Derby Book Festival has announced the three shortlisted books for the Derby Children’s Picture Book Award 2024, selected by 14 Derby primary school teachers. Now in its sixth year, the Award celebrates picture books that children can relate to and in which the diversity and challenges of modern life are represented. The Festival, which is funded by the University of Derby and Arts Council England, will present three Festival programmes in 2024: the Spring Collection will be held for the first time from 29 Feb – 4 March.
The 2024 shortlist comprises:
This year, for the first time, the teachers also chose one more book to be Highly Commended, The Dress in the Window, by Robert Tregoning (author) and Pippa Curnick (illustrator), published by Oxford University Press. It narrowly missed out on being shortlisted and is a phenomenal book with a powerful message. Pippa Curnick was awarded a first–class honours degree in Illustration from the University of Derby and is now an Associate Lecturer there.
Children’s publishers were invited to submit up to three books, published in 2023, which meet the Award criteria. A record number of 51 books were submitted from 22 publishers. Members of the Festival’s Education Group selected the longlist of 11 books before the team of teachers made their selection of the shortlist.
This year 54 Derby schools will take part, receiving copies of the three books for each class, involving 188 classes. Each school will also receive one copy of The Dress in the Window. Around 5,600children in Years 2 and 3 will vote for their favourite book after reading them in class this term. Voting Day is 26th March and the winner will be announced on 28th March.
The previous winners have been hugely inspiring books, which continue to be used by schools across the city.
Naomi Jones, author of Thunderboots said: ‘‘Wow. I’m absolutely thrilled that Thunderboots has been shortlisted! This story is particularly close to my heart as it was inspired by my own diagnosis of dyslexia. Rebecca and I are both really passionate about the message of the story and we were keen to show readers that seeing the world differently can be a superpower.”
Di Smith, who devised and organises the Award said: “We had a very high standard of submissions again this year and recognition of the Award continues to grow. We are delighted that each year the number of books and publishers increases. Last year we had 51 books submitted by 20 publishers and this year the number is again 51 from 22 publishers. We have an excellent and varied shortlist of books which will give children the opportunity to see a window on their world and a mirror in which to see themselves.”
A teacher at St Albans Primary School, whose pupils have been involved with the Award in previous years, said: “We have taken part every year and I love introducing new authors and high quality texts to our children that are just gaining their independence in reading and their engagement in reading for pleasure.” A teacher at Shelton Junior School said: “Being part of Derby Book Festival Children’s Picture Book Award really helps our children in Year 3 to increase their awareness of diversity and issues.”
Liz Fothergill CBE DL, Chair of Derby Book Festival said: “One of the Festival’s key aims is to inspire a new generation of readers to appreciate the joy that books and reading bring to our lives. The Book Award is central to this and we are delighted that each year the Award grows with more publishers submitting books and more children involved in choosing their favourite.
This year we have three beautifully illustrated, thought-provoking and engaging picture books which will both inspire a child and help them to understand the issues and challenges of today’s modern world. “
Derby Book Festival has a strong programme of events for children, families and schools. Each year it organises Meet the Author events for Derby and Derbyshire primary and secondary schools, which last year reached over 11,000 pupils. The two primary events are held at Derby Theatre and live streamed to around 60 schools across the city and county. This year’s Meet the Author events will include author and illustrator Sophy Henn, who is a previous winner of the Derby Children’s Picture Book Award, and author S F Said.
Derby Book Festival is funded by Arts Council England and the University of Derby with additional sponsorship from local businesses.
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