Children’s Book Prize shortlists reflect readers’ appetite for new imaginary worlds
Stories depicting the fantastical are highlighted in the shortlists for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2018, announced today, Wednesday 7th February.
In previous years, real-life topics were prominent in the shortlists, but this year it is notable that the majority of shortlisted fiction titles are fantastical adventures. Many of the authors, representing the best in new children’s writing, have chosen to provide escapism from the boundaries of reality by setting their stories in imagined realms, or by infusing real-world settings with magical elements.
Florentyna Martin, Waterstones Children’s Buyer says:
“Whilst we still see exceptional real-life stories, this year’s shortlists indicate a renewed interest in the publishing and purchasing of fantastical adventure stories. Children have always been eager to experience worlds beyond our own, whether it’s in books, films or technology, but our booksellers’ shortlist choices show that a resurgence of nostalgic fantastical adventures is creating a hunger for new magical stories. We’ve been treated recently to bestselling revisits to the Wizarding World, with both Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, and our booksellers crowned Philip Pullman’s new adventure La Belle Sauvageas Book of the Year 2017, ultimately championing the wide-reaching magic of children’s books. The books chosen by our booksellers on this year’s list are classics of the future, and will be inspiring children for generations to come.”
A selection of more traditional adventure stories set in imaginary worlds, exemplified by Kieran Larwood’s The Five Realms: The Legend of Podkin One Ear, is highlighted in the ‘younger fiction’ shortlists. The first book in a new series, The Legend of Podkin One Ear is inspired by the author’s joy of reading The Hobbit as a child, and comparable to beloved childhood classics, such as Watership Down and Redwall. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, another first book in a new series, is a story in the tradition of Harry Potter, creating a “wundrous” world full of adventures. Helena Duggan’s A Place Called Perfect is a fantastical mystery, reminiscent of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl stories.
‘Fiction for older readers’ showcases fantastical story telling in its various forms, from speculative fiction to a magical coming of age story, and all protagonists are strong young women. Ink by Alice Broadway imagines a world where everyone’s actions and significant moments are tattooed on their skin for ever. Emily Bain Murphy’s The Disappearances is a story thick with secrets and follows a teenage girl whose family history could hold the key to a town’s mystery. Alternating between wordless graphic novel and written journal entries, Thornhill by Pam Smy tells the story of two girls and one house, evoking the atmosphere of a gothic ghost novel.
Themes of fantasy and nature have merged in several of the illustrated books. In surreal adventure story The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton a young girl discovers the truth behind a mysterious legend about the deepest sea and protects a peaceful creature from human harm. In The Night Box, Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay tell a lyrical story about the magical nature of night-time. Sandra Dieckmann’s beautifully illustrated book Leaf introduces the youngest readers to the effects of global warming by telling the story of a lost polar bear, who floats away from home on an ice floe and tries to find his way back.
James Daunt, Waterstones Managing Director says:
“The track record of our Children’s Prize is a source of great pride. Year after year, the Prize launches the enduring careers of a succession of brilliant writers. Our bookshops revel in the vibrant creativity of children’s publishing, with growing sales propelled to a significant extent by new discoveries. This is proving to be a golden age for children’s books in which we are delighted to play our part.”
The Waterstones Children’s book prize exists to reward and champion new and emerging talent in children’s books. Now in its fourteenth year, it is widely regarded as one of the most important prizes for children’s books.
Last year’s winner, The Girl Of Ink And Stars shot to the top of the bestseller charts after announcement and saw an increase in sales of over 1400% across the Waterstones estate.
The winners will be announced at an evening reception at Waterstones Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookshop, on Thursday 22nd March 2018. Six books will compete within each category to be crowned category winner, with the three category winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2018. The winner of each category will receive £2000, with the overall winner receiving an extra £3000. In the event that the prize is awarded to a partnership then the prize money will be split equally between the joint winners.
The winning authors and illustrators will also see a significant boost in sales, and the promise of an ongoing commitment to their writing career from all Waterstones shops nationwide.
The full lists of shortlisted titles (in alphabetical order by author) for the 2018 Prize are:
Superbat by Matt Carr (Scholastic)
Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann (Flying Eye)
The Night Box by Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay (Egmont)
I Really Want The Cake by Simon Philip and Lucia Gagiotti (Kings Road Publishing)
Fergal Is Fuming by Robert Starling (Andersen Press)
The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton (Flying Eye)
A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan (Usborne)
Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans (Chicken House)
Kid Normal by Greg James, Chris Smith and Erica Salcedo, (Bloomsbury)
The Five Realms: The Legend of Podkin One–Ear by Kieran Larwood (with illustrations from renowned British artist David Wyatt), (Faber)
The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson (Scholastic)
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend (Hachette Children’s)
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy (Pushkin Children’s)
Troublemakers by Catherine Barter (Andersen Press)
Ink by Alice Broadway (Scholastic)
Thornhill by Pam Smy (David Fickling Books)
This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (Penguin Random House Children’s)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Walker)