Before I Die by Jenny Downham, edited by David Fickling and published by David Fickling Books, has won the Branford Boase Award, awarded for an outstanding debut novel for children.
For David Fickling, it is two winners in a row, with A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd having taken the prize last year.
Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine, edited by Stella Paskins at Harper Collins, was Highly Commended.
Philip Pullman presented Jenny Downham with her award (a cheque for £1000 and a hand crafted silver-inlaid box) at the ceremony, hosted by Walker Books.
Philip Pullman observed of the winner: "Before I Die is a truly remarkable book, and one that shows that as well as being able to pick authors of startling and undeniable talent, David Fickling has lost none of the enormous tact and skill that makes him such a fine editor. I very much look forward to seeing what Jenny Downham goes on to write next - as well, of course, as seeing what David Fickling discovers!"
David Fickling's response was, "Winning The Branford Boase once was a great honour. Winning it twice in a row, this time with Jenny, has left me nearly speechless. I love this award because it recognises the finest of our new writers for young children and in my view is chosen by people I deeply respect according to criteria which my own publishing heart responds to (if publishers can be said to have a heart!)."
Other books on the shortlist were:
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke, edited by Averil Whitehouse and published by Walker
Nathan Fox by L Brittney, edited by Rachel Denwood and published by Macmillan
Waves by Sharon Dogar, edited by Barry Cunningham and published by Chicken House
Door of No Return by Sarah Mussi, edited by Beverly Birch and published by Hodder