I can also very much recommend Paul Carter, the official photographer’s full set of party photos.
The annual award for a debut children’s novel (established in memory of the novelist Henrietta Branford and Wendy Boase, an editorial director and one of the founders of Walker Books) was presented last night to M. G. [Maya] Leonard and her editors Barry Cunningham and Rachel Leyshon.
The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition for young people runs in parrallel with the main award. This year’s winners were:
Orla Borsey aged 13 years from Fleet, Hampshire
Brianna Cain aged 17 years from Liverpool
Hadeel Elwilid aged 13 years from Chandler’s Ford, Southampton
Jemima Gleeson aged 8 from Hampshire
Zoe Latchford aged 13 years Bedfordshire
Isaac Tiomkin aged 9 years from London
Announcing the winners, judge Prue Goodwin said, “I was looking for a story, not descriptive language.” And added, “There are times when spare, sparse language matters.”
The main award was presented by previous winner Frances Hardinge. She said, “The achievements of authors are quite nebulous… We create dreamscapes..” In this context she described how winning the Branford Boase Award had been a “collossal boost” to her fragile self-confidence. And she said it was a big boost to her career, as well as her ego. “The Branford Boase puts you on people’s radar. The children’s books industry takes notice.”
She drew attention to the butterfly on the award’s logo – symbolic, she thought, of a book that has just struggled, aided and abetted by editors, out of its cocoon.
Julia Eccleshare referred to a “slew” of wonderful first novels, in contrast to a relative paucity of the same when the award was first established 17 years ago. She felt “incredibly privileged” to be able to view the world through the prism of children’s books.
Maya Leonard, accepting the award, referred to Barry Cunningham as her “helicopter editor”, looking at everything from above, while the hands-on editorial collaboration was largely down to Rachel Leyshon.
Leonard spent her early career in the music industry running Setanta Records, an independent record label, and managing bands, most notably The Divine Comedy. She has also worked as the Senior Digital Media Producer for the National Theatre.
The award was judged by
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
Horatio Clare, winner of the 2016 Branford Boase Award.
The panel was chaired by Julia Eccleshare.
The presentation to Branford Boase winners includes a special box designed by Matthew Warwick and Clare Murray.