Little Rebels Award 2023 Shortlist

by | Jun 8, 2023 | IBBY NEWS, News

A poster with the covers of all 7 of the shortlisted books for Little Rebels 2023.

The seven-strong 2023 Little Rebels Award shortlist spotlights social justice issues for the youngest readers and celebrates young people’s resilience and strength.

2021 winner A. M. Dassu

If there was one award I wanted to win it was this one, not just because I am a rebel at heart but also because it raises the profile of books that are different. And I want to write books that challenge the status quo, make us think and question the state of society and our place in it.


Children band together to protest and push back against economic inequalities, disablism, Islamophobia, racism, the cruelties exercised by fast fashion, and the harsh realities of our criminal justice systems. In picture books, wise, empowered children tackle racial microaggressions head-on and soothe social panic around trans identities, while elsewhere, bunnies rise up against fake news electioneering and political fear-mongering.


The shortlist includes:

· Debuts for Varsha Shah, Lisette Auton, Annemarie Anang and a picture book debut for Juno Dawson.

· Elys Dolan’s sequel to Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory, shortlisted for the #LittleRebelsAward in 2018.

· The second novel by A.M. Dassu who took the prize for the #LittleRebelsAward in 2021 with Boy, Everywhere


Sarah Hagger Holt, Last year’s winner with Proud of Me (Usborne): 

Sometimes I feel powerless and alone. The distance I see between the world around me and the world I would like to see seems vast. Yet every single, wonderful book that is put forward for the Little Rebels Award seeks to bridge this distance. Winning the Little Rebels Award last year -for a story about a bunch of queer kids and allies finding each other, defending what matters to them and learning to value themselves, their families and each other- encouraged me to keep on writing stories and to keep on speaking out. We are not powerless. We are not alone.


The Little Rebels 2023 shortlist in full:

  • AJAY & THE MUMBAI SUN by Varsha Shah (Chicken House Books)
  • FIGHT BACK by A. M. Dassu (Scholastic)
  • I AM NEFERTITI by Annemarie Anang and Natelle Quek (Five Quills)
  • MAYOR BUNNY’S CHOCOLATE TOWN by Elys Dolan (Oxford University Press)
  • NEEDLE by Patrice Lawrence (Barrington Stoke)
  • THE SECRET OF HAVEN POINT by Lisette Auton (Puffin Books/PRH)
  • YOU NEED TO CHILL! by Juno Dawson and Laura Hughes (Farshore)


The 2023 Little Rebels Award winner will be announced at an evening ceremony in July. This year’s judges are: Gays The Word manager, Jim MacSweeney; author-illustrator and former award shortlistee, Emily Haworth-Booth; reading development and children’s book consultant, Jake Hope; Research and Development Director at the Centre for Literature in Primary Education (CLPE), Farrah Serroukh.


In 2023, over 40 publishers submitted just over 140 titles. The award organisers published a longlist for the first time this year, showcasing 18 of the best radical children’s fiction titles of 2022. The winner’s prize includes £2,000 funded by the Marxist Socialist funder, The Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust. Free downloadable reading guides for each of the shortlisted titles will shortly be available through the Little Rebels Award website, enabling educators and carers to discuss and plan activities around the social justice topics raised in the shortlist.