Tweedmouth author Helen Stephens is once again battling the queen of children’s literature for a prestigious prize.
She is up against Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo - probably the most successful children’s picture book of recent times - in The Red House Book Awards
Helen admitted: “It’ll be tough to beat her because there’s a public vote to pick the winner and she’s bound to get loads but you never know!”
At least she has experience of beating her in the past - in 2009, Helen’s book ‘Fleabag’ pipped Julia for the Dundee Picture Book Award.
“It will be so exciting,” said Helen, who lives with her artist partner Gerry and their five-year-old daughter Frieda in Church Road.
“It’s really great even to have been nominated and I’ve had fantastic feedback about the book so I have everything crossed.
“I’ve even enlisted the support of Frieda’s school to try and get the pupils to vote for me, although I suspect they’re also fans of The Gruffalo!”
How to Hide a Lion has already won at the Rotherham Picture Book Awards and been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, The Oldham Picture Book Awards and the Stockport Children’s Book Award.
The book features a character named Iris, based on Helen’s daughter, who meets a lion in town and decides to take him home.
The book was launched at Berwick’s town hall, which features in it, last September.
“It’s done brilliantly,” admitted Helen. “It’s been translated into something like 15 languages and I often get messages from people all over the world who’ve enjoyed reading it.”
She is now working on the follow-up, How to Hide a Lion from Grandma, which is due out next spring.
The Red House Children’s Book Award, the only national award for children’s books that is voted for entirely by children themselves. It has brought acclaim and strong sales to past winners such as J.K. Rowling, and Michael Morpurgo.
The ceremony will be held at the South Bank in London next February.