The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award

Radical fiction award given by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers

Submissions are now invited for the 2015 Prize!

The Alliance of Radical Booksellers (ARB) is pleased to announce that the Little Rebels Award for Radical Children’s Fiction is back for its 3rd year- and submisisons are now invited! The 2015 prize is for books published in 2014. The closing date for nominations is January 12th 2015. You can find full details about how to make an entry here: submitting a book Or, for a full set of submission notes, do email the administrators of this award, Letterbox Library, at The shortlist for the award will be announced in April 2015 and the winner will be announced at the next ARB London Radical Bookfair on Saturday May 9th 2015. The fair is an open and free event so do come and join us! If you’d like to be kept up to date with all of the news about this award and the fair, do sign up to receive updates by email at the bottom of this page (you may need to view the full site). You can also hear updates through Letterbox Library’s and the ARB’s twitter feeds @LetterboxLib and @ARB_information , often under the hashtag #littlerebels.

Leave a comment »

The 2014 Winning Little Rebel Is…

The winner of this year’s Little Rebels Award is Gillian Cross for her novel, After Tomorrow (OUP). Little Rebels Judge, Wendy Cooling, described the winning book as “a frighteningly believable story”.  In her acceptance speech, Gillian said she was “over the moon…honoured and delighted”. Speaking about After Tomorrow, she said, “we don’t write tracts; we don’t write propaganda when we write fiction, but we can’t help writing things which engage with who we are and how we live in the world”.

London Radical Bookfair 2014-7448

Gillian Cross’ acceptance speech©Asya Gefter


Alesha accepts the award, a framed picture of Ros Asquith’s ‘little rebels’ (& a cheque to follow…!)

The Little Rebels Award was presented by Wendy Cooling  to Alesha Bonser, Oxford University Press, on Gillian’s behalf at the London Radical Bookfair on Saturday, May 10th 2014.  Earlier in the day, Wendy chaired a panel in which some of the Little Rebels shortlisted authors, Geraldine McCaughrean, Gill Lewis and Deborah Chancellor, discussed their work. Asked for their response to being nominated for the award, the authors replied:

“thrilled” (Gill)

“I don’t feel I’m rebellions enough” (Deborah)

“I am a total conformist” (Geraldine…with a touch of a smirk)

To hear more about how rebellious each of the shortlisted authors consider themselves, do see Playing by the Book’s wonderful blog, ‘Rebellious Reading & Other Audacious Acts’.


L to R: Gill Lewis, Wendy Coooling, Deborah Chancellor and Geraldine McCaughrean

This year Letterbox Library (the award administrators) brought an additional Little Rebels panel to the fair. This panel addressed the question, ‘Where Are All The Little Rebels?’ Ann Lazim (CLPE and IBBY UK) chaired; contributing were: Professor Kim Reynolds and authors Alan Gibbons & Catherine Johnson. The big rebels delivered a very lively, accessible and popular debate. We ran out of seating very early on and the audience in many ways directed the form the discussion took. We only wish we’d filmed or recorded it. A summary is impossible, but early on the panel did concur that radical children’s fiction could be defined as fiction which offered an alternative way of living:


L to R: Alan Gibbons, Catherine Johnson, Ann Lazim and Kim Reynolds

We (Letterbox Library) were delighted to run the Little Rebels Award on behalf of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers for a 2nd time. The new venue of Bishopsgate Institute was superb. The attendance at the bookfair was bursting. The adult Bread & Roses Award provided, as ever, a shortlist which gives you faith in the future of radical publishing and thought. And the experience of running the Little Rebels Award, as always, gives us all faith in a future generation of progressive thinkers and advocates of social justice.

For an excellent writeup on the history of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers, the bookfair and the awards, see Ross Bradshaw’s blog, ‘ London Radical Bookfair: past, present & future.







1 Comment »

The winning little rebel is coming out soon…!

The winner of the Little Rebels Award will be announced on May 10th at the 2014 London Radical Bookfair. This year, the Alliance of Radical Booksellers are joining forces with the Alternative Press Fair and taking over all 3 floors of the Bishopsgate Institute, London EC2M 4QH. This is a free event, open to all. Doors open at 10am. There will be a packed programme of talks as well as a fantastic range of bookstalls. If you’re particularly interested in the Little Rebels side of things, these are the bits we think will interest you most:

10am Doors Open

*come and visit the Letterbox Library Bookstand; we’ll be there all day with the Little Rebels shortlist; do say hello!*

12.30-2pm Radical Children’s Literature: the little rebels authors
Little Rebels Judge, Wendy Cooling  will be in discussion with 3 of the authors from the Little Rebels shortlist: Gill Lewis, Geraldine McCaughrean and Deborah Chancellor. Hear about what motivated each author and discover why their books have earned their place in the Little Rebels canon of radical children’s fiction!

2.30-4pm Radical Children’s Literature: where are all the little rebels?
Come and join a lively discussion on the world of children’s literature in relation to radical thinking and political activism. Amongst other things, the panel will explore:
• what defines a radical children’s book?
• are children’s books an appropriate platform for radical thinking?
• do we have a history of radical children’s lit in the UK and what is the current state of radical children’s publishing?
This panel is being held in commemoration of Robert Leeson (1928-2013). Robert has been described as a “powerful force for change in children’s books”. He was Literary Editor of the Morning Star, a member of the Communist Party, Chair of the Writer’s Guild, fundraiser for Third World Book Fund and author of over 70 books for young people.

The panel will be chaired by Ann Lazim, Literature & Library Development Manager at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) and co-founder of the UK section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) with Kim Reynolds. Kim will also be contributing to the panel. She is one of the judges for the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award. She is the author of Radical Children’s Literature (2010) and is currently Professor of Children’s Lit. at Newcastle University.
Joining Kim and Ann will be 2 children’s authors:
Catherine Johnson: Catherine’s recent books for young people include Sawbones (2013) and Nest of Vipers (2008). Catherine has said of her children’s books: ‘I love writing about the people you don’t often see in history’. Catherine is also well known for her screenwriting, perhaps most famously, for the feature film, Bullet Boy (2004).
Alan Gibbons: A former teacher, Alan is an author and something of a ‘literary campaigner’, organising, amongst other things, Authors Against the SATs and Campaign for the Book which fights library closures. His latest children’s books are Hate (2014) and Raining Fire (2013). Alan cites Spartacus and Harriet Tubman as his heroes.

4.30pm Announcement of Award Winners
The judges will announce the winners of the adult Bread & Roses Award and children’s Little Rebels Award.

5pm Doors Close

Leave a comment »

The Little Rebels Have Come Out!

We are delighted to bring you the 2014 shortlist for the Little Rebels Award (for titles published in 2013). The winner will be announced at the London Radical Bookfair on May 10th 2014. Any of the shortlisted books can be bought from the not-for-profit, indie bookseller Letterbox Library. This award is run voluntarily and unfunded by Letterbox Library on behalf of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers. To keep this award (and the adult Bread & Roses Award alive), we do ask you to buy from Letterbox Library or from other members of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers wherever possible.

after tomorrow

After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross
(OUP, 2013)

A dystopian novel set in the UK. The 5 major banks have crashed, money is worthless, law & order are fragile and food is a precious commodity. The options are to go hungry, store food and risk being raided or flee the country. Matt and his family are forced to take that final option and make the dangerous escape to a refugee camp in France. Ages 9-12 Buy your copy here.


middle of nowhere

The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean
(Usborne, 2013)

When her mother dies from a snake bite, Comity and her dad are left to fend for themselves in the middle of nowhere- the Australian   outback in the 19th century. As her father loses himself in grief, Comity turns to Fred, a young Aboriginal boy and builds a friendship with him which fires the prejudices and violence of the white ‘settlers’. NB: the author has described Comity’s name as meaning “harmony and understanding between nations”. Ages 9-12 Buy your copy here.


moon bear

Moon Bear by Gill Lewis
(OUP, 2013)

12-year-old Tam is forced to leave his forest community in Laos to work for a bear farm in the city. A story about the cruel trade in bear bile, the narrative also explores conservation, urbanisation and dislocated communities, child labour and exploitation, landmines and corrupting consumerism. Ages 9-12 Buy your copy here. Buy your copy here.


The Promise

The Promise by Nicola Davies; ill. by Laura Carlin
(Walker, 2013)

A street thief in a “mean and hard and ugly city” nearly snatches a woman’s handbag…the woman tells the child she can have the bag if she makes a promise in return. It’s a promise she keeps and its consequences bring about her own and her environment’s transformation. A picture book which explores our relationship with nature and offers a vision of a new harmony. Ages 5-8 Buy your copy here.


harriet tubman

Real Lives: Harriet Tubman by Deborah Chancellor
(A&C Black, Bloomsbury Publishing 2013)

A slice of historical fiction detailing the remarkable life of Harriet Tubman: her enslavement, her fight for freedom and then her immeasurable bravery freeing others through the Underground Railroad, as a nurse during the civil war and as a suffragette. Ages 10-12 Buy your copy here.


rosie revere

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty; ill. by David Roberts
(Abrams Books for Younger Readers, 2013)

“This is the story of Rosie Revere, who dreamed of becoming a great engineer”. A gender-role-busting picture book about an inventive girl and an inspirational aunt who shows her that failure isn’t to be feared. Inspired by the fictional World War II character, Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of women’s work during the war. (US author; UK illustrator). Ages 4-7 Buy your copy here.


stay where you are

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne
(Doubleday, Random House UK, 2013)

There is nothing in the world Alfie wanted more than to ride the milk float with his Dad… but everything changes the day World War I begins and his beloved Dad enlists as a soldier. Divided families and communities, poverty, attitudes towards mental health and the treatment of conscientious objectors are all explored here. Ages 9-12 Buy your copy here.




Stompity Stomp! The Little Rebels Shortlist Will Be Announced Soon!

…We can hear the stompity stomp of little feet. We’re very excited to bring you the news that this year’s shortlist for the Little Rebels Award for Radical Children’s Fiction will be announced this Saturday! Housmans, London’s oldest radical bookshop, will be hosting a special event at 6.30pm, Saturday 29th March. The shortlist will be announced following a discussion on B.J. Epstein’s new book ‘Are the Kids All Right? Representations of LGBTQ Characters in Children’s and YA Literature’. There is a small entrance fee of £3 which is redeemable against any purchase from Housmans’ superb range. You can find out about this special event by clicking here. Please join us to welcome in the best and brightest of radical children’s fiction published in 2013.

Leave a comment »

Entries are now closed!

Entries are now closed for the Alliance of Radical Booksellers’ Little Rebels Children’s Book Award. Now in its 2nd year, enthusiasm for and curiousity in the award remains at a high. We have had some super-wonderful 2013 books sent in by publishers, from the big children’s publishing houses to the smaller indies out there- a quite fantastic range of picture books and novels by both established authors/illustrators and newcomers. This award really does seem to bring out and showcase the range and breadth of our publishing industry.  And, clearly, our homegrown tradition of radical publishing is thriving. The tough work of reading, biscuit dunking and, finally shortlisting now begins. Expect the shortlisted titles to be announced at the end of March!


Entries for the 2014 Prize are Now Open!

The Alliance of Radical Booksellers (ARB) is delighted to announce that the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award is back for its 2nd year. Submissions are now open; the closing date for nominations is January 13th 2014. You can find full details about nominations here: submitting a book . This year, Kim Reynolds, author of Radical Children’s Literature (Palgrave MacMillan: 2010), will be joining Wendy Cooling and Elizabeth Laird on our very distinguished panel of guest judges.

Leave a comment »

Sarah Garland Wins the Inaugural Little Rebels Children’s Book Award

We’re delighted to announce that Sarah Garland has won the first ever Little Rebels Children’s Book Award for her book, ‘Azzi In Between’, published by Frances Lincoln. The announcement was made at the new, London Radical Bookfair, Conway Hall, London on Saturday May 11th. Guest Judge Wendy Cooling presented Sarah Garland with her prize, which included a framed picture of ‘little rebels’ by Guardian cartoonist, Ros Asquith:

Sarah Garland receives her Ros Asquith picture!

Sarah Garland receives her Ros Asquith picture.

Sarah holds up her winning title.

Sarah holds up her winning title.

Earlier in the day, Wendy Cooling hosted a panel discussion on progressive children’s literature with two of the shortlisted Little Rebels authors, Jeanne Willis and Sarah Garland:

A lively and upbeat debate!

A lively and upbeat debate!

It’s been a fantastic process running this new children’s book award. Do remember you can buy any of the shortlisted titles from Letterbox Library. This award was run voluntarily and unfunded by Letterbox Library on behalf of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers. To keep this award and the adult Bread & Roses Award alive, we do ask you to buy from members of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers wherever possible.

Meantime…watch this space for future awards:

At the bookfair-a new little rebel in the making?

At the bookfair-a new little rebel in the making?


The Little Rebels Have Come Out To Play…!

In a mere 2 days, the winner of the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award 2013 will be announced. The award ceremony will take place this Saturday (11th May) at 4pm at the brand new, ARB London Radical Bookfair, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London. At 2pm, Guest Judge, Wendy Cooling will also be in conversation with two of the shortlisted Little Rebels authors, Jeanne Willis and Sarah Garland. Letterbox Library will be there with their stand of children’s books, including piles of the 4 shortlisted, Little Rebels titles. Veggie catering,  a real ale stand and a wonderful array of publisher/bookselelr stalls showcasing radical adult books will also fill Conway Hall. What more could you want? The event is free and open to all and we would love to see you there. It’s the 1st Little Rebels Children’s Book Award and the 1st London Radical Bookfair. So, do please join us and be part of history! For full details of this event, visit: ARB London Radical Bookfair 2013

Leave a comment »

The 2013 Little Rebels Shortlist is Announced!

On behalf of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers, Letterbox Library is delighted to announce the four books shortlisted for the inaugural Little Rebels Children’s Book Award. The shortlist has been passed on to our guest judges, Elizabeth Laird and Wendy Cooling, who will be meeting this month. The winner will be announced at the first ever ARB London Radical Bookfair on May 11th 2013. Any of the shortlisted books can be bought from the not-for-profit, indie bookseller Letterbox Library.

And here are the shortlisted titles (ages given are guidelines only):


Azzi In Between by Sarah Garland

(Frances Lincoln, 2012)

A short graphic novel which details one family’s escape from a country at war and their adjustment to life in a new country. Based on the author’s experiences among refugee families. Endorsed by Amnesty International UK. Ages 7-11 Get your copy here

Guest Judges Comments:

“A simple and powerful story, one with which we should all be tragically familiar, with a text and pictures that are rich, appealing and satisfyingly detailed” (Elizabeth Laird)

Set firmly in today’s world, Azzi tells the story of a family torn apart by war and forced to start a new life in a new land. The graphic novel style gives it freshness and immediacy and adds to the book’s child appeal. The text and illustrations work together brilliantly as they invite children to enjoy the story, and to think about the lives of other children” (Wendy Cooling)


Hans and Matilda by Yokococo

(Templar Publishing, 2012)

Described as a “feline Jekyll and Hyde adventure” by the publisher, this simple picture book with bold artwork tells the story of good Matilda and anarchic Hans…But are they so very different? Ages 3-6 Get your copy here

Guest Judges Comments:

A quirky picture book packed with humour and surprises. People, or cats in this case, are not always what they seem. This book will be enjoyed by children just geting into reading and by those who are listening to an adult reading. The illustrations are lively and the cover invites readers in” (Wendy Cooling)

A winner for small children, who delight in the clever surprise at the heart of the story, and enjoy the humour in the pictures” (Elizabeth Laird)


The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne; ill. by Oliver Jeffers

(Doubleday Books/Random House UK, 2012)

A chapter book for younger readers which introduces the unusual Barnaby Brocket, the terrible thing that happened to him and his fantastic odyssey around the world. A narrative about being different, being extraordinary and being happy with yourself.   Age 8-12 Get your copy here

Guest Judges Comments:

Written with delicacy and humour, John Boyne’s The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket is based on a witty and original concept worked through to its final dramatic denouement” (Elizabeth Laird)

This novel entertains from beginning to end but does much more as it introduces one of the most original characters ever. Barnaby simply can’t keep his feet on the ground; he floats! His conforming, boring parents find this impossible to cope with and allow him to float off into a world packed with strange meeting and adventures. Barnaby learns things that his parents will never understand and faces the future with a wide open mind. Beautifully written and very enticing” (Wendy Cooling)


Wild Child by Jeanne Willis; ill. by Lorna Freytag

(Walker Books 2012)

This picture book introduces Wild Child, a spirited, curious and free-loving child roaming in a magical prehistorical world. An anti-authoritarian story told through rhyming text and a fusion of photos and illustrations. Age 4-7 Get your copy here

Guest Judges Comments:

This is a beautiful picture book with a rhyming, rhythmic text that is a joy to read aloud; a book that will resonate in children’s heads and be interpreted in many ways. The stunning, painterly illustrations present just one understanding of the text; the reader will see more. The book is exceptionally well designed- everything is worth looking at, not least the endpapers ” (Wendy Cooling)

A truly radical work, celebrating freedom and originality on every page, and enhanced by exquisite artwork” (Elizabeth Laird)



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,576 other followers