The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2019 is fast approaching and the shortlist has been announced for this yearly children’s fiction award. There will be some local talent present at the awards, with two West Sussex authors having been shortlisted for their incredible work. Brighton’s Vashti Hardy has been shortlisted for her novel Brightstorm, and Worthing’s John Bond has been nominated for his picture book Mini Rabbit Not Lost.

The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize aims to reward emerging talent in children’s books and is one of the most prestigious and most important global prizes for children’s fiction.

Waterstones have been running this award for fifteen years, and this is not the first time that Brighton talent has been nominated for these awards. Recently, Brighton have produced three category winners, including Joe Todd Stanton (Illustrated Books 2018), Liz Pichon (Younger Fiction 2012) and Patrice Lawrence (Older Fiction 2017).

This award can make a significant difference to new writer’s careers, with Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give rising to the top of the bestseller charts following her award nomination and then overall win last year.

There is more than one award up-for-grabs each year, with there being three individual categories to compete for. The three categories are Illustrated Books, Younger Fiction and Older Fiction, with six books competing for each award. The category winners will then contend for the overall title, Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2019.

This year’s event will be taking place at Waterstones Piccadilly, Europe’s largest bookshop, on 21 March. The winners of each category will receive £2000 and the overall winner will be given an extra £3000. Winners will also be supported by Waterstones shops nationwide, boosting their sales and setting them up for further success in their budding careers.

Vashti Hardy has been shortlisted for the Younger Fiction category of the awards with her debut novel Brightstorm. It tells the story of twins Arthur and Maudie’s adventures following the death of their father, who was a famous explorer. The twins fantastical adventures aim to salvage their families’ reputation and Hardy’s work provides a lighthearted family focused-read for young children.


Hardy is thrilled with her nomination, saying that “I’m absolutely delighted, thrilled and over the moon (in a sky-ship) that Brightstorm has made the shortlist for the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year! It means the world that booksellers at Waterstones across the country have embraced the crew and championed me as a debut author, helping Brightstorm to find its way into children’s hands. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the most enthusiastic booksellers in the country in the past year – a huge thank you to all!”

Brightstorm has been getting rave reviews all around, with Holly Jones, Children’s Bookseller at Waterstones Brighton saying that “Brightstorm is a fast-paced adventure full of excitement, mystery and unlikely heroes. A truly vibrant and charming read similar to the likes of Katherine Rundell and Abi Elphinstone, it’s a daring tale that will keep you gripped to the very end!”

Hardy completed her teaching degree and then completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, combining her two passions through her education. She was a primary school teacher in Brighton, before getting a job as a Copywriting and Digital Marketing Executive. Her varied career path, and her new-found success as a writer, shows us that you are still able to follow your passions and achieve all the goals you set for yourself, no matter where your career takes you. 

The other local creative nominated for this year’s award is illustrator John Bond. Bond has similarly taken a new turn into publishing with his new picture book Mini Rabbit Not Lost, which has been nominated for the Illustrated Books category of the Waterstones awards. Bond has previously worked doing art for animations, commercials, murals, exhibitions, websites, and much, much more, but has now ventured into children’s literature with his hilarious and engaging picture book.

Bond is incredibly excited to see his work being recognised in the publishing sphere, saying “I’m so chuffed to know that Mini Rabbit has been recognised and appreciated in the big wide world of publishing. It’s an absolute honour to be shortlisted for this prize. Seeing Mini Rabbit Not Lost out there on shelves and in the hands of children is a dream come true!”

Picture books are not just for children and can be enjoyed by people of all ages, as many parents have discovered I am sure. Tom Flint, Bookshop Manager at Waterstones Worthing, definitely agrees with this, arguing that “John Bond has made Worthing so proud with this thrilling tale of adventure that follows one hungry rabbit on the quirkiest of quests. Gorgeous illustrations captivate the reader, delighting kids and adults alike.”


Other titles that have been shortlisted for the 2019 awards include Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison, The Mystery Of The Colour Thief by Ewa Jozefkowicz and Boy 87 by Ele Fountain.

With the turn of the new year, 2019 brings so many new, talented writers into the publishing world, and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize gives these talented individuals the chance to be recognised for their incredible work. There are so many fantastic writers who have been nominated for this year’s awards, and I am sure that Hardy and Bond will do Brighton proud on 21 March.

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