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Information Book Awards shortlist

22nd May 20

The shortlist for the School Library Association Information Book Award 2020 has been announced, with 11 books across ages from under seven years to 16+ included.

The shortlist for each age category is as follows:

Up to 7 years

All About Feelings by Felicity Brooks and Frankie Allen, Mar Ferrero (Usborne Publishing)

Although written and presented with younger children in mind, this manages to explore all the complexities of our feelings, while remaining engaging. The picture book format makes the book ideal for sharing, with each double-page spread addressing a different aspect of our feelings. It encourages young readers to think about how others might be feeling, to empathise with others, to consider how to react in different situations and how to be kind to themselves. The book includes sound practical advice for grown-ups, plus the link to the excellent Usborne Quicklinks website for more ideas. All in all, this is an excellent book to help youngsters develop emotional literacy

Goodnight Ocean by Becky Davies, Carmen Saldana (Little Tiger)

Carmen Saldana's clever use of cut-out sections draw you through this beautifully illustrated and tactile book on a journey through the ocean at bedtime. Short, interesting facts about the animals who make the ocean their home are interspersed with rhyming couplets by Becky Davies which have a soothing rhythmic tone when reading aloud. A wonderful book to share before sleep.

Heroes Who Help Us From Around the World by Liz Gogerly, Ryan Wheatcroft (Franklin Watts)

It's wonderful to see this common topic covered with a new angle and flair, including people from different countries and cultures, a huge range of jobs that help communities (including some that are rarely covered in other books), and an easily accessible and engaging layout. The whole package has great appeal, both as a classroom title and a read for pleasure, and the tone throughout is positive, gracious and inclusive.

The Usborne Book of the Moon by Laura Cowan, Diana Toledano (Usborne Publishing)

This fascinating history of the moon with its eye-catching illustrations and intriguing facts is guaranteed to spark a sense of wonder in children of all ages. Starting with the moon's history with folk tales from Finland to China, we are told of the moons value to early humans for hunting and measuring time, together with interesting facts and thoughtful design. A glorious and engaging book.

8 to 12 years

Africa, Amazing Africa by Atinuke, Mouni Feddag (Walker Books)

Utilising a page per country, Atinuke imparts a number of captivating facts, strikingly accompanied by Mouni Feddag's vivid illustrations. Together, they paint a snapshot of the continent and the people who live there which perhaps challenges already held perceptions but certainly encourages the reader to find out more, which could begin with the sources listed at the back of the book. A visually engaging starting point for anyone seeking a flavour of multifaceted Africa.

Dictionary of Difficult Words by Jane Solomon, Louise Lockhart (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

This giant-sized dictionary of over 400 words will delight anyone (of any age) with a fascination for words. Try saying the words out loud, guess the meanings, discover the longest and shortest words, just dip in randomly or simply read for fun! Each definition provides a guide to pronunciation, the part of speech (noun, adjective or verb) and there are hints about how to work out what a word means, and with bold and beautifully designed spreads.

Heroes by Jonny Marx, Gerhard van Wyk (Little Tiger)

A lot of books in this style have come out over the last few years, but this lifts itself above the crowd, with a wonderfully wide reaching selection of people featured, balanced well between well known figures and names who will be new to most readers. The tone is light and engaging while still conveying a lot of information for the short articles, and the visual style is modern, bold, and striking. Fascinating, informative, and exciting to pick up.

Kids Fight Plastic by Martin Dorey, Tim Wesson (Walker Books)

A pocket-sized paperback which explains how to become a #2minutesuperhero by doing something simple every day to help fight plastic and save the oceans. The book contains loads of background information and fascinating facts about the plastic problem, but also suggests plenty of achievable activities that anyone can put into practice, wherever they are (street, park, or school playground), and begin to take an active part in really making a difference. Fully illustrated throughout.

13 to 16 years

Black History Matters by Robin Walker (Franklin Watts)

Robin Walker draws together the major historical, geographical and political events that have shaped the experience of black people, from Ta-Seti to today, in this engaging and informative book. Well thought-out typography and a comprehensive contents page and index mean the wealth of information is easy to navigate and the accompanying photographs of artefacts, maps and people bring life to the facts and biographical accounts featured. A solid introduction to this vast aspect of world history.

Feminism Is...Foreword by Gemma Cairney (Dorling Kindersley)

Feminism is... goes far beyond the 'introduction' it is described as. It is a wonderfully versatile handbook, useful for quick reference, a long read or dipping in and out of for inspiration. Gemma Cairney's upbeat foreword introduces the book's intention to 'break it down beyond a statement t-shirt': an ambition which it far exceeds. It is pleasing to see lesser known icons such as Rigoberta Menchu and bell hooks included alongside some of the 'usual suspects'. Split into five sections and complete with a glossary, index and 'Directory of Feminists', the diverse range of topics covered is impressive.

Hidden Planet by Ben Rothery (Penguin Random House)

An uncharacteristically large format book for Ladybird, this is a personal love letter to the natural world created by the author/illustrator to give readers 'a glimpse of the outstanding diversity of nature'. The originality of the book lies in how it explores the different ways in which creatures are hidden from sight, including the relationships between species that might otherwise seem unconnected. The book makes for fascinating reading, introducing new or less familiar concepts and animals. It is ideal for dipping into, but could also be used to support research, and would-be David Attenboroughs will undoubtedly want to read the book from cover to cover.

Chair of Judges for 2020, Margaret Pemberton said, "In a world that is increasingly depending on digital resources it is important that we remember the very positive attributes of information books. A high quality book will have been well researched, be age appropriate for the audience and above all will be a thing of beauty and wonder to the person reading it.

"You have only got to see a group of young children sharing an information book to realize the importance of sharing, exploration and discovery as they become absorbed in the pages of a stunning work. A great information book will combine art, information, questioning and that magical 'something' that inspires the reader, something which all of these shortlisted books do."

The winners will be announced at an event at Hachette Children's Group's offices, Carmelite House, in November.

Voting for the Children's Choice from the shortlist will open shortly as will some activity ideas for the books. Announcements will follow on the SLA Website:

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