BBC presenter Katie Derham joins this year’s panel as a judge for a children’s book award.
The TV star, who was crowned champion of the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2017, will join the panel for this year’s Oscar’s Book Prize, set up in memory of Oscar Ashton, the son of Evening Standard columnist James Ashton. Princess Beatrice, a judge for the 2016 prize, is patron.
Oscar died in 2012 at the age of three from an undetected heart condition. The £5,000 award, for the best book published in 2017 for children aged five or under, pays tribute to Oscar’s love of stories and was first given in 2014.
Derham, 47, who has two daughters with her restaurateur husband John Vincent, said “Reading books to, and with, my children has been one of my greatest joys. I am so thrilled to support Oscar’s Book Prize, and have the chance to immerse myself in the best new books out there for little ones.” Also new to the judging panel is Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival, a children’s book editor and an editorial adviser for the website Lovereading4kids.
Ms Eccleshare said: “I’m delighted to be a judge of Oscar’s Book Prize this year. Already it has made a significant contribution in recognising the importance of books in entertaining even the very youngest children and developing their young minds.”
Derham and Ms Eccleshare are also joined by Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, director of books at Amazon UK, which, together with the National Literacy Trust, is supporting the prize for the second year running. She said: “We are passionate about helping children discover the joy of reading and Oscar’s Book Prize is a fantastic celebration of children’s literature that we’re proud to support.”
As in previous years, Oscar’s parents James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand are also judges. Evening Standard editor George Osborne said: “Oscar’s Book Prize celebrates that greatest literary achievement — a book for young children that stays in our memories — and commemorates a young boy, Oscar, who never leaves our memories.”
The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on May 14. The closing date for submission is at 5pm on March 16.