Smriti Halls has landed two nominations on the six-strong Oscar's Book Prize shortlist, which has doubled its prize money to £10,000 this year.
Now in its eighth year, the award celebrates the best in storytelling for under-fives, crowning the UK’s best picture book. It was created in memory of Oscar Ashton, who was three-and-a-half when he died from an undetected heart condition in 2012. It is supported by Amazon, the National Literacy Trust and the Evening Standard.
The shortlist was chosen by a judging panel featuring TV presenters Lorraine Kelly and Angellica Bell, illustrator Axel Scheffler, Amazon director of EU books Simon Johnson, and Oscar's mother and prize co-founder Viveka Alvestrand.
Halls makes the list alongside Steve Small for I’m Sticking With You (S&S Children's Books), plus Rain Before Rainbows with David Litchfield (Walker Books).
Also making the list is Tom Percival's Meesha Makes Friends (Bloomsbury Children’s Books), The Hospital Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie (Macmillan Children’s Books), The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser and Kate Hindley (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books) and Would You Like A Banana? by Yasmeen Ismail (Walker Books).
Johnson said: “We have been so impressed by the quality of this year’s entries which were a pleasure to read. My congratulations go to each author and illustrator for creating inspiring stories packed full of important educational messages for children.”
Co-founder and chairman of the prize James Ashton added: “I’m absolutely thrilled we can double the value of Oscar’s Book Prize. From talking to our past winners, I know for them it is not all about the money, but these authors and illustrators deserve huge thanks for inspiring the next generation of readers.
“Substantially increasing the prize is our way of saying thank you, while at the same time I hope focusing attention on the brilliant books published in this segment of the market for children and their carers to share.”
The winner will be announced by the award’s patron Princess Beatrice, in a live virtual ceremony on 11th May.