The Riot Act – Our Monthly Newsletter

A new month, a new Culture Secretary. Oliver Dowden becomes the ninth MP to occupy the post since 2010, replacing Nicky Morgan. He tweeted about the “huge opportunities” in the technology, media and creative industries, though shaping the nation’s viewing habits will no doubt be high up on his list as the results of the public consultation on the BBC license fee come in April….

In a month of award ceremonies, most notably the Oscars, the Baftas and the Brits, we tip our hats to Parasite – go see it if you haven’t already – and have been blasting out Celeste (Rising Star Award) and Dave’s Psychodrama (Best Album) on the Riot stereo. Read on for more cultural inspiration, not only from our awesome clients, but in our Riot Recommends at the end…

Here’s what else has been keeping us inspired (and busy!) this month….

Love is never black + white

The wait is almost over – the adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s novel Noughts and Crosses will air on BBC One on 5th March. We’ve been working with leading production company Mammoth Screen to help promote the show, including the first screening for influencers with members of the cast and crew and a public event at Waterstones next month with the Black Girls Book Club. With an epic soundtrack to boot, this is seminal TV.

Our final hour or our finest?

If you’re like us, you will have been feeling very conscious of our climate crisis, but lost as to what to do about it. This is why we are promoting The Future We Choose, a new book by Paris Agreement architects Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. Unlike others, this was the first we’d read that actually gave us hope. Read more in this exclusive extract we placed with the ObserverWith endorsements from Leonardo DiCaprio, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Goodall, Yuval Noah Harari and Ellie Goulding to name a few, this is an urgent, compelling and uplifting read. Or follow the authors’ campaigning organisation @GlobalOptimism (where we’ve been hired to run the socials).

Baaa-rilliant news for Aardman

We helped Aardman announce not one but two exciting pieces of news for fans of Shaun the Sheep: the launch of series six on Netflix and a new half hour festive special coming to the BBC for Christmas 2021. The new series, arriving on March 17th, promises more mayhem on Mossy Bottom Farm, with the Flock undertaking a teddy bear heist and trying their hooves at a pizza delivery service, while the Farmer unknowingly becomes an internet sensation.  

News in Brief

Our campaign for Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth with Penguin Random House Children’s is a finalist in the annual Publishers’ Publicity Circle awards. We announced a 20th consecutive year of growth for the London Review of Books (who says print is dead?) and The Desmond Elliott Prize – now part of the National Centre for Writing’s Early Career Awards has announced its judging panel, with former winner Preti Taneja as Chair. And finally, we helped CILIP announce their longlists for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals celebrating the best in children’s books.

Riot Recommends

History buffs rejoice as outstanding Outlander returns for season 5, while series 2 of The Split, penned by the brilliant Abi Morgan, has us gripped (not to mention the wardrobe tips!). The Yellow Wallpaper exhibition at the William Morris Gallery – a photographic response to the original gas-lighting novella of the same name – is also brilliant, using portraits of women from Dalston. And finally, Ian Wright’s Desert Island Discs is a moving reminder of the transformative influence one teacher can have on someone’s life.


Longlists for 2020 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals announced


  • Empathy reflected in the longlist, with books aiming to help children navigate important topics including homelessness, sadness and the refugee crisis
  • Several reimaginings of classic books appear on the longlist, including Kit de Waal’s first YA novel, a feminist retelling of Moby Dick
  • A translated book makes the Carnegie longlist for the first time in the Medals history
  • Walker Books receives 10 entries on the longlist while independent publisher, Book Island, secures its first listing / #CKG20 / #bestchildrensbooks

Today (Thursday 20th February 2020), the longlists for the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the UK’s oldest book awards for children and young people, are revealed.

Celebrating the best in children’s writing and illustration respectively, the Medals are unique in being judged by children’s librarians, while the Shadowers’ Choice Award, recently added to the Awards ceremony celebrations, is voted for by children and young people who shadow the Medals. The 40-strong list of titles for the 2020 Medals (20 on each longlist) were selected from a total of 162 nominations, read by an expert volunteer team of 14 children’s and youth librarians from across the UK.

The 2020 longlist features strong debut offerings from authors including Dean Atta (The Black Flamingo) and Aisha Bushby (A Pocketful of Stars) and illustrators Beth Waters (Child of St Kilda) and Eva Eland (When Sadness Comes to Call) alongside several former winners – including illustrator Grahame Baker Smith (Wisp: A Story of Hope written by Zana Fraillon) and Levi Pinfold ( The Dam written by David Almond) and writers Sarah Crossan (Toffee) and Jennifer Donnelly (Stepsister).

One book is in the running for both Medals: Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black, written by previously shortlisted Marcus Sedgwick with his brother Julian Sedgwick and illustrated by twice-shortlisted Alexis Deacon, a story about two brothers in conflict amidst the devastation of WWII London.

Three translated books make the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway longlists with Lampie, written by Annet Schaap and translated by Laura Watkinson, becoming the first book in translation to be longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. The two translated books that make the Kate Greenaway longlist are Captain Rosalie, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, written by Timothée de Fombelle and translated by Sam Gordon, and Little Wise Wolf, illustrated by Hanneke Siemensma, written by Gijs Van der Hammen and translated by Laura Watkinson.

The Awards’ mission ‘to inspire and empower the next generation to shape a better world through books and reading’ is reflected in the longlist, with stories that help children develop empathy by understanding their own and other people’s feelings and reality. Longlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, author and illustrator Eva Eland’s debut picture book, When Sadness Comes to Call, takes a poignant but uplifting look at dealing with uncomfortable emotions. On the Carnegie longlist Paper Avalanche, written by Lisa Williamson, focuses on the wellbeing of children in the care of parents with mental illnesses, while Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints of Nothing and Captain Rosalie illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault both address grief, set against the backdrops of President Duterte’s Philippines and World War One respectively. Kenneth Oppel’s Inkling, also longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, sees a magical ink blot come to life at exactly the right time for the Rylance family, helping them deal with a tragic loss while sparking their creativity.

The theme of homelessness also features in several longlisted books, including No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen, a story about a 12-year-old growing up one step away from homelessness and Toffee by Sarah Crossan, a novel about a teenager who runs away from home and gets taken in by an elderly woman with dementia. The topics of displacement and the refugee crisis are also explored in a picture book about the arrival of a refugee carrying a suitcase containing his treasured possessions (The Suitcase, written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros), a story of an unlikely friendship between a British boy and a Berber girl both stranded at sea (Girl. Boy. Sea. by Chris Vick), a picture book about a child refugee whose imagination is reawakened amidst a world of tents and fences (Wisp: A Story of Hope, illustrated by Grahame Baker Smith, written by Zana Fraillon) and a story displaying the strength of friendship between two refugee children escaping a war (Lubna and Pebble, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus, written by Wendy Meddour).

Identity and understanding are also a common thread in a number of books on the longlist: from a mixed-race gay teen finding his wings as a drag artist (The Black Flamingo written by Dean Atta and illustrated by Anshika Khullar); to an ode to black history, highlighting the trauma of slavery and the brave artists, athletes and activists who overcame limitations (The Undefeated illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander); a novel about racism and how it affects a young boy and his family (The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla) and a story about hip hop, freedom of speech and fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you (On the Come Up by previously shortlisted Angie Thomas and winner of the 2018 Amnesty CILIP Honour).

Another strand emerging from this list is the re-imagination of classic books, with feminist retellings featuring strongly. Reimaginings of Moby Dick and Frankenstein appear across both Medals. Both Sharon Dogar’s Monsters and Mary and Frankenstein, illustrated by Júlia Sardà and written by Linda Bailey, look at the author behind the famous story, both published in the centenary year of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Kit de Waal’s debut YA novel, Becoming Dinah, re-tells the story of Moby Dick from the view of a teenage girl on a quest to discover her true identity, whilst And The Ocean Was Our Sky, illustrated by Rovina Cai and written by Patrick Ness, tells this well-known story from the perspective of the whale. Carnegie-longlisted Jennifer Donnelly’s Stepsister is a fresh look at the Cinderella story from the perspective of the stepsister who cut off her toes to fit into the glass slipper. Quill Soup, illustrated by Dale Blankenaar, is an African retelling of the European folktale Stone Soup, while new illustrations by previously shortlisted Chris Mould breathe new life into Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man, a tale of conflict between the environment and the age of machines.

Independent publishers are strongly represented across the longlist, with Walker Books securing 10 entries, making them the publisher with the highest number of longlisted books. The inclusion of Little Wise Wolf, illustrated by Hanneke Siemensma, marks the first longlisting for Book Island. Small independents Tiny Owl, Lantana Publishing and Barrington Stoke also feature on the list with one book each, while Pushkin Children’s Books makes the list with two books.

In addition, first-time longlistees for the Carnegie Medal, Kate DiCamillo (Louisiana’s Way Home), and Karen Foxlee (Lenny’s Book of Everything) are in competition with previously longlisted and shortlisted alumni Nick Lake (Nowhere on Earth), Anthony McGowan (Lark) and Hilary McKay (The Skylarks’ War). Previously shortlisted illustrators for the Kate Greenaway Medal, Poonam Mistry (You’re Snug With Me), Shaun Tan (Tales from the Inner City) and Chris Wormell (Planetarium) are joined by Angela Brooksbank (B is for Baby), Owen Davey (Fanatical About Frogs) and Emily Haworth-Booth (The King Who Banned the Dark).

Julia Hale, Chair, CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, comments:

“This year’s longlists shine a light on the breadth and quality of children’s publishing not just of the UK but from around the world. Through writing and illustration, the authors and artists offer children and young people stories of hope, discovery and understanding about themselves and the world they live in. There is a strong emphasis in the longlists on how young readers can navigate that journey, through relationships with families and friends and from learning more about themselves. We hope you will be as inspired to explore them as we were by reading them.”

An in-depth blog by Julia Hale exploring the longlisted titles can be found here.

The shortlists for both the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2020 will be announced on Thursday 19th March 2020, with the winners being announced on Wednesday 17th June 2020 at a special daytime event at The British Library, hosted by University Challenge star and CILIP Library Champion, Bobby Seagull. The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.

Now in its second year, the Shadowers’ Choice Award – voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the Medals – will be announced alongside the two Medal winners in June 2020. This award has evolved out of CILIP’s Diversity Review, which identified opportunities to empower and celebrate the young people involved in the Medals through the shadowing scheme.

The 2020 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are sponsored by Peters and ALCS, and funded by Carnegie UK Trust.

2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist (alphabetical by author surname):

  1. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar (Hachette Children’s Group)
  2. A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby (Egmont)
  3. Toffee by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
  4. Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal (Hachette Children’s Group)
  5. Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (Walker Books)
  6. Monsters by Sharon Dogar (Andersen Press)
  7. Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly (Hot Key Books)
  8. Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee (Pushkin Children’s Books)
  9. Nowhere on Earth by Nick Lake (Hachette Children’s Group)
  10. Lark by Anthony McGowan (Barrington Stoke)
  11. The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  12. No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press)
  13. Inkling by Kenneth Oppel (Walker Books)
  14. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Little Tiger)
  15. Lampie written and illustrated by Annet Schaap and translated by Laura Watkinson (Pushkin Children’s Books)
  16. Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black by Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Alexis Deacon (Walker Books)
  17. The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla (Hachette Children’s Group)
  18. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Walker Books)
  19. Girl. Boy. Sea. by Chris Vick (Head of Zeus)
  20. Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson (David Fickling Books)


2020 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal longlist (alphabetical by illustrator surname):

  1. Captain Rosalie illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, written by Timothée de Fombelle and translated by Sam Gordon (Walker Books)
  2. Wisp: A Story of Hope illustrated by Grahame Baker Smith and written by Zana Fraillon, (Hachette Children’s Group)
  3. Quill Soup illustrated by Dale Blankenaar and written by Alan Durant (Tiny Owl)
  4. B is for Baby illustrated by Angela Brooksbank and written by Atinuke, (Walker Books)
  5. And the Ocean Was Our Sky illustrated by Rovina Cai and written by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
  6. Fanatical About Frogs written and illustrated by Owen Davey (Flying Eye)
  7. Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black illustrated by Alexis Deacon and written by Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick (Walker Books)
  8. Lubna and Pebble illustrated by Daniel Egneus and written by Wendy Meddour (Oxford University Press)
  9. When Sadness Comes to Call written and illustrated by Eva Eland (Andersen Press)
  10. The King Who Banned the Dark written and illustrated by Emily Haworth-Booth (Pavilion Children’s Books)
  11. You’re Snug with Me illustrated by Poonam Mistry and written by Chitra Soundar (Lantana Publishing)
  12. The Iron Man illustrated by Chris Mould and written by Ted Hughes, (Faber & Faber)
  13. The Suitcase written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Nosy Crow)
  14. The Undefeated illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander (Andersen Press)
  15. The Dam illustrated by Levi Pinfold and written by David Almond (Walker Books)
  16. Mary and Frankenstein illustrated by Júlia Sardà and written by Linda Bailey (Andersen Press)
  17. Little Wise Wolf illustrated by Hanneke Siemensma, written by Gijs Van der Hammen and translated by Laura Watkinson, (Book Island)
  18. Tales from the Inner City written and illustrated by Shaun Tan (Walker Books)
  19. Child of St Kilda written and illustrated by Beth Waters (Child’s Play)
  20. Planetarium illustrated by Chris Wormell and written by Raman Prinja (Big Picture Press)


For further information about the history of the Medals visit

LRB increases circulation by 3.6%ni 2019 for twentieth consecutive year of growth


  • Print circulation of ‘high-brow niche’ category leader rises to 78,478 in the period January-December 2019
  • 94% are paid subscriptions
  • Full rate subscriptions up more than 10% on 2018

New data released today (13th February) by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has revealed that the London Review of Books continues to achieve sustained growth, with its total circulation rising to 78,478 in 2019, up from 75,725 in 2018.

The newspaper achieved the increase of 3.6% in its 40th anniversary year, outstripping the gains delivered in 2018 when it attracted 2.5% more subscribers than in the previous year. The LRB has achieved year-on-year growth for twenty years (and has added 30,000 new subscribers in the last ten), bucking the trend of declining print sales in recent years. 

In 2019 the LRB delivered agenda-setting opinion and insight on Brexit and the General Election, from contributors including David Runciman (on the podcast Talking Politics, presented in partnership with the LRB, and in the paper), James Meek and William Davies. It broke news when, for example, Chris Mullin named two of the IRA’s Birmingham pub bombers, and provoked cultural conversation on many occasions, with pieces such as Tiananmen student organiser Chaohua Wang’s reflections on Hong Kong and Colm Tóibín’s account of his cancer treatment, Patricia Lockwood’s survey of John Updike’s oeuvre and Katherine Rundell’s considerations of creatures ranging from the narwhal to the golden mole. 

94% (71,207) of the LRB’s sales were through paid subscriptions in 2019, while 2,524 single copies were sold in the year. Full rate subscriptions rose by 10.37%.

Reneé Doegar Commercial Director for the London Review of Books, commented: 

“The London Review of Books keeps going from strength to strength. We are pleased that 94% of our file still consists of people who actively purchase the LRB, and our subscriber base continues to grow: not only an increase in circulation, but an increase in quality circulation of new and long-standing readers who genuinely value our incredible product. The LRB just celebrated its 40th birthday, and our strategy of consistent, quality growth is still the core of our business.”

The LRB marked the anniversary with a month of celebrations that included events at the London Review Bookshop and beyond; the first ever history of the LRB, a coffee table book published by Faber and Faber (London Review of Books: An Incomplete History); two special issues of the magazine; and the relaunch of the LRB website.



Preti Taneja to chair Desmond Elliott Prize, joined by Sonia Sodha and Sinéad Gleeson


  • University of East Anglia (UEA) New Forms Prize to be judged by Inua Ellams, with Professor Henry Sutton and Dr. Claire Hynes of UEA and National Centre for Writing (NCW) Programme Director Peggy Hughes
  • Laura Kinsella Fellowship to be judged by Roopa Farooki, with Alice Jolly and NCW Chief Executive Chris Gribble

The National Centre for Writing (NCW) has today (Friday 14th February) announced the judges for its 2020 Early Career Awards.

The £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize, the country’s largest prize for first novels, which as of this year, is the flagship in the Early Career Awards portfolio will be chaired by the 2018 winner, Preti Taneja. Taneja will be joined by journalist Sonia Sodha and writer Sinéad Gleeson, who are together tasked with finding the novel they believe is most worthy of being crowned the best debut novel of the last 12 months.

Taneja said: “I am delighted to be chairing the Desmond Elliott Prize. The National Centre for Writing has expanded this respected prize to offer a year-round platform of support and mentorship, alongside generous financial assistance to a writer whose work speaks to our times. This award says: your time to write and to develop your craft and career is vital and worth nurturing. My fellow judges and I can’t wait to immerse ourselves in the best debut fiction of 2019 from across the UK and Ireland. We will be looking to shortlist three exceptional first novels; our chosen winner will be an outstanding talent who will truly benefit from the endorsement of this prestigious Prize.

Preti Taneja was awarded the 2018 Desmond Elliott Prize for her debut We That Are Young (Galley Beggar Press), which was also listed for awards including the Folio Prize and the Prix Jan Michalski. It has since been published in the USA and Canada by AA Knopf, in India by Penguin Random House, and translated into several languages. It is in development for television with Gaumont US (Narcos).

The Desmond Elliott Prize will be run by the National Centre for Writing for the first time this year, as the flagship in its Early Career Awards portfolio which also includes the newly created UEA New Forms Award and the Laura Kinsella Fellowship.”

NCW Chief Executive Chris Gribble said:

“Our vision for the Early Career Awards is to increase the impact of prize culture and to provide a platform for writers at the critical early stages of their career.  With the enthusiasm of this outstanding group of judges, we are confident we will be celebrating three exceptional writers – who we will support as they develop a sustainable career in literature. We thank the Desmond Elliott Charitable Trust, the University of East Anglia and the Laura Kinsella Foundation for their confidence and investment in us. Huge thanks also to Arts Council England for recognising the opportunity to increase the impact of prize culture.”

The UEA New Forms Award, worth £4,000 to the winner, will champion an innovative and daring new voice in fiction. It will be awarded to a writer at the beginning of their career whose work might collaborate with other art-forms or in site-specific/site-responsive ways, experiment with forms of performance or print, challenge traditional form or inhabit a digital space.

The Laura Kinsella Fellowship, also worth £4,000, has been set up to support writers experiencing limiting circumstances or whose voices are underrepresented in mainstream literary fiction. It will be awarded to one exceptionally talented early career writer of literary fiction.

Sarah Crown, Director of Literature, Arts Council England said:

“We are delighted that Arts Council England is able to support the National Centre for Writing to test this innovative approach, in which awards are complemented by professional development, mentoring opportunities, resources and advice, helping new writers to build sustainable careers in an increasingly challenging landscape.”

The winners of all three prizes will benefit from the resources of the National Centre for Writing’s Early Career Awards programme, co-funded by Arts Council England. Each writer will receive a tailored package of further support including residency opportunities, mentoring and industry insight.

The Desmond Elliott Prize longlist will be announced in April and a shortlist in May. The winners of all three prizes will be revealed at an awards ceremony on Thursday 2nd July.