Arts Derbyshire


Derby Children’s Picture Book Award 2023 winner announced

The winner of Derby Book Festival’s fifth Derby Children’s Picture Book Award is announced today (30 March).  The winning book, from a shortlist of three, is Human Town by Alan Durant and Anna Doherty (Tiny Owl Publishing).  The children, in Years 2&3 at 51 Derby schools, voted for their favourite book on Voting Day, 28 March having read the three shortlisted books in their classes.  The book has a strong message about pollution and its impact on the natural world.

In total over 5000 children in 161­­­­ classes in the 51 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:

  • ‘My Granny is a Queen’ by Madeleine Cook and Rebecca Ashdown (Oxford University Press)
  • ‘Human Town’ by Alan Durant and Anna Doherty (Tiny Owl Publishing)
  • ‘Stop the Clock’ by Pippa Goodhart and Maria Christania (Tiny Owl Publishing)

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 Karen Swann and Padmacandra, last year’s winning author and illustrator of The Tale of the Whale, who revealed the winner at a special Zoom event for schools with classes invited to log in.

The winning publisher, Tiny Owl, said on hearing of their win: “It’s such exciting news! We’re over the moon that our book about looking after the planet has come out on top. Congratulations to Alan and Anna – and thank you to all involved!”

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.  It has really excited teachers in the city and it was wonderful to visit the schools to see them working with the books.

“We plan to organise a virtual visit by the winning author and illustrator, Alan Durant and Anna Doherty), to the participating schools before the end of the summer term. We know how important it is for children to meet the authors of books they read – a report published last year by The National Literacy Trust showed that reading enjoyment levels are markedly higher among those who said that they had a writer visit.”

Liz Fothergill CBE, Chair of Derby Book Festival said: “Human Town becomes our fifth very worthy winner.   We are delighted with the enthusiastic response we get from schools for the Award and it is clearly something they value as part of their teaching.  We have been able to involve so many more schools this year – reaching just under 90% 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.”

“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, said: “It is fantastic to see the growth of the Children’s Picture Book Award as part of Derby Book Festival.

“Sharing ideas, knowledge and creativity are crucial to learning, so it is particularly pleasing to see the Festival focus on encouraging children to get involved and engage with reading.

“Derby Book Festival expands and develops each year, offering an exciting programme of events for all to get involved in, and we are delighted to continue to support it.”

Derby Book Festival has always included 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 60 primary schools.  In 2022 the events were live streamed to schools across Derby and Derbyshire, enabling around 10,000 children and teachers to watch them.  This year’s events will include the Children’s Laureate, poet and author Joseph Coelho and award-winning writer and former Derby school teacher, Lesley Parr.

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:

Submit your news to Arts Derbyshire

Submit your news items to or fill out this news submission form.

You can also register as a member to list your arts business and events in our directory.


Related news posts

Sign up to our newsletter

Find out what’s on with the Arts Derbyshire newsletter.

Artists, creatives, cultural providers, arts and health specialists – Sign up for one of our professional mailing lists.