Allan Ahlberg turns down Amazon-sponsored award

Allan Ahlberg Ahlberg says he turned down the award several weeks ago

Related Stories

Celebrated children's author Allan Ahlberg has turned down a lifetime achievement award after discovering it was sponsored by Amazon.

The writer, whose books include Each Peach Pear Plum and Funny Bones, was due to be honoured at the Booktrust Best Book Awards last week.

In a letter to the Bookseller, he said he felt compelled to decline the honour because of Amazon's tax arrangements.

"Could Booktrust not have found a more moral sponsor?" he wrote.

Start Quote

The idea that my 'lifetime achievement' should have the Amazon tag attached to it is unacceptable”

End Quote Allan Ahlberg

"Tax, fairly applied to us all, is a good thing. It pays for schools, hospitals - libraries!

"When companies like Amazon cheat - paying 0.1% on billions, pretending it is earning money not in the UK, but in Luxembourg - that's a bad thing.

"We should surely, at the very least, say that it is bad and on no account give it any support or, by association, respectability."

"The idea that my 'lifetime achievement' should have the Amazon tag attached to it is unacceptable."

The online retailer has been heavily criticised ever since its low tax contributions were first revealed in 2012.

Amazon Amazon UK sales are routed via a Luxembourg affiliate

Amazon's UK subsidiary paid £4.2m in taxes last year, the online retailer's accounts show, despite making sales of £4.3bn.

The tax bill is so low because when shoppers in the UK buy items from its store, the payment is taken by a subsidiary based in the low tax jurisdiction of Luxembourg.

It is also reduced because the company only pays tax on its profits - which were £17.1m in 2013, with much of its turnover ploughed back into expanding warehouses and negotiating deals on its products.

Amazon has always insisted that it pays all required taxes in every jurisdiction that it operates in.

'Buzz'

Booktrust's chief executive Viv Bird said she was disappointed Ahlberg had turned down his award but "this was his personal decision."

"Booktrust works with a wide range of partners in order to fulfil our charitable aim of bringing books to children and children to books," she said.

"We are also grateful for the tremendous support we get from many eminent authors and illustrators. Amazon's sponsorship of the Best Book Awards, in its inaugural year, enabled us to celebrate some of the best of children's literature, create a buzz around books, and make a significant contribution to our mission of encouraging more children to read."

Janet and Allan Ahlberg Many of Ahlberg's books were illustrated by his wife Janet (left), who drew this picture of the Ahlberg family for 1981's Peepo!

The prizes, which were handed out last week, were voted for by 12,000 schoolchildren across the UK.

John Green's The Fault In Our Stars was named best book for 12 to 14-year-olds.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck won in the nine to 11-year-old category, while Stephan Patiscame's Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made took the 6 to 8-year-old category.

Best picture book was won by Peck Peck Peck, the latest story from Maisy author Lucy Cousins.

No mention of the lifetime achievement prize was made at the time.

Allan Ahlberg began his writing career in the 1970s, and his wife Janet illustrated many of his picture books - including The Jolly Postman, Ten in a Bed and the Ha Ha Bonk Book.

Janet, who won a Kate Greenaway medal in 1978 for her illustrations of Each Peach Pear Plum, died of cancer in 1994.

The couple's daughter Jessica now illustrates many of her father's books.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Entertainment & Arts stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

From BBC Culture

Programmes

  • Art installationClick Watch

    How one artist is using computer code to turn internet radio into a unique piece of music

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.