Discover the winners of the Teach Primary Book Awards, 2021!

The annual Teach Primary Book Awards are always a glorious celebration of the very best the world of children’s writing has to offer - and this year has been no exception. From the arrival of the first entries, back in June, through the hugely challenging process of shortlisting, to the final verdicts of our fantastic judges, it has been, as ever, a journey full of surprises and delight, and one of which it has been our joy and privilege to play a part.

Unlike other literary reward schemes, the Teach Primary Book Awards don’t just recognise exceptional writing and beautiful illustration (although these are, of course, attributes shared by all the shortlisted titles) - they also take into account factors that are particularly significant for teachers who are looking for books they can share with pupils, and use to create and teach outstanding and unforgettable lessons. To this end, alongside the words and pictures, our judges also considered such factors as learning opportunities, points for discussion, emotional complexity and language play when deciding on their scores. We are thrilled to be able to share the results of their assessments with you now; 32 stunning titles that we know will enhance library shelves, inspire writing, entice reluctant readers and nourish bookworms. Enjoy!

“I have really enjoyed reading all of the books. There are certainly titles to support teaching and learning within the classroom and I will be passing these on to teachers, as well as adding them to some of our recommended lists!”

Judge: Leah Chin, educational manager at Tales on Moon Lane

MEET THE JUDGES

Konnie Huq (judging our non-fiction category) is a multitalented television and radio presenter, screenwriter and children's author. Her novel Cookie and the Most Annoying Boy in the World was shortlisted for last year’s Teach Primary Book Awards.
Liz Flanagan writes for children and young adults, having been a lifelong reader of children’s books. Her debut novel Eden Summer was nominated for the Carnegie Medal.
Brough Girling is co-founder of the Readathon charity. A qualified teacher, he has written over 30 children’s books, broadcast widely and lectured in children’s reading from Canada to Cairo. He was head of the Children’s Book Foundation in London and founding editor of the Young Telegraph.
Megan Smith is a book lover who works on the Young Readers Programme – the National Literacy Trust’s flagship reading for enjoyment programme.
Leah Chin has been the educational manager at Tales on Moon Lane, having worked there for 12 years following several years as a nursery teacher.
"This is an exciting and wonderful opportunity to be involved in. It will be great to be able to select texts of a high standard, that can then be used to support the teaching and learning within the classroom, which is of key importance."
Dan Smith led three lives growing up: the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, finding adventure in the padi fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil, and in a world of his own, making up stories. He now spends his time writing books for adults and children.

RECEPTION

Key criteria

Memorable illustration  Read-aloud-ability  Opportunities for discussion  Encourages language play and development

WINNER

This is Crab, Harriet Evans

This is Crab, Harriet Evans

(Caterpillar Books, Little Tiger Group)

Proof that a printed book can be every bit as interactive as any screen-based game, this delightful story encourages children to join in on every spread - counting, waggling their fingers, rubbing the pictures, shaking the pages and much more, developing their communication and fine motor skills all the while. Jacqui Lee’s bold, bright illustrations are adorable, and Harriet Evans is a marvellous narrator; together, they have created something truly special.

“Gorgeously interactive, this book invites the reader to be an engaged and active participant in the reading. It’s huge fun, with lovely, bright, vibrant illustrations.”

Liz Flanagan

RUNNER-UP

Bad Apple, Huw Lewis Jones and Ben Sanders

Bad Apple, Huw Lewis Jones and Ben Sanders

(Thames & Hudson)

Apple really is a nasty piece of fruit - stealing Pear’s chair, drinking Pea’s tea, and getting up to all kinds of rhyming shenanigans before going a step too far and eating Snake’s cake… Children will love the shameless naughtiness and relish the rhymes; but what on Earth will happen when Apple meets Orange?

“Really love this! The illustrations are basic but suit the story perfectly, and there’s lots to talk about.”

Dan Smith

ALSO SHORTLISTED

Imagine! Patricia Forde

Imagine! Patricia Forde

(Little Island Books)
When the Sun Goes Home, Momoko Abe

When the Sun Goes Home, Momoko Abe

(Hachette Children's Group)
The Great Paint, Alex Willmore

The Great Paint, Alex Willmore

(Tate Publishing)
The Spots and the Dots, Helen Baugh

The Spots and the Dots, Helen Baugh

(Andersen Press)
National Trust: The Wide, Wide Sea, Anna Wilson & Jenny Løvlie

National Trust: The Wide, Wide Sea, Anna Wilson & Jenny Løvlie

(Nosy Crow)
A Little Bit Worried, Ciara Gavin and Tim Warnes

A Little Bit Worried, Ciara Gavin and Tim Warnes

(Little Tiger Press)

KS1

Key Criteria

Breadth of appeal  Use of illustration  Pacy, engaging story  Learning opportunities

WINNER

The Wanderer, Peter Van Den Ende

The Wanderer, Peter Van Den Ende

(Pushkin Children's Books)

Without a single word, Peter Van Den Ende uses art to tell an incredible story; following the journey of a little paper boat through a succession of strange, wonderful - and occasionally frightening - scenes. Dreamlike (perhaps nightmarish in places) and haunting, this is a book that children and adults alike will come back to time and time again, finding new details and adding layers to the narrative with every read. It’s an extraordinary work, surely destined to become a classic, and a profoundly exciting prospect for any teacher.

“Stunning, original, unforgettable. It should really be in a category of its own for ‘the most astounding and disturbing book without words you’ve ever opened’!”

Brough Girling

RUNNER-UP

Pizazz vs the New Kid, Sophy Henn

Pizazz vs the New Kid, Sophy Henn

(Simon & Schuster Children's)

In this follow up to Henn’s first story about Pizazz, things really heat up for the reluctant schoolgirl superhero when a potential rival appears on the scene - and once again, the mix of prose and comic-book panels keeps the hilarious adventure bouncing along at a rollicking pace.

“Zany, witty, with comic type illustrations - this has great appeal.”

Leah Chin

ALSO SHORTLISTED

Magnificent Mabel and the Egg and Spoon Race, Ruth Quayle & Julia Christians

Magnificent Mabel and the Egg and Spoon Race, Ruth Quayle & Julia Christians

(Nosy Crow)
An Alien in the Jam Factory, Chrissie Sains

An Alien in the Jam Factory, Chrissie Sains

(Walker Books)
Monster Max and the Bobble Hat of Forgetting, Robin Bennet

Monster Max and the Bobble Hat of Forgetting, Robin Bennet

(Firefly Press)
Lottie Loves Nature: Bee-ware! Jane Clarke

Lottie Loves Nature: Bee-ware! Jane Clarke

(Five Quills)
I Wish You More, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

I Wish You More, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

(Chronicle Books)
Wild is the Wind, Grahame Baker-Smith

Wild is the Wind, Grahame Baker-Smith

(Bonnier Books UK)

KS2

Key Criteria

Originality  Compelling plot  Emotional depth  Something to think about?

WINNER

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh, Helen Rutter

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh, Helen Rutter

(Scholastic)

Funny, tender, and full of the kind of perceptive observation that can only come from lived experience, Helen Rutter’s debut novel is a triumph. The protagonist, Billy Plimpton, is an eleven-year-old boy with dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian - but if he’s going to achieve his ambition, he’ll have to overcome multiple obstacles, including a school bully… and a stammer. This is a book for any child struggling to find his or her voice, and a celebration of what it means to be proud of exactly who you are.

“A heart-warming, moving story about overcoming adversity with adorable memorable characters – I loved it!”

Liz Flanagan

RUNNER-UP

The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke, Kirsty Applebaum

The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke, Kirsty Applebaum

(Nosy Crow)

This captivating story is based on a fascinating premise: what if someone had the power to extend the lives of others - but only at the cost of shortening their own? It’s a tale that will keep readers gripped, and leave them with plenty to talk about.

“This story tackles big questions in a fresh and interesting way. Very thoughtful.”

Megan Smith

ALSO SHORTLISTED

A Girl Called Joy, Jenny Valentine

A Girl Called Joy, Jenny Valentine

(Simon & Schuster Children's)
Rumaysa: A Fairytale, Radiya Hafiza

Rumaysa: A Fairytale, Radiya Hafiza

(Macmillan Children's Books)
Between Sea and Sky, Nicola Penfold

Between Sea and Sky, Nicola Penfold

(Stripes Publishing)
Crater Lake Evolution, Jennifer Killick

Crater Lake Evolution, Jennifer Killick

(Firefly Press)
The Valley of Lost Secrets, Lesley Parr

The Valley of Lost Secrets, Lesley Parr

(Bloomsbury)
When We Got Lost in Dreamland, Ross Welford

When We Got Lost in Dreamland, Ross Welford

(HarperCollins Children's Books)

NON-FICTION

Key Criteria

Quality of information  Presentation  Is the writing entertaining and age-appropriate?  Will it provoke futher curiosity?

WINNER

How to be an Art Rebel Ben Street

How to be an Art Rebel Ben Street

(Thames & Hudson)

“Art can make us think about scary things like death, and what it feels like to be happy. It can tell us stories, challenge our ideas, and make us feel understood.” So says the edgy, feline narrator of this irreverent yet hugely informative book; a fantastic introduction to the art world for children that never lectures, but rather, empowers young readers with the knowledge and understanding they need to form their own opinions - and express them with confidence.

“Entertaining and engaging, humorous and visually appealing.”

Konnie Huq

RUNNER-UP

It's Her Story: Rosa Parks Lauren Burke

It's Her Story: Rosa Parks Lauren Burke

(Sunbird Books)

Packed with information and insight, this short but comprehensive graphic novel does a fantastic job of contextualising Rosa Parks’ life, helping readers to understand just how brave and transformative her act of rebellion was, and why it remains so important to remember.

“I really enjoyed this book; it felt a bit like watching a biopic!”

Konnie Huq

ALSO SHORTLISTED

Wild Child: A Journey Through Nature Dara McAnulty

Wild Child: A Journey Through Nature Dara McAnulty

(Macmillan Children's Books)
Is There Anybody Out There? Dara Ó Briain

Is There Anybody Out There? Dara Ó Briain

(Scholastic)
Queens: 3,000 Years of the Most Incredible Women in History Victoria Crossman

Queens: 3,000 Years of the Most Incredible Women in History Victoria Crossman

(Scholastic)
Usborne Book of the Brain and How it Works Dr Betina Ip

Usborne Book of the Brain and How it Works Dr Betina Ip

(Usborne)
This is Our World Tracey Turner

This is Our World Tracey Turner

(Kingfisher)
On Your Marks, Get Set… Gold! Scott Allen

On Your Marks, Get Set… Gold! Scott Allen

(Nosy Crow)