Arts Derbyshire


Derby Children’s Picture Book Award 2024 winner announced

Over 5,000 Derby schoolchildren have voted for the winner of Derby Book Festival’s sixth Derby Children’s Picture Book Award. The winning book, from a shortlist of three, is Thunder Boots by Naomi Jones and Rebecca Ashdown (Oxford University Press).  The children, in Years 2 & 3 at 56 Derby schools, voted for their favourite book on Voting Day, 26 March, having read the three shortlisted books in their classes. The book has a strong message celebrating everyone’s unique skills and abilities and how, with help, everyone can succeed.

In total over 5,700 children in 191 classes in the 56 schools took part in this year’s Award. Every school received sets of the three shortlisted books for each class in February. This year’s shortlisted books were:

Thunder Boots by Naomi Jones and Rebecca Ashdown (Oxford University Press)
Ingenious Edie, Master Inventor of Tiny Town by Patrick Corrigan (Flying Eye Books)
Someone Just Like You by Helen Docherty and David Roberts (Simon and Schuster).

Rebecca Ashdown was one of last year’s finalists as the illustrator of My Granny is a Queen. Highly Commended was The Dress in the Window by Robert Tregoning (author) and Pippa Curnick(illustrator), published by Oxford University Press. Pippa is a graduate of the University of Derby’s BA (Hons) Illustration course and is now an Associate Lecturer there.

The Award aims to celebrate picture books that children can relate to and in which the diversity and challenges of modern life are represented, enabling children to better understand the world they live in.

The winning book was announced by Alan Durant and Anna Doherty, last year’s winning author and illustrator of Human Town, who announced the result to the children at a special Zoom event for schools.

The winning author, Naomi Jones, said on hearing of the win: “I’m absolutely blown away that Thunder Boots has won the Derby Children’s Picture Book Award. This story was inspired by my own diagnosis of dyslexia and it means so much to me that a book which celebrates learning and thinking differently has been recognised in this way. A huge thank you to all of the children, teachers and organisers involved in this award.”

Di Smith, organiser of the Award and a Festival Trustee, said: “The Award continues to grow both in terms of the numbers of schools who are keen to be involved and the engagement with children’s publishers who submitted a record number of books this year. Children and teachers not only enjoy reading and exploring the books but are also enthusiastic about reading the same books as other children across the city – becoming a community of readers.

“Virtual visits by the winning author and illustrator, Naomi Jones and Rebecca Ashdown will be made to the participating schools during the summer term. We know how important it is for children to meet the authors of books they read – a report published in 2022 by The National Literacy Trust showed that reading for pleasure is markedly higher among those who said that they had a writer visit.”

Liz Fothergill CBE, Patron of Derby Book Festival, said:  “Thunderboots becomes our sixth very worthy winner. We are delighted with the enthusiastic response we get from schools for the Awardand it is clearly something they value as part of their teaching. We have been able to involve so many more schools this year, reaching 75% of the primary schools in Derby, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Award by an anonymous donor.  

“The Award introduces children to beautifully illustrated picture books which have a profound story to tell, enabling them to develop empathy towards others and better understand the important issues of today’s world. It’s wonderful to see the excitement the Award offers to the children, giving them choices and making them think why they really enjoyed a particular book. I know they love engaging with the winning author and I am so pleased that this special award continues to attract new schools every year.

“The Award continues to be instrumental in delivering our aim to bring all Derby’s residents together in a love of books and to inspire a new generation of readers to appreciate the joy that books and reading bring to our lives.”

Professor Keith McLay, Provost (Learning and Teaching) at the University of Derby and Chair of Derby Book Festival, said: “The Children’s Picture Book Award is a fantastic way to encourage primary school children across the city to read, explore and discover books – especially those that help them understand some of the challenges of today’s world. Reading widely and understanding our reactions to what we read are so important in building the foundations for learning, and it is wonderful to see this being supported and promoted in a way that is fun, engaging and accessible.”

Derby Book Festival has a strong programme of events for children, families and schools. Each year the Festival organises Meet the Author events, sponsored by local firm Cosy, in Derby Theatre for the city’s primary schools. These are live streamed to schools across Derby and Derbyshire, enabling around 12,000 children and teachers to watch them. This year’s events will include the author and illustrator Sophy Henn (a previous winner of Derby Children’s Picture Book Award) and S F Said, whose book Tyger was British Book Awards Children’s Fiction Book of the Year 2023.

Derby Book Festival is funded by Arts Council England and the University of Derby with additional sponsorship from local businesses.

To find out more, visit the Festival website and sign up for more information.  You can also follow the Festival on Twitter at: @DerbyBookFest and ‘like’ the Festival on Facebook:

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