Waterstones Children's Book Prize winners 2021

It is with enormous pleasure that we announce Elle McNicoll's A Kind of Spark as the Overall Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2021.

Born out of Elle McNicoll's desire to see a neurodivergent main character in children's fiction, A Kind of Spark – which also wins the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Younger Readers category - introduces the unforgettable Addie. Determined to memorialise the victims of her hometown's historic witch trials, Addie must draw on the power of friendship and her own personal courage to win the hearts and minds of those in her community who would rather she stayed in the background. Compelling and important, A Kind of Spark is a powerful, page-turning modern classic.

 

“We have fallen in love with Addie, whose courage and determination are a guiding light, often reminding the world that kindness must prevail wherever we go. Elle McNicoll is undoubtedly an outstanding new talent in children’s books and will inspire readers young and old for generations to come.”

FloreNtyna Martin, Waterstones Children's Buyer

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Sublimely silly yet uncannily accurate about toddler tantrums, Bethan Stevens' exquisitely illustrated picture book focuses on a set of surly sprites and impudent imps - and the ravenously hungry goblin who finds them most delicious.

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Deftly merging the tenderness of a gay love story with the white-hot terror of the purest zombie chiller, Charlton's unputdownable debut novel paints a brilliantly detailed picture of a community under siege in a post-apocalyptic America.

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Meet the winner
Meet the winner

We catch up with Elle McNicoll, Overall Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2021


Illustrated Books Shortlist
Younger Readers Shortlist
Older Readers Shortlist
History of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize

Illustrated Books Shortlist

Sparking the imaginations of our very youngest readers, our Illustrated Books shortlist combines exciting visual storytelling with sensitively handled introductions to important themes. From a heartwarming tale of a lost teddy and the power of community to a vivid parable about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, these books are perfect for little hands and enquiring minds.

Bear Shaped
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Found You
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Freedom, We Sing
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The Grumpy Fairies
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The Blue Giant
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Where Happiness Begins
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Younger Readers' Shortlist

Magical worlds mingle with side-splitting comedy and real-life narratives in these six page-turning books for independent readers. An intergalactic race against time, a revelatory story of neurodiversity and an evocative Caribbean mystery all feature in a wide-ranging shortlist of consistently high quality.

A Clock of Stars: The Shadow Moth
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A Kind of Spark
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Llama Out Loud!
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Orion Lost
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When Life Gives You Mangoes
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Older Readers' Shortlist

Reflecting the maturity and intelligence of publishing for Teenagers and Young Adults, the Older Fiction shortlist boasts hard-hitting plotlines, complex characterisation and deft humour that never patronises or condescends. Fearless fantasy rubs shoulders with contemporary drama in this dazzling selection.

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly
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Boy, Everywhere
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Only Mostly Devastated
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Raybearer
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The Black Flamingo
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Wranglestone
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Previous Overall Winners

Look Up!
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The Boy At the Back of the Class
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The Hate U Give
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The Girl of Ink & Stars
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My Brother Is a Superhero
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Blown Away
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Rooftoppers
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Ketchup Clouds
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The Pirates Next Door
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Artichoke Hearts
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The Great Hamster Massacre
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The Thirteen Treasures
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Ways to Live Forever
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Darkside NE
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The Diamond of Drury Lane
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The Cry of the Icemark
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Celebrating 15 Years of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize

Celebrating 15 Years of the Waterstones Children's Books Prize

In 2019 we celebrated 15 years of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, reflecting on how far this unique award has come in discovering and championing the very best in children’s publishing.

15 Years of New Talent

We are passionate about discovering new talent. Since the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize first began, we’ve been sharing the best in new writing for children and teenagers.

15 Years of Illustration

We know that pictures can bring stories to life. Over the years, it’s been our pleasure to introduce fresh creative talent which combines words and pictures to stunning effect.

15 Years of Leading Conversation

Our choices always put readers first, rewarding the books that matter to them and reflecting the topics young people of all ages are most passionate about.

15 Years of Fun

We know that one of the hardest challenges for a writer is making readers laugh and that’s why we love to celebrate books that raise a chuckle.

15 Years Finding Adventure

Feeding young imaginations with the fuel to build universes of their own, we have always championed sweeping adventures of new worlds and brave deeds.

15 Years Being Brave

Throughout the history of the prize, we’ve rewarded books that engage with difficult issues in innovative and extraordinary ways. Stories that move, provoke and stay with you forever.

The Next 15 Years

Congratulations to this year's overall winner Elle McNicoll and her breathtaking debut novel A Kind of Spark. What remarkable new books will make the shortlist next year? Join us in 2022 for a fresh clutch of exciting new writing and illustration talent.

Illustrated Books Shortlist
Younger Readers Shortlist
Older Readers Shortlist
History of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize