WKAR Quiz Writers’ Choice Awards shortlist 2020

By Krista Culbertson, Editor

It’s that time of year again where we announce the shortlist for the What Kids Are Reading Quiz Writers’ Choice Awards!

Every academic school year, the What Kids Are Reading report offers insight to what books school children have read and enjoyed the most. The Quiz Writers’ Choice Award is given to the authors who were the Content Team’s personal favourites.

Through these stories, we’ve visited imaginary lands, solved a murder case or two and learned about lives very different to our own – all from the comfort of our chairs. Reaching the final shortlist for 2018-2019 might have been tough, but it’s a challenge we book-lovers are up for. There will be four winners announced at this year’s event: a nonfiction and fiction title from both primary and secondary categories.

Our What Kids Are Reading launch event will be on February 27th. The official report will also be available that day and can be downloaded here. Be sure to follow the Accelerated Reader Twitter account for updates and announcements, and use #WKAR20 to share your thoughts!

Primary school nominees

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Bogey by Timothy Knapman was a real crowd-pleaser in the department. One that many of us have revisited multiple times.

Editorial Assistant Peter said that, “Disgusting, gross, snot-tacular… and strangely charming! Timothy Knapman has gleefully torn up the fairy-tale rulebook to create a lively story about a bogey who escapes the giant’s nose, only to crash through and ruin various heroines’ happily-ever-afters.”

“Coupled with Tom Knight’s vibrant illustrations, this book brought me (and my niece) innumerable hours of joy, as I’m sure it has many other children and adults!”

The graphic novel Agent of P.A.W.S. by Tony Lee with illustrations by Wil Overton is a part of the high-low Edge series from Franklin Watts.

“The story is action-packed, humorous and well-paced,” said our Senior Editor, Laura. “I loved the fierce determination of the protagonist, Jenny, and the sassiness of the titular Agent, Detective Dog. ”

Laura also loved the appealing and fun illustrations that help convey the action of the plot. “For me,” said Laura, “this is a perfect short story.”

High-Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson was our Managing Editor’s favourite. “Two sassy sisters solve a crime together, what more could you want!” said Cecelia.

More than that, Cecelia loved how real the detectives Nik and Norva felt, “There’s no forced dialogue here. Mystery, humour, a clever plot and a wonderful cast of characters to fall in love with. Can’t wait for book 2!”

Last year was our first year awarding a nonfiction winner. One lower years’ series everyone in the team adored this year was Little People, Big Dreams, and most of the series was written by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara. Each book is a picture-book style biography on a famous person, covering the spectrum from performers like Dolly Parton to scientists such as Stephen Hawking. Even as adults we’ve learned things about these amazing people.

Kerry loved the informative and beautiful books The World of the Whale and The Ways of the Wolf by Smriti Prasadam-Halls. “These books are so interesting and beautiful to look at,” Kerry said. “A great way to reconnect with nature.”

Secondary school nominees

In the secondary school category, our Senior Editor Sarah adored the 1920s setting in Laura Wood’s A Sky Painted Gold.

“I can sum up what I liked most about A Sky Painted Gold in just three words: the witty dialogue,” said Sarah. “The exchanges between Lou and Robert had me laughing out loud, as did Lou’s internal monologues. I’m not usually a fan of romance novels, but Lou and Robert had me rooting for them from the get go.”

One of the more heart-breaking novels on this list is The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan. The story brought more than one of us to tears.

“I loved following Bobby’s journey as he cares for his mum and brother, while still living his teenage life – making mistakes, trying to have fun and falling in love,” said the book’s quiz writer, Liz. “I was so moved as he worked his way through the tough decision he had to make. It was so sensitively handled. I couldn’t stop thinking about Bobby and his family for ages after I read the book. A really beautiful story.”

Assistant Editor Kerry devoured The Island by M. A. Bennett – a story she describes as The Breakfast Club meets Lost.

“I couldn’t wait to read and quiz The Island after this premise alone! The normal hierarchy among a group of private school students is flipped on its head. Things begin to get weird then,” said Kerry. “The way the characters changed and adapted to survive on the island felt scarily realistic. I didn’t guess the twist!

My personal favourite on the short list of nonfiction was Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lita Judge. The illustrations are really stunning and help tell the story of one of literature’s most interesting women. Even though I read it many months ago, I can still picture it so clearly and truly treasure this story in prose.

Another set of biographies (sensing a theme here?) that we loved is Sarah Webb’s collection Blazing a Trail: Irish Women Who Changed the World. All the women covered in Webb’s book are interesting in their own way: they’re stories that would interest any reader.

Quiz Writers’ Choice Award Shortlist

A Sky Painted Gold | Laura Wood | Scholastic Children’s Books | Book level: 5.5 | UY | Quiz #236049

Agent of P.A.W.S. | Tony Lee | Franklin Watts | Book level: 2.5 | MY | Quiz #234994

Blazing a Trail: Irish Women Who Changed the World | Sarah Webb | O’Brien Press | Book level: 7.1 | MY | Quiz #234708

High-Rise Mystery | Sharna Jackson | Knights Of | Book level: 3.5 | MY | Quiz #236280

Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein | Lita Judge | Wren & Rook | Book level: 7.1 | UY | Quiz #233380

Little People, Big Dreams series | Isabel Sánchez Vegara | Frances Lincoln Children’s Books | LY | Book levels: 3.8-5.8 | LY |

The World of the Whale and The Ways of the Wolf | Smriti Prasadam-Halls | Wren & Rook | Book levels: 6.4 & 6 | MY | Quiz #234993, 234992

The Brontës: The Fantastically Feminist (and Totally True) Story of the Astonishing Authors | Anna Doherty | Wren & Rook | Book level: 5.8 | LY | Quiz #236141

The Island | M.A. Bennett | Hot Key Books | Book level: 5.4 | UY | Quiz #236850

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers | Brian Conaghan | Bloomsbury Press | Book level: 4 | UY | Quiz #235009

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Bogey? | Timothy Knapman | Scholastic Children’s Books | Book level: 3.9 | LY | Quiz #234513

Inside Art Movements series | Susie Brooks | Wayland Publishers | Book level: 6.8-7.2 | MY

Update: the winners!

We announced the winners of our Quiz Writers Choice awards at our What Kids Are Reading launch party on February 27th. Here are the winners!

Primary Fiction winner: High-Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson

Primary Non-Fiction winner: The Little People, Big Dreams series by Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Secondary Fiction winner: The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan

Secondary Non-Fiction winner: Blazing a Trail: Irish Women Who Changed the World by Sarah Webb

Krista Culbertson

Posted on 20 February 2020 at 12:00 pm
Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quick Links

Monthly Quiz List

Each month, we publish a list of the new AR quizzes released in the previous month.

December 2020

Previous months

Subscribe to monthly newsletter

Partners & Special Offers

We work with carefully selected partners who share our mission of accelerating learning for all and provide services that complement our programmes.

Special offer!

Logo for Scotia Books

Favourites from Twitter