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Shortlist Announced for School Library Association Information Book Award 2020

22 May 2020 Share

Tenth year of our Information Book Award

In the 10th year of the SLA's Information Book Award, 11 books have made the 2020 Shortlist. 

The shortlisted books for each age category are as follows:

Up to 7 years

All About Feelings, Usborne Publishing

Felicity Brooks and Frankie Allen, Mar Ferrero (9781474937115)

Although written and presented with younger children in mind, this manages to explore all the complexities of our feelings, while remaining engaging. The picture book format makes the book ideal for sharing, with each double-page spread addressing a different aspect of our feelings. It encourages young readers to think about how others might be feeling, to empathise with others, to consider how to react in different situations and how to be kind to themselves. In as much, the book fulfils its aim to ‘help children recognize, understand and name different feelings and learn to talk about and manage them in helpful ways.’ In addition, it looks at how our feelings can be mixed up and confusing and that they can change through the day. The book includes sound practical advice for grown-ups, plus the link to the excellent Usborne Quicklinks website for more ideas. All in all, this is an excellent book to help youngsters develop emotional literacy


Goodnight Ocean, Little Tiger

Becky Davies, Carmen Saldaña (9781912756148)

Carmen Saldana’s clever use of cut-out sections draw you through this beautifully illustrated and tactile book on a journey through the ocean at bedtime. Short, interesting facts about the animals who make the ocean their home are interspersed with rhyming couplets by Becky Davies which have a soothing rhythmic tone when reading aloud. A wonderful book to share before sleep.


Heroes Who Help Us From Around the World, Franklin Watts

Liz Gogerly, Ryan Wheatcroft (9781445165677)

It’s wonderful to see this common topic covered with a new angle and flair, including people from different countries and cultures, a huge range of jobs that help communities (including some that are rarely covered in other books), and an easily accessible and engaging layout. The whole package has great appeal, both as a classroom title and a read for pleasure, and the tone throughout is positive, gracious and inclusive. Supportive and upbeat.


The Usborne Book of the Moon, Usborne Publishing

Laura Cowan, Diana Toledano (9781474950848) 

This fascinating history of the moon with its eye-catching illustrations and intriguing facts is guaranteed to spark a sense of wonder in children of all ages. The front cover on which a jumbo-sized full moon complete with silver flecks is just within reach of a girl’s outstretched hand, sets the tone perfectly for exploring our age-old fascination with the mysterious orb. 

The first double-page illustration is stunning and wonderfully dreamy, from the looming full moon to tiny nocturnal creatures such as grasshoppers and bugs. From this entrancing night scene, to some of the questions the moon inspires such as is the moon made of cheese? 

Starting the moon’s history with folk tales from Finland to China, we are told of the moon’s value to early humans for hunting and measuring time. Fact fans will be engrossed in the ‘space race’ double page. Thoughtful design injects new energy into well-travelled ground by depicting key milestones for the American and Russian teams on two timelines which run across the page in parallel. A glorious and engaging book where carefully considered text and captivating artwork combine to magnify the never-decreasing magic of the moon. A book that creates intrigue as quickly as it demystifies, it will undoubtedly inspire new space-bound aspirations.


8 to 12 years


Africa, Amazing Africa, Walker Books

Atinuke, Mouni Feddag (9781406376586)

Utilising a page per country, Atinuke imparts a number of captivating facts, strikingly accompanied by Mouni Feddag`s vivid illustrations. Together, they paint a snapshot of the continent and the people who live there which perhaps challenges already held perceptions but certainly encourages the reader to find out more, which could begin with the sources listed at the back of the book. A visually engaging starting point for anyone seeking a flavour of multifaceted Africa.


Dictionary of Difficult Words, Frances Lincoln Children's Books

Jane Solomon, Louise Lockhart (9781786038104)

This giant-sized dictionary of over 400 words will delight anyone (of any age) with a fascination for words. It suggests so many different ways to read the book, including ‘in the dark with a torch’. Try saying the words out loud, guess the meanings, discover the longest and shortest words, just dip in randomly or simply read for fun! Each definition provides a guide to pronunciation, the part of speech (noun, adjective or verb) and there are hints about how to work out what a word means. With bold and beautifully designed spreads, where some pages are dedicated to one word, this is a real celebration of the English language which begs the question of any reader ‘what is your favourite word’? Although in many respects a classic ‘reference’ book, this is definitely not a general-purpose dictionary, rather one that is meant ‘to amaze, confuse and inspire budding wordsmiths’.


Heroes, Little Tiger

Jonny Marx, Gerhard van Wyk (9781848578739)

A lot of books in this style have come out over the last few years, but this lifts itself above the crowd, with a wonderfully wide reaching selection of people featured, balanced well between well known figures and names who will be new to most readers. The tone is light and engaging while still conveying a lot of information for the short articles, and the visual style is modern, bold, and striking. Fascinating, informative, and exciting to pick up.


Kids Fight Plastic, Walker Books

Martin Dorey, Tim Wesson (9781406390650)

A pocket-sized paperback which explains how to become a #2minutesuperhero by doing something simple every day to help fight plastic and save the oceans. Written by activist Martin Dorey who started up The Beach Clean Network in 2009, referred to as #2minutebeachclean on social media, and now with over 500 litter-picking stations around the coast. The book contains loads of background information and fascinating facts about the plastic problem, but also suggests plenty of achievable activities that anyone can put into practice, wherever they are (street, park, or school playground), and begin to take an active part in really making a difference. Fully illustrated throughout, the book is accessible, down-to-earth in its approach, and convincingly demonstrates that it is possible for everyone to have an impact on a problem of potentially over-whelming proportions.


13 to 16 years


Black History Matters, Franklin Watts

Robin Walker (9781445166896)

Robin Walker draws together the major historical, geographical and political events that have shaped the experience of black people, from Ta-Seti to today, in this engaging and informative book. Well thought-out typography and a comprehensive contents page and index mean the wealth of information is easy to navigate and the accompanying photographs of artefacts, maps and people bring life to the facts and biographical accounts featured. A solid introduction to this vast aspect of world history.


Feminism Is..., Dorling Kindersley

Foreword by Gemma Cairney (9780241228029)

Feminism is… goes far beyond the ‘introduction’ it is described as. It is a wonderfully versatile handbook, useful for quick reference, a long read or dipping in and out of for inspiration. Gemma Cairney’s upbeat foreword introduces the book’s intention to ‘break it down beyond a statement t-shirt’: an ambition which it far exceeds. It is pleasing to see lesser known icons such as Rigoberta Menchu and bell hooks included alongside some of the ‘usual suspects’. Split into five sections and complete with a glossary, index and ‘Directory of Feminists’, the diverse range of topics covered is impressive given the book’s size. The content, from consent to ‘slut walks’, is as bold as its appearance; it doesn’t shy away from potentially uncomfortable or controversial territory, tackling issues such as ‘Is gender fixed?’, ‘Is pornography ever ok?’ and ‘Do feminists wear heels?’. Packed with detail, stats and quotes, the text is brought to life - it literally sings off the page - by stunning design and artwork – vibrant bold illustrations, monotone photographs and eye-catching unpredictable layout. 


Hidden Planet, Penguin Random House

Ben Rothery (9780241361009)

An uncharacteristically large format book for Ladybird, this is a personal love letter to the natural world created by the author/illustrator to give readers ‘a glimpse of the outstanding diversity of nature’. Like many young people, Ben Rothery has always been wild-life obsessed, and his passion for the subject is bound to infect and inspire others. His meticulously detailed drawings have a photographic quality which reflect his desire to create technically accurate images that are immensely pleasing to look at; and a few beautiful images are given a double page-spread. The originality of the book lies in how it explores the different ways in which creatures are hidden from sight, including the relationships between species that might otherwise seem unconnected. The book makes for fascinating reading, introducing new or less familiar concepts and animals. It is ideal for dipping into, but could also be used to support research, and would-be David Attenboroughs will undoubtedly want to read the book from cover to cover.

Hilary Murray Hill, CEO, Hachette Children’s Group and sponsor of the IBA commented: “Congratulations to the SLA on the tenth year of the Information Book Awards, which gives much-needed appreciation and prominence to information books, as well as library professionals. I am proud the Hachette Children’s Group continues to sponsor the awards, and share their determination that information books of the highest possible quality should be an integral part of every child’s reading life. Congratulations, too, to all of the authors and illustrators on this year’s shortlist: the breadth of subject, creativity and style demonstrates clearly how exceptional the talent is, and why it should be celebrated.”

Chair of Judges for 2020, Margaret Pemberton said: “I am proud to be Chair of the SLA IBA this year, after taking over from the instigator and passionate advocate for information books, Chris Brown. In a world that is increasingly depending on digital resources it is important that we remember the very positive attributes of information books. A high quality book will have been well researched, be age appropriate for the audience and above all will be a thing of beauty and wonder to the person reading it. You have only got to see a group of young children sharing an information book to realize the importance of sharing, exploration and discovery as they become absorbed in the pages of a stunning work. A great information book will combine art, information, questioning and that magical ‘something’ that inspires the reader, something which all of these shortlisted books do.”

Congratulations to all our shortlisted authors, illustrators and publishers. The winners will be announced at an event at Hachette Children’s Group’s offices, Carmelite House in London, in November. 

Voting for the Children’s Choice from the shortlist will open shortly as will some activity ideas for the books. Announcements will follow on the SLA website www.sla.org.uk and across our social media channels. 

The Information Book Award 2020 is sponsored by Hachette Children’s Group (https://www.hachettechildrens.co.uk/) and Peters (https://www.peters.co.uk/).