The UKLA Shortlist & My Prize Predictions

On the 6th of March, the UK Library Association announced the shortlists for their book award and I thought it would be fun to shadow and predict possible winners. The lists contain some of the best children’s fiction published over the last year and include prolific names such as last years winners Phillip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre as well as Katherine rundell, winner of the Blue Peter Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. There are also exciting new voices showcased, such as S.E Durrant, who are sure to become firm favourites amongst readers.

This award is the perfect choice for shadowing a shortlist for the first time. The UKLA prize is entirely decided by teachers, which means that the books are chosen depending on how well they “enhance all aspects of literacy learning”. This is something I’ve grown familiar with  working as a collection developer for schools. There are some tough and varying benchmarks to be met, which are completely different to what we would consider when buying a book ourselves. You can check out the detailed criteria here.

Age 3-5 Shortlist

  • The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Jim Field (Orchard Books)
  • There’s a Bear on MY Chair by Ross Collins (Nosy Crow)
  • A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Ruth Cummins (Simon & Schuster)
  • Tidy by Emily Gravett (Two Hoots)
  • The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield (Frances Lincoln)
  • Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies(Simon & Schuster)

This age group is not my specialty as I mainly work with books for Key Stage 2 and secondary schools. I really enjoyed There’s a Bear on MY Chair – the rhyming and repetition is a delight to read aloud, the illustrations are simple yet enchanting and the ending is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face. Plus, Tom Hardy (#swoon) read it on CBeebies the other night which you have to check out.

Although this title is up against some strong competition it has many winning qualities, fingers crossed. Good luck to all!

Age 7-11 Shortlist

  • Little Bits of Sky by S.E. Durrant and illustrated by Katie Harnett (Nosy Crow)
  • Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis (Oxford University Press)
  • Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre (Oxford University Press)
  • The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell and illustrated by Gelrev Ongbico (Bloomsbury)
  • The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye Books)
  • Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford (HarperCollins)

I absolutely love the variation of titles in this age group. All hold gripping stories sure to grab the imaginations of young readers but that’s where the similarities end. My favourite has to be The Wolf Wilder followed shortly by Little Bits of Sky. Both are poignant, enthralling stories but The Wolf Wilder has that extra something – maybe it’s the distinctive setting? I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel set in Russia’s beautiful but isolating wilderness. Rundell’s style of writing always leaves me wanting more – any chance of a sequel please?

Age 12-16 Shortlist

  • The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (Faber &Faber)
  • The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen by Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press)
  • Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt (Andersen Press)
  • Railhead by Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press)
  • The Marvels by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)
  • Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine (HarperCollins)

My judgement on this category is coming purely from the heart as I feel all of these books are essential for school libraries.  And again, they are all completely different from one another but they all contain awe-inspiring, powerful narratives. I’m going where my heart strings are pulling me and that is towards Orbiting Jupiter. This is an unforgettable story that gives an emotionally raw portrayal of parenthood and what it truly means to be  father. Be prepared to cry a river though…


My overall predictions:

Age 3-5: There’s a Bear in My Chair by Ross Collins

Age 7-11: The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Age 12-16: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

I’m sure it’s going to be a close call in each grouping. All will make brilliant additions to the school library regardless of who wins each age category. The winners will be announced on the 30th of June and I’m wishing all of the authors and illustrators the best of luck.

Recently we’ve had a few other shortlists announced such as the The YA Prize shortlist, The Welcome Prize and the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway plus, on the 30th the Waterstones winner will be announced. If you have blogged about any of these feel free to leave a link, I’d love to check out your opinions and predictions.





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