2020 Information Book Awards – Taking a Peek at the Winners
Like most literary celebrations across the publishing industry, the Information Book Awards has taken its milestone 10th anniversary – and festivities therein – to the virtual world. On November 5, the IBAs held its online ceremony to announce 2020’s commendable winners of the award.
Sponsored by Hachette Children’s group and presented by the School Library Association, the Information Book Award is a prestigious prize within the UK’s literary world. Its admirable vision is to support School Libraries and highlight the importance of vast available resources, specifically among non-fiction youth literature. Across its ten-year history, the award has sought to bring the power of learning to the forefront, celebrating writers and illustrators for their talent in creating exciting, engaging and informative non-fiction for young people.
Not only do the judges cast a vote for their favourite submission, but its inclusive nature ensures the children have their say too, with voting rights of their own. Among its three age categories (7 and under, 8–12 years and 13–16 years), 2020’s shortlist covers a wide berth of essential topics, from Black history and climate change to mental health and feminism. So, without further ado, let us delve into this year’s deserving winners.
The overall winner chosen by the judges was Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country written by Atinuke, illustrated by Mouni Feddag and published by Walker Books. Atinuke, Nigerian-born, and Feddag, Algerian, worked together to create a delightful and colourful exploration into Africa, aimed at children in the 8–12 years old category. Leaving no stone unturned, the book features a page on each country, divided into their geographical sections and detailing aspects such as their history, languages, religions, animals and cultures.
With just a couple of facts per page, the book serves as a passionately illustrated and entertaining springboard into children’s learning of diversity in the world. The book aims to rewind stereotypes that children (and adults) hold about Africa by presenting a mix of both its modern and traditional sides, painting the continent in what The Bookseller describes as a “lively and celebratory” way. Expanding children’s knowledge of the world and its diversity is ever-important in today’s global village and this book delivers just that, hand-in-hand with eye-catching illustrations, making it clear to see why this book was chosen as a winner of the 2020 IBAs.
In its pursuit for a collection of children’s non-fiction literature reflective of society’s intrinsic diversity and beauty, the judges crowned Liz Gogerly’s book as winner of the ‘age 7 and under’ category with Heroes Who Help Us From Around the World. Placing as its onus the very nature of ‘heroism’, this book engages young readers, encouraging them to question what it means to be a ‘hero’ and introducing the idea of kindness as a form of commonplace heroism.
Gogerly’s nuanced exploration of heroism spans not only the established ideas of heroism, such as doctors and firefighters, but also details heroism with librarians, lifeguards and guide dogs. This is achieved while simultaneously allowing us to journey with her across each continent, offering representation of the world as a whole. This far-reaching book is then further enhanced by Ryan Wheatcroft’s noteworthy and captivating images, making this a truly worthy winner of this year’s award.
Winning the 13–16 category of the IBAs was Black History Matters, published by Franklin Watts and written by Robin Walker. Described as “an important and hard-hitting chronicle of black history,” the book takes its readers back to the very beginning of Black history discussing significant events and changes, from African kingdoms, to slavery, apartheid, the battle for civil rights and much more. Proud of his skin colour and ancestors, Walker also credits key Black figures in society today such as Oprah Winfrey.
With the injustices faced in society today, Walker felt it particularly important to educate young people on the suffocating issues that Black communities still experience. His book was written to connect with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and is known for being an “important resource for all young readers during Black History Month and beyond.” Walker’s determination to educate the young generation on vital matters is what undoubtedly allowed him to be on the receiving end of an IBA this year.
As such, it is evident that the 2020 Information Book Awards has illuminated a distinct and powerful collection of children’s books; each is uniquely demonstrative of an evolving necessity within children’s educational literature to be representative. A need for every child to feel seen, whether through their use of language or illustration, whilst also nurturing their curiosity and imagination. In this regard, Africa, Amazing Africa, Heroes Who Help Us From Around the World, and Black History Matters are all deserved winners and educational tools for the new generation of readers.