A M Dassu has won the Little Rebels Award for radical children's fiction with her book Boy Everywhere (Old Barn Books).
The £2,000 prize was announced at an online ceremony on 8th September. The award recognises children’s books which explore political ideas, challenge the status quo or promote social justice, social equality and a more peaceful and fairer world. It is given on behalf of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers, and administered by children’s bookseller Letterbox Library and bookshop Housmans.
Boy Everywhere describes the fraught journey 13-year-old Sami and his family take from Syria to the UK, exposing the unyielding, sometimes cruel and often dehumanising obstacles refugees face in their flight to sanctuary.
The 2021 guest judges were writers and educators Darren Chetty and Shaun Dellenty; head of children’s book promotion at Booktrust, Emily Drabble; author Patrice Lawrence; and Gay’s the Word bookshop manager Jim MacSweeney.
Chetty said: “Boy Everywhere is everything that I look for in a Little Rebels book. It’s politically interesting, it’s timely, but first and foremost it’s beautifully written. Often with political books we forget that aspect... the writing itself needs to sing and it really does in this book".
Fellow judge Drabble added: “It sheds a light on injustice and unfairness in our society and, I believe, will encourage radical thoughts and actions of the next generation to hopefully affect some change."
The other shortlisted books were Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes by Sophie Deen, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar (Walker Books), Brand New Boy by David Almond, illustrated by Marta Altés (Walker Books), Fearless Fairy Tales by Konnie Huq and James Kay, illustrated by Rikin Parekh (Bonnier), The Goody by Lauren Child (Orchard Books), Hope Jones Saves the World by Josh Lacey, illustrated by Beatriz Castro (Andersen Press), It Isn’t Rude to be Nude by Rosie Haine (Tate Publishing), A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll (Knights Of) and The Soup Movement by Ben Davis (OUP).
In 2020 the award was won by Jane Porter and Maisie Paradise Shearing for their picture book The Boy Who Loved Everyone (Walker Books).