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Branford Boase Award – SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED FOR 2020!

I am SO excited to share the Branford Boase Book Award Shortlist for 2020! Not least because I am on the judging panel this year and it has been the most brilliant experience but challenging too, because the quality of books on the longlist was outstanding.  However, myself and my brilliant fellow judges – Sue Bastone, vice-chair SLA;  Layla Hudson of Round Table Books, Brixton; and Muhammad Khan, author of I Am Thunder, winner of the 2019 Branford Boase along with panel chair, Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival, deliberated and discussed all the wonderful books and we are delighted with the hugely impressive final shortlist:

Twitter Card shortlist

Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad and
Henry White, edited by Holly Harris and Sharan Matharu, illus Aleksei Bitskoff (Puffin)

The Space We’re In by Katya Balen, edited by Lucy Mackay-Sim, illus Laura Carlin
(Bloomsbury)
A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby, edited by Liz Bankes and Sarah Levison
(Egmont)

Bearmouth by Liz Hyder, edited by Sarah Odedina (Pushkin Press)

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, edited by Lindsey Heaven
(Electric Monkey)
Frostheart by Jamie Littler, edited by Naomi Colthurst (Puffin)
The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton, edited by Naomi
Colthurst (Penguin)

 

Congratulations to all the authors and editors who have created such memorable stories!

Since 2000, the Branford Boase has been awarded 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. 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. Founded to commemorate author Henrietta Branford and influential Walker Books editor Wendy Boase, the Branford Boase Award is recognised as one of the most important awards in children’s books with an impressive record in identifying outstanding authors at the start of their careers. Winners and shortlisted authors include Siobhan Dowd, Meg Rosoff, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Frances Hardinge, Patrick Ness and Marcus Sedgwick.  Since starting The Book Activist, I have supported the award through my blog and have been absolutely honoured to participate on the judging panel this year!

Julia Eccleshare, one of the founders of award and chair of the judges says: “In
highlighting the most exciting new authors and the most talented editors, the Branford Boase Award also identifies the preoccupations and strengths of current children’s literature and we are pleased to say that this year’s shortlist is particularly rich and diverse. Here are extremely powerful, challenging stories tackling complex issues alongside funny, exciting, original fiction; the range of voices represented is unparalleled in the award’s history. We are excited not only about the books on the shortlist, but about what their authors will write next too.”

You can read the judges comments here. The winner of the Branford Boase Award would normally be announced at a ceremony in London in early July. This year the announcement of the winner has been delayed until 24th September. The winning author receives a cheque for £1,000 and both author and editor receive an inscribed crystal plaque.

For further information about the Award contact Andrea Reece on andrea.reece@zen.co.uk

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#FCBGCBA2020 BLOG TOUR: Wildspark by Vashti Hardy

It’s my absolute pleasure to be supporting The Children’s Book Award blog tour championing the brilliant Wildspark by Vashti Hardy. To celebrate, I’m delighted to be running a giveaway – one lucky winner will receive a copy of Wildspark! Head over to Twitter to find out how to enter.

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Prue is a young farm girl whose older brother, Francis, had a natural talent for engineering. But after his untimely death, the family have been shattered by grief. Everything changes when a stranger arrives at the farm. A new, incredible technology has been discovered in the city of Medlock, where a secretive guild of inventors have found a way to bring spirits of the dead back into the world, capturing their energy and powering animal-like machines (the Personifates). Unaware that Francis has died, the Ghost Guild wants him to join them as an apprentice. Prue poses as “Frances” and goes to Medlock to learn the craft – but she’s on a mission of her own, to bring her brother back home. And to find Francis, she needs to find a way to help the ghost machines remember the people they used to be. But if she succeeds, the whole society could fall apart.

I was fortunate enough to read and review Wildspark last year for Scholastic (full review here) and therefore I know how deserving Vashti Hardy is of this shortlisting in the Confident Reader’s Category! Featuring a truly imaginative world full of breath-taking scenery, wondrous inventions and the most marvellous array of characters you could hope to meet, Wildspark was one of my absolute favourite reads last year.

The Children’s Book Award is the only national award voted for solely by children from start to finish. It is highly regarded by parents, teachers, librarians, publishers and children’s authors and illustrators as it truly represents the children’s choice. Author of Wildspark, Vashti Hardy, says:

“I’m overjoyed and honoured that Wildspark has been shortlisted for the FCBG Children’s Book Awards 2020! The FCBG is such a force for good in sharing and celebrating a love of books and I can’t wait to attend the ceremony, which I was lucky enough to be a guest at last year. It’s a lovely day and a great opportunity to meet some of the fantastic young readers who have taken part in reading the shortlisted books, the teachers, and of course the wonderful FCBG volunteers. Wildspark is a fantasy adventure story that celebrates the power of invention, dreaming big, friendship, and grief, and it also explores how we treat the notion of ‘other’ and difference through imagining you could bring back ghosts inside lifelike animal machines, a subject that resonates so strongly with our times. I’m looking forward to seeing what all the readers think and chatting some more to them all!”

Thanks to the support for the Award by the publishers, over 1,000 new books are donated to be read and reviewed by Testing Groups across the country every year, with over 150,000 total votes being cast in the process. At the end of each testing year, nearly 12,000 books are donated to hospitals, women’s refuges, nurseries and disadvantaged schools by our groups. It truly is a wonderful award.

Find out how to vote here. Find out more about the Award here. Follow the Award on Twitter using #FCBGCBA2020

Find out more about Wildspark on the author’s website www.vashtihardy.com and check out the whole blog tour here:

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Book of the Month: Generation Hope: Youth Can Make a Difference by Kimberlie Hamilton

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Hope is a wonderful word and much needed at this time.  This month’s Book of the Month is a fantastic new book by Kimberlie Hamilton, published by Scholastic, Generation Hope: Youth Can Make A Difference. It’s a brilliant book offering inspiration and advice for young people who want to do some good in the world, and encouraging them to believe that they can make a difference. And I’m delighted to say author Kimberlie Hamilton joins the blog today to share a wonderful post – Why Kindess Counts.

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Meet the young people around the world who are acting now to make a difference. From tackling climate change and animal welfare, to fighting for equality and advocating kindness, the young activists profiled in this book show how we can all make a positive change.

With a vibrant and funky layout, this eye-catching book is bound to capture the imagination of young people everywhere! Full of incredible facts about children and young people who really have made a different throughout history, each section explores an aspect of activism and shows how you can get involved. From Animal Advocates to Water Warrior, from Creative for A Cause to It’s Not Easy Being Green, this book has it covered. I love that there are examples of young people all over the world who are making a difference in the most wonderful ways. Perhaps the most well-known to young people today is Greta Thunberg who has inspired a generation of young activists:

“To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible”  Greta Thunberg

If you are looking for a book to inspire the young people in your life that they do have the power to make change for the better, then this is it.  And to celebrate it being Book of the Month, author Kimberlie Hamilton shares her thoughts about how to be kind – something we can appreciate at this time. Welcome to the blog Kimberlie!

Why Kindness Counts – 8 Ways Kindness Can Make a Difference

“Kindness is one of the most powerful tools we have as human beings. Young and old alike, our words and actions have the potential to impact other people’s lives in countless ways. During challenging times like these, we each need to do our part to spread hope and compassion, kindness and caring. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1 – Kindness holds people together. There really is magic to be found in making connections with others and finding common ground. How we treat each other determines the kind of community we live in, the kind of country we live in and ultimately the kind of world we live in.

2 – Being kind feels good. When we do something for someone without expecting anything in return, it gives us a natural high. And that feeling is pretty addictive!

3 – Aim to understand, not judge. Kindness is all about empathy, acceptance and tolerance. Being kind helps break down the emotional barriers that all too often build up between ourselves and those around us.

4 – Kindness is ageless. No matter our age, we all have the power to make our community and our world a better place for everyone. In the words of teenage Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg, “No one is too small to make a difference.”

5 – Everyone is fighting their own battle. None of us can ever know what anyone else is going through in life. One small act of kindness might make a huge difference to them. This is why “compassion activism” can be just as powerful and important as other forms of activism, like school strikes for the climate.

6 – We have more influence than we realise. The people around us can take inspiration from how we treat others. Set a good example by being an ambassador for kindness.

7 – Love trumps hate. Each of us has the same power to spread hope and kindness as those who wish to spread fear and hate. The world needs kind-hearted people to put positive energy into the world, now more than ever.

8 – Kindness is contagious, too! In unsettling times like these, it’s comforting to know that lots of people working together can achieve amazing things. As Harold Kushner once said, “When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.”

In a world where you can be anything, be kind!

Find out more www.kimberliehamilton.co.uk. With thanks to Scholastic for sending me this book to review.

 

 

 

 

BLOG TOUR: Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver

Viper's Daughter Blog Tour BannerIt is hugely exciting to be hosting today’s stop on the Viper Daughter’s blog tour, the brand new story in the Wolf Brother series by award-winning author Michelle Paver published by Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus. Today I’m sharing an exclusive extract from the book to give you a glimpse into the story!

Viper’s Daughter is the seventh book in the series which began with the award-winning and million-copy selling title, Wolf Brother. The story continues the adventures of a fantastic cast of characters against the backdrop of the Stone-Age complete with ancient clans, mystic magic and woolly mammoths! Constantly in demand in the school libraries I worked in, I can imagine a whole legion of fans will be delighted to see Torak, Renn and Wolf in print again. Not only this, but readers will also be excited to hear that Wolf Brother is to be made into a T.V series too – see here for more details.

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For two summers, Torak and Renn have been living in the Forest with their faithful pack-brother, Wolf. But their happiness is shattered when Renn realises Torak is in danger – and she’s the threat….

Returning to the ancient Stone-Age world that is Torak, Renn and Wolf’s home, you can almost hear the calls of the wild, feel the ice-cold wintry landscapes and taste the danger! Introducing faces old and new, adventure quickly takes over as Renn disappears and Torak finds himself in a race against all manner of evils to find her. Torak and Wolf’s powerful bond has never been more needed and they are tested to the limit. Renn must master her Magecraft and battle her own demons – as well as a few real ones, in order to survive.  The world conjured creates a powerful image of clan life and what living in those ancient times might have been like – from what they wore, to what they ate and their belief in folklore and magic.  References to previous events and characters and the use of descriptive terminology add to the authenticity – and give you a very good excuse to read the whole series again! Weaving an enthralling narrative, full of thrills and heart-stopping action, Viper’s Daughter transports you to a place where the bonds of friendship are key to survival and life can change on the tip of an arrow!

Read the extract below for an insight into this gripping adventure:

Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver – An Extract

Strangers meeting Dark saw an odd-looking boy with long white hair  and  eyes  like  a  sky  full  of  snow.  They mistook his gentleness for weakness, but soon realised their error. He’d been born without colour and abandoned by his father when he was eight. For seven winters he’d survived on his own in the Mountains, his only companions a white raven he’d rescued from crows, and his sister’s ghost. Two summers ago the Raven Clan had taken him in and made him their Mage.  He was  still  getting  used  to  living  with people in the Forest, and sometimes he went off for a few days alone to clear his head.

Torak flung  away  the  stick  and  glared  at  the  fire.  ‘Tell me why she left.’

With his knife Dark speared a salmon eye and offered it. Torak scowled, so Dark ate it himself. ‘She said things kept happening that she couldn’t explain.’

‘What things?’

‘A spring-trap she forgot to warn you about. And that time she nearly shot you when you were hunting.’

‘Those were accidents.’

‘She didn’t think so. She said, “There’s something inside me that wants to hurt Torak.”’

‘What? Renn would never hurt me!’

‘I know. But she’s terrified that she might. She said she has to find out what it is and make it stop. She thinks – ’ his voice dropped – ‘it might have something to do with her mother.’

The birch trees  whispered  in  alarm.  The white raven  crested her head-feathers and croaked. Torak met Dark’s eyes. ‘But the Viper Mage is dead.’

‘I know, but that’s what Renn told me.’

Torak rubbed his hand across his mouth. ‘And you’ve no idea where she’s gone?’

‘She said the signs all point one way but she wouldn’t say where. I’ve been seeing signs too. And just now my drum told me something weird: The demon that is not demon—’

‘I don’t have time for Mage’s riddles.’

‘And I keep seeing tusks.’ He pointed at a tree where he’d left a small slate weasel as an offering. Shadows of twigs had given it horns. ‘I see them in clouds, in eddies in the river: huge twisted tusks, much bigger than a boar’s—’

‘I don’t care about tusks, I need to find Renn!’

‘But, Torak, they’re linked! The tusks have something to do with her, I can feel it.’

‘Do a finding charm, do it now.’

‘She doesn’t  want  you  to  find  her.  That’s why she left without telling you, because you’d insist on going too and she couldn’t take that risk!’

‘Just do the charm!’

Dark opened his mouth – then shut it. ‘I don’t need to. Look at the sky.’

Above their heads the First Tree glowed luminous green. Its shimmering branches held  the  moon  and  the  stars,  and its unseen roots trapped demons in the Otherworld. Torak felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. The First Tree shone brightest on dark winter nights and rarely showed itself in summer. It had appeared for a reason. He saw from Dark’s rapt expression that he thought so too.As  they  watched,  the  green  lights  faded  till  all  that  remained  was  a  single  shining  bough  arching  like  a  vast  arrow across the deep blue sky.

‘North,’ said Torak. ‘It’s telling us she’s gone north.’

‘A long way north.’

Torak glanced at him. ‘You don’t mean the Far North?  She’d never try that on her own.’

‘Even further. I can feel it.’

‘But what could be further than the Far North?’

Ark cawed a greeting, and they saw Fin-Kedinn at the edge of the glade. Leaning on  his  staff,  the  Leader  of  the  Raven  Clan  limped  towards  them.  Silver glinted  in  his  dark-red  hair  and his short straight beard. Firelight carved his features in shadow and flame.

‘Beyond the Far North,’ he said, ‘is the Edge of the World.’

Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver is out now, published by Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus, priced £12.99 in hardback. 

Find out more at  www.wolfbrother.com. With thanks to Zephyr for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour! Check out the rest of the tour here:

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FREE Information book explaining the Coronavirus to children, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

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In these extraordinary times we find ourselves in, children must be somewhat confused and concerned with their lives turned upside down. And although many children will be pleased to have extra time with their families at home, understanding what is really happening is difficult. So to help, independent children’s publisher, Nosy Crow have enlisted the help of Axel Scheffler, the illustrator of The Gruffalo to bring to life a digital book for primary school age children, free for anyone to read on screen or print out, about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine acted as a consultant, and the Nosy Crow also had advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist in order to write the book.

Informative, colourful and just what is needed to help respond to children’s questions and anxieties about these unprecedented events, the book answers key questions such as:

  • What is the coronavirus?
  • How do you catch the coronavirus?
  • What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
  • Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
  • Is there a cure for the coronavirus?
  • Why are some places we normally go to closed?
  • What can I do to help?
  • What’s going to happen next?

It actually helped me see the whole picture in very straightforward way too – and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone wanting to talk things through with their child in a calm and reassuring manner, without the background of media dialogue.

Nosy Crow wants to make sure that this book is accessible to every child and family and so the book is offered totally free of charge to anyone who wants to read it. However, the company suggests, at the back of the book, that families might make a donation to help our health service if they find the book useful: https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/.

Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo, said:

“I asked myself what I could do as an children’s illustrator to inform, as well as entertain, my readers here and abroad. So I was glad when my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked me to illustrate this question-and-answer book about the coronavirus. I think it is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis, and I hope that the popularity of the books I’ve done with Julia Donaldson will ensure that this digital book will reach many children who are now slightly older, but might still remember our picture books.”

To download the book follow this link or you can read it here:

Click to access Coronavirus_INSwith-cover.pdf

With thanks to Nosy Crow for sharing this today.