The Roald Dahl estate has confirmed that the Roald Dahl Funny Prize for humorous children’s books, the awards it launched with the then children’s laureate Michael Rosen and Book Trust, has come to an end.
In an interview to be published in The Bookseller print magazine on Friday (25th September), Luke Kelly, the m.d. of the Dahl estate, said the prize will not be awarded again because it does not fit in with the estate’s plans for next year’s centenary celebrations (2016 will mark 100 years since Dahl’s birth).
Kelly said the estate has decided to focus on launching a children’s book prize in the US but added: “The Roald Dahl Funny Prize has served its purpose brilliantly.”
Rosen did not respond when asked for comment by The Bookseller but tweeted: “This is a formal announcement: the Roald Dahl Funny Prize is no more. It is deceased. Gone before. It is a late prize. Not funny any more.
“We demand space for reading for pleasure, but we need to acclaim all books which enable children to do it, including #funnychildrensbooks… I am investigating first the possibility of an annual 'Funny Books Event'...and build from there.”
Several authors have reacted with dismay to the news. Philip Ardagh said he was “gutted” it has been scrapped, whilst Mark A Chambers said: “Such a shame! [I’m] proud to be have been shortlisted for this in its last year back in 2013.”
The prize was put on hold temporarily last year but at the time, the then c.e.o. of Book Trust, Viv Bird, said the pause was due the “overwhelming” success of the awards.
The prize ran from 2008 until 2013, when Jim Smith and Simon Rickerty both won awards. Smith’s I Am Still Not a Loser (Egmont/Jelly Pie) won the prize for the funniest book for children aged seven to 14, while Monkey Nut by Rickerty (S&S) triumphed in the six and under category.
The judges were Rosen, comedian John Kearns, columnist Marina Hyde, illustrator Sarah McIntyre and author Jamie Thomson, along with 400 schoolchildren.
Other previous winners include Liz Pichon, Jamie Thomson and Louise Rennison.