Tir na n-Og 2023

English-language shortlist revealed for Wales’ oldest children’s book award

Fantasy, other worlds and alternative realities, myths and legends… The Books Council of Wales will reveal the English-language shortlist for this year’s Tir na n-Og Awards on the Radio Wales Arts Show on Friday, 24 March at 6:30pm. This year’s titles celebrate the power of storytelling – a theme that is at the heart of the four books shortlisted for this year’s English-language prize.

The Tir na n-Og Awards are the oldest and most popular awards for children’s literature in Wales and are held every year by the Books Council of Wales, sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales. They celebrate the talents of authors and illustrators who either create original works in Welsh, or who write about authentically Welsh themes or backgrounds through the medium of English. 

Some of Wales’ leading authors and illustrators have won the award in previous years, including Manon Steffan Ros, Jac Jones and Catherine Fisher. The aim is to celebrate reading for pleasure and to inspire reading choices for young readers. Through the awards, children and young people can enjoy and be inspired by stories and writing from or about Wales.

The shortlist for the best English-language book with an authentic Welsh dimension is:

 The Blackthorn Branch, Elen Caldecott (Andersen Press)
A relatable modern Welsh setting with characters you feel instantly at home with. And yet these joyous working-class kids are drawn into a parallel fantasy realm and have to battle magical creatures as well as deal with their own struggles – not least a missing brother and grieving family.

Blue Book of Nebo, Manon Steffan Ros (Firefly)
Translated by the author from a multi-award winning Welsh novel. The book explores the relationship between a mother and son and their survival after The End (a nuclear event). For such demanding and distressing subject matter, there are moments of great tenderness, hope and optimism.

 The Drowned Woods, Emily Lloyd-Jones (Hodder)
Game of Thrones comes to Cardigan Bay! The Drowned Woods is a vividly imagined medieval heist full of danger, threat and magic. Drawing on Welsh mythology including the legend of Cantre’r Gwaelod, this YA fantasy thriller is hugely enjoyable and will have wide appeal.

The Mab, by various authors, illustrated by Max Low, Ed. Matt Brown and Eloise Williams, (Unbound)
The Mab brings together the very best of contemporary Welsh authors to retell the stories of the Mabinogion. New life is given to these classic tales – the humour, eccentricity, threat and sheer brilliance of these ancient stories are evident through the joy of the writing.


Independent panels of judges select the shortlists and decide on the winners for the Welsh and English awards each year. This year’s judges on the English Panel Jannat Ahmed (Chair), Simon Fisher and Elizabeth Kennedy – bring with them a wealth of experience and passion for children’s books.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to the books on this year’s shortlist. The English-language prize showcases books with an authentic Welsh dimension – and this year’s shortlist is a wonderful celebration of Wales’ storytelling traditions. I’m sure every one of these titles will capture the imaginations of young readers, and I’m looking forward to finding out the winner of the awards in June.”

The shortlisted titles for the Welsh-language Tir na n-Og Awards 2023 were announced on the Heno programme on S4C on Thursday, 23 March.

The shortlisted titles in the Welsh-language primary age category are Dros y Môr a’r Mynyddoedd, various authors, illustrated by Elin Manon (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch), Dwi Eisiau Bod yn Ddeinosor, Huw Aaron and Luned Aaron (Atebol), and Enwogion o Fri: Nye – Bywyd Angerddol Aneurin Bevan, Manon Steffan Ros, illustrated by Valériane Leblond (Llyfrau Broga).

The books shortlisted in the Welsh-language secondary age category are Gwlad yr Asyn, Wyn Mason, illustrated by Efa Blosse Mason (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch), Manawydan Jones: Y Pair Dadeni, Alun Davies (Y Lolfa), and Powell, by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa).

This year there will be a special category: the Readers’ Choice Award. This award is chosen by children and young people who take part in the Tir na n-Og shadowing scheme.

Schools, libraries and other children’s reading groups can register to take part and be unofficial judges to choose a winner from the shortlisted books, with the guidance of the shadowing pack. You can find out how to register on the Books Council’s website.

The winners of the Welsh-language categories will be announced at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Carmarthenshire on Thursday, 1 June, while the winning English-language title will be revealed on the Radio Wales Arts Show on Friday, 2 June.

Bookshops will be holding Tir na n-Og Treasure Hunts over the Easter holidays with the chance for children aged 4-11 to win a £15 book token. Ask your local bookshop for details.

Further details about the awards and the shortlisted titles can be seen on the Books Council’s website.