UKLA Book Awards 2021 Longlists

The longlists for the 13th year of these unique book awards highlight a diverse range of authors, from exciting debuts to prize-winners and best-sellers. All the books exemplify the award criteria’s aim of encouraging teachers’ knowledge of high-quality children’s books that can reflect all identities and promote diversity.

UKLA Book Awards 2021 Longlists

In what may apparently be the ill-omened 13th year of these unique book awards, which are the only national awards judged by active classroom teachers, there have been some unique challenges because of the difficulties created by the global pandemic.  As publisher submissions were invited, publishers were in lockdown, distribution warehouses were closed and in some cases, it proved impossible to get physical books delivered to the longlisting panels (composed of experienced past teacher judges, ex-teachers, librarians and consultants) Yet despite this, there were 410 submissions across the four categories and the panellists coped with reading pdf copies and the two full days of online selection discussions to arrive at the longlists. 

Awards Chair, Christine Lockwood, said “The quality of the submissions this year was simply outstanding and the choices the panels had to make were very difficult, under difficult circumstances, but we are very proud of these lists and know that these quality texts will have a real impact in the classrooms of the teacher judges”

The lists highlight a diverse range of authors from exciting debuts to prize-winners and best-sellers. Of particular note is the dominance of small publishing houses like Scallywag Press, Guppy Books, Boxer Books, Tiny Owl, Lantana, Cicada Books , What on Earth Publishing, Knights Of and Firefly Press etc. All the books exemplify the award criteria’s aim of encouraging teachers’ knowledge of high-quality children’s books that can reflect all identities and promote diversity.

This year the teacher judges for Fiction and Poetry again come from the Midlands, with the 2021 UKLA International Conference, at which the eventual winners are announced, being held at Jury’s Inn, Godstow Road, Oxford. The judging of the category for Information Books is taking place in London. There are 65judges in total covering the four categories and they have until mid-March to read the longlisted books, discuss them with their group leaders, and share them with pupils. All groups will then meet, hopefully in person, for the difficult task of choosing their shortlist of 6 books in each category.

Headteachers welcomed the opportunity to receive new books for their schools and for their teachers to widen their knowledge of recent children’s titles. For UKLA, giving classroom practitioners the opportunity to read a number of new 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.

UKLA are grateful for the continued support of the award sponsors, which help the awards to grow and develop each year. Capita Reading Cloud, Lovereading4schools and Lovereading4kids, recognise the value of the judging experience for schools and teachers:

“LoveReading4Schools and its sister site LoveReading4Kids are delighted to again support the UKLA Book Awards. We’ve had an incredibly busy year reading, reviewing and recommending more books than ever and supporting families and schools across the nation to engender a love of reading.  Our mission to share book love by offering the tools, advice and information needed to help our loyal book loving audience to find their next favourite book has never been more important.

With over 11,000 schools signed up to our site, downloading book extracts, utilising our recommended reading lists, we have an important role to play. And of course hundreds of thousands of people engage with LoveReading4Kids to find books that really reflect the children of today. We are excited to also announce that we are launching the LoveReading4Kids Book Boxes this October – making it easy for people to give the gift of a book to the children in their life.

This is another wonderful longlist, a gorgeous selection of books that deserve to be celebrated. The only awards to be judged entirely by teachers, the UKLA Awards are a special thing, ensuring that the teacher judges can share the books with their classes and really find out first hand what engages, delights, educates and inspires. The awards are equally valuable for parents looking to support the school environment and further encourage reading for pleasure. We are excited to see which books shine through this year, but they are all stars!” Deborah Maclaren Managing Director of Lovereading4Kids 

“Capita Reading Cloud are really delighted to support these worthwhile and unique children’s book awards as co-sponsors again this year. We are always heartened to see so many dedicated teacher judges all over the UK working with the longlisted, shortlisted and winning books to inspire a love of reading in their pupil groups and beyond. Encouraging reading for enjoyment and improving literacy are very much at the heart of Reading Cloud and through our platform, pupils can review and recommend books, sharing their enthusiasm for reading through a variety of accessible and engaging tools and features.”

Longlist 3-6+

Under the Great Plum Tree written by Sufiya Ahmed, illustrated by Reza Dalvand. (Tiny Owl)

I Am Brown written by Ashok Banker, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat. (Lantana Publishing)

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts. (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

The Worrysaurus written by Rachel Bright, illustrated by Chris Chatterton. (Orchard Books)

Look Up! Written by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola. (Puffin)

Mr Gumpy’s Rhino written and illustrated by John Burningham. (Jonathan Cape)

Hello Friend, written and illustrated by Rebecca Cobb. (Macmillan)

No Longer Alone written by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Robyn Wilson- Owen. (Egmont)

Fair Shares written by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by Anna Doherty. (Tiny Owl)

Rabbit & Bear- A Bite in the Night written by Julian Gough, illustrated by Jim Field. (Hodder)

Where Happiness Begins written and illustrated by Eva Eland. (Andersen Press)

Brenda is a Sheep written and illustrated by Morag Hood. (Two Hoots)

The Last Tiger written and illustrated by Petr Horáček. (Otter- Barry Books)

The Fate of Fausto written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. (HarperCollins)

My Hair written by Hannah Lee, illustrated by Allen Fatimarahan. (Faber & Faber)

My Friend Earth written by Patricia Maclachlan, illustrated by Francesca Sanna. (Chronicle Books)

The Misadventures of Frederick written by Ben Manley, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark. (Two Hoots)

Tibble and Grandpa written by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egneus. (Oxford)

Umbrella written and illustrated by Elena Arevalo Melville. (Scallywag Press)

I’m Not (Very) Afraid of the Dark written by Anna Milbourne, illustrated by Daniel Riley. (Usborne) 

It’s a No Money Day written and illustrated by Kate Milner. (Barrington Stoke)

Sulwe written by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison. (Puffin)

Hey Water, written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis. (Scallywag Press)

One Fox: A Counting Thriller written and illustrated by Kate Read. (Two Hoots)

How About a Night Out? Written by Sam Williams, illustrated by Matt Hunt. (Boxer Books)

Longlist 7-10+

The Girl Who Speaks Bear written by Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Kathrin Honesta. (Usborne)

Too Small Tola written by Atinuke, illustrated Onyinye Iwu. (Walker Books)

The Space We’re In written by Katya Balen, illustrated by Laura Carlin. (Bloomsbury)

A Pocketful of Stars written by Aisha Bushby. (Egmont)

The Somerset Tsunami written by Emma Carroll. (Faber & Faber)

Saving Winslow written by Sharon Creech, illustrated by Sarah Horne. (Guppy Books)

Talking to the Moon written by S.E Durrant. Nosy Crow

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant written by Nizrana Farook, illustrated by David Dean. (Nosy Crow)

Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror written by Natasha  Farrant, illustrated by Lydia Corry. (Zephyr)

Check Mates written by Stewart Foster. (Simon & Schuster)

The Highland Falcon Thief written by M.G Leonard and Sam Sedgeman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli.  (Macmillan)

Eagle Warrior written by Gill Lewis. (Barrington Stoke)

The Time of Green Magic written by Hilary McKay. (Macmillan)

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone written by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Karl James Mountford. (Guppy Books)

Lori and Max written by Catherine O’Flynn. (Firefly Press)

The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates written by Jenny Pearson, illustrated by Rob Biddulph. (Usborne)

The Star Outside My Window written by Onjali Raúf. (Orion)

Patina written by Jason Reynolds illustrated by Selom Sunu. (Knights of)

The Cloudhorse Chronicles – Guardians of Magic  written and illustrated by Chris Riddell. (Macmillan)

The Good Thieves written by Katherine Rundell illustrated by Matt Saunders. (Bloomsbury)

Clean Getaway written by Nic Stone. (Knights Of)

Owen and the Soldier written by Lisa Thompson, illustrated by Mark Lowery. (Barrington Stoke)

Longlist 11- 14+

Clap When You Land written by Elizabeth Acevedo. (Hot Key Books)

Black Flamingo written by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar. (Hodder)

The M Word written by Brian Conaghan. (Bloomsbury)

Furious Thing written by Jenny Downham. (David Fickling Books)

The Last Paper Crane written by Kerry Drewery, illustrated by Natsko Seki. (Hot Key Books)

Sofa Surfer written by Malcolm Duffy. (Zephyr)

On Midnight Beach written by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick. (Faber & Faber)

Invisible in a Bright Light written by Sally Gardner (Zephyr)

Bearmouth written by Liz Hyder. (Pushkin)

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly written by Danielle Jawando. (Simon & Schuster)

A House Without Walls written by Elizabeth Laird. (Macmillan)

Run Rebel written by Manjeet Mann. (Penguin)

Burn written by Patrick Ness. (Walker Books)

Gloves Off written by Louisa Reid. (Guppy Books)

Look Both Ways written by Jason Reynolds. (Knights Of)

Snowflake AZ written by Marcus Sedgwick. (Zephyr)

The Boxer written by Nikesh Shukla. (Hodder)

The List of Things That Will Not Change written by Rebecca Stead. (Andersen Press)

Hello Now written by Jenny Valentine. (HarperCollins)

The Enigma Game written by Elizabeth Wein. (Bloomsbury)

Information Books 3-14+

The Undefeated written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. (Andersen Press)

Balloon to the Moon written by Gill Arbuthnott, illustrated by Chris Nielsen. (Big Picture Press)  

Africa, Amazing Africa written by Atinuke, illustrated by Mouni Feddag. (Walker Books)

Gut Garden written and illustrated by by Katie Brosnan. (Cicada Books)   

Nose Knows written by Emanuelle Figueras, illustrated by Claire De Gastold. (What on Earth Publishing)         

We Are Artists written and illustrated by Kari Herbert. (Thames & Hudson)           

River Stories written by Timothy Knapman illustrated by Ashling Lindsay and Irene Montano. (Egmont)   

A Planet Full of Plastic written and illustrated by Neal Layton. (Wren & Rook)     

The Apartment: A Century of Russian History written by Alexandra Litvina, illustrated by Anna Desnitskaya, and translated by Antonina Bouis.  (Abrams Books for Young Readers)            

Humanimal written by Christopher Lloyd, illustrated by Mark Ruffle.           (What on Earth Publishing)    

Prisoners of Geography written by Tim Marshall, illustrated by Grace Easton and Jessica Smith. (Elliott & Thompson and Simon & Schuster)           

Who is in the Egg? Written and illustrated Alexandra Milton. (Boxer Books)    

Corpse Talk: Rebels written and illustrated by Adam and Lisa Murphy. (David Fickling Books)   

Planet SOS written and illustrated by Marie G Rohde. (What on Earth Publishing)

Rise Up! The Art of Protest written by Jo Rippon. (Palazzo Editions)           

The Missing written by Michael Rosen. (Walker Books)      

Hidden Planet written and illustrated by Ben Rothery. (Ladybird)   

Exquisite: The Life and Poetry of Gwendoline Brooks written by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi Cabrera. (Abrams Books for Young Readers)         

Language of the Universe written by Colin Stuart, illustrated by Ximo Abadía. (Big Picture Press)         

Along the Tapajós written and illustrated by Fernando Vilela, translated by Daniel Hahn. (Amazon Crossing Kids)       

Children Who Changed the World written and illustrated by Marcia Williams. (Walker Books)   

Big Ideas for Young Thinkers written by Jamia Wilson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins. (Wide Eyed Editions)     

Big Book of Blooms written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer. (Thames & Hudson)

Find out more about our UKLA Book Awards here.

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