The featured books present powerful indictments of homophobia, racism, disablism and colorism. Dystopic novels highlight all-too-relatable challenges to civil society, including fake news, dictatorships, authoritarian ideologies, fuel and food shortages and the extremes of corporate capitalism and the encroachment of eugenics.
The full list is:
Hey You!: An Empowering Celebration of Growing Up Black by Dapo Adeola, illustrated by various (Puffin Books/PRH)
No Country by Joe Brady, illustrated by Patrice Aggs (David Fickling Books)
No Man’s Land by Joanna Nadin (UCLan Publishing)
Proud of Me by Sarah Hagger-Holt (Usborne Publishing)
Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicoll (Knights Of)
Sunflower Sisters by Monika Singh Gangotra, illustrated by Michaela Dias-Hayes (Owlet Press)
What Happened to You? by James Catchpole, illustrated by Karen George (Faber & Faber)
Award organiser and Letterbox Library Director, Kerry Mason, said of the shortlist, ‘As always this shortlist highlights how keenly attuned UK creators are to contemporary fears and anxieties while also demonstrating how even the most complex of social issues can be expertly distilled into a few pages for the very youngest readers- in the process, they may even be over-layered with affirmation, celebration, humour and pure joy; picture books, Hey You! and What Happened to You? are cases in point’.
2022 has seen a shake-up of judges for the Little Rebels Award. Ongoing judges, educator Shaun Dellenty and Gays The Word manager, Jim MacSweeney, will be joined by author-illustrator (and former award shortlistee), Emily Haworth-Booth, reading development and children’s book consultant, Jake Hope, and Research and Development Director at the Centre for Literature in Primary Education (CLPE), Farrah Serroukh.
Judge Emily Haworth-Booth said, ‘In these dark times, books remind us to think differently and question the people and ideas that seem to be running the show.…The Little Rebels Award nurtures the rebelliousness innate to young readers. It’s one of our most important literary awards’.
2022 marks ten years of the Little Rebels Award, a period which has witnessed a surge in social-justice-themed books for children within UK publishing. Submissions in that time have tripled in volume, with well over 45 publishers now submitting to the award annually. The award organisers hope to mark this anniversary by returning to a real life ceremony on Monday July 18th where this year’s winner will also be announced. The winner’s prize includes £2,000 funded by the Marxist Socialist funder, The Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust.
Last year’s Little Rebels Award winner was Boy, Everywhere by A.M.Dassu, published by Old Barn Books.