Female authors account for the vast majority of this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize this year, with 15 of the 18 titles written by women (see full shortlists below).
The prize is divided into three categories – best illustrated book, best fiction for 5-12s and best book for teens – with six books shortlisted in each section. The only men shortlisted are G R Gemin for Cowgirl (Nosy Crow) in the fiction section, and Steve Antony for The Queen’s Hat (Hodder) and Rob Biddulph for Blown Away (HarperCollins) in the illustrated book category.
Crime fiction features heavily on the list, and the resurgence of children’s mystery books is “striking”, said head children’s buyer Melissa Cox. “In the last year we’ve seen a new wave of Nancy Drews filling the pages of some of the best children’s titles,” she said. “By borrowing from the detective genre, many of our shortlisted authors have allowed their characters to deal with some very serious issues within a framework that also feels safe and familiar to young readers. Some books, however, have simply channeled the good old-fashioned fun of catching the baddie.”
In the teen category, two of the shortlisted books are also in the running for the Bookseller’s YA Book Prize 2015; Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill (Quercus) and Half Bad by Sally Green (Penguin).
The winning title in category will be announced at an event at Waterstones Piccadilly on the 26th March and the authors will receive £2,000 each. One of the three books will then be crowned Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2015 and the author will win an extra £3,000.
Last year Katherine Rundell’s novel Rooftoppers (Faber) took the 2014 prize, after first winning the 5-12 category. The winner of the best book for teens was Geek Girl by Holly Smale (HarperCollins Childrens Books), and in the best picture book category, the award went to Open Very Carefully by Nicola O’Byrne (Nosy Crow).
The full shortlist:
Best Illustrated Book:
The Queen's Hat by Steve Antony (Hodder / Hachette Children's)
The Dawn Chorus by Suzanne Barton (Bloomsbury)
Blown Away by Rob Biddulph (HarperCollins)
Where Bear? by Sophy Henn (Puffin)
Atlas of Adventures by Lucy Letherland, words by Rachel Williams (Wide Eyed Editions)
The Sea Tiger by Victoria Turnbull (Templar)
Best Fiction for 5-12s:
Girl with a White Dog by Anne Booth (Catnip)
Cowgirl by G R Gemin (Nosy Crow)
Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen (Random House Children’s Publishers)
Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens (Random House Children’s Publishers)
Violet and the Pearl of the Orient by Harriet Whitehorn, illustrated by Becka Moor (Simon & Schuster)
A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson (Usborne Publishing)
Best Book for Teens:
The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (Orion Children's Books)
Half Bad by Sally Green (Penguin)
Dead Ends by Erin Lange (Faber & Faber)
Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill (Quercus)
Smart by Kim Slater (Macmillan Children's Books)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (Walker Books)