Meet who's judging the Blue Peter Book Awards for its 20th anniversary

Published on: 04 October 2019

TV presenter and actress Meryl Fernandes joins an impressive judging panel for the 2020 Blue Peter Book Awards.

From top left, clockwise: Joseph Coelho, Meryl Fernandes and Jean Menzies

Meryl, who has had roles in EastEnders and Ackley Bridge, will sit on an expert panel alongside the talented award-winning poet, performer and author Joseph Coelho, publishing booktuber expert Jean Menzies and Blue Peter editor and non-voting chair Ellen Evans. 

Meryl Fernandes, said:

'I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to be a judge this year for the Blue Peter book awards. I can't wait to crack on and start reading all these wonderful books. I currently read around four books every evening to my book obsessed toddler, so I'm excited to read some books that I can then pass down to her for when she is older. I've always loved reading from an early age - and watching Blue Peter so this is a double win for me!'

Joseph Coelho, poet, playwright and children’s author, said:

'It is a complete honour to be asked to judge the 2020 Blue Peter Book Awards - reading provides not only a means to broaden your world view and to imagine the lives of others but can also take us on quests of fantasy and into adventures of knowledge - I cannot wait to get reading.'

Jean Menzies, ancient historian and podcaster, said:

'It is an absolute honour to be one of this year’s Blue Peter Book Award judges. I grew up on Blue Peter and remember first-hand the joy that came with every new episode. As a grown-up it's extra exciting to be part of bringing a little bit of that joy into children’s hands and homes with these wonderful books.'

Children then pick the winners

The immensely popular Blue Peter Book Awards, now in their 20th year, honour amazing authors, imaginative illustrators and the best books for children. The 2020 Awards champion children’s books published in the last 12 months in two categories: Best Story and Best Book with Facts. There will be three shortlisted books for each award chosen by the judging panel and announced on Blue Peter on Thursday 7th November.

The winning titles, voted for by over 200 children from 12 schools across the UK, will be revealed live on Blue Peter on World Book Day on Thursday 5 March 2020, with the winning authors and illustrators appearing on a special awards episode of the show.

Blue Peter Editor Ellen Edwards is an avid reader and before her career at the BBC she worked as a bookseller. Discussing the new judging panel, Ellen said:

'I am really excited to work with our brilliant judges for the Blue Peter Book Awards, and I can’t wait to see which books get shortlisted to win.
'Once the judges make their selection, it’s kids who vote to decide which is the best book with facts and the best story. This year is the 20th anniversary, and our winners will be joining authors who are household names like Roald Dahl, Julia Donaldson, Michael Morpurgo, J.K.Rowling, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell.'

The Blue Peter Book Awards have been celebrating children’s literature since 2000. BookTrust, the largest children’s reading charity in Britain, has managed the Blue Peter Book Awards since 2008. The 2019 winners were Onjali Q Raúf for The Boy at the Back of the Class and The Colours of History by Clive Gifford, illustrated by Marc-Etienne Peintre.

More about the Blue Peter Book Awards