The ‘Little Rebels’ shortlist of best children’s books about social justice

A very different rebel army.
A very different rebel army.
Image: Courtesy Andersen Press
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An origami warrior; a thumbprint of a bird; Hitler’s housemate. The stars of a prize called The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award are meant to encourage a generation of young readers to think differently.

The award, organized by a UK community of “radical” booksellers and non-profit children’s bookseller Letterbox Library, has been given annually since 2012 to books that highlight social justice topics. Says Letterbox, “Children are never too young to be engaged in questioning conventions and exploring big ideas.”

See the shortlist for books published in 2015, announced yesterday (April 4):

  • The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne (Doubleday Childrens), ages 10-14

A young orphan moves in with his aunt, who is a servant in the German mountains to Hitler.

  • Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis (Oxford University Press), ages 11 and up

Two children held prisoner in a rebel soldier camp forge a friendship with a captured baby gorilla.

  • I’m A Girl! by Yasmeen Ismail (Bloomsbury Books), ages 3-6

“I’m sweet and sour / and not a little flower.” A little girl who loves to win and wear shorts meets a little boy who likes princess dresses.

Image for article titled The ‘Little Rebels’ shortlist of best children’s books about social justice
Image: Courtesy Walker Books
  • I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz (Walker Books), ages 5 and up

A picture book for “budding philosophers,” about a thumbprint-bird named Henry Finch. Says the jacket, “Vegetarians will love it too.”

  • The Little Bookshop and the Origami Army! by Michael Foreman (Andersen Press), ages 4-7

An army of famous children’s book characters come together in origami form to fight a bureaucrat.

  • Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Neal Layton (Bloomsbury Books), ages 7-10

The exploits of a boy and his curmudgeonly uncle, who eats beans on toast incorrectly.