The Branford Boase Award [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] 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.
Now in its seventeenth year the Branford Boase Award is recognised as one of the most important awards in children’s books with an 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; last year’s Costa Book Award winner Frances Hardinge won with her debut novel Fly By Night in 2006. The shortlist for the 2017 award is as follows:
Cogheart by Peter Bunzl, edited by Rebecca Hill (Usborne)
We Are Giants by Amber Lee Dodd, edited by Niamh Mulvey (Quercus)
Little Bits of Sky by S.E. Durrant, edited by Kirsty Stansfield (Nosy Crow)
The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster, edited by Rachel Mann (Simon and Schuster)
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, edited by Rachel Leyson (Chicken House)
Beetle Boy by M G Leonard, edited by Barry Cunningham and Rachel Leyson (Chicken House)
Riverkeep by Martin Stewart edited by Shannon Cullen and Sharyn November (Penguin Random House)
More than 70 books [a record number] were submitted for the 2017 award, by 25 different publishers. The rules for the Branford Boase Award state that the award is for the most promising book for children aged seven and up by a first novelist. The author may have published books in another genre but eligibility requires that this be their first novel for children. Two books longlisted for the 2017 award, Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan and Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence, were discovered to be ineligible and were withdrawn as the authors have previously written short novels for children.
This year the judges are Brenda Gardner, former children’s editor and founder of Piccadilly Press; Joanna Halpin, manager at Waterstones Trafalgar Square; Elizabeth McDonald, winner of the 2016 Public Librarian of the Year Award; and Horatio Clare, author of Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, winner of the 2016 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival.
The winner of the 2017 Branford Boase Award will be announced on Wednesday 5th July at a ceremony in London. Frances Hardinge will present the winner with a cheque for £1,000 and both author and editor will receive a unique, hand-crafted silver-inlaid box.