We were going to write a by-the-numbers news story today; one about the shortlist being announced for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017. We could do that, and it would go something like "the shortlist for Watersones Children's Book Prize has been announced!" And it would be true excitement because we loved books as a child, children's books are great, books are great, but books for young'uns are a little extra special in some ways.
In any case, the shortlist has been announced and we send our hearty and genuine congratulations to all those on it. They're actually listed nicely on Waterstones website, here. We'll list them below just because we enjoy typing their marvellous titles, but if this bores you a little rejoin us after the list (or, seriously, click here and check them out - aren't they some beautiful looking books?).
Ahem, the books:
- Super San - Matt Robertson
- The Journey - Francesca Sanna
- The Bear Who Stared - Duncan Beedie
- There's a Tiger in the Garden - Lizzy Stewart
- Tiger in a Tutu - Fabi Santiago
- Life is magic - Meg McLaren
- Wolf Hollow - Lauren Wolk
- Bettle Boy - M.G Leonard
- Time Travelling with a Hamster - Ross Welford
- The Girl of Ink & Stars - Kiran Millwood-Hargrave
- Cogheart - Peter Bunzl
- Captain Pug - Laura James
- Hour of the Bees - Lindsay Eagar
- Anna and the Swallow Man - Gavriel Savit
- The Wildings - Nilanja Roy
- Orangeboy - Patrice Lawrence
- Paper Butterflies - Lisa Heathfield
- The Sun is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon.
Okay, so there are five things are jumping out at us here.
- Are those just some marvellous titles? They just make us so happy. They're bloomin' great!
- Excellent selection of animal-based tales, authors. Good stuff.
- Several books involving flying things. Flying things are awesome.
- The Sun is Also a Star may be the best, science-related title ever to sneak onto a children's book.
- As shortlists go, it's not the shortest - but the more the better as far as we're concerned.
Another thing to notice is that it's been quite a week for Kiran Millwood-Hargrave. As well as a place on this shortlist, earlier this week the author also found a place on the shortlist for the Jhalak Prize. Well done, Ms Millwood Hargrave. Back to the list and it's nice to see such a strong selection of books from professional, creative, authors. We're referring to them as 'professionals' specifically, because of this piece on the website of the Guardian and the reported effects of celebrity authors. Celebrities writing books is hardly a new phenomenon, but the last few years have seen the idea diffuse in new waters with the rise of YouTubers and - specifically, for the purposes of this post - celebrity writers of childrens' books.
We recommend the article, and can understand the concerns being raised. We suppose our thoughts are that there's nothing wrong with celebrity-written books if buyers (including ourselves) can support professional writers as much as possible. After all, book deals are based on appeal. Also, a bit like independent bookstores, professional writers presumably chose their profession for the love. But they are professionals and are invariably ruddy good at what they do. If the support that keeps the doors open falters - as it seems may sadly be the case for some authors - talent is unused and terrific tales are lost.
Perhaps we're speaking to publishers more, being that they're in the position of power here. But really, we'll be sure to consider all these elements when next we pick up a title. As for the Waterstones Childrens' Book Prize, good luck to Watersontes for running it, and to all on the list for this year. More when we have it of course!