The 18-strong shortlists for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017 [see below for full listings] show a strong presence from independent Chicken House as well as publishers Hachette and Penguin Random House.
The selected titles have been described as a “guiding light of optimism in the face of uncertain times” by Waterstones, although gritty topics covered include the refugee crisis, injustice and loss.
The Journey by Francesca Sanna explores a child’s perspective of one family’s flight from war while Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is also a Star features a couple who face separation by deportation. But on the more upbeat side, Peter Bunzl's steam-punk Victorian adventure story Cogheart features the headstrong, intelligent 13-year-old Lily who is determined to discover the truth after her father vanishes in a Zeppelin crash. The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy follows the adventures of a feral cats colony in Delhi who communicate by whisker mind-link and learn how to conquer fear to survive.
The categories include Illustrated books, Younger Fiction and Older Fiction. The six books within each section will compete to be crowned category winner and then these will vie for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Each category winner will win £2,000 and then the overall winner will receive an extra £3,000.
Orchard Books, an imprint of Hachette Children's Group, has two titles in the Illustrated Books section: Super Stan by Matt Robertson and Tiger in a Tutu by Fabi Santiago. The Young Fiction category features two books by Chicken House: Beetle Boy by M G Leonard and The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Corgi, an imprint of Penguin Random House, also has a book in the Younger Fiction category, Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk as well as The Sun is also a Star in the Older Fiction section.
James Daunt, Waterstones managing director, said: “These are wonderful books of great power and imagination. They show children’s publishing to be as inventive and inspiring as ever, and to have a pointed relevance that seems never more important in the shaping of ideas and attitudes.”
Florentyna Martin, Waterstones children’s buyer, said:“ Whilst reading has always encouraged an element of escapism, this year’s shortlists provide a guiding light of optimism in the face of uncertain times. There has been a noticeable surge of talent in debut children’s publishing of late, which has been encouraged and championed by our expert booksellers. We’re delighted to celebrate these inspiring books.”
Now in its 13th year, the prize leads to a significant boost in sales. Last year’s winner, My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons became a number one children’s bestseller and saw an increase of more than 1400% across the company’s estate.
The winners will be announced at an evening reception at Waterstones Piccadilly on 30th March.
The Bear Who Stared by Duncan Beedie (Templar - Bonnier)
Life is Magic by Meg McLaren (Andersen Press)
Super Stan by Matt Robertson (Orchard Books - Hachette)
The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye)
Tiger in a Tutu by Fabi Santiago (Orchard Books - Hachette)
There's a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart (Frances Lincoln)
Cogheart by Peter Bunzl (Usborne)
Captain Pug by Laura James (Bloomsbury)
Beetle Boy by M G Leonard (Chicken House)
The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Chicken House)
Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford (HarperCollins)
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (Corgi – Penguin Random House)
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager (Walker)
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield (Egmont)
Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence (Hodder - Hachette)
The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy (Pushkin)
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (Bodley Head)
The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon (Corgi – Penguin Random House)