UK Literacy Association Book Award 2016 Shortlist Revealed

The Something by Rebecca Cobb

The UK Literacy Association has just announced the shortlist for its 2016 awards, which includes work by creators such as Rebecca Cobb, Viviane Schwarz, Alex T. Smith, Eoin Colfer and many more, the titles published by David Fickling Books, Puffin, Walker Books and others.

The UKLA awards aim to celebrate children’s books in order to encourage teachers to increase their professional and personal knowledge of recently published high quality children’s books and promote the place of books for young people in all educational settings from nursery to key stage 4.

The books selected for the award are titles that teachers can share with pupils as part of regular classroom experience, to read for pleasure in the teacher’s read aloud programme to the whole class; inspire extended response from learners (through discussion, creative interaction or understanding the wider curriculum); be the focus of study (set books, shared and guided reading); and enhance all aspects of literacy learning and literary study

Selection committees and teacher judges are asked to look, first and foremost, for well-written, engaging ‘reads’ and, where appropriate, outstanding illustration and design.

All these books are available from local bookshops as well as online stores.

The Shortlist is as follows, with comments from the UKLA on each book included:

Ages 3-6

This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne (author/illustrator) (Oxford University Press)

In this wonderfully inventive book, Bella is taking her dog for a stroll across the page but halfway across, he disappears! Unable to quite believe what’s just happened Bella watches, transfixed, with changing emotions of surprise, indignation, moments of renewed hope (as the authorities arrive to take control) followed by shock (as they too succumb to the book’s inexplicable behaviour) and finally action when Bella marches toward the dangerous middle of the book… only to disappear herself!

At this point, the book has consumed its characters and it’s down to the reader to step in to help. A note from Bella appears directly appealing for assistance and, with a rigorous shake, the characters reappear. Normality is restored and Bella is finally able to take her dog for an uninterrupted walk… or is she?!

“This very clever story will aid the transition from playing with books to becoming immersed in the story which is offered as the child is encouraged to do both,” say the UKLA.

The Something by Rebecca Cobb (author /illustrator) (Macmillan Children’s Books)

When a little boy’s ball disappears down a mysterious hole in the garden, he can’t stop thinking about what could be down there – a little mouse’s house? The lair of a hungry troll? Or maybe even a dragon’s den. Whatever it may be, he’s determined to find out!

The Something is a glorious imaginative adventure from Rebecca Cobb, the award-winning creator of Aunt Amelia and Lunchtime, and illustrator of The Paper Dolls, written by Julia Donaldson.

“The discovery of a hole under the cherry tree in the garden has everyone guessing about what might live there. Over a year of changes in the garden the mystery isn’t resolved but the narrator keeps on watching and hoping. This gentle story takes the simplest of discoveries and uses it to develop ideas about wildlife and fantasy. It gives readers ample opportunities to join in with the speculation.”

I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon (author) and Viviane Schwarz (illustrator) (Walker Books)

From award-winning picture book makers Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz comes an enlightening new story about courage and making a difference. For budding philosophers of all ages, this is the uplifting story of Henry Finch the loveable little bird who strives for greatness, gets it all a bit wrong, then makes it right again in a very surprising way – truly becoming great. Henry Finch is a total inspiration. This is an inspirational book. It is also very funny. I Am Henry Finch is a book for everyone – from the very young to the very old. It is for dreamers, philosophers, artists, the foolish and the enlightened. And anyone with a big bright idea. Vegetarians will love it too. A profound picture book experience told with simplicity and style.

“Text and illustrations are in complete harmony in developingthe powerful themes of this exciting book.”

The Dad with 10 Children by Bénédicte Guettier (author/Illustrator) (Scribblers Books)

For this hardworking dad, every day “counts”. That’s because he has 10 children – and that means 10 T-shirts, 10 mugs, 10 bowls of spaghetti, 10 in the bath, and 10 goodnight kisses! Now, the exhausted father needs ONE day off to rest. So he leaves his brood with grandma, builds a boat, and sails away. But by the end of this sweet story he realizes that something’s missing – 10 somethings, in fact!

“When the daily routine of caring for his ten little children gets a bit much for dad he builds a boat, leaves the children with grandma and sails away on his own. However, after just one day he misses the children so he collects them and they all sail away together. With its spare text and illustrations which add lovely details to the narrative, this is a gem of a book for sharing and early reading.”

On Sudden Hill by Linda Sarah (author) and Benji Davies (illustrator) (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)

Birt and Etho are best friends. Together they play on Sudden Hill, making marvellous contraptionsout of cardboard boxes. But then a new boy, Shu, wants to join in too. Etho is happy to welcome him. Birt isn’t so sure. Eaten up with jealousy, he goes home and refuses to come out to play. Until Etho and Shu come to his house with the most marvellous cardboard contraption so far…

A compelling story about accepting someone new, from the Benji Davies, the bestselling illustrator of The Storm Whale.

“Two friends use huge boxes to create imaginary worlds at the top of Sudden Hill. When another boy wants to join them the friendship crumbles but, in the end, becomes even better. This is a story which approaches difficult areas for children and does so with sensitivity and a real understanding of the worlds of childhood.”

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T Smith (author/illustrator) (Scholastic Children’s Books)

Little Red sets off to visit her auntie who is poorly. She walks under the giraffes, over the sleepy crocodiles, past the enormous elephants and the chattering monkeys. Then a Very Hungry Lion approaches Little Red, wanting to gobble her up. But despite all the cunning plans by Lion, Little Red outsmarts him and soon has him saying sorry and eating doughnuts instead. A classic fairy tale with a twist by the bestselling Alex T. Smith.

“The story of Little Red Riding Hood moves to an African town setting where a lion is really no match for a clever small girl. Children will love this story for the exuberant twisting of the familiar story. Details in both the text and illustrations area delight so that adults and children will enjoy reading the book together.”

7-11

The Fish in the Bathtub by Eoin Colfer (author) and Peter Bailey (illustrator)(Barrington Stoke)

A heartwarming story set in post-war Poland. Little Lucja’s Grandpa Feliks has seen off the German army, and the Communists, and now he is looking forward to a long and peaceful retirement. He plans to begin with a tasty Christmas Eve dinner of carp. But when the carp arrives alive and takes up residence in the bathtub and Lucja’s heart, has Grandpa Feliks finally met his match? High quality cream paper and a special easy to read font ensure a smooth read for all.

“Lucja is determined that her grandfather will not have the carp in the bathtub as a Christmas Eve feast.The Polish setting is evoked beautifully by both the text and illustrations in this family story. History, traditions and family relationships support the narrative, giving a depth to a little book easily in the scope of most young independent readers.”

Hercufleas by Sam Gayton and Peter Cottrill (illustrator) (Andersen Press)

Greta is a girl on a mission: to venture to Avalon and bring back a hero who can save her home from destruction by the monstrous giant Yuk.

Many heroes have tried before now. Many have failed.

What Greta needs is a hero whose courage and self-belief are greater than himself. She needs Hercufleas.

The only problem: he is a flea, no bigger than a raisin. But the smallest person might just have the biggest effect . . .

“It isn’t easy to be a hero when you are smaller than a raisin. When Greta comes looking for a hero to save her town from a giant, Hercufleas sees his chance. Gayton has created something very special here. It is a fantasy world made very real by the strength of the characterisation as well as the glorious details of the setting such as the top hat home of the wonderful flea family.”

The Imaginary by A.F Harrold (author) and Emily Gravett (illustrator) (Bloomsbury)

An extraordinary tale of love, loss, imagination and not really being there, for fans of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman.

Rudger is Amanda’s best friend. He doesn’t exist, but nobody’s perfect.

Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda’s door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he’s sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up?

A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.

“Amanda has a best friend who happens to be imaginary. While nobody else can see him Rudger is safe but then a sinister stranger arrives. A.F. Harrold takes readers to the dark heart of imagination heart where the nature of friendship is tested. This is a very moving book which encourages readers to consider worlds, real and imaginary from unique perspectives.”

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel (David Fickling Books)

After a murder is committed, Will finds himself in possession of a key that has the potential to unlock the train’s hidden treasures. Together with Maren, a gifted escape artist, and Mr Dorian, a circus ringmaster with amazing abilities, Will must save the Boundless before someone else winds up dead. With villains fast on his heels and strange creatures lurking outside the windows, the train hurtles across the country as Will flees for his life. His adventure may have begun without his knowing…but how it ends is now entirely up to Will.

“Reading The Boundless is like having a spectacular movie playing straight into your mind. This is an adventure on a huge scale, not least because the main character is a seven mile long train built to help pioneers move across Canada. The hurtling action is beautifully complemented by an unusually reflective hero and a wonderfully vivid supporting cast.”

The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sís (Pushkin Press)

The beautifully illustrated life story of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – an aviator, adventurer, pioneer and war hero, as well as the author of one of the world’s most beloved children’s books, The Little Prince.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when aeroplanes were just being invented. He always dreamt of flying, and when he became a pilot as a young man, his adventures truly began. He was one of the first pilots to deliver mail by plane and, along with his fellow pilots, helped to create new routes to faraway places. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts, battled winds and storms, and even tried to break aviation records. He also crashed a number of times.

From his plane he reflected on life on the earth and in the skies, and this inspired him to write about his experiences. Peter Sís’s remarkable biography celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the world’s most beloved books.

“This handsome book is a biography of Antoine de Saint Exupéry author of The Little Prince.

It tells the story of a remarkable life very astutely, picking out the aspects which will appeal greatly to children. The innovative design of each page enhances the text, often making the scope of the story even more intense. This ravishing book is a fine tribute to a remarkable man.”

Atlas of Adventures by Rachel Williams (author) and Lucy Leatherland (illustrator) (Wide Eyed Editions)

Explore seven continent maps, packed with hundred of activities and challenges to inspire armchair travellers of any age. Whether you’re visiting the penguins of Antarctica, joining the Carnival in Brazil or a canoe safari down the Zambezi River, this book brings together epic adventures from the remotest corners of the globe and discoveries to made on your own doorstep.

Follow one boy and one girl as they travel to over 30 destinations and discover hundreds of things to spot and facts to learn on every page.

“This is something entirely new-an atlas which invites readers to imagine the experiences they could have in some of the world’s most exciting places. As well as the main text, every page offers nuggets of surprising information interwoven into the wonderful illustrations. This is an ideal book to browse through together to enjoy the facts and find the visual jokes.”

12-16

The Door that Led to Where by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)

AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his GCSEs, and his future is looking far from rosy. So when he is offered a junior position at a London law firm he hopes his life is about to change – but he could never have imagined by how much.

Tidying up the archive one day, AJ finds an old key, mysteriously labelled with his name and date of birth – and he becomes determined to find the door that fits the key. And so begins an amazing journey to a very real and tangible past – 1830, to be precise – where the streets of modern Clerkenwell are replaced with cobbles and carts, and the law can be twisted to suit a villain’s means. Although life in 1830 is cheap, AJ and his friends quickly find that their own lives have much more value. They’ve gone from sad youth statistics to young men with purpose – and at the heart of everything lies a crime that only they can solve. But with enemies all around, can they unravel the mysteries of the past, before it unravels them?

A fast-paced mystery novel by one of the country’s finest writers, The Door that Led to Where will delight, surprise and mesmerise all those who read it.

“When, much to his surprise, AJ gets a job in a lawyers’ office, he is thrown into a mystery involving time-travelling theft and murder in nineteenth century London. The plotting of this intricate novel is so precise that every detail matters as you are drawn into AJ’s worlds. Sally Gardner’s writing is as powerful, tricky and powerful as the story she has to tell.”

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)

The Lie Tree is a wonderfully evocative and atmospheric novel by Frances Hardinge, award-winning author of Cuckoo Song and Fly By Night.

Faith’s father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . . .

“Faith’s father, a Victorian clergyman and renowned amateur palaeontologist, dies suddenly. Driven to find out the truth about his death and his life, Faith discovers the plausible lies and extraordinary truth. Frances Hardinge’s dark mystery draws together themes which are as disquieting and immediate to the modern reader as they are to the Victorian characters in this unique book.”

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)

Shelby Jane Cooper is seventeen, pretty and quiet. It’s just Shelby and her mom, Shaylene, a court stenographer who wears pyjama jeans, stitches tapestry, eats ice-cream for dinner and likes to keep Shelby safe. So safe she barely goes out. So safe she doesn’t go to school. Because anything could happen, to a girl like Shelby. Anything.

When Shelby gets knocked down by a car, it’s not just her leg that’s broken: Shelby’s world is shattered. Her mom turns up to collect her and drives off into the night, like it’s the beginning of a road trip, like two criminals on the run, like Thelma and Louise or Bonnie and Clyde. And somehow, everywhere she looks, there’s a coyote watching her, talking to her, telling her not to believe.

Who is Shelby Jane Cooper? If the person who keeps you safe also tells you lies, who can you trust?

“Shelby has always been home-schooled and kept away from the world. She is almost eighteen when she is involved in a road accident. While unconscious, Coyote the trickster from Native American folklore warns her that there will be lies before she finds the truth. Dreams, legends and a contemporary thriller are plaited together in this excellent book.”

An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls (Scholastic Children’s Books)

From one of the brightest talents in children’s fiction and the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book prize comes a new novel about family and friendship. Siblings Jonathan, Holly and Davy have been struggling to survive since the death of their mother, and are determined to avoid being taken into care. When the family’s wealthy but eccentric Great-Aunt Irene has a stroke, they go to visit her. Unable to speak or write, she gives Holly some photographs that might lead them to an inheritance that could solve all their problems. But they’re not the only ones after the treasure…

“Life has been tough for Holly’s family since her mother dies. She feels bad that her elder brother has given up the chance of university to keep the family together so when a photo album suggests a family treasure, Holly is eager to take her brothers on a journey to find it. This fast-paced adventure shines with the characters’ reality and the quality of its writing.”

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Puffin)

Soon to be a major film starring Elle Fanning.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

An intense, gripping novel, perfect for fans of John Green, Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman and Jenny Downham.

“Violet and Finch meet at the top of the school bell-tower when both are considering jumping. She is very popular; he is usually called ‘Freak.’ As they work together on a project, their friendship deepens: one moves towards death and the other towards life.The alternating first person narration of chapters gives a depth of insight into two completely believable young people.”

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion Indigo)

A cleverly interlinked novel written in four parts by PRINTZ AWARD-winning author, Marcus Sedgwick, about survival and discovery, and about the effect of the spiral, a symbol that has no end, on all our lives.

The spiral has existed as long as time has existed. Follow the ways of infinity to discover its meaning.

It’s there when a girl walks through the forest, the moist green air clinging to her skin.

There centuries later in a pleasant green dale, hiding the treacherous waters of Golden Beck that take Anna, who they call a witch.

There on the other side of the world, where a mad poet watches the waves and knows the horrors they hide, and far into the future as Keir Bowman realises his destiny.

Each takes their next step in life. None will ever go back to the same place.

And so their journeys begin…

“Four independent stories are set in different times and with different characters are drawn together by the image of the spiral. Each story speaks in some way for the human reaching out for the unknown and, when put together the effect is profoundly moving in many ways. Beautifully written and entirely original, this is an important book.”

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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