The 2023 Little Rebels Award Shortlist

We are delighted to reveal the 2023 Little Rebels shortlist! Congratulations to the longlisted authors and illustrators.


YOU NEED TO CHILL! text by Juno Dawson, illustrations by Laura Hughes (Farshore) A picture book challenging assumptions and anxiety around gender identity or, as it says on the back cover, a story about “love, identity and allyship”. 

I AM NEFERTITI text by Annemarie Anang, illustrations by Natelle Quek (Five Quills) Nefertiti is proud of her name so when her new teacher shrinks it to ‘Nef’, she feels herself shrinking too. A clever treatment of a ‘casual’ aggression which will resonate with so many people of colour. 

AJAY AND THE MUMBAI SUN by Varsha Shah (Chicken House) A group of children living in the Mumbai railways come together to fight the excesses of corporate capitalism -child labour, corruption, Western hypocrisy, social inequality- and all through the power of the pen!

MAYOR BUNNY’S CHOCOLATE TOWN by Elys Dolan (Oxford University Press) Mr Bunny is back (see the Little Rebels Award shortlist 2018). This time, his ambitions are set on becoming mayor of Coop Town through a strategic campaign of fake news, empty policies, scare mongering and rubbishing the opposition.

THE SECRET OF HAVEN POINT by Lisette Auton with illustrations by Valentina Toro (Puffin Books PRH) A cast of disabled characters are full agents in an adventure shot through with magic. Challenges assumptions about disabled people and navigates big ideas such as separatism and a social model of disability.

FIGHT BACK by A.M. Dassu (Scholastic) From our 2021 winner comes a new realist novel in which political activism is core. Witness Aaliyah and her friends take on Islamaphobia, racism and free expression through sit-in protests and public speaking.

NEEDLE by Patrice Lawrence (Barrington Stoke)  A rich range of pressing social justice issues includes the treatment of young people by our welfare and criminal justice institutions and the ‘adultification’ of Black girls. All contained in a short form, ‘reluctant reader’, novella. 

Order the shortlisted books in a complete discounted set from Letterbox Library

Order individual titles from Housmans Bookshop

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