The 2023 Little Rebels Award Longlist

On behalf of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers, we are delighted to reveal the 2023 Little Rebels Award longlist!

The award celebrates radical fiction for children aged 0-12. Read on to learn more about this year’s longlisted titles.

The shortlist will be announced on Monday 24th April.

MALOLA’S MUSEUM ADVENTURES by Joelle Avelino (Tate Publishing) Museum fanatic, Safiya, is fired up by a roll call of African female greats, from Ethiopia’s first female president, through to a Zimbabwean farmer/campaigner, via a Cameroonian tech entrepreneur!

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”.

THE CAN CARAVAN text by Richard O’Neill, illustrations by Cindy Kang (Child’s Play) A story set in the rare context of a Traveller site which meaningfully extols the benefits of recycling while celebrating Traveller heritage and culture.

THE LIZZIE AND BELLE MYSTERIES: Drama and Danger by J.T. Williams with illustrations by Simone Douglas (Farshore) First in a historical adventure fiction series which reinstates the presence of Black people in Georgian England, drawing on real-life abolitionists and activists.

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. 

DON’T TELL MUM I MADE A MAMMOTH by Kita Mitchell with illustrations by Fay Austin (Scholastic) With a dad who’s prepared to glue himself naked to a plastic bag factory and a mum who’s on a quest to reanimate extinct species, Percy is headed on a road to eco activism… despite himself.

IN OUR HANDS by Lucy Farfort (Tate Publishing) As a community is beset by social divisions and self-isolation, children come together to unite in hope and invest in change.

THE GOOD TURN by Sharna Jackson (Puffin Books PRH) A contemporary middle grade adventure which draws on class and economic disparities within a narrative mystery propelled by the Windrush scandal.

TYGER by SF Said with illustrations by Dave McKean (David Fickling Books) A dystopian vision of London in which Empire rules, enslavement is thriving and people of colour are literally in the ghetto.

JUMP UP! by Ken Wilson-Max (George Padmore Institute) Second in a new series of GPI Black History books, this colourful picture book explores the origin of Carnival when it was reclaimed by freed Trinidadians in the 1830s, to emerge as The Caribbean Carnival. 

ONE & EVERYTHING by Sam Winston (Walker Studio Books) A philosophical contemplation and warning about the dangers of losing a plurality of languages in favour of a handful of ‘global’ meta-scripts.

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!

OUR STORY STARTS IN AFRICA text by Patrice Lawrence, illustrations by Jeanetta Gonzales (Magic Cat Publishing) A picture book celebration of African Black History which is as proud of its culture and industry as it is honest about the barbarity of colonialism.

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.

BEYOND THE FROZEN HORIZON by Nicola Penfold (Little Tiger) An ecological adventure: it’s 2030 and the world is living under new Climate Laws. But, simmering just beneath, is a trail of corporate greenwashing, coverups and communities disrupted by greed.

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 second Lawrence on the longlist. 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. 

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