The winner of the 2019 Little Rebels Award was announced at a special ceremony on July 10th at the beautiful Centre for Literacy in Primary Education in London.
Catherine Johnson took home the prize for her middle grade book Freedom (Scholastic), a short, compelling historical novel in which Nat, a young boy enslaved on a Jamaican plantation, is brought to England – where he believes he will finally be free. Instead, he discovers that the slavery is still a reality on British soil, and his fight for freedom is only just beginning.
‘[Freedom] tells a story of Britain that continues to be neglected,’ said Little Rebels judge Darren Chetty. ‘It subtly examines the similarities and the differences between class oppression and a system of slavery rooted in racism… Johnson’s writing is a masterclass in the maxim ‘show don’t tell’ – through the point of view of her protagonist we are brought into his world and yet we are afforded space to emotionally engage with the story she offers us.’
The announcement was made by last year’s Little Rebels winner, Zanib Mian.
The evening was an opportunity to celebrate all of the shortlisted titles and to discuss radical children’s books in the UK today. Anne Booth, Nadine Kaadan, Catherine Johnson, Bridget Blankley, SE Durrant and Emily Haworth-Booth took part in a panel discussion chaired by Fen Coles of Letterbox Library, discussing the inspiration for their books and their own take on what makes a radical book.
Thanks to Jonathan Rodgers for the photos below!