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The Excelsior Award 2021

The Weirn Books by Svetlana Chmakova, published by Yen Press, have been picked as the overall winner for the Excelsior Award 2021. The Excelsior Award is the only nationwide book award for graphic novels and comics, judged by kids aged 11-18, from over 200 schools.

Jump to:
Excelsior Award White Winner and Shortlist 9+ KS2
Excelsior Award Blue Winner and Shortlist 11+ KS3
Excelsior Award Red Winner and Shortlist 14+ KS4
Excelsior Award Black Winner and Shortlist 16+ KS5

The Excelsior Award 2021: Excelsior Award White

Winner: The Weirn Books - Be Wary of the Silent Woods Book 1

Graphic novelist extraordinaire Svetlana Chmakova returns with a brand-new series for middle grade readers! In the Night Realm, shifters, vampires, weirns, and other night things passing for human may prowl the streets, but school is still in session-and you still have to do your homework!

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Shortlisted Books

The Excelsior Award 2021: Excelsior Award Blue

Winner: Canto, Volume 1: If I Only Had a Heart

Enslaved for generations, Canto’s people once had hearts. Now they have clocks. They are forbidden to love, yet Canto loves a little tin girl. When slavers damage her clock beyond repair, Canto embarks on an incredible journey through his strange and fantastic world to bring back her heart. Canto is an all-ages adventure for past and present generations ...

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Shortlisted Books

The Excelsior Award 2021: Excelsior Award Red

Winner: Absolute Carnage

Paint the town red - blood red! Carnage, the psychotic offspring of Venom, has returned - and he plans to slaughter everyone who's ever worn a symbiote! Cletus Kasady has skirted the periphery of the Marvel Universe for months, but now he stands poised to make his grand return to New York - and he's more powerful than ever! To ...

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Shortlisted Books

The Excelsior Award 2021: Excelsior Award Black

Winner: Pulp

A gorgeous original graphic novel from the bestselling creators of Kill or Be Killed, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies and Criminal. Max Winters, a pulp writer in 1930s New York, finds himself drawn into a story not unlike the tales he churns out at five cents a word-tales of a Wild West outlaw dispensing justice with a six-gun. But ...

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Shortlisted Books

The Excelsior Award is the only award in the UK to recognise, support and honour graphic novels and comics and is divided into four shortlists; 

Excelsior Award White Winner 9+ KS2

The Weirn Books Book 1 - Be Wary of the Silent Woods by Svetlana Chmakova

And the shortlist included:

Bluebeard by Metaphrog

Mason Mooney Paranormal Investigator by Seaerra Miller 

Excelsior Award Blue Winner 11+ KS3

Canto:  If I Only Had a Heart by David Booher & Drew Zucker

And the shortlist included:

Doctor Doom Vol. 1: Pottersville by Christopher Cantwell & Salvador Larroca

Im : Great Prince Imhotep by Makoto Morishita

Excelsior Award Red Winner 14+ KS4

Absolute Carnage by Donny Cates & Ryan Stegman

And the shortlist included:

Strange Skies Over East Berlin by Jeff Loveness & Lisandra Estherren

New Mutants by Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brisson & Rod Reis

Excelsior Award Black Winner 16+ KS5

The books on this shortlist might include moderate swearing and moderate violence, akin to a 15-rated movie.

Pulp by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

And the shortlist included:

Alienated by Simon Spurrier & Chris Wildgoose

I Don't Know How to Give Birth by Ayami Kazama

All schools taking part in the judging process were encouraged to read and rate the books, then submit their marks online. The winning titles were announced at a special ceremony online in September 2021.

Read about the entry and voting process here.

About The Excelsior Award

Originally created as a local schools project in Sheffield, under the name The Stan Lee Excelsior Award (Stan Lee, the godfather of comics responsible for the global success of Marvel), these awards have grown in popularity and now over 200 schools & colleges from across the UK and beyond take part.

The Award's mission is to both encourage reading for pleasure and also to raise the profile of graphic novels and manga, particularly within the school setting.

Graphic novels offer action-packed stories, stunning visuals and are fun! Graphic novels might well appeal to reluctant readers, but the assumption that it's not 'real reading' is far from true. Literacy experts, including our own professional librarians at LoveReading4Schools, champion the graphic novel as an excellent way improve your child's reading and to encourage a familiarity and love of books. Graphic novels have plenty of text and often complex plots to follow, characters grow and develop - and the artwork is absolutely stunning adding to the allure and entertainment value of a graphic novel.

With a foundation in Japan (manga) and France (bandes dessinées) the genre is incredibly popular in the UK and growing. And as the characters are often entwined in gaming and movies, a wonderfully imaginative fantasy world is created into which children can immerse themselves. 

The Excelsior Award is the only award in the UK to recognise, support and honour graphic novels and comics and is divided into four shortlists; white, blue red and black.

Find out more about these unique awards at

Follow @ExcelsiorAward

And we've lots of recommended books in our Graphic Novels & Comics section!