Picture this: you’re an author or illustrator who creates wonderful works of art introducing millions of children to books for the first time.
Among the thousands of picture books that are published every single year, your own is recognised as one of the best, and is even, perhaps, award-worthy.
For many, this day has come. The shortlist for the English Association’s 2017 Picture Book Awards has been released.
Last year I am Henry Finch, Greenling, Take Away the A and The Wonder Garden were all deemed picture-perfect and crowned winners. Which books will prove to be the crème de la crème of 2017’s crop and walk away with a prize?
The 2017 shortlisted books are:
A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting Michelle Robinson, illustrated by David Roberts Bloomsbury
A First Book of Animals Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horacek Walker Books
Ada Twist, Scientist Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts Abrams Books
Atlas of Animal Adventures Rachel Williams and Emily Hawkins, illustrated by Lucy Letherland Wide Eyed Editions
Circle by Jeannie Baker Walker Books
Day of the Dinosaurs Dr Steve Brusatte, illustrated by Daniel Chester Wide Eyed Editions
Illuminature Rachel Williams, illustrated by Carnovsky Wide Eyed Editions
It Starts With a Seed Laura Knowles, illustrated by Jennie Webber Words & Pictures
Nibbles: The Book Monster Emma Yarlett Little Tiger Press
Oi Dog! Kes & Claire Grey, illustrated by Jim Field Hodder Children’s Books
Pharaoh’s Fate Camille Gautier and Stéphanie Vernet, illustrated by Margaux Carpentier B-Small Publishing
Secrets of the Sea Kate Baker, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor Big Picture Press
The Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer Thames & Hudson
The Brontës: Children of the Moors by Mick Manning and Brita Granström Franklin Watts
The Hole Story by Paul Bright and Bruce Ingman Andersen Press
The Journey by Francesca Sanna Flying Eye Books
The Liszts Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julia Sarda Andersen Press
The Stone Age: Hunters, Gatherers and Woolly Mammoths by Marcia Williams Walker Books
The Truth According to Arthur Tim Hopgood, illustrated by David Tazzyman Bloomsbury
This Little Pebble Anna Claybourne, illustrated by Sally Garland Franklin Watts
Tidy by Emily Gravett Two Hoots
The winners will be announced in four categories: fiction 4-7 years and 7-11 years, and non-fiction 4-7 years and 7-11 years.
The power of picture books
Social media saw a spontaneous celebration of the power of picture books last week when hundreds of users tweeted the covers of their favourite picture books with the hashtag #PicBookDay.
The picture book enthusiast who fathered the hashtag, Rob Smith, is impressed with this year's shortlist, but highlighted The Big Book of Bugs and The Journey as "stand-outs".
The Big Book of Bugs is "interactive through its questioning page titles, informative through the written text and engaging through the challenge of finding certain creatures ‘hiding’ in the pictures," he said.
The Journey, meanwhile is "a story for our time – a story which tells of a family in a war they did not want, travelling to a country that they do not know," he added.
So should more schools use picture books throughout primary, instead of dismissing them after early years?
"There is no minimum age at which children should, or can, begin to immerse themselves in the world of books," Mr Smith said.
"Babies smile and gurgle at the bold images and familiar animals they see, toddlers giggle and chatter about the images they encounter in books (long before they have an in-depth understanding of the book they are reading) and pre-school children chant to the familiar rhymes and patterns they hear in the texts.
"Why use picture books in schools? The answer is simple: because they are instantly accessible to their audiences. They keep the reader turning the page," he added.
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