Authors including Sharna Jackson, Sam Copeland and Liz Hyder have been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2020.
Jackson's High-Rise Mystery (Knights Of) and Charlie Changes Into a Chicken by Copeland (Puffin) will go head to head in the Books for Younger Readers category. They face competiton from The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum (Nosy Crow); The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan (Little Island) and Chicken House stablemates Asha & the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan and Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange.
In the Books for Older Readers category Hyder's Bearmouth (Pushkin Children's Books) is in the running alongside Internment by Samira Ahmed (Atom); I Will Not Be Erased by gal-dem (Walker Books); A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (Electric Monkey); The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton (Puffin); and Jemima Small Versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter (Usborne Publishing).
Once Upon a Unicorn Horn by Beatrice Blue (Frances Lincoln) and Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola (Puffin) are up for Illustrated Books; alongside Otto Blotter, Bird Spotter by Graham Carter (Andersen Press); One Fox by Kate Read (Two Hoots); Me and My Sister by Rose Robbins (Scallywag Press); and Hidden Planet: An Illustrator's Love Letter to Planet Earth by Ben Rothery (Ladybird) rounding off the shortlist.
Every year Waterstones’ expert booksellers are called on to vote for the books they believe are the very best in new children’s writing and illustration. The shortlists consist of 18 books across three categories. Six books will compete within each category to be crowned Category Winner, with prize money of £2,000, with the three category winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2020 and an extra £3,000. In the event that the prize is awarded to a partnership, then the money will be split equally between the joint winners.
The winning authors and illustrators will also see a "significant boost in sales", said Waterstones, and the promise of an ongoing commitment to their writing career from all Waterstones shops nationwide. Last year’s winner The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf (Hachette Children's Books) saw an increase in sales of over 361% following the prize announcement, through BookScan.
Waterstones children's buyer Florentyna Martin said: "One of the greatest pleasures in reading is the opportunity to explore, and this year’s authors and illustrators invite readers to join them on a voyage of discovery. In a shortlist of immersive fact and fiction, our booksellers have chosen to share narratives that offer readers of all ages the chance to explore a wide range of topics, from nature and identity, to inner strength and the fabric of society. Whether meeting intriguing characters, navigating vibrant settings or uncovering thrilling plots, these books investigate what it means to understand yourself and the world around you."
Kate Skipper, Waterstones chief operation officer added: "The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize is a highlight of my year. Every year, our booksellers consistently select stories which invariably jump off the page and into the reader’s imagination. No screen can compete with the power of a child’s imagination, it really is a wondrous thing. The shortlists this year are brilliant; I don’t envy the difficult choices ahead for our booksellers as they try to pick this year’s winners."
The winners will be announced at an evening reception at Waterstones Piccadilly, central London, on Thursday 26th March, 2020.