Authors including Danielle Jawando, Jenny Pearson, Elle McNicoll and Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden have been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2021.
Every year Waterstones booksellers are called on to vote for the books they believe are the very best in new children’s writing and illustration across three categries. This year, although there is one nomination for Penguin Random House US imprint Little Tiger, no PRH UK titles feature among the 18 shortlisted books. It follows news Waterstones has reduced the visibility of PRH titles in its stores over recent months after the publisher placed a limit on its credit, although PRH said this month there were "no practical restrictions on trading now”.
Asked about the absence of PRH titles, a spokesperson for Waterstones said: "The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlists are voted for by our expert booksellers, based on the books they believe are the very best in new children’s writing and illustration."
The awards see six books compete to be crowned a £2,000 category winner, with the winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2021 and an extra £3,000.
Pearson’s The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates, illustrated by Rob Biddulph (Usborne), and When Life Gives you Mangoes by Kereen Getten (Pushkin) will go head to head in the Books for Younger Readers category. They face competition from Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm (Nosy Crow), A Clock of Stars: The Shadow Moth by Francesca Gibbons, illustrated by Chris Riddell (HarperCollins), A Kind of Spark by McNicoll (Knights of) and Llama Out Loud by Annabelle Sami, illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan (Farshore).
In the Books for Older Readers category Jawando’s And the Stars Were Burning Brightly (Simon & Schuster) is in the running alongside The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (Hachette Children's Group), Wranglestone by Darren Charlton (Little Tiger Group), Boy, Everywhere by A M Dassu (Old Barn Books), Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (Hachette Children's Group) and Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (Bonnier Books UK).
Bear Shaped by Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden (Oxford University Press) and The Blue Giant by Katie Cottle (Pavilion) are up for Illustrated Books alongside Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland (Andersen Press), Found You by Devon Holzwarth (Scholastic), Freedom, We Sing by Amyra León, illustrated by Molly Mendoza (Flying Eye Books), and The Grumpy Fairies by Bethan Stevens (The Quarto Group).
The winners will be announced on 1st July and are expected to see a "significant boost in sales", said Waterstones, and the promise of an ongoing commitment to their writing career from the chain. Last year’s winner, Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola (Puffin), sold 49,387 copies in total, outside of lockdown weeks, via Nielsen BookScan. It jumped 159% in volume week on week after its win. Waterstones said the book saw an increase in sales of 1,600% across its estate.
Waterstones children’s buyer Florentyna Martin said: “As we celebrate another year of fantastic debut publishing, our booksellers have pinpointed the great joy and necessity of hope in difficult times. Research by the National Literacy Trust indicates that children with access to books have increasingly enjoyed reading through lockdown, with three-in-10 reporting that reading helps them through sadness, particularly when they cannot see friends or family. After a year of lockdowns, this year’s shortlists, brimming with hopeful and determined characters, show the importance of books and spaces dedicated to reading, and the solace that these provide. As booksellers, we know that sharing stories is a powerful experience, and we look forward to readers discovering these books with us.”
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