TV presenter and EastEnders actor Meryl Fernandes has joined the judging panel for the 2020 Blue Peter Book Awards.
Fernandes (pictured) will sit on the panel of experts alongside poet, performer and author Joseph Coelho, publishing booktuber Jean Menzies and Blue Peter editor and non-voting chair Ellen Evans.
Fernandes said: “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to be a judge this year for the Blue Peter book awards. I can't wait to crack on and start reading all these wonderful books. I currently read around four books every evening to my book obsessed toddler, so I'm excited to read some books that I can then pass down to her for when she is older. I've always loved reading from an early age - and watching Blue Peter so this is a double win for me.”
Coelho and Menzies both called the invitation to judge "a complete honour" likewise.
"Reading provides not only a means to broaden your world view and to imagine the lives of others but can also take us on quests of fantasy and into adventures of knowledge - I cannot wait to get reading," said Coelho.
Menzies added: "I grew up on Blue Peter and remember first-hand the joy that came with every new episode. As a grown-up it's extra exciting to be part of bringing a little bit of that joy into children’s hands and homes with these wonderful books."
Managed by BookTrust, the Blue Peter Book Awards celebrates children’s books published in the last 12 months in two categories: Best Story and Best Book with Facts. There will be three shortlisted books for each award chosen by the judging panel and announced on Blue Peter on Thursday 7th November.
The winning titles, voted for by over 200 children from 12 schools across the UK, will be revealed live on Blue Peter on World Book Day on Thursday 5th March 2020, with the winning authors and illustrators appearing on a special awards episode of the show.
Blue Peter editor Evans, who worked as a bookseller before she embarked on her career at the BBC, said: "I can’t wait to see which books get shortlisted to win," she said. “Once the judges make their selection, it’s kids who vote to decide which is the best book with facts and the best story. This year is the 20th anniversary, and our winners will be joining authors who are household names like Roald Dahl, Julia Donaldson, Michael Morpurgo, J.K.Rowling, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell.”
Onjali Q Raúf'sThe Boy at the Back of the Class (Orion Children's Books) and The Colours of History by Clive Gifford, illustrated by Marc-Etienne Peintre (QED Publishing) won last year's awards.