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Waterstones Children’s Book Shortlist

By Michaela O’Callaghan, Joanne Boustead, Aimee Haldron and Annabella Costantino

It’s always a delight when Waterstones announces the shortlist for their Children’s Book Prize and since its inaugural year in 2005, the prize has highlighted many amazing titles. With all three categories (Illustrated Books, Younger Readers and Older Readers) championing new talent, it looks like the booksellers have outdone themselves with some amazing reads this year! Here is a little bit more about some of this year’s shortlisted titles:

Illustrated Books Category

Grandad's Camper by Harry Woodgate

It comes as no major surprise that Harry Woodgate’s Grandad’s Camper is on the shortlist this year. Woodgate’s talents have stolen the hearts of many picture book lovers, both young and old. Grandad’s Camper follows a grandfather and grandchild duo enjoying stories from the grandfather’s past. The grandfather talks about how he and Gramps fell in love whilst travelling in an old minibus, ultimately leading to the young girl and her father fixing the van and going on an adventure to the beach. This picture book is a delightfully warm depiction of the importance of remembering loved ones.

Out to Sea by Helen Kellock

Praised by David Walliams as “one of the most gorgeous picture books [he has] ever seen,” this story follows Lara on a journey of grief, after losing her grandmother. With stunning watercolour illustrations throughout, this book is about finding hope and strength with family in the darkest of times. Written and illustrated by Helen Kellock, Out to Sea shows its reader a unique perspective in a truly uplifting and emotive way – this is a truly beautiful story for readers to enjoy.

Younger Readers Category

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold

The Last Bear is a beautiful story written by Hannah Gold and illustrated by Levi Pinfold – winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal and illustrator of the 20th anniversary Harry Potter edition covers. The story revolves around April and a chance encounter with a lone polar bear. This touching story boasts an intriguing animal adventure while also subtly linking to climate change by teaching children that nobody is too small to make a difference. Described as “quite unforgettable” by Michael Morpurgo, this is certainly a book worthy of the nomination.

Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean

Previously featured as the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month for February 2021, Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow is full of heart, family and relationships. This heart-warm

ing story written by Benjamin Dean, with illustrations by Sandhya Prabhat, follows Archie and his friends on a quest to discover why his parents are separating. However, what he finds might not be exactly what he imagined. Follow Archie in his journey of self-discovery as his story will be one that stays with you long after you turn the last page.

Older Fiction Category

Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth

A funny coming of age novel following Aideen, a girl who thinks other people’s problems are easy to solve. This belief results in Aideen becoming the school ‘fixer’ and leads to her obtaining quid pro quos and an “unexpected chance at love.” This brilliantly quick-witted novel (which is perfect for fans of Derry Girls), features an LGBTQ+ relationship, relatable characters and explores topics such as poverty, alcoholism and toxic relationships. Published by Andersen Press, this is the second title from the author of The Falling in Love Montage.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

This West African inspired fantasy series by Namina Forna puts oppressive patriarchal rule under the microscope. In a society where a woman must bleed red to prove her purity, sixteen-year-old Deka bleeds gold – the colour of a demon – and is sentenced to death. But when a stranger sweeps her away to Otera’s capital city, Deka is offered a choice: use her gifts to fight for the Emperor or be destroyed. With positive representation of friendship between girls, The Gilded Ones is a refreshing and immersive YA with a feminist twist.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the titles nominated for this wonderful award. If you want to check out the full award, you can do so here. A huge congratulations to all eighteen books that have been shortlisted, what a brilliant selection! The only question left now is who will follow last year’s winner, A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll? We can’t wait to find out.


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