Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2023 winners announced

Posted on Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Category: Book Awards

Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2023 winners announced

Nadia Mikail has been named Overall Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize for her debut novel, The Cats We Meet Along The Way, which also won the Older Reader's Category. 

M.T. Khan's Nura and the Immortal Palace won the Younger Readers' category and Kim Hillyard's Gretel the Wonder Mammoth took the category for Illustrated Books

Older Reader's Category and Overall Prize Winner

The Cats We Meet Along The Way, Nadia Mikail's debut novel, tells the story of Aisha and her quirky family who, with the world due to end imminently, embark on an eventful road trip across Malaysia to find her estranged sister June. Inspired by the author's experience of worrying about her family during the pandemic, Nadia Mikail tells a gentle, affecting, and hopeful debut about what is most important when time is running out.

Nadia Mikail says: "I was really missing my family when I started writing this book, and constantly worrying about them during the pandemic, so I wrote it as sort of a worst-case scenario situation, like what would happen if the apocalypse was about to happen, and I was away from my loved ones. In the midst of trying to kind of work out those anxieties through writing, I realised the only thing we can do is care for the people we love every day and hope for a better future for them even when things seem hopeless."

Younger Readers Category Winner

The winner of the category for Younger Readers is Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan. An enchanting magical adventure rooted in Muslim culture and folklore; the story follows a young girl's journey from modern-day Pakistan into a richly imagined underground world where trickster jinns hold sway.

M.T. Khan says: "The inspiration for Nura came from a variety of things. I stumbled upon a mica mining documentary about the deadly labour behind products like car paint and shimmery makeup. When I learned of the dangers those child miners face daily, it was shocking - not just because they were being paid dirt, but because of how invisible their efforts were to the rest of the world (…) These are heavy themes, but I tried to balance it with the atmosphere of a Ghibli movie - wondrous, magical, heart-warming.  Nura was my hope of giving underprivileged and forgotten kids an adventure they deserved, all against a backdrop of South Asian culture, festivities, and folklore."

Illustrated Books Category Winner

The Illustrated Books category went to Gretel the Wonder Mammoth by Kim Hillyard, a pitch-perfect story encouraging children to embrace their feelings as they follow the story of Gretel, the last woolly mammoth on earth, who gets a little overwhelmed and lonely after returning to the world from a very long sleep in the ice.

Kim Hillyard says: "I wanted to write a book that helps children and grown-ups start a conversation about anxiety. When Gretel breaks free from the ice after a VERY long sleep, she's excited to be back but soon realises the world is not quite how she remembers it. Anxiety can be incredibly isolating. Gretel discovers the bravest thing she can do is ask for help and I hope this book encourages all of us to do the same."


The Waterstones Children's Book Prize is voted for solely by booksellers.  The Prize is £5,000 and the promise of ongoing commitment to the winners' writing and illustrating careers, making it one of the most valuable and prestigious children's book awards in the UK.  Last year's winner, The Last Bear by Hannah Gold, shot to the top of the bestseller charts after being announced as Waterstones Children's Book Prize Winner 2022 and saw an increase in sales of 434% across the Waterstones estate.

Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2023 shortlisted titles (in alphabetical order by author):

Illustrated Books

The Fairy Garden by Georgia Buckthorn (author), Isabella Mazzanti (illustrator) (Ivy Kids)

What Do You See When You Look At a Tree? by Emma Carlisle (Big Picture Press)

I am NOT a Prince by Rachael Davis (author), Beatrix Hatcher (illustrator) (Hachette Children's Group)

Gretel the Wonder Mammoth by Kim Hillyard (Penguin Random House Children's)

The Station Cat by Stephen Hogtun (DK)

The Missing Piece by Jordan Stephens (author), Beth Suzanna (illustrator) (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

Books for Younger Readers

The Book of Stolen Dreams by David Farr (Usborne Publishing)

Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan (Walker Books Ltd)

Small! by Hannah Moffatt (Everything with Words)

The Last Firefox by Lee Newbery (Penguin Random House Children's)

Ajay and the Mumbai Sun by Varsha Shah (Chicken House)

The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Drama and Danger by J.T. Williams (author), Simone Douglas (illustrator) (Farshore)

Books for Older Readers

All That's Left in the World by Erik J. Brown (Hachette Children's Group)

Welcome to St Hell by Lewis Hancox (Scholastic)

The Cats We Meet Along The Way by Nadia Mikail (Guppy Publishing Ltd)

Ellie Pillai is Brown by Christine Pillainayagam (Faber & Faber)

If You Still Recognise Me by Cynthia So (Stripes Publishing)

Once Upon a Fever by Angharad Walker (Chicken House)