Authors and illustrators gather ideas for their books from a myriad of places, and creators of children's books are no exception.
In this interactive article the creators of some of the books shortlisted for this year's Oscar's Book Prize share who and what lie behind the characters and plots of their tales.
What happens when a pig gets stuck inside a little girl's nose, and can a bear really cope with looking after a lively bunch of bunny rabbits?
Find out at the Oscar's Book Prize family session at Barnes Children's Literature Festival on Saturday 12 May, where the authors and illustrators of two of this year's shortlisted books will lead a fun-filled storytelling hour.
Ruth Quayle and Alison Friend, creators of That's Bear Can't Babysit and John Dougherty and Laura Hughes, the duo behind There's a Pig Up My Nose, will do live illustrations and read out loud from their books.
Young visitors are also invited to join in decorating their own little bunnies to take home.
The five children’s books vying for Oscar’s Book Prize 2018 have been revealed.
Top children’s authors and illustrators can look forward to a trip to St James’s Palace in London, the setting for this year’s Oscar’s Book Prize award. HRH Princess Beatrice, who is our Royal Patron, will present the £5,000 award for the best under-5s title on May 14.
As in previous years, the subject matter of this year’s entries was very varied. It covered themes such as identity, belonging and having the courage to face your worst fears, alongside a wonderful mix of schoolyard antics, cheeky monsters and bovine space travellers. The shortlist – see below – pits two sea-faring adventures against tales of a goose, a pig and a babysitting bear.
It has been a record year for admissions, with more than 100 entries from publishers. From these a longlist of 13 books were chosen, with help from the Eveline Day Nursery in Wimbledon. This is the nursery that book-loving Oscar Ashton, to whom the prize is a tribute, attended before he died from a heart condition in December 2012.
The jury for this year’s award spent a lively afternoon last week whittling down the longlisted titles to the final five.
BBC presenter and Strictly Come Dancing finalist Katie Derham said that choosing the five books from the longlist was really tough. Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival and also a prize judge, highlighted the “sophisticated production values and robust sense of humour” of many of the titles. They were joined on the judging panel by Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, UK director of books at Amazon, and Oscar’s parents James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand.
The 2018 shortlist and what the judges said about the books:
1. Lucie Goose by Danny Baker and Pippa Curnick (Hodder)
“Such fun to read aloud and make all those roaring noises with children, especially when they alreary know some of the classic fairytales,” said Viveka Alvestrand.
2. There’s a Pig Up My Nose by John Dougherty and Laura Hughes (Egmont)
Julia Eccleshare said: “The surprise comes right at the start, and what a wonderfully dotty premise to begin a story with, about problem-solving in the classroom. Brilliantly structured too.”
3. The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Stanton
Katie Derham found it “Hugely imaginative, intriguingly bonkers, linguistically rich and I absolutely loved the gorgeous illustrations.”
4. Sunk! by Rob Biddulph
Amazon’s Brigitte Ricou-Bellan said: ”I fell for this vibrantly illustrated story about friendship and teamwork, and I can imagine young children leaping on the tempo and quickly learning the rhymes.”
5. That Bear Can’t Babysit by Ruth Quayle and Alison Friend (Nosy Crow)
“The chaotic and mischevious storyline will appeal to small children, while the debate about what they can get away with is beautifully addressed in this lovely story with a happy ending,” said James Ashton.
In addition to those associated with the shortlisted five books, the St James’s Palace event will host former winners, book charities, publishers and educators.
Now in its fifth year, Oscar’s Book Prize is designed to celebrate a child’s love for magical stories and highlight the importance of parents and carers reading with their children in the early years. The prize is supported by the Evening Standard, Amazon and the National Literacy Trust.
For more information about this year’s event see today’s article published by the Evening Standard
50 sets of the shortlist for Oscar’s Book Prize 2018 up for grabs!
To celebrate the announcement of the shortlist, the 50 first nurseries or primary schools to email firstname.lastname@example.org will receive a complimentary set of the five books.
BBC presenter Katie Derham joins the judging panel for Oscar’s Book Prize 2018.
The £5,000 award seeks to find the best book published in 2017 for children aged five or under. It was set up in memory of Oscar Ashton and pays tribute to his love of stories and children’s imagination. HRH Princess Beatrice, a judge for the prize in 2016, is patron.
Derham, 47, who has two children, said: “Reading books to, and with, children has been one of my greatest joys. Now my girls are 17 and 12 they love passing on their favourites to their little cousins. I am thrilled to support Oscar’s Book Prize and have the chance to immerse myself in the best new books out there for little ones.”
Julia Eccleshare, a children’s book editor and editorial advisor for the website Lovereading4kids, is also new to the judging panel. She said: “I am delighted to be a judge of Oscar’s Book Prize this year. Already it has made a significant contribution in recognising the importance of books in entertaining even the youngest children and developing their young minds. That is what the best children’s writers and illustrators do. I never tire of discovering brilliant new authors and illustrators and can’t wait to get stuck into all the books that are going to be submitted for this wonderful prize.”
Derham and Eccleshare are joined by Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, director of books at Amazon UK, which, together with the National Literacy Trust, is supporting the prize for the second year running. The Evening Standard has supported the prize since its inception.
As in previous years, Oscar’s parents James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand are also judges. They said: “Oscar’s Book Prize began in 2014 as a simple commemoration of our son. Going into our fifth year and thanks to the work of a dedicated team of supporters we have built an award that has been embraced by publishers, authors and illustrators, as well as parents, for whom reading with their young children is as important to their development as it should be enjoyable.”
George Osborne, editor of the Evening Standard, said: “Oscar’s Book Prize celebrates that greatest literary achievement – a book for young children that stays in our memories – and commemorates a young boy, Oscar, who never leaves our memories.”
Publishers are invited to submit up to five entries each for the 2018 prize, up from three previous years. Entry forms and rules can be found here. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on May 14. The closing date for submission is 5PM on March 16, 2018.
Oscar’s Book Prize has made its debut at the Hay Festival with a children’s storytelling session lead by Gemma Merino, who won the prize in 2016.
Author-illustrator Merino enthralled festival-going children and their parents by reading three of her books, including last year’s Oscar’s Book Prize winner, The Cow Who Climbed A Tree.
Jonathan Douglas, director at the National Literacy Trust, which supports Oscar’s Book Prize, also spoke about the important role of books and reading to children from an early age.
Merino answered questions from her young fans and demonstrated some of the illustration techniques she uses in her work.
Merino, who is a qualified architect, admitted that she ended up making children’s books by chance. Seeking a diversion from the day job some years ago she wanted to enrol on an evening course in baking. When that was full she opted for one on book illustration instead, and baking’s loss became our gain.
During the storytelling session Merino also revealed that she is currently mulling over and sketching out ideas for a new book. Watch this space.
Oscar’s Book Prize is supported by Amazon, National Literacy Trust and The London Evening Standard.
A story about a koala that hates change has been named the winner of Oscar’s Book Prize 2017.
The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright and Jim Field won the prize for the best under-fives book at a ceremony in London on Monday night.
Bright was presented with a £5,000 cheque by Princess Beatrice, patron of Oscar’s Book Prize.
The award is named after Oscar Ashton who died from an undetected heart condition in 2012 at the age of three and a half. It is supported by Amazon and the National Literacy Trust and aims to promote books that parents will love reading with young children.
The Koala Who Could was chosen from a shortlist of five titles that were published in the past year. Its central character, Kevin the Koala, learns eventually that change can bring new and wonderful things. Bright and Field were also shortlisted for the award in 2016.
This year’s judging panel comprised presenter Claudia Winkleman, Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of the 2015 memoir The Last Act of Love, Dan Mucha, Director of Books at Amazon and Oscar’s parents Viveka Alvestrand and James Ashton. The award ceremony took place at The Ned in London.
Praise for the winning book:
Dan Mucha - “The pictures are so endearing and I love the story’s idea that you can’t control everything around you – and that it’s not so bad.”
James Ashton - “I loved the lush outback, all the lead characters and how you can sympathise with Kevin.”
Cathy Rentzenbrink - “A pleasure to read aloud. A really good message that enables children to think that to be frightened is OK which is why it’s so lovely. The idea that you can’t eradicate fear but can learn to manage it is a complex message made wonderfully accessible.”
Commenting on the award, panel judge Claudia Winkleman said, “I was really impressed with the quality and quantity of entries this year. They were all full of warmth and wit and we had an incredibly tough time choosing the winning title as they all set our imaginations alight."
The five children’s books shortlisted for Oscar’s Book Prize 2017 have been revealed.
Having the courage to be different, extinct animals and suburban tigers were just some of the themes that thrilled and excited this year’s judging panel.
Claudia Winkleman, presenter of Strictly Come Dancing and one of the 2017 judges, said she fell in love with the hero Leo of The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight, an engaging story about the power of reading.
“A beautiful story and incredibly easy to read. Even the title hooked me in,” she said.
It has been a record year for admissions, with more than 70 entries from publishers. From these a long list of 13 books were chosen, with help from the Eveline Day Nursery in Wimbledon. This is the nursery that book-loving Oscar, to whom the prize is a tribute, attended.
The final five books are Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph; Hello, Mr Dodo by Nicholas John Frith; The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty; The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright and Jim Field; and There’s A Tiger In The Garden by Lizzy Stewart.
The other judges of this year’s prize are Cathy Rentzenbrink, books editor of the Bookseller magazine and author of the forthcoming A Manual For Heartache; Dan Mucha, director of books at Amazon; and Oscar’s parents, Viveka Alvestrand and Evening Standard columnist James Ashton.
The winning book will be announced at an event in London on May 15. Oscar’s Book Prize patron HRH Princess Beatrice will present the winner with the £5,000 prize, which is supported by Amazon and the National Literacy Trust.
To celebrate the announcement of the shortlist, the first 50 London nurseries or primary schools to email email@example.com will receive a complimentary set of the five books.
More on the 2017 shortlist: Read today's article on Oscar's Book Prize published in the Evening Standard here
Oscar’s Book Prize is thrilled to announce that Princess Beatrice has become our patron.
Beatrice, 28, who helped to judge the prize in 2016, said on World Book Day: “I am delighted to become the patron of Oscar’s Book Prize.”
She said of her own childhood: “Taking the time to read together as a family became a ritual for us and I treasure the memories created whilst poring over the pages of the books my mother would collect for us, many of which I treasure to this day.”
Writing in today’s Evening Standard, Princess Beatrice speaks about her own experiences of reading, and her battles with dyslexia as a child. You can read the article here.
- Claudia Winkleman and author Cathy Rentzenbrink to judge Oscar’s Book Prize 2017
- Amazon and the National Literacy Trust to support the prize in memory of Oscar Ashton
- Prize now open to submissions from publishers by 3 March
30th January 2017: Claudia Winkleman will be joining the panel of judges for Oscar’s Book Prize, the children’s book award set up in memory of Oscar Ashton, the son of Evening Standard columnist James Ashton. Oscar died in 2012 at the age of three from an undetected heart condition, and the £5,000 award, for the best book published in 2016 for children aged five or under, pays tribute to Oscar’s love of stories. Amazon and The National Literacy Trust have also joined as new supporters of the prize.
Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman said: “I can’t wait to read all the entries. I can still remember sitting on my parents’ lap while they read to me, loving their accents and squealing ‘more’ when they finished. My mum kept every book and I read them to my children.” Winkleman, who has three children with her film producer husband Kris Thykier admitted that her children, “would definitely say my husband is more skilled in that department. He’ll disappear with a big Seuss book and have them crying with laughter. But I read to them every night.”
Winkleman will be joined by two other new judges this year: Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of the 2015 memoir The Last Act of Love, and Dan Mucha, Director of Books at Amazon. As in previous years, Oscar’s parents, James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand will also be on the panel.
Rentzenbrink said: “My son Matt is seven, about the same age that Oscar would be now. When I explained to him why I was judging this prize, he thought it was very sad that Oscar had died and that it was brilliant that his parents had wanted to do this for him. He asked if he could look at the books with me and I agreed, so we are both really looking forward to reading them together.”
Dan Mucha, Books Director, Amazon.co.uk said: “Amazon started life as a bookseller, and we are passionate about helping more children discover the joy of reading. It’s a privilege to support Oscar’s Book Prize, a competition which puts the love of stories above all else and encourages parents to read to their children from a young age.”
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust said: “We are delighted to be supporting Oscar’s Book Prize. It’s never too soon for parents to start reading with their young children, which will allow them to develop the vital language skills that will set them up for future success. This competition celebrates the brilliant new early years literature that will capture the imaginations of both children and parents and that they will love exploring together.”
Oscar’s Book Prize was set up in partnership with the Evening Standard three years ago. The prize has previously been won by Benji Davies for The Storm Whale in 2014, by Steve Antony for The Queen’s Hat in 2015 and last year by Gemma Merino for The Cow Who Climbed a Tree.
“Oscar's Book Prize is now a significant event in the publishing calendar and we are delighted to continue our partnership,” said Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands. “It is for the pleasure of all children and in particular remembering a little boy who loved to read – Oscar.”
Publishers are invited to submit entries for the 2017 prize by the 3rd of March. The winner will be announced at a London-based event in May.
The hunt for the best children’s book for the under 5s published last year is over.
The winner of Oscar’s Book Prize 2016 has been awarded to author-illustrator Gemma Merino for her book The Cow Who Climbed A Tree.
The power of the story of Tina the cow with its message of how you should follow your heart and your dreams, and the book's colourful illustrations won the judging panel over.
But the winning book faced stiff competition, with four very worthy runners up; The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford- Smith, Hector and Hummingbird by Nicholas John Frith, Sir Lilypad by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie and The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright and Jim Field.
The £5,000 prize was awarded to Ms Merino by HRH Princess Beatrice, a judge of the prize, during a ceremony at the Institute of Directors on London’s Pall Mall, where Culture Minister Ed Vaizey also spoke.
In addition to HRH Princess Beatrice, this year's judging panel included Rebecca Nicolson, publisher and co-founder of Short Books, Nicky Dunne, chairman of Heywood Hill Books, Rupert Thomas, marketing director of Waitrose, and Oscar’s parents, Viveka Alvestrand and Evening Standard columnist James Ashton.
Oscar’s Book Prize was set up in 2013 in memory of Oscar Ashton who died from a heart condition at the age of three and a half.
The prize seeks to find the best under-5’s children’s book published in the UK that captures a child’s imagination. It is run in association with the Evening Standard and sponsored by Waitrose.
The five books shortlisted for Oscar’s Book Prize 2016 have been announced.
Princess Beatrice, one of our six judges, declared herself particularly smitten by the empowered princess in Sir Lilypad, a story about a frog who goes in search of rescuing a princess, only to find that she’s doing fine on her own, thank you very much. “This story shows that all girls can be princesses and I loved the fact the princess was wearing Converses, had her own sword and red hair,” said Princess Beatrice.
Following our dreams, learning to speak up for ourselves and putting up with the daily annoyances of our nearest and dearest all turned out to be the major themes in this year’s entries.
Together with our other judges, Rebecca Nicolson , publisher and co-founder of Short Books, Nicky Dunne, chairman of Heywood Hill Books, Rupert Thomas, marketing director of Waitrose, and Oscar’s parents, Viveka Alvestrand and Evening Standard columnist James Ashton, Princess Beatrice spent a lively hour and a half in our boardroom choosing the final five.
The atmosphere grew heated as they argued over whether a fox who loses his guiding star should give way to a bear who gets bored by a hummingbird - even though they’re best friends, and whether cows who can climb trees stand a better chance than a mouse who can roar or an undersized but heroic frog known as Little Tad.
Of the 60 books originally submitted by publishers, a longlist of 12 were chosen with help from the Eveline Day Nursery in Wimbledon, where book-loving Oscar himself, who was three-and-a-half when he died of a heart condition in December 2012, was at school.
The most important considerations in the annual hunt for the best pre-school book of the were not just the power of the story and the illustrations, but whether Oscar himself, to whom this prize is a tribute, would have enjoyed them. The winner will be announced on 23 May at the Institute of Directors, where culture minister Ed Vaizey will make a speech and Princess Beatrice will award the £5,000 Waitrose-sponsored prize.
To celebrate shortlist announcement, the first fifty London nurseries or primary schools to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org will receive a complimentary set of the five books.
The shortlist of five:
1. SIR LILYPAD by Anne Kemp and Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster): “Hugely expressive illustrations and I wish the frog wouild defend me,” Viveka Alvestrand.
2. THE LION INSIDE by Rachel Bright and Jim Field (Orchard/Hachette): “This book teaches children to be brave, I loved the heart of it,” Rupert Thomas.
3. HECTOR AND HUMMINGBIRD by Nicholas John Frith (Scholastic): “This explains that it’s OK to be annoyed by someone you love. Good for both adults and children,” Rebecca Nicolson.
4. THE COW WHO CLIMBED A TREE by Gemma Merino (MacMillan): “I loved the great splodges of colour and how Tina struck out from her snarky sisters. Great for anyone with older siblings,” James Ashton.
5. THE FOX AND THE STAR by Coralie Bickford- Smith(Particular/Penguin):”The publisher should be applauded for producing such a beautiful object with an extremely moving story,” Nicky Dunne.
Tales of the Queen chasing her hat across London and a little boy rescuing a beached whale were the order of the day at Discover in Stratford, London, as the storytelling centre hosted a special event for Oscar’s Book Prize.
Benji Davies and Steve Antony, the winners of Oscar’s Book Prize to date, read from their prize-winning books The Storm Whale and The Queen’s Hat, respectively, and told the enraptured audience (and their parents) about the inspiration behind their work.
The author-illustrators also worked side-by-side in a live painting session. With the help of Discover’s story-building staff, young visitors were encouraged to provide inspiration for a wall mural. Thanks to the children’s limitless imagination, it included everything from flying corgis and an ice-cream eating octopus to a water-skiing Roman and a bag-snatching crab.
Other activities included a marathon story-telling session where the books on the longlist for this year’s Oscar’s Book Prize were read. The shortlist will be revealed later this month in anticipation of the prize winning ceremony on 23 May.
Princess Beatrice is joining the panel of judges for Oscar’s Book Prize 2016.
"I’m really excited to be involved as a judge for Oscar's Book Prize,” the princess said as the call for entries was announced. “I’ve always loved picture books, so I’m looking forward to having a chance to review all the brilliant entries."
The prize has also won support from culture minister Ed Vaizey, who will speak at the prize-giving ceremony in London on May 23.
“Reading is such an important part of childhood and it is crucial that we encourage youngsters to love books from an early age,” Vaizey said. “I’m very proud to support Oscar’s Book Prize, which celebrates the magical works that help introduce our children to the joy of reading.”
The £5,000 award has two more new judges. Rebecca Nicolson, publisher and co-founder of Short Books and Nicky Dunne, chairman of Heywood Hill Books, will help choose the best book published in 2015 for children aged five and under. As in previous years, Rupert Thomas, marketing director of prize sponsor Waitrose, and Oscar’s parents, James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand, will also sit on the panel.
Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands said: “This is our third year of running Oscar’s Book Prize and the award has become loved and valued in the book publishing trade. First reading books are the gateway to a life of possibilities and delight and I like to think of Oscar standing at that gate, waving thousands of children through.”
UK publishers may submit up to three books per imprint by 5pm on March 18. A shortlist will be announced in April. Princess Beatrice will announce the winner at May’s prize-giving ceremony.
Entries to Oscar’s Book Prize have been donated to a London hospital that helps children with heart complaints.
Some of the books that were submitted over the last two years have been given to the Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea.
They will be enjoyed by children and parents visiting the inherited cardiovascular conditions outpatient clinic. Another batch has gone to the hospital’s Rose Ward which cares for babies and children up to the age of 16 with heart and lung problems.
Dr Sanjay Prasad, consultant in cardiology and cardiovascular magnetic resonance, said: “Coming into hospital can be a daunting experience for young children. The books are an amazing support to help our younger patients when they are seen in clinic. We are enormously grateful.”
Bethan Cowley, clinical nurse specialist in inherited cardiac conditions, added: “We are really pleased that James and Viveka chose to donate these lovely books to our clinics and wards. It is wonderful to see them being enjoyed by our patients.”