This year’s Overall Winner Award at Sheffield’s Children’s Book Awards was announced at The Crucible Theatre on Friday in front of an audience of 1,000 people.

‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ by Onjali Q Rauf, illustrated by Pippa Curnick and published by Orion took the prestigious prize, which was voted into number one place by Sheffield children. Thousands of children across the city voted for their favourite story.

Onjali Q. Rauf is the founder of Making Herstory, an organisation mobilising men, women and children from all walks of life to tackle the abuse and trafficking of women and girls in the UK and beyond. In her spare time she delivers emergency aid convoys for refugee families surviving in Calais and Dunkirk, and supports interfaith projects. She specialised in Women’s Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and Oxford University. ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ is her first novel and an extract from her book below reads:

“There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it.

“He’s nine years old (just like me), but he’s very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets – not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite!

“But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn’t very strange at all. He’s a refugee who’s run away from a War.”

As well as hundreds of schoolchildren, authors and publishers took part in the awards event which saw winners from the seven categories: baby books, toddler books, picture books, emerging reads, shorter novels, longer reads and young adult books.

Dawn Shaw, Director of Libraries, Learning, Skills and Communities at Sheffield City Council, said: “Many congratulations to this year’s award winners.

These awards have encouraged children, young people and families across Sheffield to get involved in reading and celebrate the wide variety of literature and illustration on offer for over 31 years. It’s brilliant that since the awards started, thousands of children have taken part; sharing their favourite books and inspiring others to read too.

“At this year’s awards we were proud to start talking too about the upcoming Sheffield Year of Reading 2020, where there will be events and activities throughout the year, all celebrating the joy of reading. It launches on 15th January 2020 so keep an eye out for more details on that soon. It’s going to be fun-filled and there will be something for everyone.”

The Sheffield Children’s Book Awards is organised by Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information and the Sheffield Schools Library Service.

The full list of this year’s winners is:
Overall winner
Onjali Q Rauf The Boy at the Back of the Class Illustrator Pippa Curnick
Published by: Orion
Baby Books winner
Dorling Kindersley Children’s Team Counting with a Ladybird
Published by: Dorling Kindersley
Toddler Books winner
Tom Fletcher There’s a Dragon in Your book Illustrator Greg Abbott
Published by: Penguin
Picture Books winner
Steve Smallman Cock-a- Doodle-Poo Illustrator Florence Weiser
Published by: Little Tiger Press
Emerging Reads winner
Philip Reeve The Legend of Kevin Illustrator Sarah MacIntyre
Published by: Oxford University Press
Shorter Novels winner
Onjali Q Rauf The Boy at the Back of the Class Illustrator Pippa Curnick
Published by: Orion
Longer Novels winner
Elle Fountain Boy 87
Published by: Pushkin Children’s
Young Adult winner
Malcolm Duffy Me Mam. Me Dad. ME.
Published by: Head of Zeus

The following books were shortlisted:

Baby Book Category (0-3 years)
Look There’s A Helicopter by Esther Aarts, published by Nosy Crow.
Counting With a Ladybird, published by Dorling Kindersley.
Looking Good by Alie Busby, published by Childs Play.

Toddler Books (3-5 years)
AdoraBULL by Alison Donald and illustrated by Alex Willmore. Published by Maverick Arts Publishing.
There’s A Dragon In Your Book by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott. Published by Penguin Random House.
Goose’s Cake Bake by Laura Wall, published by Award Publications.

Picture Books (5-7 years)
Cake by Sue Hendra, illustrated by Paul Linnet. Published by Macmillan.
Cock-A-Doodle-Poo! By Steve Smallman, illustrated by Florence Weiser. Published by Little Tiger Press.
Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett, published by Two Hoots.

Emerging Reads (7-9 years)
The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie. Published by Piccadilly Press.
The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Published by Oxford University Press.
Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Katie and Kevin Tsang. Published by Egmont.

Short Novels (9-11 years)
The Boy Who Hit Play by Chloe Daykin, published by Faber & Faber.
The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge, illustrated by Matt Saunders. Published by Nosy Crow.
The Boy At The Back Of The Class by Onjali Q Rauf, published by Orion.

Longer Novels (11-14 years)
The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Elisa Paganeli published by Usborne.
Flight by Vanessa Harbour, published by Firefly Press.
Boy 87 by Ele Fountain, published by Pushkin Children’s.

Young Adult Books (14+ years)
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. By Malcolm Duffy published by Head of Zeus.
Eve Of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher. Published by Penguin.
Killer T by Robert Muchamore, published by Hot Key.

Pictured from left to right are:

Dawn Sirett (Co-author) Rachael Parfitt Hunt (Designer and co-illustrator) ‘Counting With A Ladybird’

Steve Smallman (Author) ‘Cock-a-doodlePoo!

Trish Cooper (BBC Radio Sheffield)

Ele Fountain (Author Boy 87)

Malcolm Duffy (Author) Me Mam.Me Dad. ME