Publishers Penguin and Walker Books picked up two awards each at the inaugural Booktrust Best Book Awards with Amazon Kindle, held today (Wednesday 2nd July), with John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars taking the award for best story for young teenagers.
The competition, the first to be sponsored by the online retailer, is for books for children aged 0-14 that were published in the UK in 2013. It is divided into six categories: 0-5 Best Picture Book, 6-8 Best Story, 9-11 Best Story, 9-11 Best Fact, 12-14 Best Story and 0-14 Best Tech.
The Fault in Our Stars “dominated” the 12-14 best story nominations and was a “major hit” with the judges, according to Booktrust. Penguin division Puffin also picked up an award; as the 9-11 best story prize went to Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney.
Walker Books author Lucy Cousins won the 0-5 best picture book prize for Peck Peck Peck, while Stephan Pastis picked up the 6-8 best story award for Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, which is also published by Walker.
The 9-11 best fact book award was given to Operation Ouch!: Your Brilliant Body by Dr Chris van Tulleken and Dr Xand van Tulleken (Little Brown Young Readers), and the 0-14 Best Tech award went to Little Red Riding Hood, illustrated by Ed Bryan (Nosy Crow).
However, only Bryan and Cousins attended the ceremony. The other four awards were collected by representatives from the authors’ publishing companies.
The shortlists for the awards were chosen by a team of judges which included authors Louise Rennison and Lauren Child, Made in Chelsea star Andy Jordan, and TV presenter Mel Giedroyc. Some 12,000 children from across the country then voted on the final winners.
Some ceremony attendees expressed mixed feelings over the prize's Kindle sponsorship. Critic Amanda Craig commented: "It's a difficult thing. All authors are worried about Amazon and think they should pay their taxes, but maybe they're one of the few companies who can afford to do this. We are grateful but think they should support authors and pay taxes."
Author Philip Ardagh said: "If you accept that you're on the shortlist you should be polite. But you can use your platform to encourage people to shop at local bookshops."
Philip Reeve said that he was uneasy about some of Amazon’s practices but that anything that gets kids talking about books is a good thing. John McLay, one of the judges of the shortlists, added: “This feels like the successor to the Smartie prize in look and feel. So I’m very pleased that Kindle is helping make it happen.”
Amy Worth, head of Kindle content vendor management, commented: “Children’s books and the stories within them stay with us for a lifetime and inspire us to read throughout adulthood. We are delighted to work with Booktrust and The Best Book Awards to encourage as many children as possible to fall in love with reading. Children’s Book Week has been running for a number of years and is a well-respected program in schools, encouraging children to read for pleasure."
She added: "The Best Book Award is a new award, and unique because it is voted for by children.”