Angellica Bell, Viveka Alvestrand and Simon Johnson named as judges for Oscar's Prize

Angellica Bell, Viveka Alvestrand and Simon Johnson named as judges for Oscar's Prize

Author and TV presenter Angellica Bell has joined illustrator Axel Scheffler in the line-up of judges confimed for Oscar's Book Prize 2021, seeking to find the best illustrated UK pre-school book of the year.

Completing the panel is Viveka Alvestrand, who founded the £5,000 literary award in memory of her son, and Simon Johnson, director of Amazon EU Books. Television presenter Lorraine Kelly has also been announced as part of the panel. 

Now in its eighth year, Oscar’s Book Prize recognises the best new books for under fives. James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand created the £5,000 award in memory of their son Oscar, who was three-and-a-half when he died from a heart condition in December 2012, with the aim of celebrating a child’s love for magical stories.

Commenting on her new role, Bell said: “Encouraging children to read is vital to give them the best start and I wish I had read more as a child, hence why I jumped at the chance to be a judge for this year's Oscar’s Book Prize. I’m looking forward to joining the panel and reading the amazing entries.”

Scheffler added: “I know how much work goes into creating a book for under fives and the impact it can have, so I am delighted to be on the judging panel for Oscar’s Book Prize this year and look forward to championing the work of some great children’s illustrators and authors.”

Commenting on the appointment, Kelly said: “Some of my favourite memories as a parent include reading bedtime stories to my daughter Rosie and I cannot wait to see what colourful characters, adventures and stories appear in this year’s entries. I wish everyone entering the very best of luck.”

Oscar's Book Prize is supported by Amazon, the Evening Standard and the National Literacy Trust, and its patron is HRH Princess Beatrice. The prize’s organisers distribute donated shortlisted books to schools and nurseries across the UK. It  is now open for entries and publishers can submit their chosen books until 5 p.m. on 25th January 2021. The shortlist will be revealed on 12th April, and the winner will be announced on 12th May 2021. 

Prize chairman James Ashton said: “I'm delighted to welcome all our judges and supporters who will make our eighth annual contest the most thorough search yet for the picture book that will capture the imagination of young readers all over the UK."

Previous winners include two-time recipient Benji Davies, most recently for Tad (HarperCollins Children’s Books) in 2020, and Ed Vere in 2019 for his picture book How To Be a Lion (Puffin).