Alastair Humphreys’ GREAT ADVENTURERS wins the UK’s sole award for creative educational writing

The winner of the 2019 Educational Writers’ Award is Alastair Humphreys’ GREAT ADVENTURERS: The Incredible Expeditions of 20 Explorers.

Written by adventurer and author Alastair Humphreys and illustrated by Kevin Ward, this is an enthralling and visually captivating book containing the remarkable stories of the intrepid journeys undertaken by Humphreys’ explorer heroes.

The result of this year’s Educational Writers’ Award – the UK’s only award for creative educational writing – was announced on 3 December at a reception at ALCS in London.

Children’s author and Chair of ALCS, Tony Bradman presented Alastair Humphreys and Kevin Ward with a shared cheque for £2,000.

Published by Big Picture Press, Alastair Humphreys’ GREAT ADVENTURERS: The Incredible Expeditions of 20 Explorers is a compendium of great expeditions, hand-picked by Alastair Humphreys, whose own adventures include cycling the world and rowing the Atlantic Ocean. It retells the extraordinary stories of 20 men and women who have ventured into space, and across oceans, continents, deserts and jungles – inspiring Alastair’s own adventurous travels. They include Amelia Earhart, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Dervla Murphy, Ibn Battuta and Sacagawea.

This year’s judges – Hollie Davis, a primary school teacher; Michaela Morgan, a prolific author of fiction, non-fiction and poetry for children; and Fiona Shufflebotham, a junior school librarian – were full of praise for the winning title: Intertwining Alastair Humphreys’ own experiences with those of his explorer heroes, this book has something for everyone. The thoughtfully chosen range of adventurers stretches across history, ages and genders which means that any child can pick this book up and find at least one person they can relate to or feel excited about. A particular charm of the book is the authorial voice, full of excitement and humour. Even the dedication which reads “…a book full of madcap adventurers, daft exploits, dubious career paths…” provides a breath of fresh air.

Full marks to illustrator Kevin Ward and to the design and editing team too who have also adventured, explored, and succeeded beautifully. A book to inspire future adventurers as well as inform children across the age range in an exciting, original and accessible way.

The 2019 Educational Writers’ Award focused on books for 5-11-year-olds, published in 2017 and 2018. Alastair Humphreys’ GREAT ADVENTURERS beat off strong competition from the five other titles shortlisted for this year’s Award. They were: A HISTORY OF PICTURES FOR CHILDREN, written by David Hockney & Martin Gayford and illustrated by Rose Blake (Thames & Hudson); ALL BIRDS HAVE ANXIETY, written by Kathy Hoopman and designed by Adam Peacock (Jessica Kingsley); SUFFRAGETTES AND THE FIGHT FOR THE VOTE, written by Sarah Ridley and designed and illustrated by Jeni Child (Franklin Watts); MR SHAHA’S RECIPES FOR WONDER, written by Alom Shaha and illustrated by Emily Robertson (Scribble); and 2019 NATURE MONTH-BY-MONTH: A CHILDREN’S ALMANAC, written by Anna Wilson and illustrated by Elly Jahnz (Nosy Crow).

Now in its twelfth year, the Educational Writers’ Award was established in 2008 by ALCS and the Society of Authors “to celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity and encourages students to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications”.

Photographs © Matt Crossick