Tag: Red House Children’s Book Award

Guest blog – Pamela Butchart

Shortlisted for the Red House Children’s Book Award 2015 for ‘Baby Aliens Got My Teacher‘, we’re delighted to present a guest blog from the very talented children’s author Pamela Butchart. Vote for ‘Baby Aliens Got My Teacher’ at the Red House Children’s Book Award website – www.rhcba.co.uk.




Pamela Butchart
I’m a picture book and young fiction writer.  All of my books are humorous (or at least I like to think so!)
My first 2 debut books were published earlier this year – ‘Yikes, Stinkysaurus!’ (Bloomsbury) and ‘Baby Aliens Got My Teacher!’ (Nosy Crow).  Bizarrely, both books ended up being published on the same day, which made for a super-fun celebration at my local Waterstones in Dundee!  ‘The Spy Who Loved School Dinners’ (Nosy Crow) and ‘Yikes, Santa-CLAWS!’ (Bloomsbury) have also been published this year.
I have a further 5 pictures books to be published by Bloomsbury, and a further 8 fiction titles with Nosy Crow (which is a little bit too exciting, and sometimes causes me to spontaneously squeal).


Pamela Butchart
Sam Lloyd illustrates my dino books which is FANTASTIC for two reasons:
1.  Sam is a FABULOUS illustrator.
2.  She is the illustrator of my absolute FAVOURITE picture book to be published in recent years – ‘Mr Pusskins’ (I almost fainted when my editor told me that Sam would be illustrating my texts!).

I LOVE dinosaurs. Always have, always will. When I was little I was absolutely OBSESSED with them. I still have all my old dino toys.  (It’s true, you can ask my Mum!)
In fact, I love dinosaurs SO much I decided that there just weren’t enough. So I thought I’d create some more.
I also LOVE Christmas! So writing ‘Yikes, Santa-CLAWS!’ was especially fun!

The first book I remember reading was ‘MOG’ by Judith Kerr.  One of my earliest childhood memories is of me gazing at Judith’s illustrations for ages – especially the illustration of Mog tucked up tight in a pram with a little bonnet on, and the illustration of the baby eating Mog’s fish dinner.  I completely fell in love with the Mog books as a child, and continue to love and treasure then today.  It was an absolute dream come true when I got the chance to meet Judith Kerr last year and chat about Mog. And it was completely surreal when Judith asked me about Stinkysaurus and told me she thought he sounded great!

I’ve always loved picture books, but never thought I’d be able to write my own until my husband bought me a self-help ‘How to Write for Children’ book for my birthday 4 years ago. I read it from cover to cover and then began writing the very next day.

After about four months of intense researching, reading and writing, I knew that I needed some professional feedback.  It was time to approach someone in the industry to gain feedback and improve.
Whilst researching how best to do this, I came across the wonderful Winchester Writer’s Conference.  So (after a bit of scrimping) I booked my place at the conference and took a train down to Winchester.

My very first meeting was with a literary agent called Becky Bagnell.  I was terrified. A real-life literary agent was about to comment on my work (to my face!). Thankfully, Becky liked my work, and seemed to enjoy my quirky sense of humour (phew).

During the conference, I discovered that one of my picture book texts had been placed 1st in the picture book competition, and that another of my texts had been commended. This, along with all the feedback I’d received, made me feel confident that my writing had potential. And everything just took off from there!

Becky offered to represent me as my agent, and we got to work preparing my texts for submission right away.  When Becky got in touch to let me know that Bloomsbury wanted to publish my first picture book I was over the moon!

Wake up.
Pet cats until they eventually release me and let me bathe.
Ponder morality, epistemology and the very nature of existence for 8 hours.  (It’s ok, I’m a secondary school philosophy teacher.  Not just a Big Thinker.)
Go to the library and write about parping dinosaurs and baby aliens.
Apologise to cats (profusely) for daring to be gone for so long.
Apologise to husband for being gone for so long (he is always much less upset than the cats, so no need for profuse apology.  Regular is fine.)
Eat food.

It may sound obvious (and maybe even a bit cheesy) but my number one tip for any aspiring writer would be to write for yourself.  I often read this, but I don’t think I fully understood what it meant until the first time I burst out laughing at my own book while I was writing it.  I thought it was hilarious!  Basically, if YOU find your own writing funny, exciting, or scary, I think that’s a good sign.  It means you’re enjoying it!  And if you enjoy it, then there’s a much better chance that others will too.

I used to walk around my house with a rat on each shoulder.  These were not random rats (hmm, ‘Random Rats’, possible book title?) They were my pet rats, Jeemie and Jerry, and they were probably the best rats that ever lived.

The 5th Wave wins the Red House Children’s Book Award 2014!

On Saturday 22 February, the stars of children’s literature came to London’s Southbank Centre for The Red House Children’s Book Award 2014. The winners – chosen and voted for entirely by children – were announced in a magnificent celebratory awards ceremony, where Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave took home the Overall prize.

Rick Yancey

Former Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson and Gruffalo co-creator Axel Scheffler won in the Books for Younger Children category at the Red House Children’s Book Award 2014 with Superworm, while Atticus Claw Breaks The Law by Jennifer Gray won in the Books for Younger Readers category. As well as claiming the overall prize, Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave also won in the Books for Older Readers category winner.

The 5th Wave was a thrillingly popular choice among older voters and Rick flew over from the United States to receive his trophy. Described as ‘The next HIT’ by the Daily Mail, ‘Chilling’ by the Sun and ‘Wildly Entertaining’ by the New York Times, Rick was very proud of his achievement, revealing in his acceptance speech just how much it meant to him: ‘It is such a unique relationship between an author and his or her readers. It is so special, it is so unique because we write the books but you truly own them. So to get an award like this is the most special experience I’ve had as a writer because it’s from all of you.”

The Red House Children’s Book Award, the only national award for children’s books that is voted for entirely by children, is owned and coordinated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and is highly respected by teachers, parents and librarians. It has brought acclaim and strong sales to past winners such as J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Patrick Ness, Andy Stanton, Malorie Blackman, Anthony Horowitz and Michael Morpurgo, who has won a record three times. The award has often been the first to recognise the future stars of children’s fiction and has the ability to turn popular authors into bestsellers.

The full shortlist for the Red House Children’s Book Award 2014 was as follows:

Books for Younger Children

Superworm – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Scholastic)
Walter and The No Need To Worry Suit – Rachel Bright (HarperCollins)
How To Hide A Lion – Helen Stephens (Alison Green Books)
Hippospotamus – Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross (Andersen)

Books for Younger Readers

The Land of Neverbelieve – Norman Messenger (Walker)
Atticus Claw Breaks The Law – Jennifer Gray (Faber & Faber)
Claude In The Country – Alex T Smith (Hodder Children’s Books)

Books for Older Readers
Killing Rachel – Anne Cassidy (Bloomsbury)
The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey (Penguin)
The Reluctant Assassin – Eoin Colfer (Puffin)

Seni Glaister, CEO of the Book People, said ‘Once again the nation’s young readers have shown what peerless literary taste they have. The shortlisted titles are a fantastic representation of all that is great in children’s publishing at the moment- and unerringly the children have appreciated this and their voting reflects it.’

Sarah Stuffins, FCBG Vice-Chair and RHCBA coordinator said: “It has been another exciting year for the award with a record number of votes from FCBG children around the country. Online voting has also increased showing the award’s popularity among the nation’s children. The 5th Wave is truly the children’s choice.”


Guest blogger and bestselling author Rachel Bright tells the Book People about coming face to face with the real Walter!

The incredibly talented Rachel Bright, author and illustrator of Red House Children’s Book Award-shortlisted book, Walter and the No-Need-to-Worry Suit, writes us a guest blog about the moment she met the star of her gorgeous picture book!

‘I’ve always thought being a writer and illustrator is the best job in the world – and never have I felt that more than in the run-up to the presentation ceremony for the Red House Children’s Book Award on 22 February. Some days as an author for children just really knock it out of the ballpark! My recent visit to Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary was most certainly one of those.

Rachel Bright at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary

Slade Farm in Devon is definitely the most unusual and most beautiful place I’ve had the pleasure of reading one of my books and doing some drawing with children. Under crisp blue skies on a frosty morning, we were wrapped up warm in a cosy barn with six super-friendly donkeys for company and hay bales for seats.

Young children listen to and draw with Rachel at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary

The children (100 kids from two local schools), teachers and event staff were wonderful, as I read my book Walter & The No-Need-to-Worry Suit (starring my very own made-up donkey, Walter – a very big worrier) which I’m so excited to say has been shortlisted for the Red House Children’s Book Award this year. Whilst I was reading, one of the more talkative donkeys even joined in the storytelling at one point!

Rachel Bright event at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary

After the story we learnt to draw Walter together, step by step…

Rachel Bright draws at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary

… and the artwork the kids did was absolutely amazing! I am always surprised by just how well they capture Walter on their first attempt. Lots of future illustrators in the making, for sure.

The children impress Rachel with their own drawings their very own 'Walters at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary

Then there was just enough time to do some cutting, gluing and sticking in the neighbouring barn, watched by a curious and very cute audience of furry friends!

Arts and crafts fun with Rachel Bright at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary

We all made our very own Walter ears which we showed off to all the residents…

The children make their own Walter ears, much to the approval of the Donkey Sanctuary residents!

… who seemed to approve!

Before home-time, I signed some copies of Walter for the children…

Rachel Bright signs copies of her book for children at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary

THEN we got to meet the REAL Walter, a beautiful, fluffy, white rescue donkey who ambled over for a nose rub when we went to say hello.

Rachel meets the real Walter at Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary

I’d like to say it made my day, but more than that – it made my story complete. Because when you’re around a donkey like Walter, it’s impossible to worry about anything and all is well with the world.’

Voting for the Red House Children’s Book Award closes at midnight on Friday 24 January – so hurry, you don’t have long left to make your choice! You can see Rachel’s wonderful Walter and the No-Need-to-Worry Suit and the other nine shortlisted titles on the Red House Children’s Book Award website. Place your vote today!

You can be at the Red House Children’s Book Award ceremony where you’ll see Rachel and the other nominees live on stage! For more information and to buy tickets, just click here.

The Red House editors’ top picks of 2013

2013 has been a brilliant year for children’s books. From cute characters to immersive faraway lands and terrifying aliens intent on world domination, the best books of the year have covered varying themes, proven to be inspirational and got children talking about reading. With 35 years’ experience in children’s books, the Red House team has personally chosen those books that we feel encourage children to develop their love of reading. Here, our editors Rachael and Ryan choose their top picks from the best of 2013.

Baa Baa Black Sheep: Finger Puppet Book
‘Delightfully interactive, this finger puppet book retells the familiar nursery rhyme in style!’

My First Gruffalo: Hello Gruffalo! Buggy Book
‘Is there anyone who doesn’t love the Gruffalo? This little book is perfect for introducing even the littlest readers to Julia Donaldson’s popular character.’

Stomp! Little Dinosaur
‘Bold and bright colours from the Mr Croc illustrator combine with push and pull tabs and a friendly dinosaur character.’

How to Catch a Star
‘A new generation of readers can now enjoy this unforgettable story, and Book People favourite, Oliver Jeffers’ beautiful illustrations add even more charm to the touching words.’

3 Plus
The Day the Crayons Quit
‘Oliver Jeffers’ distinctive style combines with Drew Daywalt’s story of some fed-up crayons that will make adults laugh just as much as the children!’

No-Bot, the Robot with No Bottom
‘This is such a simple and cute story, there’s nothing not to love as Bernard goes in search of his lost bottom. A sure-fire hit with children and grown-ups.’

5 Plus
See Inside Trains
‘Children who love trains will find themselves absorbed and fascinated by this lift-the-flap book that covers the entire history of locomotion!’

The Land of Neverbelieve
‘Imaginative, enchanting and exactly how a great storybook should be – this page-turner creates a magical world readers will never want to leave.’

7 Plus
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat
‘Dave Shelton’s heart-warming story and beautiful illustrations are a joy to behold as we follow a boy and a bear’s exciting journey out to sea.’

Barry Loser: I Am Still Not a Loser
‘Doodles, hilarious characters and witty observations, Jim Smith has created a brilliant series with the Barry Loser stories, just perfect for building confidence in more reluctant readers.’

9 Plus
Demon Dentist
‘David Walliams is now fully established as one of the most talented children’s writers around and this story finds him tackling a common fear of children’s, while retaining his anarchic sense of humour with an emotional touch.’

The Last Wild
‘Unique and beautifully told, grown-ups will enjoy this novel as much as children aged 9+. In a world where animals no longer exist, young Kester must embark on a journey of a lifetime and meets some very special characters along the way. A stunning animal story with a twist.’

11 Plus
The 5th Wave
‘It’s the near-future and the Earth is being abolished by violent extraterrestrial forces. One girl remains determined to find her brother – and safety – in this cinematic page-turner.’

Geek Girl: Model Misfit
Believable, funny and wonderfully contemporary – we love author Holly Smale and her observations of the modelling industry in this clever novel, bursting with brilliantly constructed characters, ideal for young readers preparing to bridge the gap into more grown-up books.

13 Plus
This Song Will Save Your Life
‘All music-loving teens who have ever felt like an outsider will find common ground with the lead character Elise Dembowski, an unhappy girl who falls in love and finds her true passion in DJing at an underground indie club.’

Picture Me Gone
‘Meg Rosoff writes books that teens (and adults) can completely lose themselves in, confronting issues that will be resonate with many young adult readers in a clever and delicate way. Picture Me Gone is no exception and provides another compelling, coming-of-age read as Mila finds out that adults don’t always have all the answers, however much they try…’

Meg RosoffDavid WalliamsDrew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Visit Red House at the Book People for a hand-picked selection of children’s books to guide your child all the way through their reading journey.

Imagine Children’s Festival 2014 – it’s coming!

Book-loving kids from around the country will be excited to hear about the return of Imagine Children’s Festival, London Southbank Centre’s celebration of all things literature and more. Sponsored by the Book People, the festival offers a way for children to feed their imagination, the festival starts on Monday 10 February and runs all the way through to Sunday 23 February, with the Red House Children’s Book Award ceremony taking centre stage on Saturday 22 February. Get your children to cast their vote over at www.rhcba.co.uk to decide the winner of this prestigious prize.

Last year saw the likes of David Walliams, Jeremy Strong, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Cressida Cowell, Cathy Cassidy and Suzanne LaFleur all giving talks to eager young bookworms, while there was also the chance to watch the incredible Dinosaur Petting Zoo in action, enjoy the vibrant sights and sounds of the festival’s open space and even hone creative skills with a number of fun activities that were sure to ignite any youngster’s imagination. This year promises even more excitement with a number of much-loved books celebrating anniversaries and authors for all ages providing entertaining and insightful anecdotes about the inspiration for their books.

The Book People is incredibly proud to sponsor this must-see event and will be keeping you fully up to date with all the goings-on through our social channels in the build-up – and during – the festival. The line-up is starting to be revealed, so head over to Southbank Centre’s website to book your tickets today!

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