Two talented authors from Dacorum have been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2022.
Harry Woodgate, an author and illustrator from Hemel Hempstead, is nominated in the Illustrated Books category for Grandad’s Camper and Hannah Gold, an author from Tring, is nominated in the Books for Younger Readers category for The Last Bear.
Every year Waterstones’ expert booksellers vote for the books they believe are the very best in new children’s writing and illustration.
Now in its 18th year, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize has evolved into one of the most prestigious accolades for children’s books in the UK, launching the careers of many authors and illustrators.
Harry Woodgate, originally from Hemel Hempstead, is an award-winning illustrator, who was shortlisted for the V&A Illustration Awards 2019 and the Folio Society Book Illustration Competition 2018 and 2019.
Grandad’s Camper was inspired by their university dissertation, which revealed a lack of representation for older LGBT characters in children’s books. It is an uplifting and colourful picture book telling the story of a granddaughter helping her grandad recapture the adventures of his youth.
Celebrating love in all its forms, the book is about grief and healing, and the uniquely powerful, restorative quality of intergenerational relationships.
Harry said: “I am absolutely thrilled and more than a little humbled that Grandad's Camper has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.
"It really is such an honour, especially considering the incredible standard of debut titles published over recent years, and it's one of those things that as a debut author you sometimes dream about but rarely imagine becoming a reality.
"With Grandad's Camper I wanted to create a story that was inclusive, celebratory and most of all, threaded with hope for the future, so for it to be recognised in this way feels hugely affirming.”
Hannah Gold grew up in Tring and worked in the film and magazine industries before taking time out to pursue her dream of writing.
The Last Bear is both an absorbing animal adventure and subtle commentary on climate change and the plight of endangered species.
The story revolves around April, the daughter of an Arctic researcher, and her chance encounter with a lone polar bear. The story of April’s journey to save the polar bear is beautifully illustrated throughout by Levi Pinfold.
Hannah said: “When I was younger, Waterstones wasn't just my favourite shop - it was a sanctuary, a home and a safe haven. And in the fast-changing, often frightening world we live in now, the role of booksellers and all the inspiring, empowering stories they champion has never been more important.
"To know that my book is now shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize is not just a dream come true - it's an opportunity to reach more children than I ever dared to think possible.
"It's a chance to tell them that even the littlest amongst us have the power to make the world a better place - not just for humans - but for animals too.
"The Last Bear really is the book of my heart and to get this far is both incredibly humbling and very moving. I am, quite simply, over the moon.
"And if I really were a polar bear, I would ROAR in happiness. In fact, I might just do it anyway.”
Florentyna Martin, Waterstones head of children’s said: “At a time when books are increasingly relied upon to help us navigate an uncertain world, our booksellers have keenly chosen shortlists that inspire readers.
"Offering varied perspectives on themes of belonging and identity, the shortlisted books invite young readers to find comfort in familiar communities, discover engaging new worlds, or adventure to the unknown, all whilst being guided by unique, life-changing and relatable characters.
"The skill and talent of these writers and illustrators showcases the dynamism of children’s books, and the power of sharing stories.”
Last year’s winner, A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll, shot to the top of the bestseller charts after being announced as Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Winner 2021 and saw an increase in sales of 2300 per cent across the Waterstones estate.
The shortlists consist of 18 books across three categories. Six books will compete within each category to be crowned category winner, with the three category winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Winner 2022.
The winners will be announced on Thursday, March 31. The winner of each category will receive £2000, with the overall winner receiving an extra £3000. In the event that the prize is awarded to a partnership, then the prize money will be split equally between the joint winners.