It was fantastic to see the hashtag for this prize (#WCBP) trending on Twitter yesterday – testimony both to the level of interest the general public now gives to children’s books and the push and publicity that Waterstones has brought to this signficant award.
Rob Biddulph was announced as the overall winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize at the booksellers’ Piccadilly HQ with his picture book, Blown Away!
The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize is now one of the biggest children’s book awards in the country. There are three shortlists for the Best Illustrated Books, Best Fiction for Teenagers and Best Younger Fiction, with category winners as well as an overall winner.
Melissa Cox (Head of Children’s Buying) had this to say of the winner: “The test of a good picture book is not how good it is on first reading, but how enjoyable it is on its fiftieth. Blown Away more than delivers – its whimsical, madcap plot engages immediately and its rhythmic text drives the story along while the illustrations charm and thrill on every page. It is truly wonderful, and a very worthy winner.”
James Daunt, Waterstones MD, said: “This year we have another wonderfully inspiring Prize that is testament to the extraordinary vibrancy and creativity in children’s publishing.”
Every one of the winning books’ Amazon reviews is a 5-star recommendation. Rob Biddulph is art director for the Observer Magazine and a winner of the PPA Designer of the Year Award. Blown Away is published by HarperCollins. The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Prize champions new and emerging talent in children’s books. It has been running for 11 years and this is only the second time a picture book has been selected as the winner.
The winner of best young fiction category was Robin Stevens with Murder Most Unladylike, the first in the author’s series of boarding school mysteries, featuring schoolgirls Daisy Wells and Holly Wong of Deepdean School for Girls. The second Wells & Wong Mystery, Aresenic For Tea, was published in January and the third, First Class Murder, is due in July. The books are published by Corgi.
Stevens has a very serviceable responsive website, with some interesting author facts on the About Me page.
The winner of the teenage category was Half Bad by Sally Green, the first title in a series that Penguin have high hopes of becoming a franchise in the style of The Hunger Games. The momentum is building well and the second title in the sequence, Half Wild, has just been published.
The other titles on the shortlists, which included recent YA Book Prize winner Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, were well-chosen and superbly presented and publicised by Waterstones. The one book that I feel has been strangely overlooked by this award, and by the other prize that focuses on emerging talent, the Branford Boase Award, is Close To The Wind by Jon Walter (published in hardback by David Fickling Books last summer and now available in paperback), a novel that I continue to enthusiastically recommend whenever the opportunity arises.