The Week Junior Book Awards sponsored by Bookily from National Book Tokens and in partnership with The Bookseller today announce the titles forming the nine shortlists for the new children’s book awards. Star authors including Malorie Blackman, Phil Earle, Elle McNicoll, Alison Hammond, and Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho are among those on an impressive line-up that affirms the calibre, depth and diversity of talent in the children’s publishing today.

Former Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman OBE, is shortlisted for Children’s Audiobook of the Year for Ellie and the Cat, narrated by Esme Sears and sits alongside Richard Ayoade’s The Book That No One Wanted to Read, narrated by the author as well as musician Jarvis Cocker and actor Lydia Fox and Wolfbane by Michelle Paver, narrated by Sir Ian McKellan.

Bestselling author Phil Earle contends with fellow award-winners SF Said and A. M. Dassu in the Children’s Book of the Year: Older Fiction (9–12 year-olds) category with While the Storm Rages, Tyger, and Fight Back respectively, whilst the Children’s Book of the Year: Younger Fiction (6–9 year-olds) category sees Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho compete against author and illustrator Nadia Shireen, with Creeping Beauty: Fairy Tales Gone Bad, and Grimwood.

In the Children’s Book of the Year: Older Non-Fiction (9–12 year-olds) category, beloved television presenter Alison Hammond’s book celebrating a host of influential and inspirational Black figures from history, Black in Time, is in contention with You Don’t Know What War Is, Yeva Skalietska’s chronicle of twelve days in Ukraine that changed the 12-year old’s life forever. Authors whose debut children’s books are in contention for the Breakthrough award, supported by World Book Day, include Tọlá Okogwu for Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, the story of a British-Nigerian girl who discovers her curls have psychokinetic abilities, and Caryl Lewis for Seed, a story about big dreams, hope and the power of imagination.

Thousands of The Week Junior readers will have a seat at the voting table, as they are invited to choose their Cover Of The Year with books by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Rob Biddulph, and Sophy Henn on the shortlist. All shortlisted authors, illustrators and publishers will be invited to a glittering drinks reception and award ceremony taking place after The Bookseller Children’s Conference in London on 2nd October, 2023.

The Week Junior Book Awards sponsored by Bookily from National Book Tokens were announced earlier this year by the UK’s best-selling children’s magazine, The Week Junior, and leading industry publisher, The Bookseller, to celebrate the uplifting, enriching, and life-enhancing power of books to change children’s lives and honour the talented people who create them.

The eight Book of the Year winners, excluding Cover of the Year, will be decided by separate panels, with judges including broadcaster and writer Radzi Chinyanganya, presenter and author Liam Charles, presenter and YouTuber Maddie Moate, bestselling and award-winning authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Sharna Jackson and a host of experts in children’s literature including LoveReading4Kids Managing Director Deborah Maclaren.

Anna Bassi, Editorial Director for The Week Junior, said: “The volume and quality of entries to our first book awards has blown us away. The 76 titles that have been shortlisted reflect a huge range of themes, subjects, styles and voices and are testament to the creativity, care and sheer passion of today’s children’s authors, illustrators and publishers. I’m particularly excited about the books on our Breakthrough shortlist and thrilled to be celebrating and supporting some of the stars of the future.”

Philip Jones, Editor of The Bookseller, said: “We are absolutely delighted by these shortlists which display the full breadth and magnificence that is today’s writing and publishing for children. With the reach of The Week Junior and these new prizes, we hope these books find the readers they so richly deserve, and that today’s readers are as entranced as we were by the titles shortlisted.”

Our very own Deborah Maclaren commented: "It has been an absolute joy to be involved in the inaugural The Week Junior Book Awards. Being part of the Shortlisting Committee was a tall order with so many incredible books submitted but the shortlist is a beautiful thing. Such a brilliant batch of inclusive, diverse and stunning books where all children can find themselves reflected. And now, we go again, as I'm delighted to also be on the Judging Committee for the next phase of the Awards journey. Bring it on!

Awards are so important to enable a light to be shone on these special authors and illustrators who are collaborating with publishers to create amazing books for children. We shout about these books week in week out, and by partnering with The Week Junior we hope to do even more for reading for pleasure. These books will excite children and will help create readers for life."

The Week Junior Book Festival, also sponsored by Bookily from National Book Tokens, will take place in London during October half term, after the awards are announced earlier that month. Attracting hundreds of young readers and their families, this event invites authors and illustrators to showcase their work on stage, in a series of interactive, fun and inspiring sessions.

The winners of the Week Junior Book Awards will be announced on 2nd October, 2023.


Children’s Book of the Year: Younger Fiction (6–9 year-olds)

Major and Mynah by Karen Owen, illustrated by Louise Forshaw

The Boy Who Grew a Tree by Polly Ho-Yen, illustrated by Sojung Kim-McCarthy

The Secret School Invasion by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Thomas Flintham

Isadora Moon Under the Sea by Harriet Muncaster

Grimwood by Nadia Shireen, illustrated by Nadia Shireen

Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest by Liz Flanagan, illustrated by Joe Todd Stanton

Anisha, Accidental Detective: Holiday Adventure by Serena Patel, illustrated by Emma McCann

Creeping Beauty: Fairy Tales Gone Bad by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Freya Hartas

Children’s Book of the Year: Older Fiction (9–12 year-olds)

While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle

The Light in Everything by Katya Balen

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

Tyger by SF Said

Like a Charm by Elle McNicoll

War of the Wind by Victoria Williamson

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard by Nizrana Farook

Dogs of the Deadlands by Anthony McGowan

Fight Back by A. M. Dassu

Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List by Jenny Pearson

Children’s Book of the Year: Younger Non-Fiction (6–9 year-olds)

Big Book of Boats by Luogo Commune

It’s Tough to be Tiny: The secret life of small creatures by Kim Ryall Woolcock

A History of Words for Children by Mary Richards

India, Incredible India by Jasbinder Bilan

The Extraordinary Book That Makes You Feel Happy by Poppy O’Neill

Lift-the-flap: Questions and Answers about Money by Lara Bryan

Children’s Book of the Year: Older Non-Fiction (9–12 year-olds)

You Don’t Know What War Is by Yeva Skalietska

A fact for every day of the year by Yes

Guinness World Records 2023 edited by Craig Glenday, illustrated by Rod Hunt

Real-life Dragons and their Stories of Survival by Anita Ganeri

Black in Time by Alison Hammond

Escape the Medieval Castle by Stella Caldwell

Children’s Illustrated Book of the Year

Bunny vs Monkey: Rise of the Maniacal Badger by Jamie Smart

Sisters of the Mist by Marlyn Spaaij

Bumble and Snug and the Excited Unicorn by Mark Bradley

Grow by Rizanino Reyes, illustrated by Sara Boccaccini Meadows

Press start! Game On, Super Rabbit Boy! by Thomas Flintham, illustrated by Thomas Flintham

Marv and the Dino Attack by Alex Falase-Koya, illustrated by Paula Bowles

Frankie’s World by Aoife Dooley, illustrated by Aoife Dooley

Peanut Jones and the Twelve Portals by Rob Biddulph, illustrated by Rob Biddulph

Make This Book Wild by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks

Children’s Book of the Year: Breakthrough sponsored by World Book Day

Mia and the Lightcasters by Janelle McCurdy

The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Drama and Danger by J.T. Williams

The Twig Man by Sana Rasoul

Seed by Caryl Lewis

The Secret of Haven Point by Lisette Auton

A Passing on of Shells by Simon Lamb

Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tọlá Okogwu

Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna

Children’s Book of the Year: STEM in association with The Week Junior Science + Nature magazine

The Bedtime Book of Impossible Questions by Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Aaron Cushley

i-SPY Seaside Challenge by i-SPY

The Secret World of Plants by Ben Hoare

Slow Down and Be Here Now by Laura Brand, illustrated by Freya Hartas

You Are 25% Banana by Susie Brooks

24 Hours in Space by Rob Lloyd Jones, illustrated by Laurent King

The Extraordinary Book that Invents Itself by Alison Buxton and Helen Bell, illustrated by Pintachan

SuperQuesters: The Case of the Missing Memory by Dr Thomas Bernard and Lisa Moss, illustrated by Amy Willcox

The Brainiac's Book of the Climate and Weather by Rosie Cooper

Children’s Audiobook of the Year

The Ice Children by M. G. Leonard, narrated by multiple narrators

Real Pigeons (Audiobooks 1 - 3) by Andrew MacDonald, narrated by Tom Alexander

Spaceboy by David Walliams, narrated by David Walliams and multiple narrators

Running Out of Time by Simon Fox, narrated by Michael Golab

The Book That No One Wanted to Read by Richard Ayoade, narrated by Richard Ayoade and Jarvis Cocker

Wolfbane by Michelle Paver, narrated by Sir Ian McKellan

Natural Wonders of the World, by Ladybird, narrated by Ben Bailey-Smith

Ellie and the Cat by Malorie Blackman, narrated by Esme Sears

Children’s Book Cover of the Year sponsored by Bookily by National Book Tokens (voted for by The Week Junior readers)

The Blackthorn Branch by Elen Caldecott, cover designed by Rachael Dean

You Don’t Know What War Is by Yeva Skalietska

The Chestnut Roaster by Eve McDonnell, cover designed by Holly Ovenden

Passionate About Penguins by Owen Davey

Guinness World Records 2023 edited by Craig Glenday, illustrated by Rod Hunt

Leila and the Blue Fox by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Peanut Jones and the Twelve Portals by Rob Biddulph

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard by Nizrana Farook

Lifesize Deadly Animals by Sophy Henn, illustrated by Sophie Henn, cover designed by Faith Booker

The Boy Whose Wishes Came True by Helen Rutter, illustrated by Andrew Bannecker. Cover Designer Liam Drane

Alex Neptune, Dragon Thief by David Owen, illustrated by George Ermos, cover designed by Will Steele

The Last Whale by Chris Vick, cover designed by Jessie Price