A win for comics at this year’s Blue Peter Book Awards

Writer, poet and cartoonist Mike Barfield and comic creator and illustrator Jessica Bradley-Bove and have been announced as winners of the 2021 Blue Peter Book Award for “Best Book with Facts – for their hilarious book, A Day In The Life Of A Poo, A Gnu And You.

Packed full of zany trivia about everything worth knowing – from pimples to porcupines – each element of A Day In The Life Of A Poo, A Gnu And You is written in the form of a first person diary and brilliantly presented in cartoon strips.

“Winning any award is a huge honour,” notes Mike, “but winning the Blue Peter Book Award is extra special. I adored the programme as a child, and again as a parent, watching it with my own (now grown-up) children. The child in me that still persists to this day does find it rather amusing that a book with ‘Poo’ in its title will now have to be mentioned several times on the show.

“As someone who grew up watching Blue Peter, this is the most exciting award to win,,” says Jessica, “so a massive thank you to all of the readers who voted for us.

“I had so much fun drawing everything from poos to gnus, and I’m really happy to know that so many children enjoyed reading about them”

“As someone who grew up watching Blue Peter and discovering brilliant new books from the show, it is an extraordinary moment to be recognised,” said Elle. “To be a part of their World Book Day celebrations is great, and to have been voted the winner by readers is life changing.”

The award for Best Story was awarded to A Kind of Spark, the brilliant debut novel by Elle McNicoll. Offering an utterly convincing and honest narrative voice, A Kind of Spark challenges the stereotypes that can be associated with autism, and teaches us that there are “many different ways to be autistic.”

Managed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, the enormously popular and influential Blue Peter Book Awards have been recognising and celebrating the best authors, the most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children since 2000.

The Awards honour amazing authors, imaginative illustrators and the best books for children, published in the last 12 months. The winning titles were voted for by over 200 children from 12 schools across the UK.

“It’s especially great as the Awards are judged by children and one of the biggest things they loved about our book was the comic format,” Jessica notes. “Proof again that even though comics now have a limited presence on the news stand, they are doing very well in publishing overall.

“Nearly all of my work ahead for the next two years is also comic/graphic novel based and a lot of this is also due to how well school librarians are pushing graphic novels at the moment and their appeal to reluctant/unconfident readers.”

“Every year without fail, the Blue Peter Book Awards showcase the exceptional talent in the world of children’s books and this year is no different,” said Diana Gerald, CEO, BookTrust. ”These fantastic books will help children to be inspired, creative, confident and encourage different ways of thinking. As always with the judging, it was a very close call, but Elle, Mike and Jess triumphed. Congratulations to the very deserving winners.”

“The Blue Peter Book Awards give kids the opportunity to vote for their favourite books and it’s fantastic to hear them talk about reading for fun,” said Blue Peter Editor, Ellen Evans. “The two winners are brilliant books. I hope Elle McNicoll’s A Kind of Spark will inspire kids to find their own voice, like Addie, and to stand up for what they believe in. Mike Barfield and Jess Bradley’s A Day in the Life of a Poo, a Gnu and You, is so visual and fun, that young readers will love discovering all kind of facts about the world they live in, from the secret diary of a slug, to how your heart beats, or why volcanoes explode.”

Check out the Blue Peter Book Awards here on the BookTrust web site

Buy A Kind of Spark from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Buy A Day In The Life Of A Poo, A Gnu And You from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Mike Barfield is online at mikebarfield.co.uk

Jessica Bradley-Bove is online at jessbradley.com

Elle McNicoll on being a neurodivergent author

Blue Peter is live every Thursday at 5pm on CBBC and BBC iPlayer

• Keep up-to-date with the Awards at www.booktrust.org.uk/bluepeter and on Twitter by following @Booktrust and #BPBA

Check out all the nominees for this year’s Awards here on the BBC web site

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

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