Stories exploring deportation, oppression and the refugee crisis are among the titles shortlisted for this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.
In total 18 books are nominated across three categories: illustrated, younger fiction and older fiction.
Among the six books vying for the illustrated prize is Francesca Sanna’s The Journey, which follows a family’s escape from a war-torn country through the eyes of a child.
In younger fiction, The Girl Of Ink And Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave tells of the adventures of a young girl fighting for truth and against oppression.
In the category for older readers, Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also A Star follows Natasha, who falls in love in New York just 12 hours before her family face deportation from the US.
Also shortlisted in the older fiction section is Anna And The Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit, which is set in Krakow during the Second World War and explores the aftermath as seven-year-old Anna’s father is taken away by German soldiers.
Each category winner will take a prize of £2,000 while one of the three will also be named Children’s Book of the Year and receive a further £3,000.
Florentyna Martin, Waterstones children’s buyer, said this year’s shortlist provides a “guiding light of optimism in the face of uncertain times”.
She added: “There has been a noticeable surge of talent in debut children’s publishing of late, which has been encouraged and championed by our expert booksellers. We’re delighted to celebrate these inspiring books.”
Winners will be announced at Waterstones in Piccadilly in central London on March 30.