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.