WKAR Quiz Writers’ Choice Award nominees for 2019!

By Kerry McGuire, Assistant Editor

Here at Renaissance, we’re getting excited for next week’s launch of our annual What Kids Are Reading report!

During the 2017-2018 school year, we in the Content team were lucky enough to read hundreds of books which we quizzed for Accelerated Reader. The Quiz Writers’ Choice Award gives our writers and editors a chance to highlight books that haven’t necessarily featured in the competitive What Kids Are Reading report, but nevertheless have stood out to us as being excellent.

Previously the award has focused on works of fiction, but this year we are delighted to introduce a non-fiction category! Within the two categories, the nominees have been divided into Primary School and Secondary School books, meaning we will have FOUR winners this year! Continue reading to see the full list of nominees.

Each year, we enjoy admiring the magical picture books that come into our office. There are many to celebrate, but this year we fell in love with I am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith. This funny, song-like picture book is memorable and even has its own music video!

Edgar and the Sausage Inspector, written and illustrated by Jan Fearnley, is a hilarious tale about a cat harassed by the supposed “The Inspector”. The quiz writer said, “Poor Edgar! And poor fat inspector! This book brought me so much joy. I know many children will love this as much as I did.”

Our Senior Editor, Laura, adored the Lisa Thompson book The Light Jar. The story follows a boy who believes he was abandoned by his mother when she doesn’t return home one night. With the help of some imaginary friends, he tries to survive by himself. Laura fondly remembers an excellent scene involving ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky”. It will make you laugh and pull at your heartstrings.

For older readers, there are many poignant and engaging books to choose from. Kick by Mitch Johnson offers insight into a world very different from many readers’. Budi is a young boy living in Jakarta. He dreams of being a star footballer but works in a football boot factory. He soon finds himself in trouble when he owes the Dragon, the most powerful man in the city, a lot of money. Budi’s story is very powerful.

The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt is a story of racial tensions in the American South in the 1960s. “I have read countless books for this job,” said Assistant Editor Krista, “but none of them have affected me quite as much as The Hypnotist. It made me an absolute wreck! I couldn’t recommend it more highly. It’s a book everyone could take something away from.”

For the third year in a row, Irish author Deirdre Sullivan has made our list for Quiz Writers’ Choice. This time, she enchanted us with the fairytale retelling collection Tangleweed & Brine. Senior Editor Sarah likened it to a teen version of Angela Carter’s work. The stories are haunting and definitely targeted towards older readers.

Marne Ventura’s Kunkush: The True Story of a Refugee Cat was nominated by me! I felt the story was so relevant and perfect for introducing young readers to the refugee crisis. Kunkush became separated from his family as they fled Iraq, and this picture books explains how so many different people worked together to reunite him with his family.

For primary school children, our quiz writers found that Jane Lacey’s Dealing With…  series took an open and honest approach to advising children on some sensitive issues. The books offer practical advice on how to deal with racism and bullying and how to reach out for help when someone dies, a new baby joins the family, or when parents divorce. “The issues are all completely relevant but the tone is kept light with refreshingly inclusive drawings and case studies,” said the quiz writer.

I also just had to nominate Emma and Barry Tranter’s Rounds series! I’ve seen a few cute animal life-cycle books this year, but these were just brilliant! The text and illustrations are perfectly simplistic, and I know young readers will love the characters and their adorable quotes like I do. Olive the Owl was definitely my favourite.

Almost all of us here have quizzed at least one of Matt or Tom Oldfield’s Ultimate Football Heroes books! Editorial Assistant, Alex, especially enjoyed them. He said: “It’s so important for readers to see that many of the footballers used hard work and persistence to rise from poor or poverty-stricken backgrounds. Getting to re-live some classic sporting moments is always a bonus too!”

For older readers, Women in Science really stood out this year. After reading each chapter, I spent a few minutes just looking at the pages, which are decorated with fun, detailed illustrations. The inspiring stories focus on the achievements of famous aquanauts, chemists, inventors, volcanologists and many other wonderful professions in STEM.

A graphic novel that has been mentioned by multiple quiz writers this year is Kath Shackleton’s Survivors of the HolocaustThe horrors of the Holocaust are seen through the eyes of children and young people who survived it and now wish to keep its memory alive. The text is kept minimal and the powerful images do much of the storytelling.

Primary School Nominees

Edgar and the Sausage Inspector by Jan Fearnley
Nosy Crow | BL 3.2 | LY | Quiz # 233535

I am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith
Walker Entertainment | BL 0.8 | LY | Quiz # 233796

Mack and the Missing Cheese by Chae Strathie
Scholastic Children’s Books | BL 2.8 | LY | Quiz # 233955

Flamingo Boy by Michael Morpurgo
HarperCollins Children’s Books | BL 5.8 | MY | Quiz # 233892

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson
Usborne | BL 5.0 | MY | Quiz # 233724

The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson
Scholastic Children’s Books | BL 4.4 | MY | Quiz # 233442

Secondary School Nominees

Kick by Mitch Johnson
Usborne | BL 5.0 | MY+ | Quiz # 233278

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean
Usborne | BL 6.4 | MY+ | Quiz no # 233394

Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfield
Electric Monkey | BL 3.9 | UY | Quiz # 233377

Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan
Little Island | BL 3.5 | UY | Quiz no # 233441

The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt
Corgi Books | BL 6.6 | UY | Quiz # 233348

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Walker Books | BL 5.7 | UY | Quiz no # 233282


Primary School Nominees

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
Puffin | BL 3.6 | LY | Quiz # 232856

Rounds series by Emma Tranter
Nosy Crow | BL 3.2 – 3.6 | LY

Dealing With… series by Jane Lacey
Franklin Watts | BL 3.4 – 4.0 | MY

Kunkush: The True Story of a Refugee Cat by Marne Ventura
Raintree | BL 3.8 | MY | Quiz # 233209

Secondary School Nominees

Sporting Heroes series by Roy Apps
Franklin Watts | BL 3.8 – 4.5 | Hi/Lo MY

Ultimate Football Heroes series by Matt and Tom Oldfield
Dino Books | BL 4.9- 5.7 | MY

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
Wren & Rook | BL 7.5 | MY | Quiz # 233516

Survivors of the Holocaust by Kath Shackleton
Franklin Watts | BL 4.5 | UY | Quiz # 233155


The winners will be announced at the event on February 28th, and the official report for 2019 will be available to download from the What Kids Are Reading website from this date. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages too, for exciting updates on the day!


Kerry McGuire
Assistant Editor

Posted on 20 February 2019 at 4:53 pm
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