Book review: Red House Children’s Book Award

Come on kids, it’s time to get voting for your favourite book!

By Pam Norfolk
Tuesday, 15th November 2011, 6:00 am

Some of the biggest names in children’s fiction are joined by exciting new authors and illustrators on the shortlist for this year’s Red House Children’s Book Award, the only national award for children’s books that is voted for entirely by young readers.

So who will win? It’s up to children everywhere to decide. Voting is now open and the Red House Children’s Book Award would like to encourage every child in Britain to check out the shortlisted titles and vote for their favourite!

A dedicated website showcases all the shortlisted titles and featured authors. Any child can vote for their favourite book until January 20 2012.

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The full shortlist for the award is:

Books for Younger Children

Scruffy Bear and the Six White Mice by Christopher Wormell

What child could resist the colourful charm of the adorable Scruffy Bear? Here he meets six terrified white mice who are scared of the dark forest and all the creatures that live there. But never fear, Scruffy Bear has all kinds of ingenious ideas about how to keep them safe!

Talented self-taught artist Chris Wormell combines enchanting illustrations with a fun storyline in a cleverly produced and designed book which will have your little ones looking through the pictures over and over again.

(Jonathan Cape, hardback, £10.99)

Rollo and Ruff and the Little Fluffy Bird by Mick Inkpen

Big, bold and oh so cute... Rollo the cat and his new-found friend Stinky the rat are two of the funniest creatures in the animal world. There are footprints all over the corner shop yard and something has been nibbling Rollo’s little red ball. Could the little animal fast asleep in the little fluffy bird’s nest have something to do with it?

Inkpen is one of the world’s top-selling picture book artists and writers and his story of friendship between very different animals is guaranteed to be a bedtime winner with its heartwarming message and amazing illustrations.

(Hodder Children’s Books, hardback, £10.99)

Peely Wally by Kali Stileman

Stileman’s delightfully zany and colourful debut is proving to be one of the most exciting picture books this year. Peely Wally is a small bird who lives high up in a tree and one day she lays an egg. There’s lots of fun to be had by following the dotted line and seeing where the egg goes!

Stileman’s mixture of rainbow-coloured ‘splodgy’ paint and collage effect drawings is wonderfully effective and the clever use of type makes this an unusual and adventurous debut book.

(Red Fox, paperback, £5.99)

Don’t Worry Douglas by David Melling

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a small child learning about the world? Leading children’s author and illustrator David Melling has and Douglas, his endearing animal creation, does his best to put us in the picture. Douglas is a little brown bear and when his Dad gives him a wonderful new woolly hat, he races outside to show it off, but he doesn’t realise that it is unravelling.

Full of bold and imaginative drawings that will mesmerise tiny tots and with a warm and reassuring story, Melling’s eye-catching book is a real cracker.

(Hodder, hardback, £10.99)

Books for Younger Readers

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon

Liz Pichon’s hilarious, illustrated adventure book is the perfect incentive for boys who are reluctant readers. A cross between a comic and a novel, it’s so easy to read and will give hours of fun and more than a few chuckles.

Tom Gates is the master of excuses for late homework – dog attacks, spilt water, lightning. His exercise book is full of his doodles, cartoons and thoughts, as well as comments from his teacher Mr Fullerton. After gaining five merits for his ‘Camping sucks’ holiday story, Tom’s work starts to go downhill, which is a pity as he’s desperate to impress Amy Porter who sits next to him...

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson

Here’s a really wonderful and totally irresistible doggy story to rival that perennial favourite, 101 Dalmatians. Ibbotson, who died last year, was a much-loved children’s author and this brilliant tale is a fitting tribute to her work. Elegant, moving and funny, it will appeal to readers of every age.

Hal has always wanted a dog but his wealthy parents refuse to consider one. Then they discover Easy Pets, a convenient dog rental agency. Terrier Fleck arrives on Hal’s birthday, but when Hal discovers that his clever pet is not for life but only for the weekend, he runs away with Fleck and a group of pedigree breeds all joyfully escaping from Easy Pets.

(Marion Lloyd Books, hardback, £10.99)

Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis

Some books are so good that they can be read over and over again with the same enjoyment. Sky Hawk, a captivating and beautifully written debut from Gill Lewis, is about humans and their relationship with wildlife. In her capable hands, the breathtaking Scottish landscape springs to life as a moving and haunting adventure unfolds.

When Callum and his friends find village girl Iona on Callum’s farm they try to chase her off but she runs away into the hills. Worried for Iona’s safety, Callum follows and finds her shivering with cold but refusing to leave a rare osprey’s nest. The two children form a deep bond of friendship and make a promise to keep the bird safe. It’s a promise that will change Callum’s world forever.

(OUP, paperback, £8.99)

Books for Older Readers

Grace by Morris Gleitzman

‘At first I didn’t know I was a sinner...’ Morris Gleitzman’s gem of a novel takes us deep into the psyche of a girl brought up in an extreme Christian sect. It should be seriously ‘serious’ but instead it’s seriously funny. It’s also narrated in a generous and respectful spirit allowing a disarmingly honest and endearing story to unravel without censure or offence.

Grace is an innocent girl totally cocooned within the sect along with her mother, father and twin brothers. She must abide by strict rules set by the church elders. These include not talking to anyone outside her community because the outside world is full of sinners who are destined to go to hell. But Grace is full of curiosity... and it can only lead to trouble.

(Puffin, paperback, £6.99)

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

Terrorism, divorce, discrimination, divided loyalties and alcoholism. Hardly themes for a children’s book you may suppose, but think again. Pitcher’s stunning debut novel is a real tour-de-force which will have you laughing and crying. Deeply moving and bleakly funny, it is also a testament to human hope and bravery.

Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has moved to the Lake District with his dad and his teenage sister Jasmine for a ‘new start’ after his sister’s twin Rose was blown up by a terrorist bomb five years ago. Mum has walked out and the family has fallen apart but Jamie is far more interested in his cat, his Spiderman T-shirt and keeping his new friend a secret. When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels sure this will bring them all back together again.

(Orion, hardback, £9.99)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd

A novel woven together from the imaginations of two of Britain’s finest writers for young adults was always going to be something special and A Monster Calls really is in a class of its own. Powerful, moving, painful, darkly funny and brutally honest, it is a tale about coming to terms with loss. Ness put together the story from the final idea of 47-year-old Siobhan Dowd who died from cancer in 2007 and Jim Kay supplied the brilliant black-and-white illustrations.

Thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley faces the unthinkable... his single mother is dying from cancer. But he faces another battle when a monster shows up just after midnight. It isn’t, however, the monster he has been expecting, the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. This monster is something different, something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor... the truth.

(Walker, hardback, £12.99)