YOUNG Scots bookworms have lost their appetite for supernatural romances and magical adventures – now favouring books on WW1, sports and nostalgic mysteries.
This year’s shortlist for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards (SCBA) – selected by a panel of teachers and young readers – includes a glut of war, sport and mystery novels.
Of the nine books nominated, three focus on war and conflict, two are vintage-styled mysteries and a book on running has heralded the first sports book ever to be nominated for the award.
With the 100th anniversary commemorations of the Great War and the Commonwealth Games both taking place in 2014, experts have claimed that the events have leaked into the consciousness of young readers.
The nine books shortlisted for the annual award are divided across three categories – for readers age 3-7, 8-11 and 12-16.
In the “Bookbug” category – for the youngest readers – animal books remained a firm favourite, as they often have been in the past.
“Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar” – Emily MacKenzie’s story of a kleptomaniac bibliophile bunny – made the cut, alongside two other animal stories: “Never Tickle a Tiger” and “Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School.”
Meanwhile all of the books in category for readers age 12-16 feature tales of war and conflict in the early 20th century.
Joan Lingard’s “Trouble on Cable Street” focusses on a London family torn apart by the Spanish Civil War and the rise of fascism.
Another novel follows characters embroiled in the Italo-Ethiopian war, with the third telling the story of children evacuated from London during the Blitz.
Jasmine Fassl, head of schools at the Scottish Book Trust (SBT) said that this radical shift in children’s taste could be explained by last year’s WW1 anniversary events.
She explained that recognisable themes often emerged in the nominations – linked to developments in popular culture and current events.
She claimed: “This year, the anniversary of the First World War had a strong influence on the older readers category, with all three titles featuring war and conflict.”
According to her, the remembrance of things past has also coloured the preferences of readers in the middle category – those aged 8-11.
She went on: “The current popularity of all things vintage has also whetted an appetite for nostalgic mystery stories.
“Our younger readers category features two wonderfully mysterious tales alongside a book all about running – perhaps a legacy of the London 2012 Olympics and last year’s Commonwealth Games.”
Alongside the two mysteries, Elizabeth Laird’s “The Fastest Boy in the World” tells the tale of Ethiopian 11 year-old Solomon, an aspiring runner.
Like other nominated stories, it also touches on the the topic of war – with Solomon having to deploy his quick-footed talent to save his war hero grandfather.
The shortlisted books were selected by a panel of experts at the SBT after consulting with children and teachers.
Three winners – one in each category – will be voted for by thousands of children across Scotland over the next five months.
28,000 votes were cast by children to decide the outcome of last year’s awards – two of which went to robot themed books.