- 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.