Book Buzz

Wicked Young Writers Awards Competition

January 17, 2020

Wicked Young Writers Competition 


The "prestigious Wicked Young Writer Awards" (The Times) was established by the long-running musical WICKED to link the important messages of the production with a competition that would inspire young people to use creative writing to look at life a little differently. Since its launch in 2010, we have received over 20,000 entries to the award.

The Award recognises excellence in writing, encourages creativity, and helps develop writing talent in young people between 5-25 years old from all backgrounds and areas of the UK.

In 2016, a sixth category, the FOR GOOD: Award for Non-Fiction was introduced to encourage 15-25 year olds to write essays or articles that celebrate the positive impact that people can have on each other, their community and the world we live in. The category celebrates the WICKED: FOR GOOD programme, which supports charitable causes at the heart of the stage musical.

Each year, we hold a very special prize giving event at the Apollo Victoria Theatre for all 120 of our finalists. The event is attended by our judges, including head judge Cressida Cowell, the WICKED cast and a range of special guests and includes special performances, Q&As and rehearsed readings of the winning entries, performed by WICKED's principals. All finalists also receive a printed copy of their entry as part of the annual Wicked Young Writer Awards Anthology.

The Award is proud to partner with National Literacy Trust.



750-word limit (not including the title words)

Entrants must be aged between 5-25 years old when entering the Wicked Young Writer Awards

Entries can be hand-written or typed

Writing must be original and your own ideas

No previously published worked will be accepted

Judges criteria: originality, narrative, descriptive language, characterisation.

Ensure that all students include their name, surname and age on the entry form

Open to UK residents only

Deadline is Monday 2nd March 2020


Wicked: FOR GOOD Non Fiction Category

The FOR GOOD: Award for Non-Fiction category celebrates the WICKED: FOR GOOD programme, which supports charitable causes at the heart of the stage musical. This award is supported by First News newspaper.

For the 10th year of the awards we are excited to extend the category to 11-25 year olds with a younger and older prize available.

This year we are looking for good news stories. Do you know anyone who has had a positive impact on someone else, their community and the world we live in? If so, write an article or essay that celebrates them and their story.

If you are passionate about a project, person or cause that is creating change for good, please tell us about it in 750 words!.

You can write in whichever genre you like. Examples of non-fiction include:

Articles and essays

Travel writing

Biographies and autobiographies


Letters and diaries




To submit your entry to the 2020 Wicked Young Writer Awards, please fill in the information on the INDIVIDUAL ENTRY FORM or MULTIPLE SCHOOLS ENTRY FORM.

Please note, both online and postal entries require an online submission form. Please complete one of the two and state whether your form is postal or online.



All winners:

Win four tickets to see the London production of WICKED at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. 

Meet cast members after the show along with an exclusive backstage tour.

£50 worth of books/eBooks tokens to spend.

All 120 finalists’ entries get printed in the Wicked Young Writer Awards anthology.



Visit the website for past entries for inspiration, helpful writing tips and more information about the award.

Stepping Into Stories: Herne Hill Kids' Lit Fest 4-9 Feb 2020

January 17, 2020

An exciting event is happening in South East London this February - a six day festival of poetry, performance, writing and illustrating that will bring together leading lights in children’s literature to share and celebrate stories in all their forms.

Join us for an exciting array of poetry, performance,  storytelling, illustration and creative writing, followed by evening talks, workshops and an open mic night where participants can share their work. As a highlight of the weekend, headlining on Saturday afternoon will be former Children’s Laureate and award-winning author and illustrator, Chris Riddell  and his daughter, the talented young illustrator  Katy Riddell, who will be doing live drawing and talking stories with lots of excited local children. Chris and Katy will also announce the winners of the ‘Stepping Into Stories’ Story Making Competition. Other highlights include fun with witches and mermaids with Sibéal Pounder  author of the Witch Wars series and Bad Mermaids; a musical puppetry adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Mimi and the Mountain Dragon; a Teen Reading Panel with international speaker and award winning teen author, Nicola Morgan; and an inspiring ‘How To Get Published’ panel with leading experts in the field. 



The Herne Hill Kids’ Lit Fest 2020 is being delivered by a unique collaboration between the Herne Hill ForumCWISL (Children’s Writers and Illustrators for Stories and Literacy) and Tales On Moon Lane Children’s Bookshop , and is partly funded by a Thames Water compensation award following the devastating flood in 2013. Tamara Macfarlane, internationally acclaimed children’s author and owner of Herne Hill’s award-winning children’s bookshop, Tales On Moon Lane, comments: ‘We were one of the businesses worst hit by the flood. This Children’s Literary Festival has been many years in the making and will put the area firmly on the map as a thriving destination for children’s literacy, publishing and storytelling. We intend February’s programme to launch an annual Herne Hill Kids’ Lit Fest, that will become a major event on the literary festival calendar’. 


The majority of the festival will take place in Herne Hill’s Station Hall as part of an ambitious programme to raise £1m of capital funding to make this vital community space fully accessible and truly outstanding ‘Support Our Bid’. There are also events on offer in fully accessible venues nearby.   


Mo O’Hara, celebrated children’s author and a leading member of the festival delivery team, comments:  “We’re delighted to be offering such an exciting range of authors, illustrators and industry experts, and hope to inspire the next generation of story makers from every walk of life”.

In addition to these and many other after-school, evening and weekend events, local pupils will also be participating in a four day programme of events purely for schools. This builds on the successes of the Herne Hill Book Week Festival held at Station Hall in March 2019, which was attended by over 650 local children. The schools programme will again bring together a large local community of school children to share in a growing love of books and storytelling, with the ‘Stepping Into Stories’ competition at its heart. 

Bookings for the schools programme are being taken directly via our local school.

Buy your tickets at

INDIE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH JANUARY: The Bear Who Did by Louise Greig, illustrator Laura Hughes

January 04, 2020

The BA Children’s Bookselling Group has announced  The Bear Who Did by Louise Greig, illustrator Laura Hughes, published by Egmont as its Independent Booksellers’ Children’s Book of the Month for January.


Who stole the honey? Follow the bear who did in this action-packed, rhyming picture book from Louise Greig, author of The Night Box, and Laura Hughes, the award-winning illustrator behind There's a Pig Up My Nose!.

A rollicking rhyming story about two bears, a jar of honey and the consequences of not sharing. When one bear with a very rumbly tummy steals a jar of honey from the other, it sparks a hilarious trail of events that lead to an epic and calamitous conclusion.

Louise Greig's bouncy, rhyming text is reminiscent of Julia Donaldson and perfect for preschoolers who are learning all about how to share. With illustrations packed with energy and humour from Laura Hughes, this delightfully funny bedtime story is perfect for sharing and reading aloud with little ones.



Blue Peter Book Awards 2020 Shortlists

November 10, 2019

Since 2000, the enormously popular and influential Blue Peter Book Awards have been recognising and celebrating the best authors, the most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children.


Blue Peter Book Awards 2020:

Best Story Shortlisted books

Owen and the Soldier

Author: Lisa Thompson Illustrator: Mike Lowery

A beautiful tale of a courageous young man who overcomes his fears when he finds an unlikely companion in a park statue. Complex ideas of young carers, social anxiety and remembrance are sensitively weaved into a light and accessible story.

Vote for Effie

Author: Laura Wood

Laura Wood brings us a contemporary book for fierce pre-teens who want to make the world a better place. Effie's aims to make her new school a more inclusive space will encourage everyone to fulfil their potential.


Author: Vashti Hardy

In a world where the spirits of dead people can be harnessed and given new life in mechanical animals, Prue takes on her late brother's apprenticeship in an effort to bring him back. A riotously enjoyable tale mixing fantasy, school stories, science fiction and big questions about life and death.


Blue Peter Book Awards 2020:

Best Book with Facts Shortlisted books

Fanatical About Frogs

Author: Owen Davey

The fifth in Owen Davey’s wonderful non-fiction series about animals adds frogs to the ranks of clear, fascinating reads, accompanied by truly amazing graphic illustration and just the right level of information to inspire all primary school kids. 

How To Be An Astronaut and Other Space Jobs

Author: Dr Sheila Kanani & Sol Linero

Lots of children think they might like to be an astronaut, but what other jobs could one do and still be involved in space exploration and study? Complete with a press-out model rocket to build and pages of stickers to play with, this is an original and inspiring read.

Rise Up: Ordinary Kids with Extraordinary Stories

Author: Amanda Li Illustrator: Amy Blackwell designed by Kim Hankinson and Jack Clucas

This is a fantastic and inspiring book, sharing the stories of normal kids from across the world and their amazing achievements. After the biographical information, there are interesting suggestions for activities based on that child’s message or passion.

Readers Awards 2019

October 04, 2019

The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards are one of a kind. They're the only book awards curated by bookshops and voted for by booklovers.

This year's awards, now in their fourth year, include seven shortlists chosen by booksellers across the UK and Ireland, while the Readers' Choice Award – nominated and voted for entirely by booklovers – completes the set.


Vote in this year's Awards and you could win one of five £100/€120 National Book Tokens. Plus you could win a set of all 38 shortlisted titles over on Caboodle!

Discover some of the brilliant shortlists below and follow the link to place your vote using the form for your chance to win.


Children's Fiction Award shortlist


Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Malamander by Thomas Taylor 

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

Pages and Co.: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James

Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell 


Young Adult Award shortlist


Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal 

Heartstopper Volume One by Alice Oseman 

"I Will Not Be Erased": Our stories about growing up as people of colour by gal-dem 

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas 

Proud by Various Authors (foreword by Juno Dawson) 

Toffee by Sarah Crossan 

Poetry Award shortlist


A Year of Nature Poems by Joseph Coelho and Kelly Louise

Poems to Fall in Love With chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell 

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta 


 Vote in this year’s awards by clicking here!

The Lollies Shortlist 2020

August 23, 2019

We’re very excited to announce the Lollies shortlist for 2020!

Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

Spyder by Matt Carr

Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson and Tor Freeman

You’re Called What?! by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson

Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn

The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler and Steven Lenton

The World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams and Tony Ross

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James, Chris Smith and Erica Salcedo

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and Tim Wesson

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet! by Jo Simmons and Nathan Reed

Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and Chris Judge

Vote for your favourite books that make you laugh out loud the most here

Guardian's Best New Kids Books Summer 2019

June 28, 2019

Our very own Manager Tereze has featured reviews in the Guardian's Best New Kids Books Summer 2019.

She reviewed her top 5 books for 6-8 year olds:

An Otter Called Pebble - Helen Peters 

Football School: Star Players - Alex Bellos 

Spaced Out - Brain Moses and James Carter 

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet - Zanib Mian

What a Waste - Jess French

Click HERE to read her reviews on page 9, alongside more fantastic recommended books. 

Independent Bookshop Week Book Awards Winners

June 28, 2019

Independent Bookshop Week is over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some great books and vising indie bookshops!

​The Winners of the Independent Bookshop Week Book Awards were:

If All the World Were… - Joseph Coelho illustrated by Allison Colpoys

The Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle 

Follow @booksaremybag on social media and for all things IBW and bookshops.



YA Book Prize 2019 Winner: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

June 07, 2019

Introducing the winner of the YA Book Prize 2019: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard.

"Sara Barnard's writing is an absolute triumph: this book is unputdownable and beautiful, unflinching in its exploration of important and complex topics and also a joy to read. A tender portrayal of the nuanced reality of teenage experiences and the journey to discovering who you are and what you stand for."
Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism founder and writer 

"An utterly riveting read—it wouldn’t let me go."
Alex Wheatle, award-winning author

"The most authentic teenage voice I've read in a long time, Goodbye, Perfect navigates the complexities of being a teenager and friendships beautifully." 
Daphne Lao Tonge, Illumicrate founder and Knights Of marketing director 

"A well-written book with a powerful message told in a very sensitive manner." 
Emma Suffield, SLA School Librarian of the Year 2018 

Find out more about the YA Book Prize 2019 shortlisted books and authors here

We know you love YA fiction so our aim is to showcase the best YA from the UK and Ireland, awarding the YA Book Prize annually to a novel our expert judges, including young people, think is something special. The prize of £2,000 was presented to Sara at Hay Festival. 


 Previous winners of the prize are Louise O'Neill's Only Ever Yours (2015), Sarah Crossan's One (2016), Patrice Lawrence's Orangeboy (2017) and Will Hill's After the Fire (2018).

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