Every year Waterstones booksellers are called on to vote for the books they believe are the very best in new children’s writing and illustration across three categories.
18 books have been nominated across three categories from illustrated books, younger and older readers.
Florentyna Martin, Waterstones Head of Children’s, said this year’s shortlist has been chosen to “inspire readers” in an increasingly uncertain world.
The awards see six books compete to be crowned a £2,000 category winner, with the winners then for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year and an extra £3,000.
Illustrated Books Shortlist
Grandad’s Camper by Harry Woodgate: "A beautifully told story of love, and the importance of adventures and memories."
The Viking Who Liked Icing by Lu Fraser and illustrated by Mark McKinley: "A nutty, nuanced, rollicking rhyming picture about being yourself."
Wolfboy by Andy Harkness: "Feeling hungry can turn even the sweetest child into a snarling, growling Wolfboy!"
Alone! by Barry Falls: A laugh out loud tale of growing chaos.
The Duck Who Didn’t Like Water by Steve Small: "A wise, funny fable about how we don't need to like the same things to find our perfect pal."
Out to Sea by Helen Kellock: A beautiful picture book that expresses the experience of anxiety and grief with unprecedented sensitivity.
Young Readers Shortlist
Children of the Quicksands by Efua Traoré: Called "a joy of a book: rich, warm, powerful storytelling" by Katherine Rundell.
Amari and the Night Brothers by B B Alston and illustrated by Godwin Akpan: "a wonderful middle grade fantasy for a multi-cultural society."
The Last Bear by Hannah Gold and illustrated by Levi Pinfold: "The Last Bear invites readers to care about the science behind the fate of an endangered species and to believe in one girl’s magical solution to the problem."
Bumble and Snug and the Angry Pirates by Mark Bradley: In this full-colour graphic novel these little monsters filled with big feelings embark upon a wonderfully funny adventure.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang and illustrated by Maike Plenzke: "An adorable, authentic story of a 10-year-old Chinese immigrant’s irrepressible courage, kindness and determination in the face of enormous obstacles."
Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean and illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat: "A truly heart-warming, funny and positive debut about a son’s way of dealing with his father’s coming out."
Older Readers Shortlist
Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth: "Aideen can fix anyone’s problem – just not her own in this outrageously funny YA novel with a lesbian heroine at its centre."
The Crossing by Manjeet Mann: The Costa-award winning, powerful, often heart wrenching narrative poem.
The Upper World by Femi Fadugba: "A game-changing thriller about two teenagers a generation apart, connected by one bullet with the power to devastate both of their lives."
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley: A ground-breaking YA thriller about a Native American teen who must root out the corruption in her community.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna: "A stunning exploration of what it is to be feminist in a deeply patriarchal kingdom."
Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach: "This addictive, pacey YA novel blazes with personality, feminist takedowns of patriarchy and an adorable unlikely romance."
Florentyna Martin at Waterstones said: “At a time when books are increasingly relied on to help us navigate an uncertain world, our booksellers have keenly chosen shortlists that inspire readers. Offering varied perspectives on themes of belonging and identity, the shortlisted books invite young readers to find comfort in familiar communities, discover engaging new worlds, or adventure to the unknown, all while being guided by unique, life-changing and relatable characters. The skill and talent of these writers and illustrators showcases the dynamism of children’s books, and the power of sharing stories.”
The winners will be announced on 31st March and the books are expected to see a "significant boost in sales", said Waterstones, alongside the promise of an ongoing commitment to the author’s writing career from the chain. Last year’s winner, A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll, shot to the top of the bestseller charts after the winners were announced and saw an increase in sales of 2,300% across the Waterstones estate.