I am so excited to share the Branford Boase Award shortlist on the blog today! This Award celebrates the most promising book for seven year-olds and upwards written by a first-time novelist and also highlights the importance of the editor in the development of new authors. The Branford Boase Award is synonymous with brilliant writing and editing talent and is a very special award.
The Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. It is twenty years since the Branford Boase Award was founded to commemorate author Henrietta Branford and influential Walker Books editor Wendy Boase who worked together and both died of cancer in 1999. The Award, sponsored by Walker Books, is now recognised as one of the most important in children’s books. Over its 20 year history, winners and shortlisted authors reads like a who’s who of children’s writers! Siobhan Dowd, Meg Rosoff, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Frances Hardinge, Patrick Ness and Marcus Sedgwick to name a few.
This year to mark the 20th anniversary of the Branford Boase Award, Walker Books have reissued Henrietta Branford’s novel Fire, Bed and Bone. Marcus Sedgwick, who won the Branford Boase Award in 2001, says: “Fire, Bed and Bone is one of those very short books that is nevertheless powerful and moving; one of those books which oozes confidence from the first line to the last. Its prose is robust and rhythmic; flawless in its execution, showing just what complex themes and stories one can address in a ‘book for children”
You could be in with a chance to get your hands on one of FIVE copies of this brilliant story – head over to Twitter and enter my giveaway!
Running alongside the Branford Boase Award, the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition encourages writing talent in under 18s. 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. Anne was a co-director of Authors Aloud UK and was Head of Children’s, Youth & Schools Services for Hampshire Library & Information Service for many years. Last year’s winners were Mitch Johnson and his editors Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker with Kick (Usborne).
The shortlist for the 2019 award features the Blue Peter Book Award winner; a book that made the Costa shortlist; and a book in the running for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal. I do not envy the judges their task in selecting a winner from this fantastic list of titles!
The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker (Usborne) A beautifully told, original take on the tale of Baba Yaga this timeless story of death and grief and the zest for life stars a sentient house with chicken legs
The Train to Impossible Places by P.G. Bell, edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker (Usborne) When a magical train drives through her hallway it’s the start of an extraordinary adventure for science-loving Suzy, one that will take her to some very strange places.
Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon, edited by Sarah Stewart (Usborne) A contemporary love story starring Rosie, who is 16 and has Down’s syndrome; and Jack, who attends the same college in a specialist unit. When Jack is sent away, Rosie is determined to see him again, whatever it takes.
The Goose Road by Rowena House, edited by Mara Bergman (Walker Books) Set in France during the First World War, this novel tells of Angelique and her belief that her brother Pascal will return from the trenches to take over the family farm. She is determined to keep the farm and the herd of geese he loves so much safe for him.
I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan, edited by Lucy Pearse (Macmillan) Bright but shy Muzna is the sixteen-year-old only child of Pakistani parents now settled in Britain. Her father wants her to become a doctor whereas she can only think about her writing. The story changes course when Muzna gets dangerously over-involved in a manipulative terrorist cell.
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen, edited by Sarah Stewart and Kendra Levin (Usborne) When Sarah’s mother is shot dead, there’s no time to grieve. A Jew in Nazi Germany, she uses her talent as an actress to become a school-girl spy, though she’s keenly aware that her life counts very little to her spy-master.
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf, edited by Lena McCauley (Orion Children’s Books) The arrival of a new boy in class, who doesn’t speak, or smile, and disappears at break times, intrigues the narrator of this book and when she finds out that his family are lost somewhere in Europe, she and her friends decide to help.
The judging panel this year is: Sanchita Basu De Sarkar, Children’s Bookshop, Muswell Hill; Ellen Krajewski, librarian, Hemel Hempstead School, Hertfordshire; Louise Johns-Shepherd, CLPE ; and Mitch Johnson, author of Kick, winner of the 2018 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare.
Julia Eccleshare says: “In its twenty-year history, the Branford Boase Award has given a crucial early career boost to the most exciting and important young authors, and prompted publishers to seek out new talent. What’s more, it continues to reflect the shape and preoccupations of contemporary children’s literature: this year’s shortlist is weighted towards fiction for readers aged 8 – 11, but themes explored include resilience, identity and a sense of self. We are proud of every one of its twenty shortlists and happy that so many years after their deaths, Wendy Boase and Henrietta Branford are celebrated in such a positive way.”
Huge congratulations to all the authors and editors on the shortlist!
For more information about the award, including a full list of past winners, and the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition visit www.branfordboaseaward.org.uk.