Best Scottish Children's Books of 2013 Revealed as Winners of Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2013 Announced

  • Record numbers of children cast votes

  • Eclectic winners: from a mess-loving monster to an accidental time traveller and an epic love story set in the afterlife.

Chae Strathie, Janis Mackay and Claire McFall have been named as the winners of the 2013 SCOTTISH CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARDS, Scotland’s largest Children’s Book Prize which is voted for exclusively by children. The winners receive £3,000 each and were announced today during a special ceremony at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library, attended by 800 young people from all over Scotland.

A celebration of the best of Scottish writing and illustration for children, the Scottish Children’s Book Awards are judged in 3 age categories - Bookbug readers (3-7), Younger Readers (8-11) and Older Readers (12-16) - and are run by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with Creative Scotland.

Record numbers of children read the books on this year’s shortlist, with over 38,000 votes cast – an increase of 20% on last year. The shortlist is comprised of books published between 1st April 2012 and 31st March 2013 by authors or illustrators living and working in Scotland, and is chosen by a panel of booksellers, teachers, librarians and, most importantly, children. Children across Scotland are then invited to read the shortlist of three books in their age category and to vote for their favourite.

Fife-based best-selling author Chae Strathie won the Bookbug Readers category (3-7 years) for his picture book Jumblebum, which was illustrated by Ben Cort and published by Scholastic. Chae, who is currently a sub-editor on a Scottish newspaper, said:

"I'm beyond delighted to have won this fantastic award. It's without doubt the highlight of my writing career so far. To even be in the same category as such fabulous writers as Debi Gliori and Julia Donaldson was exciting enough, so this is the bee's knees.

"Best of all the award was chosen by children from all over Scotland and from every kind of background. They're the ones I write for, so to get the seal of approval from them means the world to me. I would say I'm as happy as Larry, but next to me right now Larry looks like the Reverend I.M. Jolly. I'm much happier than Larry!"

Award-winning Edinburgh-based children’s author Janis Mackay won the Younger Readers Category (8-11 Years) for The Accidental Time Traveller, published by Kelpies. Janis, a writer, storyteller and voice teacher, said:

“I am completely thrilled, and can't quite believe it. It has been such a wonderful opportunity to be shortlisted for this award; suddenly my books are in the consciousness of hundreds of teachers and librarians - and pupils - and I have been invited to many schools and libraries and book festivals.

“First winning the Kelpies prize and now this amazing prize - I feel chuffed, and have already written the sequel!”

Debut author Claire McFall, based in the Scottish Borders, won the Older Readers Category (12-16 Years) for Ferryman (published by Templar). Claire’s current job as an English Teacher means that she has been on the other side of the awards in previous years, encouraging her pupils to vote and even attending the winner’s ceremony with her class several years ago. Commenting on her win, she said:

“To be honest, I was beyond delighted simply to be shortlisted for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards, so to win is an incredible surprise. What makes me particularly ecstatic is that the awards are voted for by readers, which means that young people across Scotland enjoyed “Ferryman”. The competition was high, so to come out top is an honour. It’s not really a word, but I feel it’s the only appropriate expression to describe how I feel: awesomeness!”

The total prize fund is £12,000, with the shortlisted authors and illustrators receiving £500 per book, and the winning authors and illustrators receiving £3,000 per book.

The amount of children getting involved increases year on year, with the very first awards in 2006 attracting just over 2,000 votes, compared to 16,000 votes in 2010, 23,000 votes in 2011 and 32,000 votes in 2012.

Jasmine Fassl, Head of Schools at Scottish Book Trust, commented:

“A big thank you to all of the shortlisted authors for writing such wonderful books – children across the country have enjoyed reading, debating and championing each and every one of them over the past few months, with huge numbers of children voting for each book. As our review competition shows, there was something for everyone in the shortlist, with the themes of humour, first love and fast-paced action proving most popular this year. There is nothing nicer than celebrating the books that children themselves have enjoyed reading, and the passion of the teachers, librarians, parents and authors who take part in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards are playing a key part in inspiring a new generation of book lovers.”

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell MSP, who will be presenting the review competition awards at the ceremony, said:

“Like other parents I cherish the time I spend reading with my son. We know from our hugely successful Play, Talk, Read and Bookbug programmes that this can lay the foundations for a life-long passion for books. A captivating story is like a doorway to a whole other world, whether that is adventure, humour, fairy-tale or fantasy.

“The shortlisted books have brought incredible pleasure to an ever increasing number of children taking part and I congratulate Chae, Janis and Claire. I would also like to thank the children who have taken part along with the teachers, librarians, booksellers and others who make these awards such a success.”

Jenny Niven, Portfolio Manager for Literature, Publishing and Languages at Creative Scotland, said:

"Huge congratulations to Chae, Janis and Claire, we’re absolutely delighted for you. Thank you to all the brilliant young readers too (and the parents and teachers who supported them) who voted and got involved in record numbers this year.

“The Scottish Children’s Book Awards is a brilliant success story. The programme recognises and rewards individual writers and great children’s books are given renewed opportunity for promotion. Not only does the Award promote reading, which is fundamental, and stimulate creative responses, but the children are actively encouraged to make their voices heard, and then to see the results of that. It’s absolutely critical that children are active participants in their engagement with books, and this program offers a marvellous opportunity for them to be just that.”

CALL Scotland has again worked with Scottish Book Trust and the authors and publishers to create accessible digital versions of the nine shortlisted books, for children and young people with physical, visual and reading or dyslexic difficulties, who can’t read the paper books. The accessible digital versions are available free of charge from CALL Scotland. You can request books by going to

The Scottish Children’s Book Awards are not only about reading but also about writing: the popular Book Review Competition attracts hundreds of high quality entries from budding journalists and authors all over the country, hoping to win book tokens for themselves and an author visit for their school.

The Scottish Children’s Book Awards are managed by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with Creative Scotland, and are supported by The Barcapel Foundation, Times Educational Supplement Scotland, Waterstones, CALL, Ernest Cook Trust and the Zachs-Adams family.

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Notes to editors:

  • Scottish Book Trust is Scotland’s leading agency for the promotion of literature, reading and writing.
  • Shortlist panel: The shortlist panel is made up of experts in children’s books including booksellers, teachers, librarians as well as key education contacts. The other key component to each panel is school children. For these awards we have worked with Capshard Primary in Fife and Braes High School in Falkirk to get the children’s perspective on the longlist. Representatives of each class attended the panel meeting and their contributions, opinions and votes were equally listened to as other panel members while we discussed and debated which books would make it onto the shortlist.
  • Eligibility: The books in the 2013 awards have to have been published between 1st April 2012 and 31st March 2013. In that period 116 books were published by authors and illustrators living and working in Scotland.
  • Teachers, librarians and book group leaders sign up their groups in the appropriate age group and then the pupils read, review, discuss and vote for their favourite book.
  • Reviews are posted on the Scottish Book Trust website by young judges to share their enthusiasm about the shortlisted books, and several schools also created Book Trailers for the shortlisted books as part of our Book Trailer competition
  • Videos of each author reading and talking about their book are available at

Photo downloads

Jumblebum by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Ben Cort

Johnny thinks that his room has its own special style. But Mum thinks his room is a MESS! Johnny doesn't care... until the chaos attracts the terrible Jumblebum Beast. Is Johnny about to end up in the Jumblebum's TUM - or can his secret plan save the day?

The Accidental Time Traveller by Janis Mackay

One ordinary day, Saul is on his way to the corner shop when a girl appears suddenly in the middle of the road. She doesn't understand traffic, or the things in shops, and she's wearing a long dress with ruffled sleeves. Her name is Agatha Black.

Agatha Black is from 1812, and Saul needs to find a way to get her back there. With help from his mates Will and Robbie, he tries to work out how to make time travel happen.

This pacy, time-travelling adventure from Janis Mackay, author of the Magnus Fin series, is full of funny misunderstandings and gripping action.

Ferryman by Claire McFall

Life, death, love – which would you choose?

When teenager Dylan emerges from the wreckage of a train crash onto a bleak Scottish hillside, she meets a strange boy who seems to be waiting for her. But Tristan is no ordinary teenage boy, and the journey across the desolate, wraith-infested wasteland is no ordinary journey.

A moving, epic love story that's exciting, scary, funny, thought-provoking and truly original.


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