The Branford Boase Book Award is an absolutely wonderful celebration of writing and is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. However, not only does it honour brilliant authors but also the super-talented editors who work with them. It really is a special award and having been a supporter of it over the last few years I’m delighted to share the shortlist on the blog. Social media is buzzing with congratulations for the nominees and I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing the books over the coming weeks!
The Branford Boase Award was set up in memory of the outstanding and prize-winning author Henrietta Branford and Wendy Boase, editorial director and one of the founders of Walker Books. They worked together on a number of Henrietta’s novels, a partnership they greatly enjoyed. Both Henrietta and Wendy died of cancer in 1999. The Award is the joint idea of Julia Eccleshare and Anne Marley. Julia is chair of PLR and director of the Hay Festival children’s programme as well as a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Front Row and Open Book programmes. Anne is now co-director of Authors Aloud UK and was Head of Children’s, Youth & Schools Services for Hampshire Library & Information Service for many years.
Seven different publishers are represented on the shortlist including independents Usborne and David Fickling Books and brand new list Zephyr. Now in its nineteenth year the Branford Boase Award is recognised as one of the most important awards in children’s books with a hugely impressive record in identifying authors with special talent at the start of their careers. Previous winners and shortlisted authors include Siobhan Dowd, Meg Rosoff, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Patrick Ness; Costa Book Award winner Frances Hardinge won with her debut novel Fly By Night in 2006.
The shortlist for the 2018 award is as follows:
A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe, edited by Fiona Kennedy (Head of Zeus: Zephyr)
The Starman and Me by Sharon Cohen, edited by Sarah Lambert (Quercus Children’s Books)
Fish Boy by Chloe Daykin, edited by Leah Thaxton (Faber)
Knighthood for Beginners by Elys Dolan, edited by Clare Whitston and Elv Moody (Oxford)
Kick by Mitch Johnson, edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker (Usborne)
Potter’s Boy by Tony Mitton, edited by Anthony Hinton (David Fickling Books)
The City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein, edited by Gill Evans (Walker Books)
It’s a fantastic shortlist and judging will not be easy! This year the judges are Urmi Merchant of children’s bookshop Pickled Pepper Books; Helen Swinyard, librarian at Heartlands High School and founder of theHaringey Children’s Book Award; author and reviewer Philip Womack; and M.G. (Maya) Leonard, author of Beetle Boy, winner of the 2017 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival.
Julia Eccleshare says: “Each year the Branford Boase Award discovers authors with outstanding talent and promise: this year is no exception. The BBA also celebrates the lively state of children’s publishing in the UK and we were excited that no less than 26 different publishers entered books with seven making the shortlist. By concentrating on the most exciting new voices, the Branford Boase consistently highlights trends in contemporary children’s fiction: our 2018 judges were struck by the huge predominance on the longlist of domestic dramas. Children’s adventure it seems has become internal, the setting no longer the outside world but frequently the family, with narrative tension and action arising from issues such as mental health and individual trauma. Nonetheless, our seven shortlisted books have new stories to tell and vibrant new voices to tell them.”
The winner of the 2018 Branford Boase Award will be announced on Wednesday 4th July at a ceremony in London. The winning author receives a cheque for £1,000 and both author and editor receive a unique, hand-crafted silver-inlaid box.
Good luck to all those nominated and watch this space for reviews coming soon!
For more information about the award, including a full list of past winners, and the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition visit www.branfordboaseaward.org.uk .