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The Boy at the Back of the Class wins Waterstones prize

23rd Mar 19


Onjali Q Rauf's The Boy at the Back of the Class has won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2019. The story, about a young refugee boy, was chosen as the winner by Waterstones booksellers.


Separated from his family, Syrian refugee Ahmet is alone in a new school and a new country; to those around him he is just the boy at the back of the class. When a group of children set out to befriend him and learn about his story, they embark on an unexpected, whirlwind adventure.

Waterstones described the book as "Bursting with charm, humour and compassion, and featuring wonderful illustrations from Pippa Curnick. The Boy at the Back of the Class is a moving, timely story about understanding and showing kindness to those around us."

James Daunt, Waterstones' managing director, added, "Our booksellers, one after another, have given The Boy at the Back of the Class the highest and rarest of accolades, that it is a future classic. It is, notwithstanding its urgent contemporary relevance, a book that is funny, generous and vivid. It is a joy to read, and we recommend it unreservedly."

The winner of the Illustrated Books category was The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovlie, a story of fun and friendship, celebrating individuality on the path to growing up.

Tomi Adeyemi's electrifying fantasy debut, Children of Blood and Bone, won the older category. The first in an epic new series, and blending West African mythology with original world-building, it is an action-packed novel of courage and identity, told with thrilling urgency.


Here are the full shortlists:


Illustrated Books Shortlist

100 Dogs by Michael Whaite (Puffin)

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (Walker Books)

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (Puffin)

Mini Rabbit Not Lost by John Bond (HarperCollins Children's Books)

The Girls by Lauren Ace (Caterpillar Books)

The King Who Banned the Dark by Emily Haworth-Booth (Pavillion Children's Books)


Younger Fiction Shortlist

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy (Scholastic)

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Rauf (Orion Children's Books)

The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd (Piccadilly Press)

The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Andersen (Usborne)

The Mystery of the Colour Thief by Ewa Jozefkowicz (Zephyr)

The Train to Impossible Places by PG Bell (Usborne)


Older Fiction Shortlist


A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos (Europa Editions)

Boy 87 by Ele Fountain (Pushkin Children's Books)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Me Mam. Me Dad. ME. by Malcolm Duffy (Zephyr)

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (Electric Monkey)

The Truth About Lies by Tracy Darnton (Stripes Books)









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