I love those Little Rebels

7 Apr

Last year I wrote about the first ever Little Rebels Children’s Book Award for radical children’s fiction. And now it’s back for round two!

The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award recognises fiction for ages 0-12 which promotes or celebrates social justice and equality. Right up my street! It is given by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers (ARB) and is administered by specialist children’s booksellers, and chocolate truffle connoisseurs, Letterbox Library. This is an award that means a lot to me and I am immensely proud to support it.

Last year’s shortlisted books were fantastic, beautiful, inspiring and have become firm favourites here. I am really excited about this year’s award. I know that it will introduce me to books that I will still be reading and sharing and stroking this time next year. This year is also extra special for me because since last year’s award I have started a book group for talented and enthusiastic year 6 kids at my local primary school. Last year I concentrated on the picture books but this year I will have the perfect excuse to devour all the shortlisted books, and have a team of keen 9-11 year olds to share them with. I can’t wait!

Luckily, I don’t have to. The shortlist is out.
The shortlisted titles are:
Moon Bear by Gill Lewis (OUP);
After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross (OUP);
Real Lives: Harriet Tubman by Deborah Chancellor (A&C Black);
Stay Where You Are by John Boyne (Doubleday);
The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean (Usborne);
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts (Abrams);
The Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin (Walker).

Out of that cracking list I have (so far) only read The Promise, which is really very special. I have high hopes for the others. Rosie Revere caught my eye straightaway as a book that will flip gender stereotypes and give children something to think about. I have a soft spot for John Boyne’s writing and am already matching books to the kids in my book group. I think we’re going to have a great month of reading and discussing ahead of us.

Kerry Mason, Co-Director of Letterbox Library, said of the shortlist: “We’re delighted with the range of titles on offer this year. From novels to picture books, the shortlist showcases, we believe, the best in bold, provocative and thoughtful children’s fiction of 2013. The shortlist embraces dystopian, historical and contemporary tales and travels across the globe, from South East Asia to the Australian outback. All stir a sense of social justice and all look to a better world, mostly through the actions of children, all little rebels themselves.”

Speaking about the award, Kim Reynolds, Little Rebels judge and author of Radical Children’s Literature (Palgrave MacMillan: 2010) said, “Little Rebels is the most recent manifestation of an honourable but for the most part over-looked tradition in children’s publishing that uses stories to celebrate human rights, equality [and] diversity…Often transforming society requires bold thinking and bold action, and so this prize focuses on books that help readers become the kind of ‘little rebels’ who one day will catalyse social change rather than carrying on in the same old ways regardless of the costs and consequences”.

What a privilege to be able to share these books with the children that Kerry and Kim speak of. What an honour and a responsibility. I hope they all find a book that speaks to them and helps them look towards a better world. Their love for and discussion of Anne Booth’s Girl with a White Dog over the last few weeks has shown me that I already have a group of intelligent, articulate, passionate, empathetic and caring Little Rebels. They have filled me with awe and wonder and hope for the future. Bring on the shortlist!

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