The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright and Jim Field has been named the winner of Oscar’s Book Prize 2017.
The children’s title, published by Hachette Imprint Orchard Books, triumphed over a shortlist of five titles to claim the prize, which searched for the best book for children under-five-years-old.
The story tells the tale of Kevin the Koala, an incredibly relatable character, who learns that change can bring new and wonderful things.
Princess Beatrice, the royal patron of the prize, awarded the £5,000 prize to Bright at award ceremony on Monday night (15th May) at The Ned in London.
She said all 70 entered titles were “treats for the imagination” .
“With my struggles with dyslexia over the years, it was the power of story that got me to where I am today,” she added.
(From left) James Ashton, Claudia Winkleman, Rachel Bright, Princess Beatrice and Viveka Alvestrand at the awards ceremony
The prize was created four years ago in honour of Oscar Ashton, who passed away at the age of three and a half from an undetected heart condition in 2012. His parents James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand founded the award to look for the best in children’s stories which would capture imaginations and which Oscar himself would have loved.
The judging panel included presenter Claudia Winkleman, Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of the 2015 memoir The Last Act of Love, Dan Mucha, director of Books at Amazon and Oscar’s parents Viveka Alvestrand and James Ashton.
Mucha said: “The pictures are so endearing and I love the story’s idea that you can’t control everything around you – and that it’s not so bad.” Ashton said: “I loved the lush outback, all the lead characters and how you can sympathise with Kevin. ”
Meanwhile Rentzenbrink the title was a “pleasure to read aloud”.
“A really good message that enables children to think that to be frightened is OK which is why it’s so lovely. The idea that you can’t eradicate fear but can learn to manage it is a complex message made wonderfully accessible.”
The prize is supported by Amazon and the National Literacy Trust.