It's the 15th anniversary of Waterstones Children's Book Prize this year and they're celebrating today with their announcement of their absolutely cracker of a shortlist!
For over 15 years the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize has helped to shape the landscape of contemporary children’s literature, championing rising stars including Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Katherine Rundell and Jonny Duddle, including last years winner Angie Thomas’ and her internationally acclaimed modern classic The Hate U Give storm to victory as the winner of the Children's Book Prize 2018.
This years shortlist is celebrating and supporting some of the finest new talent in children's publishing today and I'm delighted to see so many worthy nominations.
It will be a difficult one to narrow down the winners but a massive congratulations to all authors and illustrators nominated - it is truly deserved and you're all winners with the wonderful books you have written whatever the outcome.
Illustrated Books Shortlist
Sparking the imaginations of the very youngest readers, Waterstones Illustrated Books Shortlist is a celebration of creative talent across every genre of children’s publishing. Bursting with life, invention and laugh-aloud humour, whether it’s a superbly silly rhyming canine roll-call or a tender, painterly story of identity or a catalogue of real life heroes, these are books that explore the breadth and depth of where words and pictures can lead us.
100 Dogs by Michael Whaite
Small dog, tall dog, playing with a ball dog, big dog, dig dog burying a bone...
Can there really be 100 dogs doing 100 doggy things packed into the pages of this picture book?
Yep, we've counted and we're pawsitive! Follow the bouncy rhyme as it weaves its way through an array of hilarious hounds (from petted pugs to silly sausage dogs) and find out...
This silly celebration of dogs is bursting with funny details to spot and crazy, characterful dogs to fall in love with - a bark-aloud book to return time and again.
Winner of the Sainsbury's Children's Books Awards Children's Book of the Year and Best Picture Book!
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Mesmerizing and full of heart, this is a picture book about self-confidence and love, and a radiant celebration of individuality.
While riding the subway home with his Nana one day, Julian notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train carriage. When Julian gets home, daydreaming of the magic he's seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies and making his own fabulous mermaid costume. But what will Nana think about the mess he makes - and even more importantly - what will she think about how Julian sees himself?
Shop via Waterstones here.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Meet the little leaders. They're brave. They're bold. They changed the world.
Featuring 40 trailblazing black women in the world's history, this book educates and inspires as it relates true stories of women who broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations. Debut author/illustrator Vashti Harrison pairs captivating text with stunning illustrations as she tells the stories of both iconic and lesser-known female figures of black history - from nurse Mary Seacole, to politician Diane Abbott, mathematician Katherine Johnson and singer Shirley Bassey.
Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models and everyday women who did extraordinary things.
Shop via Waterstones here.
Mini Rabbit Not Lost by John Bond
A deliciously funny debut from a major new talent!
Mini Rabbit is making a cake.
Cake, cake, cake!
But he's run out of berries. No berries, no cake.
No cake? No way! So off he goes to look for some...
He's not cold, not too small. And, no, no, definitely NOT LOST...
or is he?
Shop via Waterstones here.
The Girls by Lauren Ace, illustrated by Jenny Lovlie
Four little girls meet under an apple tree and form a bond that grows as they share secrets, dreams, worries and schemes.
This beautifully illustrated tale charts the girls' lives through ups and downs and laughter and tears. Find out how their friendship flourishes as the years pass by and the girls become women.
Shop via Waterstones here.
The King Who Banned the Dark by Emily Haworth-Booth
An illuminating tale of power, rebellion, darkness and light.
There was once a little boy who was afraid of the dark. There's nothing unusual about that. Most children are afraid of the dark at one time of another. But this little boy was a Prince, and he decided that when he became King, he would do something about the dark.
He would ban it.
When the King bans the dark completely, installing an artificial sun, and enforcing "anti-dark" laws, it seems like a good idea. The citizens don't need to worry about any of the scary things that might live in the dark.
But what happens when nobody can sleep, and the citizens revolt? Will the King face his fears and turn the lights off?
The King Who Banned the Dark is a beautiful and thought-provoking story about how we need the dark in order to enjoy the light.
Shop via Waterstones here.
Younger Fiction Shortlist
Marking the beginning of a journey into independent reading, Waterstones Younger Fiction category is where many children lose their hearts to books forever. This year’s list is full of future favourites, crossing magical lands, tackling far-flung adventures and spinning new fairy tales to exploring what matters much closer to home.
Brightstorm: A Sky-Ship Adventure by Vashti Hardy
A fast-paced fantasy adventure that will set your imagination soaring!
Twins Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father has died in a failed attempt to reach the southernmost point in the world. Not only that, but he has been accused of stealing fuel before he died! The twins don't believe the news, and they answer an ad to join a new attempt to reach South Polaris. It's their only hope of learning the truth... and salvaging their family's reputation.
As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek? Shop via Waterstones here.
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf
Told with heart and humour, and beautifully illustrated by Pippa Curnick, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a child's perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn't always make sense.
There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He's nine years old (just like me), but he's very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn't like sweets - not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite! But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn't very strange at all. He's a refugee who's run away from a War. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to help. That's where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we've come up with a plan...
Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award 2019!
The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
When Tomas discovers a strange old tree at the bottom of his grandad's garden, he doesn't think much of it. But he takes the funny fruit from the tree back into the house - and gets the shock and delight of his life when a tiny dragon hatches! The tree is a dragonfruit tree, and Tomas has got his very own dragon, Flicker.
Tomas soon finds out that life with Flicker is great fun, but also very ... unpredictable. Yes, dragons are wonderful, but they also set fire to your toothbruth and leave your pants hanging from the TV aerial. Tomas has to learn how to look after Flicker - and quickly. And then something extraordinary happens - more dragonfruits appear on the tree. Tomas is officially growing dragons...
The first book in a sparky and utterly enchanting new series. Shop The Boy Who Grew Dragons via Waterstones here.
The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson
A spellbinding adventure, bound-up with traditional folk and fairy tales, The House with Chicken Legs transports readers to a world of spells and spirits bound by ancient rules and one girl who longs to break free.
My house has chicken legs. Two or three times a year, without warning, it stands up in the middle of the night and walks away from where we’ve been living. It might walk a hundred miles or it might walk a thousand, but where it lands is always the same.
Marinka dreams of a normal life, she dreams of standing still, but her house has chicken legs and a will of its own and moves on without warning. For governing Marinka’s world is the powerful and feared Baba Yaga. To some she is a witch, to others the Goddess of Death who guides spirits between this world and the next and she is also Marinka's grandmother. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother's footsteps, but her house has other ideas...
Based on the Slavic fairy tales she was told by her own Prussian grandmother, Sophie Anderson’s debut is both a powerful reimagining of ancient storytelling and an entrancing new story of one girl’s search for freedom and her own calling. Accompanied by beautiful internal illustrations by Elisa Paganelli, it is a celebration of the power of storytelling to weave new spells and keep magic alive for every new generation.
Read my review on this enchanting book here.
The Mystery of the Colour Thief by Ewa Jozefkowicz
First the accident, then the nightmares. The shadowy thief steals all the colours from Izzy's world leaving her feeling empty and hopeless. Will her new neighbour and a nest full of cygnets save Izzy and solve the mystery of the colour thief? A heartwarming story about families, friendships, school, nature, hope and self-confidence.
After a frightening car accident, Izzy's mum is in a coma. Her family is in pieces. Her best friend at school has dumped her. And her nightmares are haunted by a shadowy man stealing all the colours from her world. She's trying so hard to be brave, but Izzy thinks everything is her fault. Then she meets her new neighbour, Toby, paralyzed after a skateboarding accident, and together they find a nest of cygnets who need rescuing. Particularly the odd one out, called Spike.
Will saving Spike save Izzy? Will she and Toby solve the mystery of the colour thief and bring hope and happiness back to Izzy's life? Written with insight, compassion and empathy - an authentic story about real life and how to survive it.
Shop The Mystery of the Colour Thief via Waterstones here.
The Train to Impossible Places by P.G Bell, illustrated by Flavia Sorrention
When Suzy hears a strange noise in the middle of the night, she creeps downstairs to find a train roaring through her house. But this is no ordinary train.
This is the magical delivery express for the Union of Impossible Places. Whisked on board by a troll-boy, Suzy's world is turned upside down when she's asked to deliver a cursed package to a fearsome sorceress. And quite suddenly, Suzy realizes the fate of the Impossible Places is in her hands...
Shop this unforgettable tale via Waterstones here.
Older Fiction Shortlist
Standing on the cusp of the most daring and experimental new trends – not to mention where Hollywood comes calling - Older Fiction is where some of the most exciting contemporary storytelling happens. Amongst the astonishing range and diversity on display there’s the sweeping, fantasy of rich and strange new worlds alongside myth-born epic and cutting edge contemporary drama: talent to take your breath away.
A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos, translated by Hildegarde Serle
I think we could have all lived happily, in a way, God, me and the others, if it weren’t for that accursed book. It disgusted me. I knew what bound me to it in the most sickening of ways, but the horror of that particular knowledge came later, much later. I didn’t understand straight away, I was too ignorant.
Lose yourself in the fantastic world of the arks and in the company of unforgettable characters in this French runaway hit, Christelle Dabos’ The Mirror Visitor quartet.
Long ago, following a cataclysm called the Rupture, the world was shattered into many floating celestial islands, now known as arks. Over each, the spirit of an omnipotent and immortal ancestor abides. The inhabitants of these arks each possess a unique power. Ophelia, with her ability to read the pasts of objects, must navigate this fantastic, disjointed, perilous world using her trademark tenacity and quiet strength.
Plain-spoken, headstrong Ophelia cares little about appearances. Her ability to read the past of objects is unmatched in all of Anima and, what’s more, she possesses the ability to travel through mirrors, a skill passed down to her from previous generations.
Her idyllic life is disrupted, however, when she is promised in marriage to Thorn, a taciturn and influential member of a distant clan. Ophelia must leave all she knows behind and follow her fiancé to Citaceleste, the capital of a cold, icy ark known as the Pole, where danger lurks around every corner and nobody can be trusted.
There, in the presence of her inscrutable future husband, Ophelia slowly realizes that she is a pawn in a political game that will have far-reaching ramifications not only for her but for her entire world.
Shop The Winter's Promise via Waterstones here.
Boy 87 by Ele Fountain
Shif is just an ordinary boy who likes chess, maths and racing his best friend home from school. But one day, soldiers with guns come to his door - and he knows that he is no longer safe. Shif is forced to leave his mother and little sister,and embark on a dangerous journey; a journey through imprisonment and escape, new lands and strange voices, and a perilous crossing by land and sea. He will encounter cruelty and kindness; he will become separated from the people he loves.
Boy 87 is a gripping, uplifting tale of one boy's struggle for survival; it echoes the story of young people all over the world today.
The Truth About Lies by Tracy Darnton
Jess has an incredible memory. She can remember every single detail of every single day since she was eleven. But Jess would rather not be remarkable and, after years of testing at the hands of a ruthless research team, she has finally managed to escape.
Just when Jess thinks that she's managing to settle in to living a normal life, everything changes. Her boarding-school roommate dies and the school is thrown into a state of chaos and grief. Then new boy Dan appears and Jess can't help but find herself drawn to him. But building relationships is hard when you can't reveal who you really are and Jess is getting hints that someone knows more about her than she would like.
Is it time to run again? Will she ever be truly free? Shop The Truth About Lies via Waterstones here.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Magic can burn, turn tides, light the darkness and bring back the dead. But magic is gone. So one girl must bring it back in the first in a gripping fantasy trilogy.
They killed my mother.They took our magic.They tried to bury us. Now we rise.
Zelie remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled - Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zelie's Reaper mother summoning forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zelie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.
Zelie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zelie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orisha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zelie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic - and her growing feelings for an enemy.
Already snapped up for development into a major new film by the producers of The Maze Runner and The Fault in Our Stars, Children of Blood and Bone is a fierce and unflinching saga of divided love, belief and legacy. A book that combines heart-stopping drama with unforgettable characters this is a story that ripples with magic, a tale that will haunt a reader long after the final page.
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me by Malcolm Duffy
Humorous and heartbreaking debut novel with the fresh, funny, honest voice of a 14-year-old Geordie lad recounting the trials and tribulations of family life and finding first love. Nominated for the 2019 Carnegie Medal.
Danny's mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good - Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can't deny he's got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they're not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he's never met.
Set in Newcastle and Edinburgh, this supremely readable coming-of-age drama tackles domestic violence head on, but finds humour and hope in the most unlikely of- places.
Shop via Waterstones here.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Xiomara has always kept her words to herself.
When it comes to standing her ground in her Harlem neighbourhood, she lets her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But X has secrets - her feelings for a boy in her bio class, and the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed. And a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight. Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent.
A novel about finding your voice and standing up for what you believe in, no matter how hard it is to say. Brave, bold and beautifully written - dealing with issues of race, feminism and faith - this is perfect for fans of Orangeboy and Everything Everything, The Children of Blood and Bone, The Hate U Give and One.