Oscar’s Book Prize 2021 shortlist revealed!

12 Apr 2021
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We are delighted to support Oscar’s Book Prize 2021, the annual celebration of the best in books for under-fives and the shortlist for this year’s prize has been revealed, following the highest number of entries recorded to date!

Children have spent more time at home than ever before and our own research found that a third (32%) of adults have been reading with their children (aged 0-5) more than ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – affirming the important work by early-year authors to educate, inspire and spark joy.

Now in its eighth year, Oscar’s Book Prize was created to remember Oscar Ashton, who was three-and-a-half when he died from an undetected heart condition in 2012. It is supported by our charity, Amazon and the Evening Standard.

This year’s shortlist was chosen by a judging panel including TV presenters Lorraine Kelly and Angellica Bell, renowned children’s illustrator Axel Scheffler, and Simon Johnson, Amazon Director of EU Books. Oscar’s Book Prize co-founder Viveka Alvestrand, who set up the literary award in memory of her son, completes the line-up.

The exceptional stories on the 2021 shortlist feature characters as diverse as yaks, dogs and bears, and settings that range from mountain tops, hospitals and schools. They all share strong and inspiring themes of friendships, co-operation, self-belief and perseverance.

The Oscar’s Book Prize 2021 shortlist is as follows:

I’m Sticking with you by Smriti Halls and Steve Small (Simon and Schuster Children’s Books)

Axel Scheffler said: "The clarity and simplicity of the design and illustration is very striking, yet the pictures are emotional and funny. Similarly the writing is brilliantly simple but gripping. I enjoyed the tension between text and illustrations - it's a perfectly balanced picture book."

Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Angellica Bell said: “'This book was so touching and had a lovely sentiment to it without it being sad when I read it. There is so much potential for discussion about creativity and how we can be inclusive, and I really think this book can resonate to any reader whether big or small, 'Be open, be honest, be YOU!”

Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Halls and David Litchfield (Walker Books)

Viveka Alvestrand said: “Every spread in this book provides its own fairytale, which complements the feeling of hope that radiates from every page. I loved it.”

The Hospital Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie (Macmillan Children’s Books)

Lorraine Kelly said: “I loved the characters in this story, which the text and pictures bring so brilliantly and vibrantly to life. Reading this elicits an emotional response, and at a time when hospitals and narratives about illness are at the forefront of many minds, I found this very comforting. I thought this book was a delight.”

The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser and Kate Hindley (Simon and Schuster Children’s Books)

Lorraine Kelly said: “This book is full of beautiful illustrations and deceptive simplicity. It's about worries too, so if you had a child who felt a little bit different or who felt they didn't fit in you could use it in a lovely, positive way.”

Would You Like A Banana by Yasmeen Ismail (Walker Books)

Simon Johnson said: “This book is full of wonderful pictures with a very funny story. It was completely gripping to read with my children.”

We are proud to support Oscar’s Book Prize. It is a fantastic celebration of early years literature in honour of Oscar Ashton who loved stories, and it highlights the importance of reading with children from a young age. Children’s experiences in their early years help shape their social, emotional and cognitive development and lay the foundations for future health, happiness and success. The shortlist of entries to this year’s prize is incredible. Congratulations to all authors, it has been a tough year for many, but your work has brought joy to many families and is helping children on their way to becoming readers.

Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust

The winner will be announced by the award’s patron, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, in a livestreamed virtual ceremony on Tuesday 11th May.

Learn more about Oscar’s Book Prize at oscarsbookprize.co.uk.

Oscar's Book Prize also have 50 sets of the amazing shortlisted titles to give away! To enter, please fill in the entry form and post a picture showing where you would read the shortlist with the children if you won - full details & form on http://oscarsbookprize.co.uk/news

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