Announcing the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2019 Children's Fiction shortlist

Books Are My Bag Children's Shortlist 2019

I’m thrilled to be revealing the shortlist for the Children’s Fiction category of the 2019 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards.

The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards are uniquely curated by bookshops and voted for by book nerds like you and me.

The awards were launched in 2016 and celebrate titles across fiction, non-fiction, breakthrough authors, poetry, beautiful books, and fiction for children and young adults. The shortlists are chosen by booksellers in the UK and Ireland.

There’s also the Reader’s Choice Award, which is nominated and voted for entirely by readers.

Voting on the awards is now open. You can support your favourite books by voting here.

I’ve not read any of the books shortlisted yet, but thanks to the Books Are My Bag team I’ll be able to read them all before the winner is announced on November 12. And I’m keen to dip into the other categories too! I’ll be posting mini-reviews of the shortlist in a wrap-up ahead of the awards.

Children’s Fiction shortlist 2019

Books Are My Bag Readers Awards shortlist

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Mesmerising and full of heart, this is a picture book about self-confidence and love, and a radiant celebration of individuality.

While riding the subway home with his Nana one day, Julian notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train carriage.

When Julian gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies and making his own fabulous mermaid costume. But what will Nana think about the mess he makes – and even more importantly – what will she think about how Julian sees himself?

We need books like this for young readers so I’m thrilled to see it on the list and to be able to look at it for myself. From my initial quick flick through the illustrations by Love look stunning.

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

Fresh off the boat from England, Vita Marlowe has a job to do. Her beloved grandfather Jack has been cheated out of his home and possessions by a notorious conman with Mafia connections. Seeing Jack's spirit is broken, Vita is desperate to make him happy again, so she devises a plan to outwit his enemies and recover his home.

She finds a young pickpocket, working the streets of the city. And, nearby, two boys with highly unusual skills and secrets of their own are about to be pulled into her lawless, death-defying plan.

Katherine Rundell's fifth novel is a heist as never seen before - the story of a group of children who will do anything to right a wrong.

This book is BEAUTIFUL and it’s blurbed by my childhood author obsession Jacqueline Wilson. She called it an “amazing adventure story, told with sparkling style and sleight of hand”. That sounds wonderful.

Books Are My Bag Readers Award shortlist

Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

Eleven-year-old Casper Tock hates risks, is allergic to adventures and shudders at the thought of unpredictable events. So, it comes as a nasty shock to him when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts.

All Casper wants is to find a way home, but Rumblestar is in trouble. An evil harpy called Morg is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to wreak havoc and pave the way for her to steal the Unmapped magic for herself. But Casper cannot turn a blind eye because the future of his own world, he discovers, is bound up with that of the Unmapped Kingdoms.

And so, together with Utterly Thankless, a girl who hates rules and is allergic to behaving, and her miniature dragon, Arlo, Casper embarks upon an adventure full of cloud giants, storm ogres and drizzle hags. Can he, Utterly and Arlo, the unlikeliest of heroes, save the Unmapped Kingdoms and our world from the clutches of Morg and her Midnights?

Live a life filled with adventure with Abi Elphinstone in this brand NEW series where a whole new world is waiting to be discovered...

The unexpected discovery of a new magical kingdom by a reluctant protagonist? That sounds delightful. I’m so excited to curl up in a corner with this book. I’m predicting Nevermoor vibes.

Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James

Since her mother’s disappearance, eleven-year-old Tilly has found comfort in stories at Pages & Co., her grandparents’ bookshop. But when her favourite characters, Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, appear in the shop, Tilly’s adventures become very real. Not only can she follow Anne and Alice into their thrilling worlds, she discovers she can bookwander into any story she chooses.

Tilly’s new ability could even help her solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago. But danger may be lurking on the very next page…

I’m actually shocked I’ve not read this yet because I’ve seen it everywhere. I love the idea of fictional characters coming to life, so I’m excited to dive in to this bookish world.

Books Are My Bag Readers Awards shortlist

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

Aya is eleven years old and has just arrived in Britain with her mum and baby brother, seeking asylum from war in Syria.

When Aya stumbles across a local ballet class, the formidable dance teacher spots her exceptional talent and believes that Aya has the potential to earn a prestigious ballet scholarship.

But at the same time, Aya and her family must fight to be allowed to remain in the country, to make a home for themselves and to find Aya’s father – separated from the rest of the family during the journey from Syria.

With beautiful, captivating writing, wonderfully authentic ballet detail, and an important message championing the rights of refugees, this is classic storytelling – filled with warmth, hope and humanity.

I think this is going to be a little heartbreaking, but I’m always excited to read thoughtful middle grade fiction which deals with difficult issues. I’ll probably have to re-watch Billy Elliot after reading this.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl.

No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander.

Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger...

This sounds spooky and mysterious and like the perfect read for a chilly autumn evening!

Cast your vote in the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards here

This post was sponsored by Books Are My Bag in conjunction with National Book Tokens.