AN Oxford couple have scooped a top book prize after their studio set on fire.

Every year Waterstones booksellers vote for the books they most enjoyed recommending to customers, with this year resulting in two winners: the Waterstones Book of the Year and the Children’s Gift of the Year.

The book of the year prize was awarded to Sir Paul McCartney’s book, The Lyrics: 1956 to The Present.


Published last month, the book features 154 songs from all the stages of his career: The Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist.

The Children’s Gift of the Year was awarded to Julia And The Shark, written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Illustrated by Tom de Freston, the book is described as ‘a captivating tale of a young girl’s search for the elusive Greenland shark”.


The author and illustrator first met in 2009 and are now married and living in Oxford.

In 2017, Kiran won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize after wowing judges with her debut novel, The Girl Of Ink and Stars.

While creating Julia And The Shark, de Freston’s studio suffered a “devastating fire”, resulting in artwork for the book being made using materials like “ash and fragments of artworks destroyed”, an “act of transformation and hope, reflecting the central message of the book”.

The couple said: ““We are awed to be awarded this particular honour. We made this story to celebrate the natural world, to celebrate families, and to celebrate curiosity and strangeness.

“To think of our Greenland shark swimming into so many hands this Christmas is extraordinary. Thank you to each and every one of the booksellers who help our book find its readers.”

Waterstones children’s buyer Florentyna Martin said: “Championed by Waterstones booksellers from the very beginning, Julia’s lyrical quest to find the elusive Greenland shark is an incredible piece of storytelling from Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

“Exploring powerful topics with warmth and honesty, and paired with Tom de Freston’s immersive artwork, we are elated to share and celebrate this highly creative novel.”

Previous winners of the Waterstones Book of the Year prize include Sally Rooney’s Normal People, which was adapted into a popular TV series, and Hamnet, written by Maggie O’Farrell.


Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok

Got a story for us? Send us your news and pictures here

List an event for free on our website here