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Press Release: Prizes and Awards
From Roald Dahl's Writing Shed To A Scientific House Of Horrors And Some Fishy Business: Big Six Slug It Out For Top Children's Book Awards

Posted at 6:10PM Thursday 10 Jan 2013

Columnist and author Caitlin Moran is among the judges who have selected the six books for the shortlist – announced today – of this year's Blue Peter Book Awards. The six books, which will now go to a children's vote to decide the overall winners, include a novel about a boy called Stan and his close encounters with fish; a biography of Roald Dahl by a former Children's Laureate; Shirley Hughes' first novel – a tale of daring set in Italy during World War II; a handbook for the grim and gruesome science of everyday life; the latest installment of inspiration (mostly) from Tom Gates; and a true-life account of the British Army's first black officer, who also happened to be a brilliant footballer.

These enormously popular and influential awards have been unearthing and celebrating the best children's authors, the most fascinating fact books and the greatest reads for children since 2000.

The shortlist will be announced on the show from 5.45pm today. The Blue Peter Book Awards 2013 shortlist is:

Best Story

•The Boy who Swam With Piranhas by David Almond, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Walker Books)

•Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (Walker Books)

•Tom Gates – Genius Ideas (Mostly) by Liz Pichon (Scholastic)

Best Book with Facts

•Horrible Science: House of Horrors by Nick Arnold & Tony De Saulles (Scholastic)

•Walter Tull's Scrapbook by Michaela Morgan (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

•Fantastic Mr Dahl by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Puffin)

The judges who selected the shortlist are The Times columnist and best-selling author of How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran; children's author of How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell; librarian extraordinaire Jake Hope; and Blue Peter Editor Tim Levell, who chairs the panel. They were looking for the best two fiction and non-fiction titles that would appeal to boys and girls, aged between 6 and 12.

The shortlisted books will now be judged by more than 200 young Blue Peter viewers drawn from 10 schools across the UK. They will decide the winners of the Blue Peter Book of the Year 2013 in two categories: Best Story and Best Book with Facts. The winners will be announced and awarded a Blue Peter trophy on a special edition of Blue Peter dedicated to children's books on Thursday 7 March 2013, to coincide with World Book Day.

Judge Caitlin Moran comments:

'When I look at the final six I just want to go back in and read them again. There's something lovely about seeing them all fanned out – it looks like a little world. Books always to me look like doors into other worlds and there are six doors lined up there now and I want to go back through every single one and roam around in those worlds again.'

Tim Levell, Editor of Blue Peter and Chair of Judges, comments:

'They're funny, kooky, spine-chilling and eye-opening. No matter how much or little kids like reading, there's something here they'll want to pick up and we hope it will get children excited and talking about the ones they want to win.

The reading and writing charity Booktrust has managed the Blue Peter Book Awards since 2008.

***For interviews, jacket images, author and judge biographies, and photographs please contact:

Will White on 020 8875 4583 /

Shortlisted author biographies:

David Almond is the highly acclaimed author of Skellig, The Savage, Clay, My Name Is Mina, My Dad's a Birdman, Slog's Dad and many other novels, stories and plays. His books are translated into almost forty languages and are widely adapted for stage and screen. His numerous awards include the Carnegie Medal, two Whitbread Children's Book Awards and Le Prix Sorcieres, and in 2010 he gained the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international prize for children's authors. David lives with his family in Hexham, Northumberland; you can find out more about him at

As a picture book creator Oliver Jeffers has been the recipient of some of children's books highest accolades, including the Nestle Gold Medal for Lost and Found and the Irish Picture Book of the Year for The Incredible Book Eating Boy. Other award-winning titles include The Way Back Home, which was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway medal. An animated film of Oliver's book Lost and Found won a BAFTA for Best Animation in 2009. Oliver was born in Belfast but now lives in New York City.

Horrible Science author Nick Arnold has been writing books and stories since he was a lad. Even in those days his favourite subjects for stories were horrible goings-on - the more gruesome the better. So you see, he hasn't changed a bit. When he's not writing books, Nick is constantly taking his one-person show to bookshops, libraries and festivals. The show is everything you would expect from a Horrible Science book, packed with revolting experiments and gory descriptions.

Tony De Saulles is the illustrator of the Horrible Science series. Tony trained as a graphic designer and worked in advertising and book designing before becoming an illustrator. Tony lives in Cheltenham and runs drawing workshops at schools, libraries and book festivals around the country. Catch Tony's drawing tips on his website

Shirley Hughes has illustrated more than 200 children's books and is one of the best-loved writers for children, with beloved classics including the Alfie and Annie Rose stories, and Dogger. She has won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice and has been awarded the OBE for her distinguished service to children's literature. In 2007, Dogger was voted the UK's favourite Kate Greenaway Medal-winning book of all time. Hero on a Bicycle is her debut novel.

Michaela Morgan has written over a hundred books for children. She has been shortlisted for the Children's Book Award, been an International Reading Association Children's Choice and won a United Kingdom Reading Association award. She divides her time between Brighton, Rutland and France. Her other titles for Frances Lincoln are Night Flight and Brave Mouse.

Liz Pichon studied graphic design and has worked as an art director in the music industry. Her freelance design work has appeared on a range of products and she has written and illustrated a number of picture books. Liz's first book for 9+ readers, The Brilliant World of Tom Gates won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, The Best Book for Young Readers – Red House Book Award and the Best Fiction for 5-12 year olds category of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. Liz is married with three children and lives in Brighton.

Fifth Children's Laureate Michael Rosen is one of the best-known figures in the children's book world. He has written numerous award-winning poetry books, non-fiction and picture books. He lectures and teaches in universities on children's literature, reading and writing and is currently presenting Word of Mouth, the magazine programme on BBC Radio 4 which looks at language and the way we use it. He regularly visits schools throughout the UK and has also visited schools in Australia, Canada, Japan, the USA, Singapore and throughout Europe.

Quentin Blake was born in 1932 and read English at Cambridge, before attending Chelsea Art College. He has won many major prizes for illustration, including the Kate Greenaway Medal (1980) and the Red House Children's Book Award (1981) for Mister Magnolia. He is also the winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration and in 1990 was voted 'The Illustrator's Illustrator' by Observer Magazine. A tireless promoter of children's literature – and a long-time collaborator with roald Dahl – Quentin Blake was awarded the OBE in 1988, and in 1999, he became the inaugural Children's Laureate. In 2005 he was awarded a CBE for services to Children's Literature. And in the most recent New Year's Honours list he has been knighted.

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