Author-illustrator Thomas Taylor has been chosen as the winner of the 2021 Awesome Book Awards for his debut novel, Malamander, announced via a special online event.

 “I am delighted that Malamander has won the Awesome Book Awards! I wasn’t expecting much against such a mighty shortlist, so it was a great surprise to see my book drawn out of the envelope.”

“I can only thank everyone involved in the award, and especially all those committed and energetic readers who voted for Malamander, and all the wonderful books. What a fabulous journey through fictional worlds they have been on! I send them all my best wishes as they set off again on their next reading adventures, and hope to welcome them back to Eerie-on-Sea sometime soon, for more malamanderous mysteries with Herbert Lemon and Violet Parma,” said Thomas.

Now in its fifth year, the Awesome Book Awards recognise the very best works of fiction for young readers aged between 7 and 10. What makes these awards extra special is that the winner is chosen by young readers who, over recent months, have been reading the shortlist and voting for their favourite.

To be eligible, books have to be a debut novel and appeal to everyone in the listed age group. Along with Malamander (Walker Books), on the shortlist for 2021 were: The Girl who Stole an Elephant (Nosy Crow) by Nizrana Farook; The Garden of Lost Secrets (Usborne Publishing) by A.M. Howell; The Strangeworlds Travel Agency (Orion Children’s Books) by L.D. Lapinski and The Switching Hour (Scholastic) by Damaris Young.

In previous years, the winner has been announced at a Gala Event attended by hundreds of young readers. Although this year’s event was restricted by social distancing guidelines, the virtual event featured author readings, special animations for each shortlisted book, and the announcement of the 2021 winner by Adam Baron — winner of the Awesome Book Awards 2020 for his debut children’s novel, Boy Underwater.

“This is a fantastic result because Malamander is a book that’s full of the most wonderful things. It has a great voice, a spooky hotel, an even spookier old lady and the ever popular missing parents. Congratulations on the well-deserved win!” said Adam.

The Awesome Book Awards were devised by Cranleigh Schools and are open to young readers nationwide.  Neil Brooks, Headmaster of Cranleigh Prep School, said: “Books and stories have never been so important as they have over the last challenging year. We’re so pleased that our Awards have helped to keep up that love of reading in pupils. This year’s stories took us to real and imaginary worlds while we stayed at home and we were delighted to see so many pupils taking part.”

The shortlist for the 2022 Awesome Book Awards will be announced in September.

For more information on the Awesome Book Awards, and to watch the full event, go to