Haughton Wins Bisto Children's Book Of The Year Award

A Bit LostChris Haughton, author and illustrator of the children’s picture book A Bit Lost, has been announced as the winner of the 21st Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Award which comes with a prize of €10,000.

The announcement was made by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald TD at a ceremony held at the National Library in Dublin.

Haughton’s book tells the story of an accidentally orphaned owl, who, after falling from his nest while sleeping, sets out with the help of new friends to find his way home to his mummy. The judges said that the work’s brilliantly simple verbal text, complemented by a quirkily psychedelic and surreal visual text, captures both the anxiety and thrill of being lost.

During the ceremony, eight of ten appointed junior juries comprising young people from school and library reading groups around Ireland also presented their thoughts about the shortlisted titles and revealed the winner of the ‘Children’s Choice Award’. The winner of the ‘Children’s Choice Award’ which carries a prize of €1,500 was Taking Flight by Sheena Wilkinson. Taking Flight was overwhelmingly chosen by the junior juries as their winner awarding Sheena Wilkinson with her second title in this year’s awards.

The winner of the Eilís Dillon award valued at €3,000 and which is awarded to a first time author or illustrator is also Chris Haughton for A Bit Lost. This is the first time in the history of the awards that both the overall and Eilís Dillon Awards have been awarded to the same person.

The judges also made three ‘Special Awards’, each carrying a prize of €1,500 to the following:

  1. Judges Special Award: Oliver Jeffers, The Heart and The Bottle for dealing with a sensitive subject in an outstanding way
  2. Honour Award for Illustration: Andrew Whitson for Mac Rí Eireann for the quintessential character of the visual text that transforms this picture book into an aesthetic object of great desire – a true work of art
  3. Honour Award for Fiction: Sheena Wilkinson for Taking Flight, a masterfully structured narrative which suggests, in an unsentimental manner, that the inner struggle to understand oneself can be redemptive

The Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland. The Awards are a celebration of excellence in children’s literature and illustration and are open to books written in English or Irish by authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland and published between 1 January and 31 December each year. Previous winners include John Boyne for his book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick for her books You, Me and the Big Blue Sea and There; Siobhan Dowd for her books The London Eye Mystery and Bog Child (posthumous) and Kate Thompson for her books The New Policeman, Annan Water and The Alchemist’s Apprentice.

Sean Brett, Marketing Controller, Premier Foods Ireland the owners of the Bisto brand which has sponsored the Awards since their inception in 1990 congratulated each of the winners and said that Bisto was proud to continue to support excellence in children’s writing and illustration. ‘Generation after generation of young people continue to find enjoyment and inspiration between the covers of a good book. Children’s literature is so valuable in so many ways and it is only right and proper that excellence in writing and illustration should be celebrated and rewarded. Bisto believed that 21 years ago when we first suggested that an Awards scheme should be introduced and we believe it just as much today.’

Keith O’Sullivan, chair of the judging panel said that the task of selecting a winner becomes more difficult each year. ‘The quality of submissions this year reflects the growing sophistication and appeal of books by Irish authors and illustrators. The arrival of several new picture book talents in this year’s shortlist is a very significant development for Irish children’s books.’

To mark the 21st anniversary of the Awards, Children’s Books Ireland who administer the Awards in partnership with sponsors Bisto, will be staging a travelling exhibition documenting the history of the Awards and the previous 20 winning titles, authors and illustrators. Members of the public are also being asked to vote for their favourite winning title in a national ‘Bisto Ballot’, the results of which will be announced in the autumn. The exhibition will leave the National Library where it has been open to the public since March and travel to libraries in Meath (May and June), Donegal (August and September), Cork (October) and Mayo (November and December.