UKLA Book Awards 2024 winners announced

Posted on Saturday, July 6, 2024
Category: Book Awards

UKLA Book Awards 2024 winners announced

Hard-hitting books have been chosen as the winners of the 2024 UKLA Book Awards, a national book award judged by teachers.  The winners, announced during the UKLA weekend conference, were chosen by 12 teacher judges across four categories from a shortlist of 24 books

The categories include ages 3-6 years; 7-10+ years and 11-14+ years, as well as Information Books ages 3-14 years.  The UKLA Book Awards judges seek texts from a 'wide and inclusive range' of publishers that reflect a broad range of perspectives, experiences and voices and that are engaging reads. 

Winning books

3-6+ Category:  The Hare-Shaped Hole by John Dougherty and Thomas Docherty (Frances Lincoln Children's Books) explores Death but the judges described it as a 'beautiful, moving and important book' that gives children of all ages the 'vocabulary to talk about loss - a universal feeling with a much wider application'.  They praised the book's 'beautifully crafted' language and the 'gentle , expressive' illustrations.

7-10+ Category:   Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest by Liz Flanagan, illustrated throughout by Joe Todd-Stanton, is published by independent publisher UCLan, based at The University of Central Lancashire which involves students at every stage of the publishing process. With only 176 pages, Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest is described as an 'excellent adventure' with its 'anime like' illustrations and the 'brilliantly written age-appropriate text' making it the 'perfect first chapter book' providing 'pure reading for pleasure'.

11-14+ Category:  Crossing the Line by debut author Tia Fisher (Hot Key Books) was also shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie medal for writing and won the Shadowers' Choice Award, and has now also won the UKLA 11-14+ category.  The judges described the 'original and clever' verse novel Crossing the Line as a 'life-saving book'.  Inspired by the real experiences of a friend's son in county lines drug dealing, this powerful exploration of entrapment techniques and the domino effect of bad choices is made brilliantly accessible by the verse novel structure. Tia Fisher said: "I'm so grateful to the teachers who have promoted Crossing the Line in their schools, not only to the children but also to staff and parents. The UKLA award will give Erik's story even greater visibility, opening much-needed conversations around county lines and exemplifying the importance of reading for pleasure."

3-14+ Information Category:  The Boy Who Didn't Want to Die by Peter Lantos (Scholastic) - the eldest winner on record - said he felt he had a moral obligation to write this account of his survival for children, as one of the few remaining survivors of the Holocaust. It continues his work of many years visiting schools and talking to young people about his childhood. At the age of five, Peter is taken to Bergen Belsen in the last year of WW2, and we see Peter's world through his eyes as a child. The judges felt that Peter's lived experience related in his 'simple, direct and truthful style' was entirely appropriate for the audience and, it ends on a positive note. "It's a book, not about death, but about survival." 

Chris Lockwood, chair of the awards, said "The range and quality of the books submitted for our award were of the highest standard. There are many talented and creative writers, illustrators and translators bringing forward exciting and stimulating works for children and young people."

The shortlist was chosen by 84 teacher judges, with 12 then nominated to go on to form the final judging panel which decided the winners of the UKLA 2024 Book Awards. The judges read the shortlists from all four categories, regardless of the age group they teach. 

For UKLA, giving classroom practitioners the opportunity to read high quality new children's books is as important as finding an overall winner.  Judge Florella Scozzafava said,  "Being on the UKLA teacher judging panel has helped me expand my reading habits and, with the support of other teacher judges, step out of my comfort zone. Hearing different interpretations of texts has helped me think more critically about what roles particular texts serve and this has made me even more deliberate in my book-buying decisions for school. I've come away from every meeting buzzing with ideas of how to use texts and inspired by colleagues across the country who work so hard to promote the love of reading."

Research carried out by members of UKLA (Cremin et al 2008) 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.

The winning books were announced live at the awards ceremony on July 5th at the UKLA International Conference in Brighton

The Shortlists in full:

Category 3-6+ Years

Fox & Son Tailers written and illustrated by Paddy Donnelly (The O'Brien Press)
The Hare-Shaped Hole written by John Dougherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty (Frances Lincoln)
10 Dogs written and illustrated by Emily Gravett (Two Hoots)
Martha Maps It Out written and illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson (Oxford)
The Wilderness written and illustrated by Steve McCarthy (Walker)
Dick the Delightful Duck written by Kaye Umansky and illustrated by Ben Mantle (Alison Green)

Category 7-10+ Years

The Song Walker by Zillah Bethell, illustrated by Saara Katariina Söderlund (Usborne)
Call Me Lion written by Camilla Chester, illustrated by Irina Avgustinovich (Firefly)
How to be More Hedgehog written by Anne Marie Conway, illustrated by Danielle Dey (Uclan)
Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest written by Liz Flanagan, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton (Uclan)
Finn Jones Was Here written by Simon James Green, illustrated by Jennifer Jamieson (Scholastic)
Where the River Takes Us written by Lesley Parr, illustrated by David Dean (Bloomsbury)

Category 11-14+ Years

Away with Words written by Sophie Cameron (Little Tiger)
Crossing the Line written by Tia Fisher (Hot Key)
As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow written by Zoulfa Katouh (Bloomsbury)
Steady for This written by Nathanael Lessore (Hot Key)
All My Rage written by Sabaa Tahir (Atom)
I Must Betray You written by Ruta Sepetys (Hodder)

Category: Information Books 3-14+ Years

Unspoken written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Dare Coulter (Andersen)
Lands of Belonging: A History of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain written by Vikesh Amey Bhatt, and Donna Amey Bhatt and illustrated by Salini Perera (Nosy Crow)
The Boy Who Didn't Want to Die written by Peter Lantos (Scholastic)
Whose Tracks in the Snow? Written and illustrated by Alexandra Milton (Boxer Books)
Saving H'Non: Chang and the Elephant written by Trang Nguyen and illustrated by Jeet Zdung (Macmillan)
Darwin & Hooker written by Alexander Stewart and illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton (Bloomsbury)