The five shortlisted books for Oscar's Book Prize 2018: Sunk!, Lucie Goose, That Bear Can't Babysit, There's a Pig Up My Nose and The Secret of Black Rock
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.