2019 School Library Association Information Book Award winner announced

Double success for Politics for Beginners

On Tuesday 12th November a special award ceremony for the winners of this year’s School Library Association’s Information Book Award took place at Carmelite House in London. This celebration of all things factual was fittingly timed to coincide with National Non-Fiction November!

During the last few years there has been a renaissance in non-fiction publishing for children. This was reflected in the number of titles submitted for the Award this year, which has almost doubled recently. The books included many beautifully designed and illustrated books covering a variety of topics ranging from canine cosmonauts to politics. 

The panel of judges were usually in agreement and the process of selecting a long list of 30 and then narrowing it down later to a shortlist of 10 turned out to be relatively simple! As experienced consumers of information books within both the primary and secondary sectors, spotting good books came naturally. However, as they would not claim to be subject specialists in all areas of knowledge, the judges invited experts to check the shortlisted books for accuracy, before deciding on the category and overall winners.

At the same time, young readers were encouraged to vote online for their own favourites from the shortlist. The Children’s Choices are quite rightly given equal status to the judges’ choices. These sometimes overlap, resulting in double success for the author, illustrator and publisher concerned (see below!).

Congratulations to this year’s category winners:

0-7      

Children’s Choice: Dogs in Space (Wren & Rook) written by Vix Southgate & illustrated by Iris Deppe

Judges’ Choice: Hello Horse (Walker Books) written by Vivian French & illustrated by Catherine Rayner

7-11     

Children’s Choice: When the Whales Walked (words & pictures: Quarto) written by Dougal   Dixon & illustrated by Hannah Bailey

Judges’ Choice: Mary and Frankenstein (Andersen Press) written by Linda Bailey & illustrated by Júlia Sardà

12+      

Children’s Choice: Politics for Beginners (Usborne) written by Alex Frith, Rosie Hore and Louie Stowell & illustrated by Kellan Stover

              Judges’ Choice: Politics for Beginners (as above)

And the Book of the Year

Children’s Choice: Politics for Beginners (Usborne) written by Alex Frith, Rosie Hore and Louie Stowell & illustrated by Kellan Stover

               Judges’ Choice: Politics for Beginners (as above)

A special commendation was given to Let’s Investigate Plastic Pollution (Ruby Tuesday Books) by Ruth Owen, which while not making it to the shortlist, showed how a potentially overwhelming topic of global concern could be made accessible and relevant for younger children. 

A special tribute was paid to Chris Brown who has now stepped down as chair of the judging panel. Former Reviews Editor of The School Librarian, Chris has filled the role for almost a decade, always taking a methodical and thorough approach to the proceedings, with great attention to detail, tempered by his gentle manner and good humour.

Marcia WIlliams

An additional award for an Outstanding Contribution to Information Books for Children was inaugurated in 2017 by the SLA IBA’s sponsor, Hachette Children’s Publishing. Following in the footsteps of Nicola Davies (2017) and Nicola Morgan (2018), this year’s winner is author and illustrator Marcia Williams who is best known for her distinctive cartoon-strip style of illustration. Books like Three Cheers for Women, Archie’s War, Mr William Shakespeare’s Plays and The Iliad and The Odyssey (all published by Walker Books) help to engage young readers with key moments in history and classic literature.

Once again, these awards pay testimony to the fact that we are currently experiencing a golden age of non-fiction publishing for children and young people.

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