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The British Book Awards 2023

british book awards nibbies 2023

Organised by The Bookseller, The British Book Awards (also known as The Nibbies) is an annual celebration of all things books! Offering a snapshot of the book industry’s achivements and output, the Nibbies include three categories exclusively for children’s books: Children’s Fiction, Children’s Non-Fiction and Children’s Illustrated.

These awards are judged by a panel drawn from across the book industry and beyond, and we at BooksForTopics were delighted to see many of our favourites among the impressive shortlists of children’s titles.

The Children’s Fiction category includes one of our Year 6 Recommended Reads, Skandar and the Unicorn Thief, alongside two of our Books of the Month picks Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun and Tyger, the latter of which went on to win the category. Another of our Year 6 Recommended Reads, You Can Do It, features in the Children’s Non-Fiction shortlist, while one of our Christmas favourites for younger readers, What the Ladybird Heard at Christmas, is shortlisted in the Children’s Illustrated category.

You can check out the full shortlist for the 2023 British Book Awards below!

Although the Children’s categories in the Nibbies celebrate books for children of all ages, here we focus on the titles suited to readers of primary school age. The full shortlists, including the titles for older readers, can be found here.

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Nibbies: Children's Fiction Shortlist

Jeff Kinney
Graphic Novel
In Diper Överlöde, book 17 of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series from #1 international bestselling author Jeff Kinney, Greg Heffley is finding out that the road to fame and glory comes with some hard knocks.When he decides to tag along with his brother Rodrick's band, Löded Diper, Greg doesn't realize what he's getting into. But he soon learns that late nights, unpaid gigs, fighting between band members, and money troubles are all part of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle.Can Greg help Löded Diper become the legends they think they are? Or will too much time with Rodrick's band be a diper överlöde?
Tolá Okogwu
Chapter book

An exciting, edge-of-your-seat adventure.

Onyeka and her best friend, Cheyenne, are both Nigerian living in London. Whilst Cheyenne is confident and not bothered what others think, Onyeka feels like she doesn’t fit in. Her hair in particular causes others to stare. It has a mind of its own and no matter what her hairdresser mum does to it, it’s out of control. Onyeka’s mum doesn’t talk about Nigeria or why they left and least of all, what happened to Onyeka’s dad.

One day, Onyeka’s hair literally has a mind of its own when it glows blue and crackles with electricity when Cheyenne is in trouble. Onyeka’s mum is forced to tell her that she is ‘Solari’ and has inherited this trait from her dad. When Onyeka struggles to control her power and it starts to make her sick, her mum decides it’s finally time to return to Nigeria and try and locate Onyeka’s dad and learn to control her powers. Despite being surrounded by other Solari, Onyeka still feels like she doesn’t belong. The other children have lived with their powers for years, but Onyeka has only just discovered hers. If only her mum could find her dad and maybe she could get some answers!

‘Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun’ is an exciting edge-of-your-seat adventure with interesting and unique characters. I loved the development of the relationships between Onyeka and the other children as she got to know more about them. I became totally lost in Onyeka’s world and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.

This story would make a fantastic read for Upper Key Stage 2 children, particularly for those that are fans of superhero stories and films. Tola Okogwu says in the author’s note in the book that she hopes it will “act as both a mirror and a window” in terms of representation, and I think lots of people will agree that it does. What a wonderful book.

SF Said
 & Dave McKean
Chapter book

If you’ve spent any time on edutwitter or children’s booktok lately, you might know that SF Said’s Tyger has been one of the most hotly anticipated titles due this Autumn. It’s a fine thing when a children’s book generates a huge buzz in the months building up to publication, and this one certainly did – after all, with a well-loved author, an early drop of signed proofs, a beautiful cover by Dave McKean and just enough intrigue in the blurb to make you sit up and wonder, how could it not? Even better is when a book like this manages to really live up to the excitement generated. Did this one deliver? We are pleased to say it did.

This is an atmospheric story set in an alternative near-future London. The city is a dangerous place for many, dominated by strict social rules, a system of racial superiority and un-abolished slavery that developed from colonialism. In this London, Adam and Zadie are both children who have been made to feel like outsiders. The story centres on their discovery of a mythical creature – a Tyger who is hiding after being hunted and wounded. Adam helps the injured Tyger and a friendship blossoms. Soon, the Tyger teaches Adam a renewed philosophical outlook on life and helps him to tap into his hidden gifts. The children set about to protect and save the Tyger, and as fear and oppression rage in the city of London, the children’s courage to save the Tyger makes wider ripples than they could ever imagine.

There’s something timelessly alluring about tigers in children’s books, especially those that have time to sit down and talk with you. This Tyger has a mystical quality that will no doubt entice and intrigue young readers anew. Adult readers familiar with the work of William Blake won’t fail to notice the allusions to Blakean mythology that filter through text, illustrations and that striking cover. The Tyger in SF Said’s book offers Adam and Zadie something of the mystical and spiritual encounter that Blake hoped to offer his readers; a temporary liberation from the ‘mind-forged manacles’ of the material world and a hope-filled reminder of the power of human spirit.

SF Said’s fanbase will be thrilled to read this new adventure – laced with danger, edged with fantasy and packed to the core with thinking and discussion points that link to very real issues in society. Despite the serious themes explored, Said writes with optimism and hope, showing how joy and light can always be found in the darkest of times. This story will no doubt find a home in the hearts of Upper KS2 readers who love mythology, quest stories and an encouter with something deeper.

Reviewer: Alison Leach

A. F. Steadman
Chapter book

Take everything you think you know about unicorns and discard it. They are not the shiny, mythical creatures that you believe you know. They are ferocious, magical and deadly creatures who are very much real. Each year, mainlander children hope to pass the Hatchery exam in order to become unicorn riders. Thirteen-year-old Skandar Smith is no different. He wants to be a hero.

When it is finally Skandar’s time to realise his dreams, everything seems to turn against him. The Island’s most powerful unicorn is missing after being stolen by a haunting enemy that has returned with a vengeance and Skandar discovers a secret that could change everything and crush his dreams forever.

It is no surprise that film rights have already been acquired for this book. It is sure to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. Skandar is an unlikely hero and author A.F. Steadman has written in a way that allows readers to delve deep into the characters’ emotions and motivations.

Similar to the Percy Jackson series, Skandar and the Unicorn Thief has enough magic and fantasy to engage children without it becoming too immature for older children. It would make the perfect read-aloud and could inspire lots of writing, although is most suitable for children in Upper KS2 and beyond with well-developed reading stamina. It would be a great addition to any school or class library, especially for those more confident readers to get their teeth into.

Louie Stowell
Graphic Novel
Wry, witty and very funny diary-style story packed with doodles and comic strips about the frustration trickster god Loki feels at having to live trapped in the body of a weedy eleven-year-old boy.After one trick too many, Loki is banished to live on Earth as a "normal" school boy. Forbidden from using his AWESOME godly powers, Loki must show moral improvement. As he records his lies THE TRUTH in his magical (judgemental) diary, it becomes clear Loki hasn’t a clue how to tell good from evil, trust from tricks, or friends from enemies.

Nibbies: Children's Non-Fiction Shortlist

Maggie Aderin-Pocock
 & Chelen Ecija
Award-winning scientist and BBC broadcaster Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (MBE) is here to answer all the questions curious kids will ever have about the Universe.How long would it take me to fly to a star? What would happen if I fell inside a black hole? Would I get a phone signal in space? From whether there are rainbows on other planets to what dinner tastes like on the International Space Station, this book is packed full of fabulous facts, mind-blowing insights and engaging explanations from the renowned space scientist.Written in Dr Maggie’s fun, accessible style, and featuring out-of-this-world illustrations throughout, it’s guaranteed to bring the wonders of space and science to life for young readers. Publishing in the UK in time for World Space Week (4th–10th October 2022).
Dr Alex George
 & Dave Pratt
Start the New Year with this positive wellbeing handbook.What if we could think of mental health in a positive way? Sweep away the rain clouds. Talk about what's on our minds. And care for our mental health in the same way we look after our bodies. In this empowering and hopeful handbook, Youth Mental Health Ambassador Dr. Alex George is here to show children how.A Better Day is a positive, accessible and practical toolkit guiding young readers in how they can care for their mental health with confidence.From peer pressure and exam stress to online trolls and anxiety, life is full of ups and downs. But there are ways we can stay on top of our mental health - including overcoming stigma, talking about our feelings, developing resilience and switching our mindset.This book provides all the scaffolding and practical techniques, so readers can look toward their future with optimism and positivity. Because no matter what, there is always hope for a better day.
Marcus Rashford

A positive-thinking manual full of insights from one of the nation’s favourite football personalities, who inspires both on and off the pitch.

Everyone struggles with bouncing back from difficulties at times, even footballing heroes. In this easy-to-read book, Marcus Rashford shares insights into his experiences of finding confidence in the face of adversity and focusing instead on making a positive impact in the world. The book encourages readers to persevere when things get tough, to learn to reframe negative thinking and how to improve self-confidence when doubts settle in, as well as to find a voice against injustice and make a difference in the world.

An inspiring book that football fans will love to pick up. Even those without a passion for the sport will be inspired by the key messages.

Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
 & Melissa Lee Johnson
In this book from the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch of modern times.Little Elizabeth loved dogs and horses and dreamt of living on a farm. But, one day, she heard chants on the streets. Her uncle Edward had renounced the crown, which meant her father would be the next king, and she heiress to the throne. From that day on, she had to learn how to one day be the queen.When she was only 13, World War Two broke out across the globe. Elizabeth bravely served as an ambulance driver, and after the war ended, she fell in love with and married the charming Prince Philip. In 1952, she was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, and for the next 70 years she would serve as a beacon of continuity, looking after her subjects and serving the country she reigned over.This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the monarch’s life.
Yeva Skalietska
Chapter book Non-fiction
Everyone knows the word 'war'. But very few understand what it truly means. When you find you have to face it, you feel totally lost, walled in by fright and despair. Until you’ve been there, you don’t know what war is.This is the gripping and moving diary of young Ukrainian refugee Yeva Skalietska. It follows twelve days in Ukraine that changed 12-year-old Yeva's life forever. She was woken in the early hours to the terrifying sounds of shelling. Russia had invaded Ukraine, and her beloved Kharkiv home was no longer the safe haven it should have been. It was while she was forced to seek shelter in a damp, cramped basement that Yeva decided to write down her story. And it is a story the world needs to hear.Yeva captured the nation's heart when she was featured on Channel 4 News with her granny as they fled Ukraine for Dublin. In You Don't Know What War Is, Yeva records what is happening hour-by-hour as she seeks safety and travels from Kharkiv to Dublin. Each eye-opening diary entry is supplemented by personal photographs, excerpts of messages between Yeva and her friends and daily headlines from around the world, while three beautifully detailed maps (by Kharkiv-native Olga Shtonda) help the reader track Yeva and her granny’s journey. You Don’t Know What War Is is a powerful insight into what conflict is like through the eyes of a child and an essential read for adults and older children alike.Published in association with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with a foreword by Michael Morpurgo.

Nibbies: Children's Illustrated Shortlist

Julia Donaldson
 & Lydia Monks
Packed full of fun, What the Ladybird Heard at Christmas is a fantastically lively rhyming adventure from the bestselling picture book partnership of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks.In a big old house, the ladybird is visiting her friend the spider for the festive season. But those two bad men, Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len, are up to no good again. They have a devious plan - to steal the children's Christmas presents from their stockings! It's a good thing that the clever little ladybird has overheard their awful plotting, and she has a cunning plan to make sure they don't get away with it.
Julia Donaldson
 & Axel Scheffler
This fabulous picture book from superstar author and illustrator Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a riot of slapstick fun and silliness. The Baddies are the meanest, nastiest ghost, witch and troll in the land.They just adore being bad, and fight over who is the worst.When a little girl moves into a nearby cottage, the Baddies can't wait to scare her out of her wits.But the little girl quickly shows them that you don't have to be big to be brave, and baddies don't always win.A brilliant paperback edition for new and old fans alike.Perfect read-aloud rhyming text and stunning pictures on every page with lots of details to spot.Julia and Axel are the team that have created picture book favourites such as The Gruffalo, Stick Man, Zog and The Smeds and The Smoos - all of which have been made into animated films premiering on BBC1 Christmas Day.
Sue Hendra,Paul Linnet
A fee-fi-fo-festive treat for Supertato fans this Christmas - an unmissable adventure in this super bestselling series! As seen on TV!It's showtime in the supermarket as Supertato and the veggies put on their very own production of Jack and the Beanstalk, starring The Evil Pea as Jack and Supertato as Jack's mum.There are thrills, spills and the return of a familiar-looking melon-bot as this hilarious, panto-tastic show unfolds. Will Jack's beans bring him riches beyond his wildest dreams? Will Jack and Supermum be able to escape the fearsome giant?All will be revealed...
Jamie Smart
Chapter book
Jamie Smart's big-selling comic-book success story continues!The Maniacal Badger has arrived, and he's determined to take over the Woods! Wasn't that Monkey's plan? This cannot happen! What japes await in this brand-new adventure, when Bunny and Monkey team up to beat this new menace?! They've never managed to work together before. . . And will Skunky rediscover his passion for evil inventions, to defeat his rival at their own game? One thing's for sure . . . Laughs are guaranteed!
Harry Woodgate
Waterstones Children's Book Award Winner and British Book Awards Nibbies Children’s Illustrated Book of the Year 2023! Celebrate love in all its forms, as Grandad tells his granddaughter about the adventures he used to have with Gramps. A long time ago, Grandad and Gramps spent many happy days travelling the world together in a camper van. But now Gramps isn't around any more, Grandad doesn't feel much like having adventures. As she listens to his wonderful stories, Grandad’s granddaughter has an idea to cheer him up... A perfect story for Grandad on Father's Day. A School Library Journal Best Book of 2021!

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