Illustrator, Writer

LOOK UP! wins the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020

Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola’s “utterly joyful” picture book Look Up! (Puffin) has been crowned overall winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020.

The book follows Rocket, a science-loving black girl with big dreams about becoming an astronaut, and explores subjects from the significance of role models and representation, to the amount of time some people spend glued to their mobile devices.

Bryon, a writer and actor who has written for animation “Rastamouse”, Bafta-winning “Swashbuckle” and “Apple Tree House”, said he penned the story partly as a message to himself.

He explained: “I was inspired to write Look Up! after walking around Hyde Park with my girlfriend. She wanted me to see the Peter Pan statue and I was too busy looking down at my phone, refreshing my emails. The book is a message to me to be more present, to ‘Look Up!’ and see all the wonderful things that are around me as my emails really aren’t that important.”

Adeola said: “Look Up! was visually inspired by one of my nieces. I tried to capture her curiosity and zest for knowledge in Rocket’s mannerisms, as well as her innocently self-assured attitude to problem-solving—traits that should be celebrated in both boys and girls.”

The pair were announced winners of the award, alongside the picture book category, today (30th July). The awards are voted for solely by booksellers, with category winners receiving £2,000, and the overall winner pocketing an additional £3,000. They also receive the promise of ongoing commitment to their writing and illustrating careers from the retailer.

Florentyna Martin, Waterstones children’s buyer, said: “The mould of traditional picture book storytelling is redefined for a new era in this joyful and energetic tale; an inviting narrative plot is interspersed with nuggets of non-fiction, satisfying curious young minds with a multifaceted experience away from screens. More than ever before, we are exploring non-fiction and inspirational characters at younger ages, and we champion Rocket’s boundless enthusiasm, curious nature and kind spirit as a hero for us all. She is a little person with big dreams, who has captured our hearts.”

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