The Books Council of Wales is delighted to announce the six Welsh-language books shortlisted for the 2021 Tir na n-Og Awards, which celebrate the best books from Wales for children and young people.

The primary age category includes Ble Mae Boc – Ar Goll yn y Chwedlau by Huw Aaron (Y Lolfa), Mae’r Cyfan i Ti by Luned Aaron (Atebol) and Sw Sara Mai by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa).

The books reaching the shortlist in the secondary age category are Y Castell Siwgr by Angharad Tomos (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch), Llechi by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa) and #helynt by Rebecca Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch).

Hywel James, Chair of the panel of judges for the Welsh-language primary and secondary categories, said: “As judges, we have been able to graze our way through a feast of children’s and young people’s literature. All the books offered a wonderful choice to young readers, and contributed to our literature by filling gaps that feed the imagination and develop their understanding of the past or an awareness of the world around them.

“This year’s titles included some very attractive picture story books by new authors and illustrators, a development that deserves special praise for creating high quality original publications. There were very impressive titles in the young adults’ category too, with some quite shocking content as they strived to convey the challenges of coming of age either in contemporary Wales or at key stages in our history.”

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “Our warmest congratulations to the shortlisted authors and our thanks to everyone across the book sector in Wales for ensuring not only that our judges were provided once more with a range of high-quality publications, but also that there is a selection of excellent books available to young readers in Wales. I would also like to thank our judges for their valuable work and feedback which helps to maintain and improve standards year on year.”

The Welsh-language shortlists were revealed on S4C’s Heno programme on Thursday, 11 March, and the programme will announce the names of the winners on Thursday, 20 May 2021.

Primary Age Shortlist

  • Ble Mae Boc – Ar Goll yn y Chwedlau by Huw Aaron (Y Lolfa)

Summary: 10 illustrated double pages, with each spread offering a chance to find Boc, the little red dragon, who’s hiding in every picture. A uniquely Welsh twist on the Where’s Wally? books.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “This is a volume that offers a fantastic feast of pictures and hours of amusement for a child as they try to find the little dragon… It’s an ideal gift book for all ages.”

  • Mae’r Cyfan i Ti by Luned Aaron (Atebol)

Summary: A tender and sensitive bedtime story for a parent to present the wonders of the natural world to a child. We follow the whole day from dawn to dusk as we read about the wonderful world that awaits the child.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “A very high-quality picture story book. The simplicity of telling the story through poetry is ideal for the nursery age group and brilliantly conveys the element of surprise that young children have about the world around them as well as nostalgia on the part of the adult.”

  • Sw Sara Mai by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa)

Summary: Welcome to the world of Sara Mai, where cleaning up elephant poo is a lot more appealing than going to school, and where it’s much easier to understand the behaviour of a bear from South Africa than the other girls in Year 5.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “This is a novel that deals with a contemporary subject, tackling the issue of bullying and prejudice against people from a different ethnic background. The story grips the reader from the beginning with plenty of details about the characters without overwhelming us or slowing the flow of the story, which holds our attention to the end.”

Secondary Age Shortlist

  • #helynt by Rebecca Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)

Summary: Missing the bus to school can change your life… Rather than go home, Rachel decides to go on an adventure in the town of Rhyl (after all, the bailiffs have taken her father’s car), and she finds herself in a seaside nightclub. She feels safe there, a different experience to school where she is bullied because of her disability.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “It is a story that grips the reader from beginning to end, conveying some of the real impact of poverty and domestic violence on a young person in contemporary Wales… This is an excellent, perhaps ‘classic’, example of a teenage ‘genre’ book – and that is not an easy feat to achieve.”

  • Llechi by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa)

Summary: Gwenno is dead – perfect, clever, beautiful Gwenno, who was popular with both swots and cool people. Her body was found in the slate mine, the police are everywhere around Bethesda, and everyone is looking for her.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “The murder mystery story line of this novel is very similar to some contemporary popular television series, and so this story will certainly appeal greatly to a wide range of readers.”

  • Y Castell Siwgr by Angharad Tomos (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)

Summary: Two girls on two continents. One lord with a thirst for profit. A heart-wrenching story about a slave girl, a maid, a ship and a castle, and about suffering beyond imagination.

A taste of what the judges had to say: “This novel takes us to challenging new territory with the story of two young girls, Dorcas and Yamba, and although the novel is in two parts, the links between them strengthen the narrative… This volume is a very important contribution to Welsh literature and will appeal to both young people and adults.”

Organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, the annual awards celebrate the best books for children and young adults published in 2020.

The English-language books shortlisted for the 2021 Tir na n-Og Awards will be announced on the Radio Wales Arts Show at 18:30 on Friday, 12 March 2021.