Michelle Pauli writing with sad news in The Guardian Wednesday January 23, 2008
The Nestlé book prize, which has been honouring children's authors for the past 23 years, is being discontinued by its administrator Booktrust and sponsor Nestlé.
According to Katherine Solomon, press officer at Booktrust, the future of the prize has been in discussion for some time and the decision to end the partnership was "mutual and there was no hostility". It was a "natural time to conclude", she added, as the literacy charity's focus moves increasingly into its national book-giving scheme - the Bookstart and Booked Up programmes that provide free books to babies and year seven schoolchildren.
Nestlé said that it was "moving its community support towards the company strategy of nutrition, health and wellness," in the form of healthy eating plans for primary schools.
Despite some controversy over the prize's sponsorship by Nestlé due to the company's tarnished reputation arising from its promotion of powdered baby milk in developing countries, the prize became one of the most respected in the publishing industry. The judging process included contributions from children - over a million took part during the prize's life - with selected school classes voting on the winners in each category.
Julia Eccleshare, chair of the prize, said "the Nestle children's book prize has played a big part in promoting children's reading in the last twenty years and it will be missed by authors and illustrators who have won it and and by the children around the country who have so enjoyed playing their part in judging it."
The prize was divided into three categories: five and under, six to eight and nine to 11, and the prize helped to launch the careers of some of today's best-known children's writers. JK Rowling and Lauren Child both won the prize three times, while illustrator (and Observer political cartoonist) Chris Riddell won a record-breaking fifth gold medal in the final awards last year.
Previous winners of the award include children's laureates Anne Fine, Quentin Blake, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen.