Children in six Derby primary schools have chosen The Girls by Lauren Ace, illustrated by Jenny Løvlie as the winner of the first Derby Book Festival Children’s Picture Book Award, which aims to celebrate picture books that children can relate to and in which the diversity and challenges of modern life are represented.

The children read the four shortlisted books in March and voted for their favourite book on Thursday 11th April.  The winning book is published by Little Tiger Press.  They were also shortlisted for The Only Way is Badger by Stella J Jones, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña. The other two books were Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival, published by Bloomsbury, and Nimesh the Adventurer by Ranjit Singh, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, and published by Lantana.

The schools received five copies of each book for their Years two and three classes, thanks to the sponsorship of local businesswoman, Deborah Fern. The Award has been run as a pilot in 2019 but the Festival plans to roll it out to schools across the city in 2020.

The Festival, which will be held for the fifth time from Friday 31st May to Saturday 8th June, invited children’s publishers to submit up to three books, published in 2018, which meet the criteria that the picture books should be ones that children can relate to and in which the diversity and challenges of modern life are represented.  Over 20 books were submitted and narrowed down to the longlist.

The winners, writer Lauren Ace and illustrator, Jenny Løvlie, plan to visit the participating schools in July to meet the children and teachers.  Lauren said:

“We are absolutely thrilled to be the recipients of the first ever Derby Picture Book Award. It feels incredibly special that the award has been voted for by children and that a story about four wonderfully ordinary little girls has resonated so strongly with them. The book is a celebration of friendship, growing up and being yourself and our hope was that a really wide spectrum of children would be able to relate to the girls’ journeys. We’re delighted that the children of Derby did just that!”

Liz Fothergill, Chair of Derby Book Festival said:

“We have a very worthy winner in a beautifully illustrated, thought-provoking and moving picture book which will both inspire a child and help them to understand the issues and challenges of today’s modern world.  We have always aimed to have a book festival which brings Derby’s residents together in a love of books and inspires a new generation of readers to appreciate the joy that books and reading bring to our lives.  The Award goes a long way to help us achieve this.”

Di Smith, who has organised the Festival’s Education programme for the last five years, said:

“The Award has really excited teachers in the city and it was wonderful to visit the schools to see them working with the books.

“The Girls was the book that was most debated by teachers at the shortlisting meeting. The feeling was that boys might not vote for a book called The Girls, but we were proved wrong and it was a surprising winner.  We are delighted that the children have chosen the book that reflects the widest range of backgrounds, characters and situations.  It is also an incredibly warm, wise and optimistic book – a very positive mirror for the children to see themselves reflected in and a window into other worlds and cultures. “

Derby Book Festival has always included a strong programme of events for children, families and schools with two Meet the Author events for the schools 60 primary schools at Derby Theatre and two events for secondary schools.

Derby Book Festival will include over 90 events aimed at all ages and interests.  Tickets for all events are now on sale from the Festival website or in person from the Festival Box Office at QUAD and other venues.

To find out more, visit the Festival website and sign up for more information.  You can also follow the Festival on Twitter and on Facebook.