As far as David vs Goliath challenges go, this takes some beating!


Sunderland author, David Crosby, is taking on Julia Donaldson for a prestigious children’s book prize in the coming weeks. We caught up with David to chat about his debut book and his race for glory…


David Crosby, a Sunderland native was delighted when his debut picture book, ‘Pirates vs. Monsters’, was shortlisted for the prestigious Bishops Stortford Picture Book Award recently.

However, little did he know he’d be battling against the likes of Julia Donaldson for the top prize!

But when the rest of the shortlist was revealed, it pitted the former journalist’s book against eight others including ‘The Hospital Dog’ by former Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson of ‘Room on the Broom’ and ‘The Gruffalo’ fame.

A public vote will now decide the winner – voting is normally restricted to primary schools in Bishops Stortford but due to the pandemic they’re opening it up nationwide and inviting schools to get involved too!
















Julia’s sold more than £10million worth of books in the UK every year for the last 10 years in a row, so you could say I’m up against it!” said David, 40, from Ryhope.

“It’s a bit like Carlisle United drawing Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup.

“If I was to win this it would be an historic giant-killing! But anything is possible!

“Anyone can vote and the organisers are actively inviting schools to get involved too.

You just need to contact them so the children have enough time to read the shortlisted books and cast their votes before the January 22 deadline.”
















‘Pirates vs. Monsters’ tells the story of three pirates down the pub bragging about the ingenious methods they’ve used to get the better of three fearsome monsters.

The grog is flowing and it gradually becomes clear they may not be being entirely honest.

The book has had rave reviews from children’s book bloggers, with one describing it as “an absolute stonker” and another saying it left her four-year-old “in stitches”.

“There are lots of books out there addressing serious issues but I just set out to write a funny, unconventional book with a ripping story that’ll hopefully give kids a good laugh,” said David.

“I think that’s important with everything that’s going on in the world at the minute.

“There’s even a monster in it called The Hockler, inspired by the dialect in these parts. No prizes for guessing its preferred method of attack…yes, it’s a fearsome flying beast with an uncanny knack of spitting globs of poison in pirates’ eyes!

“The illustrator, Lee Cosgrove, has done a marvellous job – creating atmospheric and eerie scenes with mist, candle-lit taverns, pompous pirates, and monsters that are fierce but child-friendly.

“I’m not sure where the idea for the story came from but when I was a boy I loved Sinbad films with Ray Harryhausen monsters and the Monkey Island games on the Amiga!”



David, a former Southmoor and St Paul’s C of E Primary School pupil, now has a second book in the offing with a publication date set to be confirmed in 2021. We can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve next!

For full details of the Bishops Stortford Picture Book Award and how to vote, visit

Pirates vs. Monsters, published by Maverick Publishing, is out now priced £7.99 in paperback from the Bookshop website, which supports independent bookshops too.



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