Jane Porter and Maisie Paradise Shearring have won the 2020 Little Rebels Award for their picture book The Boy who Loved Everyone. They will share the £2000 prize.
The Little Rebels Award celebrates radical fiction for children aged 0-12. Given on behalf of the Alliance Radical Booksellers, it is administered by radical children’s bookseller Letterbox Library and radical bookshop Housmans. It recognises children’s books which explore political ideas, challenge the status quo, or promote social justice, social equality and a more peaceful and fairer world.
Previous winners include Catherine Johnson for her novel Freedom, and Zanib Mian for The Muslims.
The 2020 guest judges were writers and educators Darren Chetty and Shaun Dellenty, Emily Drabble, head of children’s book promotion at Booktrust, author Patrice Lawrence, and Gay’s the Word bookshop manager Jim MacSweeney.
Of the winning book, Shaun Dellenty said, ‘This deceptively simple tale affords a very rich stimulus to engage young children in varied conversations about kindness, trust, non-judgement, consent, friendships, self-care, same sex love and the potential for our own compassion to inspire others to live more loving lives. In these challenging and divisive times, the most radical act of all is surely to love; The Boy Who Loved Everyone brims joyfully with it.’
Emily Drabble described it as ‘a deceptively radical book on expressing love (and) the crushing effect of society’s restrictions and judgements … a very worthy winner of this year’s Little Rebels Award and heartening that it’s a book for the very young, giving promise of a better future.’
Darren Chetty said: ‘The Boy Who Loved Everyone captures the excitement, the confusion, and the nose-picking that will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time in the nursery classroom… There is a wealth of emotion lurking in this slice-of-life story, the kind of story that children will love to return to and talk about. I think the story’s sincerity, and its willingness to embrace uncertainty, make it a quietly radical book.’
The other shortlisted books were: Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts (Abrams and Chronicle); Sneaky Beak by Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Tony Neal (Little Tiger); The Closest Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis (OUP); The Little Island by Smriti Halls, illustrated by Robert Starling; Now or Never – A Dunkirk Story by Bali Rai (Scholastic); and King Leonard’s Teddy by Phoebe Swan (Child’s Play).
This year the award received funding from the Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust.
The winners were announced at a live online ceremony on Thursday evening, 22 October.