The Littlest Yak by debut author Lu Fraser and illustrator Kate Hindley (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books) has won the £10,000 Oscar’s Book Prize 2021.
A “joyous, rhyming caper” that teaches little ones to celebrate their own unique talents, the book follows the journey of Gertie, the littlest yak in the whole herd. It was revealed as the winner from a six-strong shortlist by awards patron Princess Beatrice on 11th May.
Fraser is based in Hampshire and writes from a small shed in her garden and the character of Gertie came to life as she spent time with her daughter. She explained: “This story means a huge amount to me, I put my heart into it as it felt like a really important message to remind children, and grown-ups, that we all have bigness inside. It is the most tremendous honour, and I can’t thank the judges enough for choosing our book, The Littlest Yak, to be the winner of Oscar’s Book Prize 2021.”
Bristol-based Hindley is the illustrator of books including You Must Bring a Hat, written by Simon Philip, and The Royal Rabbits of London, written by Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore, both published by S&S Children's Books.
She said: “Cheers to Lu for writing such a brilliant debut text. It was such a pleasure to illustrate. I’m absolutely delighted and flabbergasted to hear our wee Gertie has won Oscar’s Book Prize.”
Princess Beatrice, the award’s patron since 2017, announced this year’s winner via video message, on the Oscar’s Book Prize website and streamed on the prize’s YouTube channel. She said: “This is a beautiful book, and the winners should be so proud of everything they’ve achieved in pulling together this beautiful story."
Oscar’s Book Prize, which doubled its prize money this year, is awarded in memory of Oscar Ashton, who loved children’s stories. He died aged three-and-a-half of an undetected heart condition. The 2021 prize received the highest number of entries in its eight-year history with 143 submissions from children’s writers and illustrators across the UK.
Judges of this year's prize were TV presenters Lorraine Kelly and Angellica Bell, illustrator Axel Scheffler, Amazon EU Books director Simon Johnson, and Viveka Alvestrand and James Ashton, founders of the award and Oscar’s parents.
Scheffler said: "The story of The Littlest Yak is very touching and encouraging for anybody small. Rather crazy furry creatures live within a mountainous backdrop scenery that is, in spite of the reduced colour scheme, always lively and engaging. The little bird and snow marmot add to the amusement. A lot of fun with a lovely message.”
The book was chosen from a shortlist featuring I’m Sticking With You by Smriti Halls and Steve Small (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books), Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury Children’s Books), Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Halls and David Litchfield (Walker Books), The Hospital Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie (Macmillan Children’s Books), and Would You Like a Banana by Yasmeen Ismail (Walker Books).