2015 LLL Awards

Announcing the Winners of the 2015 LLL Award
The Extensive Reading Foundation (ERF), an unaffiliated, not-for profit organization that supports and promotes extensive reading in language education, takes pleasure in announcing the winners of the 11th Annual Language Learner Literature Award for books published in 2014. An international jury chose the winning book in six categories, taking into account the Internet votes and comments of students and teachers around the world. The judges’ comment is followed by reactions from readers of the book.
All books mentioned on this page can be ordered online from the independent Cambridge International Book Centre. In Japan, the finalists can be ordered thorough the ETJ Book Service: http://www.etjbookservice.com/extensive-reading-foundation/.

Very Young Learners

 

 
The Leopard and the Monkey
Author: Retold by Richard Northcott
Illustrator: Cristiano Lissoni
Publisher: Helbling Languages
ISBN: 9783852727813
Judges’ comment: The book presents an African folktale with a simple yet compelling narrative without over-selling humor or morals. It has a simple cast of characters which will be easy for young children to follow. The vocabulary is controlled and appropriately limited, but there is enough variation in sentence type to make the reading, especially reading aloud, entertaining and dramatic. The illustrations and layout are attractive and distinctive.On-line voter’s comment: This book is really funny and entertaining. The story might seem a little nonsensical to those not familiar with folktales but the wonderful images make it accessible to all. Visually astounding!

 

Young Learners

 

 
Backstage Pass
Author: Lesley Ito
Illustrator: Alice Carroll
Publisher: Atama-ii Books
ISBN: 9781941140345
Judges’ comment: This book brings the popular choose-your-own-adventure style to graded readers. The story focuses on a young music fan and an adventure that takes place when their favorite band comes to town. The reader makes choices on which page to turn to next on every second or third page. With 8 different possible endings there are numerous opportunities for re-reading, leading to even more natural meetings with key vocabulary at the reader’s level. The book is easy to read, with a theme that many 11-15 year olds will identify with, and has comic style full-page color illustrations throughout.On-line voter’s comment: This book was perfect for my low-level reluctant reader students. The beautiful images on every page help students understand the story and the vocabulary was right at their level. A great read and the multiple ending style is highly conducive to group discussion.

 

Adolescent & Adult: Beginner

 

 
Merlin Author: Janet Hardy-Gould
Illustrator: Ollie Cuthbertson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780194249744
Judge’s comment: Merlin would be a good beginner book for a student moving up to this level for the first time…. Not so overwhelming. Some of the new words are quite difficult for this level, but their meanings are provided on the same page. This is a story of magic and students seem to be very interested in this type of genre. The whole story is written in present simple, making it simpler to follow for new beginner level students. The story characters are introduced at the beginning, and the drawings are eye-catching, which are quite helpful in understanding the story.On-line voter’s comment: This book combines advice for dealing with bullies, a topic of high interest in schools today, with the attraction of magic. Many people are already familiar with Merlin stories from television and movies, so they are likely to have background for making connections. Some of the character names will pose some difficulty, but pronunciation is given in the sidebars, so the difficulty will not be insurmountable.

 

Adolescent & Adult: Elementary

 

 
The Bookshop Author: Denise Kirby
Illustrator: Paul Fisher Johnson
Publisher: ILTS / Heuber
ISBN: 9783191029944
Judge’s comment: The writing is simply wonderful: one of the judges actually had to read it twice because the first time she was just taken by the story, and couldn’t be a judge, just a reader. One of the reasons this book is remarkable is that the vocabulary is simple and yet it feels deep thanks to the detailed description of characters, places and emotions. In addition, the themes are powerful. It’s just wonderful how the young and the old meet around books, and find ways to be better people through their interactions. Last but not least, we found it easy to connect with both characters, and the ending actually made us laugh.On-line voter’s comment: As a class we liked the element of mystery in this story. Lucy had her own adventure through Will’s story. The pictures also helped us understand the story. We could visualize the dark and dusty bookshop. We read this book as a read aloud and put the pictures underneath a document camera. The pictures helped our class make inferences about the story. Many of the students didn’t like the portrayal of Miss Rumble. However it was a great opportunity for us to unpack an antagonist character.

 

Adolescent & Adult: Intermediate

 

 
Kilimanjaro
Author: Margaret Johnson
Illustrator: Redbean Design Pte Ltd
Publisher: National Geographic/CENGAGE Learning
ISBN: 9781424048753
Judge’s comment:Good storyline and characterization. People are set against each other, the elements, and their own personal challenges as they struggle to reach the top. The simple, descriptive language and illustrations supporting the text will keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next.On-line voter’s comment: What I liked most was the spiritual part, Alison’s thoughts and feelings, were so well integrated into all the action and dynamism of the story. At the beginning, the character spoke about her problems and her family, the plot reached the climax and at the end all her problems were solved as she started to see life in a new way. People mostly think the climax is the greatest moment, but I felt so great when she got at peace with herself and the others through this journey to save a life.

 

Adolescent & Adult: Upper Intermediate & Advanced

 

 
Checkmate
Author: Malorie Blackman
Retold by: Karen Holms
Illustrator: Jonathan@kja-artists.com
Publisher: Pearson Education
ISBN: 9781447930600
Judge’s comment: Karen Holmes retells Marlorie Blackman’s novel with realistic dialogue that reveals the complexity of these modern characters, caught in a tension-filled conflict between their own histories and the political realities of living in a society where people are often judged unfairly. Although the intertwining of the narrative voices of the characters may be disconcerting for some readers at first, the interplay of characters respects the intelligence of the reader and stimulates reflection on significant current issues. You’ll want to read it all in one sitting!On-line voter’s comment: This is a powerful story which can go a long way in helping students understand about the cycle of pain and suffering caused by racism.

 


Finalists in Each Category

In addition to the winners, the following books were selected as the shortlisted “finalists” in each category:

Very Young Learners

 

 
Granny Fixit and the Monkey
Author: Jane Cadwallader
Illustrator: Gustavo Mazali
Publisher: Young ELI Readers
ISBN: 9788853613233
Judges’ comment:The book has themes that tend to be popular with children around the world – mischievous monkeys and an outing with a grandparent. The story embraces a kind of silliness that many very young learners will identify with. The writing is easy to read because of rhythmic repetition and correct word choice for the level. The illustrations are fun, and detailed enough to help the reader guess unknown words from the picture context.

 

Young Learners

 

 
A Land of New Hope
Retold by: Andy Hopkins and Jocelyn Potter
Illustrator: Lizzy Stewart
Publisher: Pearson/ Penguin Kids
ISBN: 9781447944430
Judges’ comment:Although its main narrative covers well-trodden ground – coming to America – it does so in very solid prose. It avoids the more saccharine elements of the immigrant story and doesn’t avoid the tragic. The author lets ordinary people be ordinary – no one goes on to Harvard or wins a Nobel prize. The illustrations for the main narrative are attractive and play nicely off the mostly well-chosen photographs that illustrate the appropriate historical-context throughout the book.

 

 
Life in the Desert / The Stubborn Ship
Author: Author: Paul Mason
Illustrator: Andy Elkerton
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN:9780230460454
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Judges’ comment: This book succeeds as a blended non-fiction and narrative text. The factual non-fiction section of the book is well-stocked with information that is presented in relatively simple but not condescending prose. The layout is nicely done, crisp and easy to follow. The accompanying story is simple and lightly humorous and doesn’t try to hype its entertainment value. The book uses comic style illustrations to bring the historical period to life in a way that young learners will find compelling.

Adolescent & Adult: Beginner

 

 
The Canterbury Tales
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
Retold by: Michael Lacey Freeman
Illustrator: Simone Massoni
Publisher: Teen ELI Readers
ISBN: 9788853617439
Judges’ comment: The Canterbury Tales is a well-written book with effective illustrations where the colorful characters stand out from the black and white backdrop. The limited new vocabulary makes this book a comfortable read for beginners who have moved into chapter books. This classic tale is written in a simple grammatical format that flows smoothly. Also, the person’s name is used more often than the pronoun, which is helpful in understanding the story. The book itself tends to be a little long but it is divided up into different stories. The length should not be a problem for the higher level beginners.

Adolescent & Adult: Elementary

 

 
Hunter in the Darkness
Author: Ramy Habeeb
Illustrator: Alice Carol
Publisher Atama-ii books
ISBN: 9781941140352
Judges’ comment: Not everyone likes this type of book, especially teachers. But I know some students really like this type of book, and after reading it, I believe it is my responsibility to give an award to the book, because LLL awards are not only for teachers but also for students. This book is a role-playing game: you are a vampire hunter and you can choose your own story. It is a “B-movie style” comedy/adventure and has no specific theme, but the vocabulary is simple, each story is less than 2,000 words, and with the help of illustrations, it is extremely easy to read even for weaker students. It is one of the books I most often recommend for weaker students.

 

 
Sharks
Author: Izabella Heran
Illustrator: David Shephard
Publisher Penguin Active Reading
ISBN: 9781447954316
Judges’ comment: The theme of this reader is brilliant. It not only shows the problems posed by shark finning, but also offers a fantastic way out of it, even more so when you realize the solution is based on the true story of what happened in Palau. For our future world citizens, I believe it’s important to think about our environment, and with Japanese students it might help them think about the thorny topic of whaling too.
The writing is good: there’s nothing extraordinary in terms of emotions, but the fact that the author could blend so well fiction with facts is a great achievement. I appreciate the fact that the more technical parts about sharks are easy to understand as there are specific examples to explain the different habits and lifestyles of sharks. Besides, the vocabulary is well explained in context.

 

Adolescent & Adult: Intermediate

 

 
Amelia Earhart
Author: Janet Hardy-Gould
Illustrator: Simon Gurr
Publisher: Oxford Bookworms
ISBN: 9780194237956
Judges’ comment: A fictionalized biography of an interesting personality that most language learners don’t know about. Uses historic photographs as well as illustrations to tell the story. One of the great mysteries of the history of flying is brought to life for readers in this book celebrating the life of one of the first female pilots. Readers will find inspiration in her story.

 

 
Mystery in New Orleans
Author: Gina D. B. Clemen
Illustrator: Ivan Canu
Publisher: Black Cat
ISBN: 9788853014153
Judges’ comment: Good plot, with a young adult theme. The book will also expose readers to values, especially those to do with conservation and the environment. Uses both photographic and artistic illustrations to good effect throughout. It has all of the elements of a good detective novel.

Adolescent & Adult: Upper Intermediate & Advanced

 

 
The Confession
Author: John Grisham
Retold by: Fiona Beddall
Illustrator: Paul Davidson
Publisher: Pearson Education
ISBN: 9781447954330
Judges’ comment: John Grisham’s famous novel The Confession, as retold by Fiona Beddall, engages readers in the dilemma of guilt and innocence, which is complicated by the challenging and disturbing role of power and attitudes towards race in the criminal justice system. Using credible dialogue to contrast the voices of characters on both sides of the dilemma, Beddall has created a fast-paced and moving story that will leave the reader cognitively and emotionally stimulated and satisfied.

 

 
Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Brontë
Retold by: Peter Viney
Publisher: Garnet Publishing Ltd
ISBN: 9781782602293
Judges’ comment: This retelling by Peter Viney of Emily Bronte’s famous novel, Wuthering Heights, is a fast-paced and compelling venture into the tragic and ill-fated love story of Heathcliff and Catherine, driven as they are by their own passions and those of others around them. Although the short chapters may look simplistic, the excellent use of dialogue and good illustrations bring the characters to life and create a compelling tale that ties the chapters together.

 

The ERF thanks the publishers who nominated books, the members of the Award Jury, and all the students and teachers who evaluated this year’s finalists. The nomination and voting procedures for the 2016 Language Learner Literature Award will be posted on the ERF website (www.erfoundation.org) later this year.Back to the ERF main page
To contact the Extensive Reading Foundation, email exec@erfoundation.org

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