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LoveReading4Schools is pleased to feature the UKLA Book Awards 2018 run by the UK Literacy Association and sponsored by LoveReading4Kids, LoveReading4Schools and MLS.. What makes these awards so unique is that they are the only awards judged entirely by active classroom teachers, who are able to share the books with their classes and genuinely discover what works with young readers. Find all the winning and shortlisted books below.
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Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | April 2018 Book of the Month | | An utterly absorbing novel based on the real-life phenomenon of a group of Zimbabwean schoolchildren claiming to have experienced an extra-terrestrial encounter. With over fifty children asserting that they saw the same spaceship, and the same evil-eyed aliens, American psychiatrists have come to investigate. It could be a form of mass hysteria, but why are all the accounts and depictions so completely identical? How could so many kids tell the exact same lie for so long, and why would they lie? Alongside being gripped by the uniquely mysterious event at the heart of the novel, I was bowled over by the author’s mastery of multiple narratives. The intertwined lives of six young people affected by the encounter are explored in all their brutal complexities, and the novel’s real-life origins will surely draw in more reluctant readers. Magnetic, haunting, and richly rewarding.
In the summer of 1727 a group of men and boys, there to harvest birds and eggs, were stranded on Warrior Stac, a pinnacle of rock that pitches out of the Atlantic, ‘as black and fearful as one horn of the Devil himself’. It was nine months before anyone came to collect them. Geraldine McCaughrean has taken these bare facts and imagined the story of those terrible months and the characters of those who endured them. Yes, it’s a mesmerising story of survival, but McCaughrean takes it in different and surprising ways too and, both terrifying and full of dark comedy, it becomes an elemental story of love and faith; of myth and imagination. Indeed, in the hands of one of our very finest writers this bleak, isolated rock becomes a microcosm for the whole world and all its stories. Unmissable. Readers should also seek out Geraldine McCaughrean’s novels The White Darkness and The Stones are Hatching and will also enjoy David Almond’s A Song for Ella Grey.
Winner of the UKLA 2018 Book Award | January 2018 Book of the Month | Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan are two of our most garlanded YA authors: she won the 2016 Carnegie Medal, the UK’s top children’s book award; he has just been awarded the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award. In this fine and extremely moving novel, they share the writing honours. The narrative is split between two young protagonists, English Jess, whose lines are written by Crossan, and Nicu, newly arrived from Romania, voiced by Conaghan. The two meet on a programme for young offenders and secretly, necessarily without the knowledge of friends and family, become close. We suspect it’s unlikely things will end well for these star-cross’d lovers but the authors keep us hoping for the happy ending we want for them and to the very last page. Nicu’s narrative in particular lightens the tone, sharp and often funny, his interior monologues disarmingly honest. The authors have chosen to write in blank verse, and it strips setting and emotions to the absolute essence, succinctly creating the dull North London streets, and distilling the characters’ experiences and emotions into spare, shining lines. Highly recommended.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Interest Age 8-12 | Full of magic, myth and a wonderful sense of family, and illustrated throughout with Jackie Morris’s beautiful, atmospheric paintings, this is perfect winter reading. Sol lives in Seattle with his dad but doesn’t feel he belongs, and when an Arctic Fox appears at the docks, he identifies with the small white creature, so alien, so wild. The arrival of the fox brings a change in Sol’s life, a return to the wild landscapes of Alaska and a place he can finally feel at home. Jackie Morris recognises perfectly the deep-seated importance to every one of us of wild creatures and wild landscapes, and this is a book to treasure.
Winner of the UKLA 2018 Book Award 7-11 | This is an excellent book for young people who want to know what is happening in Syria and why – serious, thoughtful, sympathetic to the ordinary people caught up in the war; in a highly readable story it gives a real insight into their lives, and how quickly they have changed from something very similar to our own, to something incomprehensible. Readers meet Laird’s fictional Syrian family at the beginning of the civil war when life is good, particularly for her central character Omar, a young boy already dreaming of running his own business. But as protests against the government spiral into war, the family are forced from their house, then their country. Omar stays upbeat, even in their refugee camp where hope is in very short supply, a lively, reassuring narrator. Unlike his older brother, he’s not interested in the protests, just wants things to be back the way they were; though the book ends with Omar, his mother and sisters escaping the refugee camp, we know that their lives have changed forever.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Astronaut Chris Hadfield describes the special moment in his childhood that sparked his fascination with space and started the journey that has so far taken him to the International Space Station three times. As a little boy in Canada he played at being an astronaut but was frightened of the dark. Staying up late to watch the Apollo Moon Landing he suddenly realised that outer space, the darkest dark there is, is full of power and beauty. From that moment on the dark was no longer frightening, but a place of dreams and possibilities. The artwork takes us from his home to the moon and beyond in strikingly beautiful atmospheric spreads, and it’s a book to inspire children with the wonder of space and all the opportunities life holds for them.
Winner of the UKLA 2018 Book Award 7-11 | This is no ordinary animal book, you won’t find the usual suspects in its page, no tigers, pandas, bears here. Instead be prepared to be amazed by animals you’ve never heard of, from the Cuban solenodon (one of the few mammals with a poisonous bite) to the stinky but useful zorilla, aka Africa’s pongiest predator. Martin ‘Horrible Histories illustrator’ Brown celebrates a host of animals that deserve to be better know, in a book that offers a refreshingly different approach to natural history. Each page is packed with fascinating information, cleverly laid out with frequent jokes and cartoon asides adding to the fun. At the same time, there’s a serious message about the threat to these creatures from humans, and habitat loss.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | A thought-fuelling thriller set in a gang-run neighbourhood near the border of Mexico and El Norte (America). The writing is poetically punchy. Exquisitely formed sentences are fired-off in smarting succession, and the juxtaposition of contemporary totems like Burger King buildings with the likes of folk saint shrines is smartly done. This is a richly layered novel in which important socio-political issues (gangs, poverty, corruption, migration, social divisions and dissonance) are made potently real through Arturo and Faustino’s predicaments. And alongside the enlightening Mexico-specific context, there’s much that is universal: friendship, loyalty, and searching for a sense of purpose. As paternal figure Siggy tells Arturo, “You just have to find out what it is you’re looking for.” Pacey and passionate, this truly exceptional book tells a tale that truly needs to be heard.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Detailed, ingenious and graphically beautiful this information book opens, as the best do, with an invitation to young readers to stop and wonder as they’re asked to think about what is going on beneath their feet. No ordinary book but a fold-out poster in book form, opening out the pages reveals a huge vertical panorama that takes us down through the different layers and right into the very core of the Earth. Friendly but information-rich text explains the features of the different layers, from the pipes and wires that support our civilisation to old bones, underground rivers, coal mines. The reverse side of the poster takes up back up through the magma, then seams of minerals, limestone, fossils and finally back into the light, this time countryside rather than city street. This beautiful book will expand readers’ knowledge and understanding and inspire them to think more about our planet.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Winner of the Children's Book Award 2017 - Books for Younger Children Category | All fans of rhymes will love the witty and simple words in Oi Dog!. The rule says Dogs sit on Frogs but Frog is determined to challenge that. According to Frog, Dogs sit on Logs, Cats sit on Gnats, Mice sit on Ice, Bears sit on Stairs and Whales sit on Nails whether they like it or not! Jim Field’s illustrations chart the new seating arrangements brilliantly.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | A brilliantly funny take on fairytales and quests. Lovereading comment to follow. Garth Nix said: “Frogkisser! is one of those novels that just bubble out of the imagination and demand to be written all at once and won’t permit anything else to get in the way. I am delighted that my various publishers have all responded to the book with as much exuberance as I felt while I was writing it.”
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | This beautiful book demands and repays careful reading. Grimloch Lane is a quiet place and its residents hurry up and down in silence. At night it is different, magical almost, glowing green in the moonlight. That’s when the Night Gardener does his work, sculpting trees into animals. No longer is Grimloch Lane quiet – neighbours gather to marvel and rejoice in his beautiful, unexpected creations. Young orphan William in particular is entranced and one amazing night is invited to join the mysterious night gardener in his work, transforming the trees of the park into wild creatures. In delicate images and compositions this breathtaking book makes us see the beauty of the world around us, and celebrates the power of art to bring us together and enrich lives.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Odd Dog Out has all the qualities that made Blown Away and Grrrrr! so popular with critics and readers! The pages - filled with dazzling displays of stylishly-dressed dogs on the move – are simply wonderful to look at; there’s a witty rhyming text; and it delivers an important message too. In a world full of suited, bowler-hatted dachshunds one dog stands out, eschewing pinstripes for a bright woolly hat: ‘someone on this busy street/ is dancing to a different beat’. But being different isn’t easy and the little dog decides she’ll leave home for somewhere where there’ll be ‘a hundred others just like me’. It takes a meeting with another ‘odd dog out’ to make her realise that being who you are is the best way to be. Every page is a treat to behold and the message is as important today as it ever has been.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Arthur is understandably surprised when Mr P turns up at his door expecting to stay: Mr P is a huge polar bear with small black eyes, and long sharp teeth. Fortunately for Arthur and his family Mr P is polite and friendly and his stay as a guest brings about all sorts of changes for the better. Having to look after him makes Arthur see things differently while Mr P’s uncritical, tolerant presence is a calming influence on Arthur’s brother Liam, who finds it difficult to act the way others do. This is all mixed up in a funny, often surreal story about the challenges of managing a polar bear at school, and with a sub-plot concerning a tense football match. Readers will be entertained as well as moved, and there’s depth beneath the humour. Readers who enjoy this story would like Lob by Linda Newbery, or The Last Polar Bears by Harry Horse.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | The life cycle of a tree is beautifully described in this outstanding book. A narrative poem alongside exquisite illustrations describes all the different stages, from the moment a sycamore seed falls onto the earth, to its growth from seedling to sapling to mature tree distributing its own seeds. It shows too the changing seasons, and through words and pictures children will discover how the tree supports insects, birds and animals, who all make a life ‘in their leaf-laden, bark-bound arboreal home’. It’s full of information yet retains a sense of wonder: ‘how can something so small turn into a tree which is such an incredibly BIG thing to be’. This is a book for readers of all ages, one to keep and return to again and again.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Alpha hopes that his wife and little son are in Paris and he’s desperate to see them. Denied a visa to travel he must make the long, long journey from his home in the Cote D’Ivoire to Europe as an illegal immigrant, or as he says ‘adventurer’. The story is told through striking images, mostly black and white, colour is used sparingly; sophisticated yet childlike too they vividly depict the people and places of his journey and each one has the power to bring the reader up short. The text too equally demands and holds our attention. Though this is very much one man’s journey it’s one undertaken by many thousands of others and, as Michael Morpurgo says in his introduction, it’s a story we all need to hear and to understand.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Giraffe is bored, as usual. He’d love a friend to share things with. So he writes a letter and sends it as far as possible across the other side of the horizon. There he finds a pen pal—Penguin. Giraffe knows nothing about penguins and his letters are full of questions. What does a penguin look like? Where is a penguin’s neck? And so the letters begin to fly from horizon to horizon.
Winner of the UKLA 2018 Book Award 3-6 | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | July 2016 Debut of the Month | Simplicity is the charm of this picture book story of the unlikely friendship between very different vegetables. Lee is a very green pea and so are all of his friends except for Colin who is a very orange carrot. Colin can’t do all the things that the pea-friends can do such as roll or bounce. Nonetheless, it turns out that they can all be very good friends.