April 12, 2013

In England, there are awards for radical children


From the This Could Never Happen Here file: Organizers in England have announced the shortlist for the first-ever prize in radical writing for children. The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award “recognises fiction for ages 0-12 which promotes or celebrates social justice and equality,” according to a press release from the organizers, the Alliance of Radical Booksellers. (The ARB is also the organization that gives out the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing, won last year by Melville House for Debt: The First 5,000 Years, by David Graeber.) (We may have mentioned.) “Specialist children’s booksellers” the Letterbox Library will administer the award.

“Book prizes tend to gravitate towards the conservative,” explained ARB co-ordinator Nik Gorecki (who’s also a bookseller at Housmans Bookshop). “I imagine partly this is due to a culture formed of corporate sponsorship, but also a more general conformism. The two ARB book prizes are free from such pressures — the prizes being administered by bookshops reverses the usually top-down nature of such awards.”

Kerry Mason of Letterbox Library added, “Hard economic times can sometimes lead to publishers sticking to safe and tested book series and reprints. It is heartening to see that even when the going gets tough, some UK children’s publishers are still happy to take risks, to stay creative, to venture out into the unusual and deliver us thoughtful, provocative and radical yarns.”

The shortlisted books are:

Judges for the prize will be Bookstart’s co-founder Wendy Cooling and children’s author Elizabeth Laird, and the winner will get “a cash prize and a framed print by children’s author/illustrator and Guardian cartoonist, Ros Asquith.”

Winners will be announced on May 11th. The winner of this year’s Bread and Roses award will be announced at the same ceremony. More on the award here.


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives