The Week Junior Book Awards 2023

2023 sees the inaugural year of The Week Junior Book Awards sponsored by Bookily from National Book Tokens. Set up to “celebrate the brilliant world of children’s books and the talented people who create them.” They honour the authors, illustrators and publishers who inspire children to read for pleasure. The emphasis is on original ideas, outstanding illustration, and smart storytelling, as well as new and diverse talent.

There are NINE categories that publishers can submit books for. Eight categories have judging panels made up of industry experts and Children’s Book Cover of the Year is judged by readers of The Week Junior. You can read more about the criteria for each award here.

The shortlists for each category were announced in May and full details of each book shortlisted and the judges’ evaluation of each title can be found on the website.

The winners were announced at an evening ceremony which followed The Bookseller Children’s Conference in London on 2 October, 2023 at County Hall.

Children’s Book Cover of the Year

Peanut Jones and the Twelve Portals. Rob Biddulph (Macmillan) ISBN: 978-1529040579

“A highly imaginative, colourful and a gobsmacking ‘in-your-face’ cover that grabs your attention immediately.” This second title in the hilarious adventure series fizzes with magic, danger, friendship and art.  Not only the cover but the illustrations throughout are by the creator of the lockdown sensation #DrawWithRob.

Children’s Book of the Year: Older Fiction

Tyger. S.F. Said. Illustrated by David McKean. (David Fickling Books) ISBN: 978-1788452915

“A modern masterpiece set an alternative world about two children and a huge mythical Tyger” This is the story of Adam living in an alternate London where slavery has never been abolished. He finds a mysterious, mythical, magical animal who is in great danger and tells him the whole world is also on the verge of destruction. Adam and his friend Zadie are determined to help. Can they learn to use their powers before it’s too late? This is a thought-provoking, profound, political and spiritual book which skilfully interweaves myths, legends and dark stories from real life history and illustrated in perfect synergy by the acclaimed David McKean

Children’s Book of the Year: Breakthrough

The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Drama and Danger. J.T.Williams (Farshore) ISBN: 978-0008485252

“Expect high-speed action, lavish period detail, complicated friendships and plenty of drama” The story is set in C18th London, and centres around Lizzie Sancho, and her friend Dido Belle as they try to find out who is threatening to murder Lizzie’s father, Ignatius, before his debut performance on the West End stage This excellent historical fiction gives voice to the experiences of people of colour in the C18th and both Dido Belle and Ignatius Sancho were real people

Children’s Illustrated Book of the Year

Frankie’s World. Aoife Dooley (Scholastic) ISBN: 978-0702307355

“Graphic novel full of humour, underlining an important message about difference” This offers a unique perspective on autism, told with humour and heart and brought to life with a distinctive blue and orange palette. Frankie knows she’s not like anyone else in her class: she’s different, but she can’t quite figure out why. Everyone else seems to think she’s weird too, and they make fun of her at school. Witty, empathetic and honest.

Children’s Book of the Year: Younger Fiction

Anisha Accidental Detective: Holiday Adventure. Serena Patel. Illustrated by Emma McCann (Usborne) ISBN: 978-1801310901

“More comic capers abound when the Mistrys go off on holiday and there’s another manic mystery to solve.” Another in a very successful and very funny series – perfect diverse representation in a popular genre. The holiday park’s mascot, Delilah the duck, has been destroyed and Anisha’s new friend Cleo is everyone’s number one suspect. But she is sure Cleo is innocent and  is determined to QUACK the case!

Children’s Book of the Year: Older Non-Fiction

Real-life Dragons and their Stories of Survival. Anita Ganeri. Illustrated by Jianan Liu (Wayland) ISBN: 978-1526315434

“Meet 10 dragons alive today in this stunning book of facts with a bit of folklore for every dragon lover”. There is a stunning close-up photo of each dragon, key data, a picture with captions that indicate special features, and two pages of text describing their origins, the mythology associated with them and how they adapt to survive today. The information is often fascinating and the tone is pitched at just the right level to engage this age group

Children’s Book of the Year: STEM

24 Hours in Space. Rob Lloyd Jones. Illustrated by Laurent King. (Usborne) ISBN: 978-1474986335

“Join an astronaut in this day-in-the-life book which explores space through comic-strip style artwork and engaging stories and characters”

The graphic novel style is very engaging and readers can  follow the non stereotypical female astronaut on her first ever spacewalk find out how she trained for her mission and what it’s like living and working in space.

Children’s Audiobook of the Year

Natural Wonders of the World Sidra Ansari. Narrator, Ben Bailey Smith (Ladybird) ASIN B09X66JBYL “An immersive story that takes you on a journey through the wonders of the natural world in an informative and imaginative way, making full use of all that audio has to offer.” Ladybird Audio Adventures is an award-winning original series for 3-7, designed to be an entertaining and engaging way for children to learn about the world around them and teaches children about the importance of preserving nature, and what we can all do to help our world.

Children’s Book of the Year: Younger Non-Fiction

The Extraordinary Book That Makes You Feel Happy. Poppy O’Neill, Illustrated by Caribay M. Benavides  (Weldon Owen) ISBN: 978-1915588005

“A positive project portfolio bursting with activities to connect with every child”This innovative book includes a foreword from mindfulness expert Wynne Kinder, and details projects, ideas and activities to help children feel positive, confident, focused, calm and included.



More Awards

Little Rebels Book Awards 2023

The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award, now in its 11th year, recognises children’s fiction (for readers aged 0-12) which promotes social justice or social equality,

YA Book Prize 2023

The YA Book Prize launched in 2014 to award a YA title written by an author living in the UK or Ireland. Organised by book