A journey of discovery: through time, space and a world of fantasy


From time travel, fantasy and shocking stories of survival to fantastically funny football facts, this year’s Blue Peter Book Awards shortlist explores a diverse range of themes. The six titles are competing for a chance to win one of two prestigious awards: Best Story and Best Book with Facts.

The Blue Peter Book Awards, managed by BookTrust, the largest reading charity in Britain, are now in their 17th year and celebrate the best new children’s books from the last 12 months.  

Ross Welford’s bestselling debut Time Travelling with a Hamster has made it to this year’s shortlist. It is competing in the Best Story category against Kieran Larwood’s adventure tale Podkin One Ear which is illustrated by David Wyatt, and Adam Murphy and Lisa Murphy’s comic-style collection of forgotten folk stories, Lost Tales. 

time-travelling  podkin-one-ear  lost-tales-cover-image

Shortlisted for the Best Book with Facts category is David Long’s Survivors, an anthology of incredible true stories illustrated by Kerry Hyndman. It’s up against Dr Christoph Englert’s Destination Space, full of fascinating facts about space and illustrated by Tom Clohosy Cole. The hilarious Football School: Where Football Rules the World by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton and illustrated by Spike Gerrell completes the shortlist for 2017.

survivors   destination-space  football-book-jacket

The shortlist will be announced live on Blue Peter on Thursday 1 December.

The judges, including Radio presenter Nihal Arthanayake, children’s author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre and Waterstone’s Children’s Book Buyer Florentyna Martin, selected the shortlist which will be sent out to schools, giving participating children the opportunity to read the final six and vote for their favourite books.

Blue Peter Book Awards judge and father of two Nihal Arthanayake said: “What an amazing time to be a young reader. As I immersed myself in time travelling, death defying, life affirming literature, my middle-aged imagination was catapulted into a series of new worlds. It is a real honour to have been part of the Blue Peter Book Awards and spend all those hours not only reading the books, but seeing the joy they brought to my own children also.”  

The winners will be chosen by over 400 children from 12 schools across the UK who will read each of the shortlisted books and then vote for their favourite in each category. The winners will be announced live on Blue Peter on 23 February 2017 with the winning authors and illustrators appearing on a special World Book Day episode of the show on Thursday 2 March 2017.

A librarian from one of the participating schools said “Blue Peter is a national institution, something that everyone knows or is familiar with. The popularity of the programme allows us to engage pupils and parents and get them excited about being involved. Taking part in the judging process is an excellent stepping stone towards encouraging parents and carers to be more involved with their child’s school life. It’s a great honour to be involved with a programme that has made such a positive and lasting impact on so many generations of lives.”

Diana Gerald, Chief Executive of BookTrust said: “The Blue Peter Book Awards have been celebrating children’s literature since 2000. They are a wonderful way to share an excitement of reading and encourage the children to be part of the bigger picture. Reading impacts so many parts of life, not only are there educational benefits but reading also helps to build confidence and develop social skills. Being involved in the decision-making process of such prestigious awards will hopefully help to change opinions on reading and make the children feel they are part of something special.”

BookTrust, the largest children’s reading charity in Britain, has managed the Blue Peter Book Awards since 2008. The 2016 winners were Ross MacKenzie, who won Best Story with The Nowhere Emporium and Adam Frost, a graphic designer, who won Best Book with Facts with The Epic Book of Epicness.


Shortlisted for the 2017 awards are:

Best Story

  • Lost Tales by Adam Murphy and Lisa Murphy
  • Podkin One Ear by Kieran Larwood and illustrated by David Wyatt
  • Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

Best Book with Facts

  • Survivors by David Long and illustrated by Kerry Hyndman
  • Destination: Space by Dr Christoph Englert and illustrated by Tom Clohosy Cole
  • Football School – Where Football Explains the World by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton and illustrated by Spike Gerrell

The judges for this year’s awards are:

  • Ewan Vinnicombe – (non-voting chair) Editor, Blue Peter
  • Florentyna Martin – Children’s Book Buyer for Waterstones
  • Nihal Arthanayake – BBC Radio Presenter, father of two
  • Sarah McIntyre – Children’s author and illustrator 

Meet the judges

Ewan Vinnicombe (non-voting chair) has been Blue Peter Editor since January 2013. In his 17 years working at the BBC he’s worked on a number of children’s productions, including Springwatch Trackers, Blue Peter, Record Breakers, The Saturday Show and Live & Kicking and CBBC & CBeebies Presentation.

Florentyna Martin started her bookselling career six years ago in her hometown of Petersfield. She is now based in London as the Children’s Book Buyer for Waterstones, where she looks after book ranges for ages 0-12 and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. A bookworm through-and-through, Florentyna has always enjoyed reading and recommending great books across children’s and adult publishing, from picture books and fiction, to activities and reference.

Nihal Arthanayake is the host of BBC Radio 5 Live’s Afternoon Edition (Mon-Thu 1-4pm) and can be heard on the BBC Asian Network Fridays (10am–1pm). He has recently hosted the BBC Radio 2 Arts Show, on TV hosting Sunday Politics London for BBC1 and was part of the BBC’s coverage of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Nihal spent over a decade on BBC Radio 1 where he fronted a variety of shows for the network. He has been a music journalist having written for Asiana, Eastern Eye, The Face, Mixmag, Hip Hop Connection and The Observer.  He sits on the board of London’s Southbank Centre, and was a cultural ambassador for the successful London 2012 Olympic Bid.

Sarah McIntyre Illustrator and writer Sarah McIntyre is easy to spot in her pointy glasses and hats. She makes books with pictures in an old police station – complete with jail cells! Her books include the comic Vern and Lettuce, four books with Philip Reeve including Pugs of the Frozen North and Jinks & O’Hare Funfair Repair, and her picture books include There’s a Shark in the Bath and Dinosaur Police. Find out about the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign she leads, encouraging people to credit illustrators properly for their work at Pictures Mean Business  

About Blue Peter

Blue Peter is the longest running children’s magazine programme in the world. As well as the Book Awards, the show’s family of presenters, live studio home, amazing competitions, incredible challenges, live music, interviews with celebrities, access behind the scenes, pets, makes and bakes, free games online and most importantly its commitment to the audience are all long standing elements of this iconic show BBC Blue Peter 

About Book Trust

BookTrust is the largest children’s reading charity in Britain. We work to inspire a love of reading in children because we know that reading can transform lives. We give out over 5 million carefully chosen books to children throughout the UK; every parent receives a BookTrust book in the baby’s first year. Our books, guidance and resources are delivered via health, library, schools and early years practitioners, and are supported with advice and resources to encourage the reading habit. Reading for pleasure has a dramatic impact on educational outcomes, well-being and social mobility, and is also a huge pleasure in itself. We are committed to starting children on their reading journey and supporting them throughout Book Trust

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