News: The Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2020

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The Waterstones Children's Book Prize is an annual award celebrating the best in new children’s writing and illustration, as voted by Waterstones booksellers. This week, the 2020 winners have been announced.

Overall Winner & Best Illustrated Book:

Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola (Available here)

This picture book follows a science-loving girl called Rocket, who has big dreams about becoming an astronaut. The story explores ambitions, role models, nature and the amount of time people spend on to their mobile devices.

Florentyna Martin, Waterstones children’s buyer, said: “The mould of traditional picture book storytelling is redefined for a new era in this joyful and energetic tale; an inviting narrative plot is interspersed with nuggets of non-fiction, satisfying curious young minds with a multifaceted experience away from screens. More than ever before, we are exploring non-fiction and inspirational characters at younger ages, and we champion Rocket’s boundless enthusiasm, curious nature and kind spirit as a hero for us all. She is a little person with big dreams, who has captured our hearts.”

Younger Readers Winner:

High-Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson (Available here)

A middle-grade urban detective story set in a high rise tower block during a hot summer. The murder of a school teacher sets young sleuths Nik and Norva on an adventure to bring his killer to justice.

Sharna Jackson says: “I wanted to see if mystery’s codes and conventions could be transposed to today in a new context, to a working-class setting, led by two contemporary clever and funny black girls. I like to think that winning this prize means that the experiment was a success, so thank you!”

Older Readers Winner:

Bearmouth by Liz Hyder (Available here)

A young adult dystopian novel set in a subterranean society, in which a young labourer begins to question the system and sets about on the path to freedom.

Liz Hyder said: “Bearmouth was originally inspired by a trip down a slate mine on the Welsh coast some years ago. I vaguely remembered learning about Victorian children working in the mines at school, but I’d forgotten just how brutal and exploitative the conditions were. I wondered if I could set a story entirely in that world, a page-turning thriller in the depths of a mine that would feel as if the walls were closing in, but [a story] that also contained within it a spark of rebellion.”


As well as the sales boost from in-store promotion, the winner of each category scoops prize money of £2,000, with the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2020 winning an extra £3,000. For more information about the award, visit

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