at the ceremony".
The other winners were Matt Haig with Shadow Forest (Bodley Head) and Chris Riddell with Ottoline and the Yellow Cat (Macmillan Children’s Books).