The debut book from Hampshire-based Lu Fraser and Bristol-based illustrator Kate Hindley has been announced as the winner of Oscar’s Book Prize 2021. The duo topped the six-strong shortlist to secure the esteemed £10,000 literary prize, which was revealed earlier today by award Patron, HRH Princess Beatrice.
The Littlest Yak, a joyous, rhyming caper that teaches little ones to celebrate their own unique talents, follows the journey of Gertie, the littlest yak in the whole herd. Feeling like she’s stuck in her smallness, bursting to grow up big and tall, Gertie soon learns there are things only she can do, and her smallness can do something big after all. This is a heart-warming and uplifting story from fledgling author, Lu Fraser and much-loved illustrator, Kate Hindley.
Lu Fraser is an exciting new voice in children’s books. Based in Hampshire where she lives with her husband and daughter, Fraser draws on everyday inspiration for her stories. Writing from a small shed in her garden, she revealed that the character of Gertie came to life as she spent time with her daughter.
Bristol based, award-winning illustrator Kate Hindley is the much-loved illustrator of both picture books (including the award-winning You Must Bring a Hat, written by Simon Philip) and fiction (The Royal Rabbits of London, written by Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore), as well as the author-illustrator of new board book series, Treacle Street.
Speaking about her book, Lu Fraser said: “This story means a huge amount to me, I put my heart into it as it felt like a really important message to remind children, and grown-ups, that we all have bigness inside”
“It is the most tremendous honour, and I can’t thank the judges enough for choosing our book, The Littlest Yak, to be the winner of Oscar’s Book Prize 2021”
On her illustrations, Kate Hindley said: “Cheers to Lu for writing such a brilliant debut text. It was such a pleasure to illustrate.”
“I’m absolutely delighted and flabbergasted to hear our wee Gertie has won Oscar’s Book Prize. Thank you very, very much.”
HRH Princess Beatrice, the award’s Patron since 2017, announced this year’s winner via video message, on the Oscar’s Book Prize website and streamed on the prize’s YouTube channel. Speaking about the winning book, HRH Princess Beatrice said, “This is a beautiful book, and the winners should be so proud of everything they’ve achieved in pulling together this beautiful story”.
The winning book, praised by the judging panel, is available to buy on Amazon.
Oscar’s Book Prize is awarded in memory of Oscar Ashton, who loved children’s stories and died aged three-and-a-half of an undetected heart condition. This year, the prize received the highest number of entries in its eight-year history with 143 submissions from children’s writers and illustrators from across the UK. To recognise and reward the vital work by early-years authors and illustrators in encouraging young children to read, this year’s prize fund doubled in size.
The announcement also included endorsements from fellow judge’s TV presenters Lorraine Kelly and Angellica Bell, animator & illustrator Axel Scheffler, Simon Johnson, Director, Amazon EU Books and Viveka Alvestrand and James Ashton, founders of the award and Oscar’s parents.
Axel Scheffler said: “The story of The Littlest Yak is very touching and encouraging for anybody small. Rather crazy furry creatures live within a mountainous backdrop scenery that is, in spite of the reduced colour scheme, always lively and engaging. The little bird and snow marmot add to the amusement. A lot of fun with a lovely message.“
Lorraine Kelly said: “Despite some incredible competition, this heart-warming book grabbed me right from the first page. Featuring a wonderful, relatable character, the story is told beautifully through clever, zippy rhymes and gorgeous illustrations. There’s so much to talk about with its lovely message too – realising that however much we might wish to change something about ourselves, actually everyone is perfect, just as they are.”
Angellica Bell said: “This is such a cute story about wanting to quickly grow up to be an adult, something I used to dream about when I was a child – and with hindsight it’s about enjoying the moment and not wishing time away! But the real message I took away from this book is the lesson that we are all perfect just the way we are in our own individual ways!”
Director of Amazon EU Books, Simon Johnson said: “Whether you are the littlest, or just feel like you are, this is a brilliant story to really get involved with. We loved this book in my family – heart-warming, beautifully illustrated, and I think it dealt really well with conversations about feeling different.”