Little Rebels 2020

This is the moment me and Maisie Paradise Shearring heard we had won the Little Rebels 2020 Award for our book, The Boy Who Loved Everyone (Walker Books, 2019). We were both bowled over and thrilled to win – and the online awards ceremony was very exciting to be part of. It was an honour to be part of such a strong shortlist and an amazing surprise to win.

The Little Rebels award celebrates radical children’s fiction, and I’m very proud to have become part of that tradition – it’s something I believe in strongly. Thankyou Little Rebels, and everyone involved in organising the awards – there’s no award I would rather win, and no illustrator I would rather win it with! Thankyou also to everyone at Walker Books for believing in this story right from the start – and most of all thankyou to the nursery where it all happened, and to the real boy that inspired the story. I’m meeting him and his mum for a socially distanced celebration in the park later this week.

I couldn’t be more pleased that the book has been used a lot in schools this year to help children returning to formal education after months at home due to lockdown. For more about the book, and the real-life story behind it, look here and here.

This is what the judges said:

Commenting on the winning book, judge Shaun Dellenty said: “This deceptively simple tale affords a very rich stimulus to engage young children in varied conversations about kindness, trust, non-judgement, consent, friendships, self-care, same sex love and the potential for our own compassion to inspire others to live more loving lives. In these challenging and divisive  times, the most radical act of all is surely to love; The Boy Who Loved Everyone brims joyfully with it.”

Judge Emily Drabble described the book as “a deceptively deeply radical book on expressing love, the crushing effect of society’s restrictions and judgements on who we can love even on a tiny and adorable preschooler. The text is divine and the illustrations are really something to rave about, depicting a gloriously inclusive cast of characters which will bring joy to your heart. A very worthy winner of this year’s Little Rebels award and heartening that it’s a book for the very young, giving promise of a better future.

Judge Darren Chetty said: “The Boy Who Loved Everyone captures the excitement, the confusion, and the nose-picking that will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time in the nursery classroom. There is a wealth of emotion lurking in this slice-of-life story, the kind of story that children will love to return to and talk about. I think the story’s sincerity, and its willingness to embrace uncertainty, make it a quietly radical book.”