2014 LLL Awards

Announcing the Winners of the 2014 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 10th Annual Language Learner Literature Award for books published in 2013. An international jury chose the winning book in five 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/.


Young Learners


Skater Boy  Author: Maria Cleary. Illustrator: Lorenzo Sabbatini. Publisher: Helbling Languages (Helbling Young Readers). ISBN: 978-3-85272-526-0.

Judges’ comment: The book has a familiar story arc, but it invests it with energy and humor. Diction level is good, and sentence structures are nicely but manageably various. The illustrations are engagingly off-beat.

On-line voter’s comments:   It is a great story, simply told and with a good message. My class loved it. 


Adolescent & Adult: Beginner


The Tomorrow Mirror Author: Nicola Prentis. Illustrator: Christian Bienefield. Publisher: Pearson Education Ltd (Penguin Active Reading Beginner). ISBN: 9781447938057

Judge’s comment: This original writing is a fantasy/horror story set in modern UK. The main character is a young boy who finds out that there is something mysterious about a mirror in his home because it reflects what will happen the next day. The story grabs the reader right from the beginning and keeps their interest all the way through the book culminating with a surprise ending. The illustrations are a creative representation of the storyline.

On-line voter’s comment: I like this book because the story is original and we are touched by Jason’s life. This story takes us into the character’s head. I love it!


Adolescent & Adult: Elementary


Anne of Green Gables  Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery. Retold by: Michael Lacey Freeman. Illustrator: Gaia Bordicchia. Publisher: ELI (Teen Readers). ISBN: 978-88-536-1576-3

Judge’s comment: This excellent book simply but engagingly retells the story of Anne and her relationships with Marilla, Matthew and the community and environment around her. Readers will get a good sense of the charm and scope of the original. The cute illustrations are aimed at younger readers, but older readers will equally enjoy the story and look forward to reading the original.

On-line voter’s comment: Anne’s feelings often go up and down. She makes many mistakes or does surprising things, so the story develops one thing after another. It is interesting for me. I can see Anne’s kindness and childlike character. I also can see the process of building good relationships between Anne and many other people. This story makes my mind warm. This is a good story.


Adolescent & Adult: Intermediate


Bob Marley Author: Vicky Shipton. Illustrator: Dawn Wilson (Designer). Publisher: Scholastic . ISBN: 978-1-908-35198-2

Judge’s comment: This book is non-fiction that reads like a story. It takes the biography genre and makes it interesting. It also deals not only with the life of a popular figure but also gives insights into the lives of real people and places connected to him. It brings this 1970s iconic figure to life for all students who may not know reggae music. Students also learn about the history of Jamaica, Rastafari, and other famous Jamaicans. The images include a lot of personal family photos that really add to the book.

Selected Student Comments: This book is very well illustrated and described Bob Marley’s biography using easy vocabulary. In addition, this book gives us some information about the history of Jamaica. It is essential knowledge to understand about the background of the society and culture, especially when you don’t know about other’s history. Also, the self-study activities were very helpful to clarify what I’ve understood of this book.


Adolescent & Adult: Upper Intermediate & Advanced


A Dangerous Sky Author: Michael Austen. Illustrator: . Publisher: Cambridge. ISBN: 978-1-107-69405-7

Judge’s comment: This original story by Michael Austen tells the story of Francesca, an independent young woman from Italy who comes to England to pursue her dream of learning to fly a plane. Although her lessons with a small private flying school start well enough, problems with her flying instructor Doug cause her to lose her confidence and question his real motives. This is a well told and written story that touches on many interesting themes including facing life abroad, following your dream, romance (both wanted and unwanted) and facing your fears. The language used is never too complex though it feels very natural and “ungraded”. Truly a good addition for any library!

On-line voter’s comments: I thought this book was extremely well written, with lots of attention to detail. We can empathize with the main character in the first chapter, “Now that the moment had arrived, she suddenly wondered if it was what she really wanted.” (p.6) While the content might make readers feel rather uncomfortable, I think that the sexual harassment and stalking the main character experiences are important subjects and I commend Cambridge for publishing this book. I also like that the main character has doubts about whether she has really experienced sexual harassment, as I think this same question must go through the minds of many victims. There were so many other well depicted scenes, such as the description of her first take off and solo flight. I do believe this is one of the most well written graded readers I have come across at this level.


Finalists in Each Category

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

Young Learners


The Heron and the Hummingbird
Retold by: Rachel Bladon Illustrator: Gianluca Garofalo Publisher: Oxford University Press (Classic Tales) ISBN: 978-0-19-423973-8

Judges’ comment: The book retells a Native American folktale. The prose is clean and not unduly repetitive. Diction and syntax level are nicely consistent. Good illustrations and kid-friendly animal characters are always welcome features of a children’s book. The overall difficulty of the text is well suited for the target readers, and it sticks to the standard proven formula when it comes to the design and typography of the book.


Time Jump: Back to the Stone Age 
Author: Paul Shipton Illustrator: Andy Elkerton Publisher: Scholastic ELT (Popcorn Readers) ISBN: 978-1-9083-5164-7

Judges’ comment: Time travel has always been one of the most interesting, although somewhat overused concepts in science fiction stories. Fortunately, this book is able to keep the story fresh enough so that it doesn’t feel like just another time machine story. The jump between the past and the future and staying true to the concept of time-space continuum was a nice touch to see in a children’s book. The sentences are simple and well suited for young readers.


Adolescent & Adult: Beginner


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice 
Retold by: Bill Bowler Illustrators: Kanako Damerum and Yuzuru Takasaki Publisher: Oxford University Press (Dominoes) ISBN: 978-0-19-424960-7

Judges’ comment: This enchanting retelling of the old tale is given a new ‘twist’ set in the fascinating country of Japan. The author tells of a young boy who finds misfortune through idleness and impatience. The story is written in the 3rd person present tense giving the beginning reader a stress-free reading experience. The illustrations are brilliant, clearly interpreting the magic of the story.


Adolescent & Adult: Elementary


The Caribbean File 
Author: Richard MacAndrew Illustrator: Paul Dickinson Publisher: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge English Readers) ISBN: 978-1-107-67425-7

Judges’ comment: Readers of all levels will enjoy this simply but well-told thriller. You get to know the characters surprisingly well for such a short book, and a question or two about reasons/motivations won’t stop you from enjoying the action. Excellent illustrations enhance the mood of the story and fill out the reader’s understanding of key situations.


War Horse  
Author: Michael Morpurgo. Retold by: Alex Raynham Illustrator: Martin Impey Publisher: Oxford University Press (Dominoes) ISBN: 978-0-19-424982-9

Judges’ comment: In this engaging book, Joey the horse tells the story of his life—from England to the battlefields of World War I, and back again. Animal lovers especially will respond to the trials Joey experiences and the friends (both horse and human) who help him along the way. Beautiful watercolor illustrations set the stage for each key scene, supporting understanding of this simply-told tale.


Adolescent & Adult: Intermediate


The Cellist of Sarajevo
Author: Steven Galloway Retold by: Annette Keen Illustrator: Jonathan Burton Publisher: Pearson English (Penguin Readers) ISBN: 978-1-4479-3807-1

Judges’ comment: The publisher has taken a risk away from the sanitized world of ELT publishing to share stories that really matter. The story takes place during the four-year siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These are difficult topics but written with sensitivity and intelligence. The level of language is appropriate and never sounds simplistic. Good illustrations help the reader with any difficulty understanding the story. The original is cleverly retold and will keep the reader turning the page.


Time Games 
Author: Victoria Heward Illustrator: Alfredo Belli Publisher: Black Cat (Reading & Training) ISBN: 978-88-530-1328-6

Judges’ comment: This book mixes a number of plot elements between the video game and time travel and will appeal to young readers and players, who sometimes have the sensation that their characters have a life of their own. For such a complex plot, the writer manages to keep all the strings together and the writing sounds quite natural. This book will especially appeal to young readers and the illustrations live up to expectations.


Adolescent & Adult: Upper Intermediate & Advanced


Dracula: The Graphic Novel  
Author: Bram Stoker Based on a script by Jason Cobley Illustrators: Jo Wheeler and Carl Andrews Publisher: National Geographic Learning (Classic Graphic Novel Collection) ISBN: 978-1-111-83849-2

Judges’ comment: Although most people are familiar with Bram Stoker’s famous 1897 novel about vampires, the length and complexity of the language has kept this masterpiece beyond the reach of most second language learners… until now. This graphic novel version of Dracula has been beautifully illustrated and the script by Jason Colby does a wonderful job of rendering the characters, plot line and spirit of the original novel in a way that is both very easy to read and yet never feels “graded”. The back of the book is filled with many useful extras including a large glossary in easy English, a short background piece on Bram Stoker and an interesting step-by-step explanation of how the story was illustrated.


Oscar’s Journey 
Author: Fiona Joseph Illustrator: Redbean Design Pte Ltd Publisher: National Geographic Learning (Page Turners Reading Library) ISBN: 978-1-4240-4893-9

Judges’ comment: This original story by Fiona Joseph tells the story of Oscar, a young man whose dreams do not include taking over his father’s business. However, an unfortunate and surprising series of events cause Oscar to question the honesty and integrity of his father’s business. This leads Oscar to take a dangerous journey to uncover the truth, which, in the end, changes the rest of his life. This well-told story is set in London at the beginning of the 20th century. Although the work world and means of travel were different at that time than they are today, the author expresses in accessible modern language topics that are as relevant today as in the past.

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 2015 Language Learner Literature Award will be posted on the ERF website (www.erfoundation.org) later this year.

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To contact the Extensive Reading Foundation, email exec@erfoundation.org

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