Oscar’s Book Prize 2022 shortlist

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The annual award in search of the best book for under-fives has thrown up the wonderful and wacky stories on this year’s Oscar’s Book Prize 2022 shortlist. They feature everything from tales of cheeky monkeys and magical foxes, to new-found friendships and important life lessons.

The award, now in its ninth year, is supported by Amazon, the National Literacy Trust and the Evening Standard. It was set up by James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand to celebrate magical stories for children in memory of their son Oscar, who was three-and-a-half when he died from an undiagnosed heart condition in December 2012. 

This year’s shortlist features a vast variety of creatures, including monkeys and tigers, ducks and frogs, bears, squirrels and chickens, spoilt children and kind gorillas, a cat having a grumpy day – and finally, one very special arctic fox. While they contain such different characters, these stories are linked by their lively narratives, outstanding illustrations, and inspirational messages – whether that’s encouraging confidence, understanding big feelings, or finding friendship. 

This year’s shortlist were selected by a star-studded judging panel including, singer-songwriter Sophie Ellis-Bextor and her mother, Janet Ellis, a two-time author and former Blue Peter presenter. The pair were joined by award-winning illustrator, Chris Riddell and rapper, actor, comedian and children’s author, Ben Bailey Smith (Doc Brown), alongside Amazon’s UK Books Country Manager, Lisa De Meyer and the Prize co-founder, Viveka Alvestrand.

The winner will be announced by the award’s patron, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, at a ceremony on Tuesday 17th May in central London.

Helping select the shortlist for this year’s Oscar’s Book Prize was a real privilege – such an exciting variety of stories and characters that were as brilliantly funny as they were meaningful, and all beautifully illustrated. It is these sorts of books which stand the test of time and become literary favourites that are passed down the generations. I’m certain all children would love to read all six!

– Ben Bailey Smith (Doc Brown)

It’s been a pleasure for Amazon to once again help celebrate and support Oscar’s Book Prize. We have read some incredible stories and are extremely proud of the chosen shortlist. I think all the judging panel agree that it was great to see such a range of characters and storylines from authors submitting to the Prize for the first time through to returning entrants with Smriti Halls and Steve Small.

Lisa De Meyer, UK Books Country Manager, Amazon

Oscar’s Book Prize 2022 shortlist

Barbara Throws a Wobbler by Nadia Shireen (Puffin, PRH Children’s)

Barbara is in a very bad mood. She won’t admit it, but she is. She has a problem with a sock, and at lunchtime there’s a strange pea… And even though she’s at the park with her friends, it all just gets a bit much. Suddenly Barbara’s wobbler is out of control.

Maybe… by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)

A funny, suspenseful and keenly observed cautionary tale about pushing boundaries and indulging your more mischievous, cheeky side (when nobody is looking).

The Pet: Cautionary Tales for Children and Grown-ups by Catherine Emmett and David Tazzyman (Macmillan Children’s Books)

A hilarious tale with a ‘be careful what you wish for’ message, especially if you wish for a gorilla and don’t look after it properly.

The Duck Who Didn’t Like Water by Steve Small (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)

Duck is not like other ducks. Duck doesn’t like water and is perfectly fine alone, thank you very much. But then, one dark and stormy night, an outgoing, water-loving, and very lost Frog turns up at Duck’s door. Can this odd couple find Frog’s home? And will they find friendship along the way?

The Fire Fox by Alexandra Page and Stef Murphy (Two Hoots, Macmillan Children’s Books)

Freya and her mum have gone to a little cabin to get away for a while. The light has gone out of their lives since Freya’s dad passed away. Freya isn’t sure about going sledging, but when she meets a magical fox in the snow, she can’t help but follow him into the forest – and on to a thrilling adventure.

I’m Sticking With You Too by Smriti Halls and Steve Small (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)

Much-loved characters Bear and Squirrel are back! And they’ve found the perfect rhythm for their friendship. Until, that is, Chicken turns up… She wants in! But how will Bear and Squirrel feel about accepting a new friend? Will they come to see that some things work out when we do them together. That two can be good…but three can be better?


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