Shortlists Announced for the Unique Awards from Teachers

In the only national book awards which are judged by teachers, the choices reflect their preference for the diversity and quality offered by small independent publishers.

  • Independent publishers dominate teachers’ choices
  • Past winners Jason Wallace and Sarah Crossan go head to head for a second win
  • The Fan Brothers compete against themselves in the 3-6 category
  • Books in translation, information books and graphic novels offer a diverse reading menu for schools
  • @The_UKLA #UKLA18 #teachersbookawards

In the only national book awards which are judged by teachers, the choices reflect their preference for the diversity and quality offered by small independent publishers. Andersen Press, Barrington Stoke, Gecko Press, David Fickling Books, The Bucket List, Two Hoots and Words & Pictures all feature on these lists, which come with the unique guarantee from teachers that these are books which have been tried and tested in the classroom

Jason Wallace, who won the 12-16 category in 2011 with his debut novel Out of Shadows, seems to have the magic touch as a writer for teenagers according to the judges for the teachers’ “Carnegie” since his second novel Encounters has now also been shortlisted. He is up against some stiff competition from another past winner, Sarah Crossan whose verse novel, We Come Apart, co-authored with Brian Conaghan is also on the list. Joining them are current Carnegie medal shortlistees Geraldine McCaughrean with Where the World Ends and Marcus Sedgwick with Saint Death and best-selling Australian fantasy author, Garth Nix, with Frogkisser. For the first time a graphic novel, the hard hitting refugee story from France, Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord, by Bessora and Barroux, completes the list.

The 7-11 category also features a book in translation, this time from tiny Gecko Press, Yours Sincerely Giraffe by Japanese author Megumi Iwasa is up against Elizabeth Laird’s powerful refugee story Welcome to Nowhere, Jackie Morris’ beautifully illustrated The White Fox and Maria Farrer’s debut novel Me and Mr P. For the first time there are two information books completing the shortlist with Martin Brown’s Lesser Spotted Animals and Charlotte Gullian and Yuval Zommer’s highly innovative The Street Beneath My Feet showing that exciting information books can capture readers too.

The 3-6 category sees Eric and Terry Fan, aka The Fan Brothers, competing against themselves having illustrated two books on the shortlist with The Darkest Dark, the autobiographical tale of astronaut Chris Hadfield, up against their own mystical story of The Secret Gardener. They are competing with two English Association award winners- the inaugural winner of the Margaret Mallet Award for Children’s Non-Fiction, It Starts With a Seed by Laura Knowles and the 2017 4-7 picturebook category winner Oi Dog by Kes and Claire Gray and Jim Field. Completing the line-up there is Morag Hood’s debut Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea and Rob Biddulph’s Odd Dog Out.

All three age categories once again show the fresh perspective that class teachers can bring to the judging process in their search for books which can “enhance all aspects of literacy learning”, as required by the criteria. This makes them particularly useful as co-sponsor Robert Prime, Director of Lovereading4kids said:

LoveReading4Schools and its sister site LoveReading4Kids are delighted to again support the UKLA Book Awards in 2018. Under new ownership the brand has been re-launched and the sites are being re-designed to bring them bang up-to-date and will continue to develop further to further support our mission to promote a love of books and reading by offering the tools, advice and information needed to help our members and browsers to find their next favourite book.

The fact that the teacher judges reflect on their students’ responses to the books gives these Awards huge credibility and trust so that schools know the books will be in turn loved by their own pupils. The awards are equally valuable for parents looking to support the school environment and further engender a love of reading at home. We can’t wait to see the eventual winners as the shortlisted books are all simply wonderful.

The enthusiastic judging discussions revealed how much teachers welcomed the opportunity to widen their knowledge of recent children’s titles and enjoyed talking together in order to decide which books would best match the criteria for the award:

Talking about books always keeps English teachers happy, and so the challenge of reading the long list for the UKLA book awards has been a most pleasurable and rewarding process. Passions were aired and issues were shared. Exploring the texts was not only a wonderful personal indulgence, but also a fabulous opportunity to engage with professional conversations about how we use literature to enrich the reading experiences of young readers. Judith Kneen, Group leader

For UKLA, giving classroom practitioners the opportunity to read a number of new quality children’s books is as important as finding an overall winner. Research carried out by members of UKLA (Cremin et al 2008) clearly demonstrated the links between teachers’ knowledge of children’s books and the likelihood of pupils becoming successful readers. Despite this evidence, teachers are seldom given time to read new books or funding to purchase them when they do. As Awards Chair Lynda Graham said:

Teacher judges clearly delighted in opportunities to discuss the best of newly- published, quality books with teacher colleagues and to share these books with children and young people in their classrooms.

9 teachers nominated from the 45 involved in the shortlisting, who came from around Cardiff and from Gloucestershire, will now form the final judging panel and have the challenging task of reading all the shortlisted books in all three age categories, which will mean nursery teachers reading fiction for teenagers and secondary teachers reading picturebooks!

The winners will be announced on July 6th at the UKLA International Conference, The Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel.

For further information and to request an interview with the shortlisted authors and illustrators, or for images, please contact fao Lynda Graham

The Shortlists in full


The Night Gardener written and illustrated by Eric and Terry Fan (Frances Lincoln)

Odd Dog Out written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Oi Dog written by Kes and Claire Gray and illustrated by Jim Field (Hodder)

The Darkest Dark written by Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion and illustrated by The Fan Brothers (Macmillan)

Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea written and illustrated by Morag Hood (Two Hoots)

It Starts with a Seed written by Laura Knowles and illustrated by Jennie Webber (Words & Pictures)


The White Fox written and illustrated by Jackie Morris (Barrington Stoke)

Lesser Spotted Animals written and illustrated by Martin Brown (David Fickling Books)

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe Written by Megumi Iwasa, translated by Cathy Hirano and Illustrated by Jun Takabatake (Gecko Press)

Welcome to Nowhere written by Elizabeth Laird and illustrated by Lucy Eldridge (Macmillan)

Me and Mister P written by Maria Farrer and illustrated by Daniel Rieley (OUP)

The Street Beneath My Feet written by Charlotte Gullian and illustrated by Yuval Zommer (Words and Pictures)


Encounters written by Jason Wallace (Andersen Press)

Come Apart written by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury)

Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord written Bessora, translated by sarah Ardizzone and illustrated by Barroux (The Bucket List)

Saint Death written by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion)

Frogkisser! written by Garth Nix (Piccadilly Press)

Where the World Ends written by Geraldine McCaughrean (Usborne)

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