The winners of the UKLA Book Awards were announced in a ceremony at the UKLA conference on the weekend, and the 2015 winners are:
Ages 3-6 category – The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins)
Fed up with the way they are misused, Duncan’s crayons each write him a letter of complaint. The Day the Crayons Quit is a very funny book which encourages children to be adventurous and creative. Like all the very best picture books, there is plenty here to delight adults as well as children. The theme of our responsibility for the happiness of others is explored in remarkable ways. As one of the judges said: ‘I don’t know how you could do more in so few words and so few pages.’ (from UKLA website)
Ages 7-11 category – Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre (OUP)
Judges loved Oliver and the Seawigs because it truly ‘captures the joy of reading.’ When Oliver’s parents go missing, he searches for them, gradually gathering an eccentric group of new friends including a wandering isle called Cliff. Though the combination of words and pictures make Oliver and the Seawigs a perfect book for children who have developed little stamina as readers, it has been written and illustrated with such wit and so many highly original ideas that, as one of the judges said, ‘it reaches out to everyone.’ (from UKLA website)
Ages 7-11 category (highly commended) – Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler (Little, Brown)
For the first time ever the judges also presented a Highly Commended 7-11 Award.
Us Minus Mum is, as you’d expect from the title, a book about bereavement. The story follows George’s mum from her diagnosis to her death. What makes it a ‘brilliant, brilliant book’ is that Heather Butler creates a very happy, completely believable family who mourn mum, but honour her life through happiness as well as sorrow. There isn’t a shred of sentimentality in this ‘honest, powerful and insightful novel.’ (from UKLA website)
Ages 12-16+ category – Every Day by David Levithan (Egmont)
Every day, A wakes up in a new body and has to live that person’s life doing no harm to the host. However, when A falls in love, lives are changed and hosts become aware of what is happening to them. This is a highly original book which is handled with real integrity. Levithan offers readers glimpses of some of the quandaries of teenage life, but never offers superficial answers. Teacher judges described Every Day as ‘a brilliant and important book’. (from UKLA website)
The winner of the ages 3-6 category, The Day the Crayons Quit, comes as no surprise really as this book has won a string of awards this year and is a great concept for a story. It was also one of the shadowing group’s favourites, however our top pick was Chris Haughton’s excellent book, Shh! We Have a Plan. Another favourite of the group was Kelly Bingham’s Z is for Moose, which was also a big winner with the young daughter of one of our tutors in the shadowing group:
“The hands down winner in our house, for fascinating possibilities and comedy value was Z is for Moose, Rosie did and does still LOVE it!!!”
There must have been some arguments between the judges of the ages 7-11 category, as for the first time there was a highly commended book alongside the winner. Philip Reeve’s Oliver and the Seawigs was not one of the top favourites in the 7-11 shadowing group, but Heather Butler’s Us Minus Mum was rated highly so it is great to see this title given special recognition. The group’s overall favourite was Gill Lewis’ Scarlet Ibis, however this book did win the Little Rebel’s Children Book Award this year so we can forgive the judges for not picking this title as the winner.
Unfortunately there wasn’t a shadowing group for the ages 12-16+ category this year, but hopefully there will be next time! It has been a really good experience discussing the books in the group and arguing for our favourites. Thanks to all the students and tutors who took part!
Hannah, a tutor in the ages 3-6 shadowing group said of the experience:
“I always enjoy doing/shadowing the UKLA book awards as it is a great opportunity to read and discuss new books. I also think it is really valuable having the opportunity to discuss the books with others – everyone gets very passionate about their favourites and other people notice elements which you haven’t. Hope we can do it again next year!”