'Just to be chosen is wonderful enough': Bethnal Green author shortlisted for prize

Chris Haughton, author of Maybe

Chris Haughton - Credit: Chris Haughton

A Tower Hamlets author has been nominated for an award presented by Princess Beatrice.

Originally from Dublin and now based in Bethnal Green, Chris Haughton's book Maybe has been shortlisted for the Oscar's Book Prize, which is supported by Amazon.

Chris Haughton's book Maybe

Chris Haughton's book Maybe - Credit: Chris Haughton

The annual competition searches for the best children's book for under five-year-olds.

It is now in its ninth year, and additional supporters include the National Literacy Trust and the Evening Standard.

James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand established the award ceremony after they lost their three-year-old son to an undiagnosed heart condition in December 2012.

They felt celebrating authors who wrote magical children's stories was a fitting memorial to their son Oscar.

"It's very sad how the prize came about, but also very hopeful. It's a beautiful and really heartfelt kind of award," said Chris.

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The winner of the award will be announced on May 17 at a ceremony taking place in central London.

Author and illustrator Chris trained initially as a graphic designer, but switched tack because he wanted to come up with his own stories.

He first heard about the award when his close friend, Benji Davies, was nominated and won.

The two men have previously worked in an animation studio, but both left to take up writing children's books.

Chris said: "It'd be lovely to win. It's nice enough to be nominated to be honest.

"It's very difficult to find a winner and just to be chosen from so many books out there is wonderful enough.

"I'm extremely happy as it is. Whether I win or not."

After the last two years of the pandemic, Chris is pleased that these book celebrations are starting up again.

He said: "In normal times there have been a lot of book festivals and awards that I would go to quite regularly. I haven't really been doing very many events these days. So, it'll be extra nice. Just to be able to see people again."

The shortlist was selected this year by singer-songwriter Sophie Ellis, illustrator Chris Riddell and rapper comedian and children’s author Ben Bailey Smith, commonly known as Doc Brown.

Other authors nominated include Nadia Shireen, Steve Small and Smriti Halls, alongside duos Catherine Emmett and David Tazzyman, and Alexandra Page and Stef Murphy.