The debut picture book by campaigner Malala Yousafzai is one of eight titles in the running for this year’s Little Rebels Award, which promotes children’s books that celebrate social justice.
Malala’s Magic Pencil, written by Malala and illustrated by Kerascoët (Penguin Random House Children’s), is in the running for the prize thanks to its depicture of the author's early life in Pakistan, as well as the events that forged her political activism. The book is shortlisted alongside two novels that show the human cost of war: Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children’s Books), which describes the flight of 12-year-old Omar and his family from Bosra to Jordan and then, ultimately, the UK; and Sita Brahmachari’s Tender Earth (also Macmillan), which tells the story of Pari, a refugee from the Iraq war.
Two novels take on the class system - 928 Miles From Home by Kim Slater (Macmillan Children’s Books) and Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis (Oxford University Press) - and one, The Muslims by Zanib Mian, (Sweet Apple Publishers and Muslim Children’s Books), explores racism and bullying.
Completing the shortlist are Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory by Elys Dolan (OUP), a picture book about a factory where the employees go on strike for better conditions, and Clive Is a Nurse by Jessica Spanyol (Child’s Play International).
The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award, now in its 6th year, is awarded by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers (ARB) and run by Housmans Bookshop and Letterbox Library.
Fen Coles, co-director of Letterbox Library, said of the shortlist: “We are so very proud of this list which puts young people’s voices centre stage. Many of the books star children who pick up a banner, who take a stand, who call us all to account. And those voices are brought to us by authors who have, in their own actions and words, asked us to listen that much more closely and respectfully to those voices.”
The judges, including authors Patrice Lawrence and Catherine Johnson, will now pick the winning book, which will be announced at the London Radical Bookfair on 2nd June at Goldsmith’s University.