James Cropper Wainwright Prize 2023 – Winner Announced!

14 September, 2023

Cover shot of this year's Wainwright Children's Writing on Nature and ConservationCongratulations to husband and wife team Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston whose unforgettable Actic adventure Leila and the Blue Fox (Hachette Children’s Group) has been crowned the winner of the Children’s Writing on Nature and Conservation category of this year’s James Cropper Wainwright Prize.

The James Cropper Wainwright Prize is awarded annually to the books that best inspire readers to explore the outdoors and that nurture a respect for the natural world. There are three award categories: Nature Writing Prize, Writing on Conservation Prize and Children’s Writing on Nature and Conservation Prize.

Inspired by the true story of an Arctic fox that walked over 2000 miles from Norway to Canada in 76 days, Leila and the Blue Fox is a compelling and beautifully illustrated story that explores themes of migration, freedom and belonging. As one small fox journeys across ice and snow in the endless daylight of an Arctic summer, Leila embarks on a journey of her own, finding her way to the mother she thought she had lost.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston are the second winners of the Children’s Writing Prize, having been shortlisted for last year’s inaugural award for Julia and the Shark.

Commenting on this year’s award, chair of judges and campaigns director at the National Trust Mark Funnell said, “This was a year of extraordinary riches in the children’s category, feeding a growing appetite for nature connection in young readers and parents alike. Any of the books shortlisted would have been worthy winners.”

“The fact that the judges were able to savour exceptional writing and illustration for all age categories made our task particularly difficult, but in the end there was an overwhelming consensus that Leila and the Blue Fox was the stand-out title, building on last year’s near-winner Julia and the Shark. The interplay between Kiran’s profoundly affecting writing and Tom’s hauntingly beautiful illustrations is uniquely potent, plunging us into the intertwined worlds of family relationships and nature obsession with a visceral impact that readers won’t forget. It’s hard to think of a book that could do more to inspire young people to engage with the natural world, in this case as climate change tears up the rule book for species migration and survival, but without extinguishing all hope. Exceptional storytelling, and a triumph of the genre.”

Also shortlisted for this year’s Children’s Writing on Nature and Conservation Prize:

Grandpa and the Kingfisher by Anna Wilson, illustrated by Sarah Massini (Nosy Crow)

A Wild Child’s Book of Birds by Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls (Macmillan Children’s Books)

Spark by M. G. Leonard (Walker Books)

Blobfish by Olaf Falafel (Walker Books)

Protecting the Planet: The Season of Giraffes by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton (Walker Books)

Cover shots of the five also shortlisted titles for the Children's Writing on Nature and Conservation Prize 2023

2023 James Cropper Wainwright Prize adult category winners

Nature Writing Prize

  • Winner: The Flow: Rivers, Waters and Wildness by Amy-Jane Beer (Bloomsbury)
  • Highly Commended: The Golden Mole and Other Living Treasure by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Tanya Baldwin (Faber & Faber)

Writing on Conservation Prize

  • Winner: The Lost Rainforests of Britain by Guy Shrubsole (William Collins)
  • Highly Commended: Nomad Century: How to Survive the Climate Upheaval by Gaia Vince (Allen Lane)
Logo for James Cropper Wainwright Prize