The winner of the second Derby Children’s Picture Book Award from a shortlist of four, is Brian the Brave by Paul Stewart and Jane Porter, published by Otter-Barry.
The Derby Book Festival Award, sponsored by local businesswoman Deborah Fern, aims to celebrate picture books that children can relate to and in which the diversity and challenges of modern life are represented.
The four shortlisted books were read by pupils in Years 2&3 at eight Derby primary schools in February and March and the children voted for their favourite just before the schools were forced to close on 20 March due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Author, Paul Stewart and illustrator, Jane Porter, who has family links to Derby as her grandparents lived in Littleover, have recorded an interview with the Award co-ordinator, Di Smith who works with the Festival on organising children and schools events at the Festival.
Jane Porter said of their win: “I was thrilled to bits when I heard the news about the award – it’s lovely that Brian has found a place in the hearts of the schoolchildren of Derby. I am very happy to think of my illustrations and Paul’s story helping to make the world a more tolerant, inclusive place.”
Paul Stewart added: “’I’m absolutely delighted to have won this award with Jane Porter, especially since the winning book was chosen by the children themselves. It makes it all the more special!”
In total 727 children in 27 classes at the eight schools took part in this year’s Award. Each school received sets of the four shortlisted books for each class in February. A further 16 schools ‘shadowed’ the Award and received a set of the books to read with their pupils. In total, 270 books were shared across the schools.
Paul Stewart and Jane Porter plan to visit the participating schools: Becket Primary, Chellaston Infants, Chellaston Juniors, Reigate Park Primary, St Chads Infants, St John Fisher (RC) Primary, Village Primary and the Royal School for the Deaf, to meet the children and teachers when the schools re-open.
Liz Fothergill, Chair of Derby Book Festival said: “Brian the Brave becomes our second very worthy winner. Lovely clear, humorous illustrations dominate in this delightful book which will help children not to fear the differences they see in others but help them understand the value of togetherness as they evaluate the challenges of today’s modern world.
“The Award continues be instrumental in delivering our aim to bring all Derby’s residents together in a love of books and to inspire a new generation of readers to appreciate the joy that books and reading bring to our lives.
“It is fantastic that so many more schools wanted to join us this year, it’s enabling more and more children to have a voice in their reading preferences.”
Award Co-ordinator, Di Smith said: “The Award has really excited teachers in the city and it was wonderful to visit the schools to see them working with the books. We know how important it is for children to meet the authors of books they read, as a report published last year by The National Literacy Trust showed, reading enjoyment levels are markedly higher among those who said that they had a writer visit.
“The children have chosen the book that reflects a wide range of characters in situations that they recognise in their own lives. It is a very witty book that gives children an insight into the acceptance of difference.”
Derby Book Festival has always included a strong programme of events for children, families and schools. Each year the Festival organises Meet the Author events in Derby Theatre for the city’s 60 primary schools. In the past five years, over 4000 children have enjoyed this experience. This year’s events had to be cancelled but the organisers plan to reschedule the events in the Autumn Term.
To find out more, visit the Festival website and sign up for more information. You can also follow the Festival on Twitter at: @DerbyBookFest and ‘like’ the Festival on Facebook: www.facebook.com/derbybookfestival