The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award

“Go out and have a rebellious day” Gill Lewis Wins the Little Rebels Book Award


Gill Lewis accepts the award from her treehouse!

The winner of this year’s Little Rebels Children’s Book Award for Radical Fiction is Gill Lewis for her book, Scarlet Ibis (Oxford University Press).

Little Rebels judge, Kim Reynolds, described Scarlet Ibis as “a story that celebrates the often overlooked courage, loyalty and competence of children.” In a moving acceptance speech, Gill said she was “utterly delighted” to win the award. She continued, “[The award] reminds me to keep on being a little rebel. Because being a rebel isn’t just about challenging the big things…it’s also about challenging everyday things; it’s about not letting prejudice sneak in…[because] it comes in in celebrity jokes or it rides on the back of politicians tapping into our fears”. She ended by bidding everyone to “go out and have a rebellious day”.

Wendy Cooling presents the award to Elaine McQuade from OUP: a framed picture of Ros Asquith’s ‘little rebels’

The Little Rebels Award was presented by Wendy Cooling to Elaine McQuade, Oxford University Press on Gill’s behalf at the third London Radical Bookfair Saturday May 9th 2015.

The Little Shortlist Rebels Panel

Just before the presentation, Liz Laird chaired a lively panel of Little Rebels authors, illustrators and editors including Anne Booth, Chris Haughton, Mel Elliott, Jessica Shepherd, Janetta Otter-Barry (representing Made by Raffi) and Liz Bankes (representing Cable Street). Each described the inspiration for their books and also engaged in a wider discussion about, amongst other things, whether children’s books have a ‘duty’ to ‘promote good values’. Perhaps our favorite words came from Bernard Ashley when he said, “this government wouldn’t know a library if it fell on them”. Big Rebel indeed.

Guest Judges for this year’s Bread and Roses Award , the award for radical non-fiction, included Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennet. Here she is flanked by a host of Little Rebels authors and editors:

From left to right: Liz Bankes (Catnip Books); Liz Laird (Little Rebels Judge/Panel Chair); author Bernard Ashley; author Jessica Shepherd; author Chris Haughton; Wendy Cooling (Little Rebels Judge/Award Presenter); Natalie Bennett (Green Party Leader); author Mel Elliott; Janetta Otter-Barry (Otter Barry Books/Frances Lincoln);
author Anne Booth

We were delighted with the press coverage the award received, including a very happy piece in The Guardian  – and some lovely words from the trade press as well; check out The Bookseller and Books for Keeps.

We want to extend a special congratulations to the Bread and Roses Award for adult non-fiction. Many of the people who came to support the children’s award commented on how strong the Bread & Roses shortlist was; many went on to buy copies of the books…and we managed to pick up one of the last copies of the winning title for ourselves: Here We Stand– Women Changing the World, eds. Helena Earnshaw and Angharad Penrhyn Jones (Honno Press).

The London Radical Bookfair continues to be an exciting hub of activism, progressive thinking and hope for change. Thank you to the Alliance of Radical Booksellers and especially Nik Górecki at Housmans Bookshop for creating this event, for running the Bread and Roses Award, for conceiving the Little Rebels Award and for letting us, Letterbox Library, administer it. It’s an absolute privilege. For us personally, running an award which celebrates social justice and the courage of children, is like a sunbeam in what feels like a climate of growing disadvantage and prejudice. So thank you, Nik, thank you Alliance of Radical Booksellers, thank you authors and publishers for your wonderful craft and the part you play in creating change-  and thank you to all of you who continue to support and buoy up this award year after year. You make all the difference. We look forward to seeing you all next year!

The Little Rebels 2015 Shortlist on the
Letterbox Library stand

Judge Wendy Cooling introduces a pair of little hands to the shortlist! A little rebel in the making…?