Four books have been shortlisted for the first Derby Book Festival Children’s Picture Book Award, which aims to celebrate picture books that children can relate to and in which the diversity and challenges of modern life are represented. A group of 12 Derby primary school teachers volunteered to select the books from the original longlist of nine.


Two of the shortlisted books are published by Little Tiger Press: The Girls by Lauren Ace, illustrated by Jenny Løvlie and The Only Way is Badger by Stella J Jones, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña. The other two books are Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival, published by Bloomsbury, and Nimesh the Adventurer by Ranjit Singh, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, published by Lantana.


The winner will be decided by school children in Years 2 and 3 from six schools in the city who will vote for their favourite. Five copies of each book will be provided to the schools, thanks to the sponsorship of local businesswoman, Deborah Fern. The Award is being run as a pilot in 2019 but it is planned to roll it out to schools across the city in 2020. The winner will be announced on 1 May 2019.


Di Smith, who came up with the idea for the Award and who has organised the Festival’s Education programme for the last five years, said: “The Award has really excited teachers in the city and we were overwhelmed by the number who volunteered to help with the shortlisting and give up a Saturday to do it. Their in-depth consideration of the books, the issues raised by them and their understanding of how the children will react to them was fascinating to listen to and we feel sure that we will have a very worthy and inspiring winner of this year’s first Award.”


The Festival, which will be held for the fifth time in 2019 from 31 May to 8 June, invited children’s publishers to submit up to three books, published in 2018, which meet the criteria that the picture books should be ones that children can relate to and in which the diversity and challenges of modern life are represented. Over 20 books were submitted and narrowed down to the longlist.


Liz Fothergill, Chair of Derby Book Festival said: “We have four beautifully illustrated, thought-provoking and moving picture books which will both inspire a child and help them to understand the issues and challenges of today’s modern world. We have always aimed to have a book festival which brings Derby’s residents together in a love of books and inspires a new generation of readers to appreciate the joy that books and reading bring to our lives. The Award goes a long way to help us achieve this.”


Derby Book Festival has always included a strong programme of events for children, families and schools with two Meet the Author events for the schools 60 primary schools at Derby Theatre and two events for secondary schools.


Derby Book Festival will include over 90 events aimed at all ages and interests. Tickets for all events will be on sale on 10 April, when the programme is officially launched at a special Derby Reads event in QUAD. Tickets will be available online from the Festival website: or in person from the Festival Box Office at QUAD and other venues.


To find out more, visit the Festival website and sign up for more information. You can also follow the Festival on Twitter and ‘like’ the Festival on Facebook.