Last night, Waterstones awarded their prestigious Waterstones Book of the Year prize to the extraordinary phenomenon that is Normal People, an adult novel by the young writer Sally Rooney that has been read by so many of us – including me – in the office and by my own late-teenagers. It’s published by fellow independent publisher, Faber and Faber – and I always have a soft spot for them, because it’s where I began my career in publishing.
Also shortlisted for the prize was our own I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree: A Nature Poem For Every Day Of The Year. And we were astonished and very happy that Waterstones so loved the book that they created a special prize for it: The Waterstones Children’s Gift of the Year. This is what they said:
“This year, our booksellers were also so in love with Frann Preston-Gannon and Fiona Waters’ glorious I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree, we have created an award to celebrate: the Waterstones Children’s Gift of the Year.
Bursting with life and colour, I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree is a true celebration of the natural world, as told through 365 poems, one for every day of the year – plus one for those that leap. Doing what only an enthralling book can, it is a gift for all ages to share, inspire and treasure.”
We’ve had such a wonderful, validating response to this book, edited by our head of picture books, Louise Bolongaro and designed by senior designer, Holly Jackman, which we published as part of our publishing programme in partnership with The National Trust in September.
Katie Bond, the publisher at The National Trust, who has been a champion of the project from the beginning, said:
“I am the Seed that Grew the Tree has been an extraordinary, multi-year labour of love from the idea’s first conception, through the painstaking poem selection by the expert anthologist, Fiona Waters, and the creation of stunning original artwork by Frann Preston-Gannon. Every aspect of nature through the seasons has been brought vividly to life. This is publishing with passion at its very best and everyone at the National Trust is proud as punch to have this recognised by Waterstones.”
As Katie’s comment suggests, this was a book that was created on the Field of Dreams principle: if you build it, they will come. We were ambitious in every element of the book – the quality and range of the poetry and the number of poems that were in copyright, so we had to pay for their inclusion; the number of pages, so the poems were generously spaced; the sheer amount of bold and exquisite art, presented in picture book-style spreads, rather than in vignettes; the big trim-page size; and the real cloth quarter binding.
The team at Waterstones has been supportive of the book from the very start – their head children’s book buyer, for example, put up with me sending and resending version after version of the front cover as we worked our way towards the final cover designed by our brilliant senior designer, Holly Jackman, and gave thoughtful and helpful input on each version.
The response to the book, from booksellers, librarians, teachers, reviewers, parents and grandparents around the English-speaking world has been unprecedented for us, and this newly-created prize from Waterstones is another hugely powerful validation of our vision that we know will help to get the book in front of even more children.
We are, today, very pleased and proud.
Published in partnership with the National Trust, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon and with poetry collected by Fiona Waters, I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree is a lavishly illustrated collection of 366 nature poems – one for every day of the year. Filled with familiar favourites and new discoveries, this is a perfect book for children (and grown-ups!) to share together. And it’s also the most ambitious book that we’ve ever published at Nosy Crow: over three hundred fully-illustrated pages (the equivalent of ten picture books!) of poetry, in a beautiful and lavishly-produced hardback edition, and a stunning collection of material, spanning hundreds of years – from sonnets to haikus.
Here’s our trailer for the book:
And here’s a look inside I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree:
Congratulations, Frann and Fiona!