Walker Books and Oxford University Press each have two books longlisted for the Alligator's Mouth Award, which this year sees themes of fantasy, adventure and funny stories feature in the line-up of books [see below for full list].
Walker has Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt written by Jennifer Bell and illustrated by Alice Lickens. and Zombierella: Fairy Tales Gone Bad written by Joseph Coelho and, illustrated by Freya Hartas. OUP's titles include Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Armoured Goretusk written by Kris Humphrey and illustrated by Pete Williamson and Super Happy Magic Forest and the Humongous Fungus written and illustrated by Matty Long.
Adam Stower, winner of the 2020 award with King Coo: The Curse of the Mummy’s Gold (David Fickling Books), returns this year to join author Smriti Halls on the judging panel, which is made up of children’s book experts who selected the longlisted titles. They include award-winning book blogger and primary school librarian Jo Clarke (Book Lover Jo); primary school headteacher and book blogger Simon Smith; co-owners of The Alligator’s Mouth children’s bookshop, Margaret Wallace-Jones and Tony West; and Arabella Stein, director at The Bright Agency. Books wholesaler Gardners returns as an official partner of the award, and is offering independent bookshops across the UK a 50% discount on all 10 longlisted titles until the end of July 2021.
Stower said: "It is so heartening to see this area of children's fiction thrive. Illustrated early fiction offers such a wonderful bridge for young readers who are moving on from picture books into longer and more complex narratives. These books are packed with illustrations that can lure the most reluctant of readers and gently introduce them into the marvellous world of longer fiction, hopefully instilling in them a lifelong love of reading. These books should be celebrated, and how lovely it is that The Alligator’s Mouth Award does exactly that. Long may it continue!"
Nigel Wyman, head of business development at Gardners said: "Reading has brought so much enjoyment to children (and peace to parents) during a time nobody could have prepared for. The 2021 Alligator's Mouth Award is going to be bigger than ever, in a year where the importance of children’s fiction has been realised, and relied upon so much."
West and Wallace-Jones said: "We are so thrilled by the funny, engaging, inventive and beautifully illustrated books on the 2021 longlist. The Alligator's Mouth Award is the highlight of our year and it's a privilege to be able to celebrate the brilliant books which will create the next generation of readers. Huge congratulations to all the writers and illustrators."
Stein added: "There were so many strong contenders submitted for this year’s award, and it was a pleasure to read the wealth of books that have been keeping children entertained and engaged during lockdowns and school closures. I am delighted by the exciting range of books selected for the 2021 longlist.
The award, which champions both authors and illustrators of children's fiction, was created by The Alligator's Mouth children's bookshop and The Bright Agency, and recognises illustrated fiction aimed at children aged aged six to eight.
The full longlist features:
Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt written by Jennifer Bell, illustrated by Alice Lickens, published by Walker Books
Attack of the Heebie Jeebies written and illustrated by Tom Percival, published by Macmillan Children’s Books
Claude at the Palace written and illustrated by Alex T Smith, published by Hodder Children’s Books
Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Armoured Goretusk written by Kris Humphrey, illustrated by Pete Williamson, published by Oxford University Press
Pizazz written and illustrated by Sophy Henn, published by Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Super Happy Magic Forest and the Humongous Fungus written and illustrated by Matty Long, published by Oxford University Press
The Hat Full of Secrets written by Karl Newson, illustrated by Wazza Pink, published by Stripes Publishing
Wigglesbottom Primary: Break Time Bunnies written by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Becka Moor, published by Nosy Crow
The Worst Class in the World written by Joanna Nadin, illustrated by Rikin Parekh, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Zombierella: Fairy Tales Gone Bad written by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Freya Hartas, published by Walker Books