The Cats We Meet Along the Way written by Nadia Mikail (Guppy Books) has been crowned the Overall Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2023. Now in its 19th year, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize is voted for by Waterstones booksellers and celebrates the best in new writing for children and teenagers.
The Cats We Meet Along the Way is Mikail’s debut novel and was inspired by the author’s experience of missing and worrying about her family during the pandemic. It tells the story of Aisha and her family who, with the end of the world imminent, undertake a final, eventful road trip across Malaysia to reconnect with her sister June, whom she hasn’t seen for two years.
Commenting on the The Cats We Meet Along the Way, Waterstone’s Head of Children’s Florentyna Martin said: ‘In a phenomenal debut, Nadia Mikail’s prose sparkles in the growing market for older readers. Booksellers were overwhelmed by the tenderness woven through each chapter; the moments of silence between the characters are as truthful and evocative as their conversations. Mikail has ultimately crafted a novel of hope, set against an eventful road trip, that encourages us to share stories and dreams.’
To be declared this year’s Overall Winner, The Cats We Meet Along the Way had first to be chosen as the winner of the Best Books for Older Readers category from a shortlist of six titles before going on to beat the winners of the Best Illustrated Book and Best Book for Younger Readers categories.
The Best Illustrated Book Category was won by Gretel the Wonder Mammoth by Kim Hillyard (Ladybird), described as a ‘pitch-perfect story encouraging children to embrace their feelings as they follow the story of Gretel, the last woolly mammoth on earth, who gets a little overwhelmed and lonely after returning to the world from a very long sleep in the ice’.
M T Khan’s Nura and the Immortal Palace (Walker Books), an ‘enchanting magical adventure rooted in Muslim culture and folklore’, took the prize in the Best Book for Younger Readers category.
To see all 18 shortlisted titles for this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, click here.