Hannah Gold received the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for her debut novel, The Last Bear.
The Lincolnshire-based author will receive £5,000 and a pledge from the bookseller to support her writing career.
An arctic adventure with an environmental message, The Last Bear tells the story of April, an explorer’s daughter, and her chance encounter with a lonely polar bear.
Gold, who previously worked in the film and magazine industries, describes the story as “a book from my heart” with the message that “no one is too small or too insignificant to make a difference in what they truly care about.”
Florentyna Martin, Head of Children’s Books at Waterstones, said: “With environmental issues gaining prominence in children’s literature, Hannah Gold’s triumphant debut stands out from the crowd. Prepare to be whisked away on a beautiful, unforgettable Arctic adventure.
“Hannah’s impeccable storytelling creates immersive landscapes and an inspiring friendship born of bravery and kindness.
“Our booksellers have expertly selected a winner who will be a symbol of hope for the next generation; Part battle cry, part love letter to our planet, April and Bear’s unique bond will teach any young reader how to roar.”
In its 18th year, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize is voted solely by booksellers.
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Waterstones Cambridge’s Sorcha described The Last Bear as a “future classic” with a story that is “timely and thought-provoking, but ultimately heartwarming”.
Meanwhile, Rachel of Waterstones Altrincham praised the book’s “magical quality” and “captivating depictions of the Arctic”.
The Last Bear was announced the overall winner at a ceremony at the flagship Waterstones bookshop in Piccadilly, London, having also been named winner of the younger reader category earlier in the evening.
Ciara Smyth’s Not My Problem won the Older Readers category and Harry Woodgate’s Grandad’s Camper won the Illustrated Books category.
Last year’s overall winner was Elle McNicoll for her debut novel, A Kind Of Spark, which grew out of her own experience with neurodiversity and her desire for greater representation in children’s books.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/debut-novelist-named-winner-of-the-waterstones-childrens-book-prize-41508778.html Debut novelist named winner of Waterstones Children’s Book Prize