Review & Blog Tour: Children’s Book Award / A Pocketful of Stars

Today it’s our stop on the blog tour for the Children’s Book Award 2020.

Read on to find out a bit more about the award, followed by a closer look at one of the nominated books.

The Children's Book Award

The Children’s Book Award is the only national award voted for solely by children from start to finish. It is highly regarded by parents, teachers, librarians, publishers and children’s authors and illustrators as it truly represents the children’s choice. Thanks to the support of the publishers, over 1,000 new books are donated to be read and reviewed by Testing Groups across the country every year, with over 150,000 total votes being cast in the process. At the end of each testing year, nearly 12,000 books are donated to hospitals, women’s refuges, nurseries and disadvantaged schools. The overall winner of last year’s CBA Book Award was a picture book -  Mixed by Arree Chung.

The full shortlist for the Children’s Book Award 2020:

Books for Younger Children

Jazz Dog, written and illustrated by Marie Voigt, published by OUP - available here

Matisse’s Magical Trail, written by Tim Hopgood and illustrated by Sam Boughton, published by OUP - available here

The Runaway Pea, written by Kjartan Poskitt and illustrated by Alex Willmore, published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Books - available here

Books for Younger Readers

Mutant Zombies Cursed My School Trip, written by Matt Brown and illustrated by Paco Sordo, published by Usborne - available here

Owen and The Soldier, written by Lisa Thompson, published by Barrington Stoke - available here

The Maker of Monsters, written by Lorraine Gregory, published by OUP - available here

Books for Confident Readers

Wildspark, written by Vashti Hardy, published by Scholastic - available here

A Pocketful of Stars, written by Aisha Busby, published by Egmont - available here

D-Day Dog, written by Tom Palmer, published by Barrington Stoke - available here

Books for Older Readers

Becoming Dinah, written by Kit de Waal, published by Hachette Children’s Group - available here

On The Come Up, written by Angie Thomas, published by Walker Books - available here

Two Can Keep a Secret, written by Karen M McManus, published by Penguin - available here

You can find out more about all of the titles in the award by following the blog tour:

For voting, further information about the award and details of previous winners, see

Review: A Pocketful of Stars

For our stop on the blog tour, we are championing one of the books from the Confident Readers category - A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Busby (available here). Upon being shortlisted, author Aisha told us 'The FCGB conference was the first event I attended for 'A Pocketful of Stars' and everyone was so wonderful and welcoming. I am absolutely thrilled to now be shortlisted for their award.' 

A Pocketful of Stars is a magical, tear-jerking tale of a young teenager dealing with the sudden illness of her mother. Thirteen-year-old Safiya struggles to feel like she fits in with the world around her and, being a gaming enthusiast, prefers instead the alternative world in her favourite game, ‘Fairy Hunters’. The story starts with Safiya and her best friend Elle visiting Safiya’s mum. Even in this situation, Safiya is the one who feels left out: she feels she has nothing in common with her own mother. Soon after the visit, Safiya receives a devastating phone call, informing her that her mother is in a coma after a suspected stroke. Things take a strange turn when Safiya first visits her mother in intensive care. As she drifts off to sleep at her mother’s bedside, Safiya leaps into a different, unfamiliar and mysterious world. From this point on, every time Safiya visits her mother, although unable to communicate with her, as soon as she drops to sleep, she discovers more and more about this alternative world and the characters within it. Not unlike the adventures she encounters in her video games, these new journeys become a kind of quest too, this time to help Safiya save her mum’s life. Safiya goes about unlocking mysteries, intertwining the real world and this parallel reality. Throughout the story, the importance of connections with family and friends, near and far, is explored. Safiya discovers the differences in the types of relationships she has with the people in her life and the ones she values the most. Despite her mother being in a coma, the bond between the two grows stronger as the story goes on: the very first line in the book is about how her mum makes everything in to a game and yet Safiya unwittingly does this herself in making a game to help save her mum. Aisha Bushby uses beautifully descriptive language throughout the narrative to explore escapism and coping strategies children use when faced with the illness of a parent. The author also touches upon the impact cruelty and bullying can have and the importance of being kind.

To find out about voting for A Pocketful of Stars or any of the other shortlisted titles,


You can order A Pocketful of Stars online or from your local bookshop or library.

Thank you to FCBG for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Where next? > Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub

> Browse our Topic Booklists

> View our printable year group booklists.

> See our Books of the Month.


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