Congratulations to Sarah Garland, whose wonderful graphic novel for young readers, and our current Book of the Month, Azzi In Between was announced as the winner of the 2013 Little Rebels Children’s Book Award on Saturday at the first London Radical Bookfair.
From the official press release:
Commenting on today’s announcement, guest judge and children’s author Elizabeth Laird said, “Azzi tells a simple and powerful story, one with which we should all be tragically familiar, with a text and pictures that are rich, appealing and satisfyingly detailed”. Booktrust founder and guest judge Wendy Cooling added, “The graphic novel style gives it freshness and immediacy. The text and illustration work together brilliantly as they invite children to enjoy the story and to think about the lives of other children”.
In a marked departure for the author, best known for her warm narratives of family life, Azzi In Between is in a graphic format and tells the powerful story of a family forced to flee their homeland and settle in a strange and unfamiliar country. The book is based on the author’s own experience of working among refugee families and is endorsed by Amnesty International. Kate Kellaway of The Observer described Azzi In Between as a “masterpiece”. Fen Coles, director of Letterbox Library who administered the award, said, “At a time when there are so many damaging myths circulating about refugees and asylum seekers, it is heartening to see a book which tells the truth- and in a way which children can relate to”.
Earlier in the day, Wendy Cooling chaired a discussion on ‘progressive children’s writing’ with two of the shortlisted authors, Sarah Garland and Jeanne Willis. Elizabeth Laird described Willis’ shortlisted book, Wild Child (Walker) as “a truly radical work, celebrating freedom and originality on every page”. The two other shortlisted titles were John Boyne’s The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket (Corgi Children/Random House UK) and Yokococo’s Hans and Matilda (Templar Publishing).
The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award is a new award given by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers and administered by specialist children’s booksellers, Letterbox Library. The award recognises children’s fiction for readers aged 0-12 which promote social justice and is the brainchild of Nik Gorecki, Housmans Bookshop; speaking about the award, Nik said, “The Alliance of Radical Booksellers is working hard to promote radical publishing and children’s books are an important element of that. There’s still lots of plans in the pipeline for the future and next year we hope to introduce a category for teen readers”.
Here’s a photograph of Sarah talking about Azzi In Between during the panel discussion on Saturday, taken by www.ivereadthat.com – you can see all their photos from the day here – I wish I could have been there! (I know that Zoe from Playing by the Book was, and I will add a link to her post as soon as it goes live…) And also, below, is the great Little Rebels cartoon created by Guardian cartoonist Ros Asquith: a print will be given to each year’s winner as part of their prize.