Author and illustrator Sophy Henn has won The Alligator’s Mouth Award 2021 for her children's book Pizazz (Simon & Schuster Children's UK).
Run by The Alligator’s Mouth bookshop and the Bright Agency, in association with Gardners, the annual award celebrates highly illustrated fiction for children aged six to eight years old. Henn's win was announced on 8th July via an online video released on the store's Twitter account.
She said: "I was completely thrilled to be among such wonderful books on the longest; I could not believe my luck when I found myself on the shortlist, and I didn't think for one moment that I would end up holding this beautiful award! Wow! A huge thank you to Tony, Margaret and the incredible team at the Alligator’s Mouth Award, to the brilliant judges, who are all utter heroes. And thank you to all the wonders at Simon & Schuster, who have been so brilliant and supportive of Pizazz. I’m absolutely over the moon!"
Last year’s winner Adam Stower praised Pizazz, the first title in a series of the same name, for being "original and funny, with a great cast of characters".
Smriti Halls joined Stower on the 2021 judging panel. She commented: "The Alligator’s Award is such a special one. It celebrates those important books that help bridge the gap between picture books and young fiction, and turn children into independent readers. It celebrates those special stories that capture the imagination by perfectly combining wonderful words with enthralling pictures and take children onto the next step of their reading journey. We know how important it is that children read early and the difference that can make in their lives. I’m so happy that this is a prize that encourages them to read widely… and that helps children discover stories that are full of enjoyment, warmth, laughter and fun.’
Alongside Stower and Halls, the panel of children’s book experts who picked the winning title included book blogger and primary school librarian Jo Clarke, primary school headteacher and book blogger Simon Smith, co-owners of The Alligator’s Mouth children’s bookshop Margaret Wallace-Jones, and Tony West, plus Bright Agency director Arabella Stein.
Wallace-Jones and West said: "We are so thrilled that Sophy Henn's wonderful Pizazz has won the third Alligator's Mouth Award. This witty and inventive book effortlessly blends story and illustration, and the sparky, funny central character is the best and most entertaining superhero anyone could hope to meet. The pages whizz energetically by, and we know this fabulous book will engage children and start them on the journey towards becoming life-long readers. Congratulations Sophy!"
Stein added: "I am thrilled with Sophy’s win – Pizazz is a wonderful example of illustrations and words coming together to tell a brilliant story. This book has everything needed to entice young readers into wanting to read more, and deserves to be celebrated. Huge congratulations to Sophy and all the team at Simon & Schuster Children’s."