Children’s Titles in The British Book Awards
By Michaela O’Callaghan, Aimee Haldron, Joanne Boustead and Annabella Costantino
It’s that time of year again where we celebrate the best in literature with The British Book Awards! Affectionately known as The Nibbies, these awards have sky-rocketed author’s careers since 1990. Awards like The Nibbies are so important — they give recognition and praise to authors, spreading awareness for their work. There are many awards that sit alongside The Nibbies in this mission — the FAB Prize and Woke Babies Book Awards being two more examples of awards that aim to celebrate and create opportunities for authors. This year, The Nibbies has been divided into three separate categories to highlight the importance of illustrated books within children’s publishing. Join us as we take a look at some of the shortlisted books for the Children’s Fiction, Children’s Non-Fiction and Children’s Illustrated categories of The Nibbies.
This year, the nominations for Children’s Fiction have a range of brand-name authors and debutants which is testament to a strong year for Children’s and Young Adult Fiction (YA). From YA thrillers to gentler stories about friendship and climate change, there has been a book for every reader. Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is one of the debutants on this year's shortlist. Acquired when Faridah was only eighteen, she has become established as the bestselling YA debut author of 2021. Dubbed as the “queen of teen crime,” Karen M. McManus’ You’ll Be the Death of Me is her sixth YA title released and was a close second bestselling YA author of 2021.
Hannah Gold’s bestselling middle-grade hardback debut of 2021, The Last Bear is another stunning title on the shortlist, illustrated by Levi Pinfold. Winner of both the Blue Peter Book Awards and Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for 2022, the book tackles the ever-growing issue of climate change. For the book’s campaign, Harper Collins partnered with Collins Education to create teaching resources for Key Stage 2 pupils, all inspired by the key themes of The Last Bear. The sequel, The Lost Whale, recently came out at the end of March and has been highly anticipated by readers. It explores ecological awareness and a connection between a boy and a whale — beautifully illustrated again by the award-winning Levi Pinfold.
Children’s non-fiction has had a spectacular year! You Are A Champion by Marcus Rashford and Carl Anka has had a tremendously positive influence in the book space. The title had increased sales following the World Cup as booksellers and book buyers rallied around to support Rashford and his non-fiction title. Publisher partnerships with charities and booksellers have helped to reach children with the least access to books, and last June, the Marcus Rashford Book Club was set up with the same aim. You Are A Champion has already been named W H Smith's Book of the Year for 2021 so it will be interesting to see whether they take the award for Best Children’s Non-Fiction at the Nibbies.
First Questions and Answers: What is Racism? by Katie Daynes and Jordan Akpojaro is a guide to starting conversations about complicated, but important topics. Illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat, What is Racism? tackles injustice and prejudice, providing both adults and children with the language and sensitivity needed to talk about the topic. Listed as Usbourne’s bestselling new non-fiction title of 2021, the book was also produced in collaboration with the educational charity Show Racism the Red Card.
Illustrated fiction for children is so important for cognitive development and exploring mature themes in an accessible, age-appropriate way. This year, The Nibbies have shortlisted a great range of titles, including Heartstopper Volume Four which is written and illustrated by Alice Oseman. Published by Hodder Children’s Books, this book explores themes around mental health and friendships through the eyes of Charlie and Nick, two boys in love. Avid readers of this series of bestselling LGBTQ+ graphic novels have also been delighted to hear that it will soon be made into a Netflix series.
Dapo Adeola is no stranger to receiving high praise and appreciation for his work. Hey You! is a direct response to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, illustrated in collaboration with Alyissa Johnson and Sharee Miller. The book addresses systematic racism and explores the Black diaspora in a timeless and authentic way, for all children to enjoy. With stunning illustrations throughout, this book sits alongside Look Up! and My Dad Is A Grizzly Bear, effectively adding to Dapo Adeola’s vastly growing portfolio of excellent children’s picture books.
A big congratulations to all the authors and illustrators featured on the Children’s shortlists for The British Book Awards 2022! With such an amazing array of talent and ground-breaking books, it’s hard to predict this year’s winners. What are your favourites from each category? We cannot wait for them to be announced on 23 May! Some honourable mentions from the shortlists include: The Christmas Pine by Julia Donaldson and When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle. To find out more, you can check out The Bookseller website here.