A YA novel told from the perspective of someone with Down’s syndrome. A love story inspired by the author’s experiences alongside her severely autistic brother.
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The longlist for the 2019 Branford Boase Award is announced today. This important award is celebrating its twentieth year. Set up in memory of author Henrietta Branford and her editor Wendy Boase, one of the founders of Walker Books, the Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author and editor of an outstanding debut novel for children and has highlighted many of the twenty-first century’s leading children’s authors at the start of their careers. Over its twenty year history winners and shortlisted authors have included Siobhan Dowd, Meg Rosoff, Mal Peet, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Patrick Ness as well as Frances Hardinge and Philip Reeve.
This year more than 40 books were submitted, twice as many as in its first year, and by two dozen different publishers; 20 have made it onto the longlist.
The 2019 Branford Boase Award longlist in full
The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker (Usborne)
Boy Underwater by Adam Baron, edited by Nick Lake and Sarah Hughes (HarperCollins)
The Train to Impossible Places by P.G. Bell, edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker (Usborne)
Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon, edited by Sarah Stewart (Usborne)
The Fandom by Anna Day, edited by Kesia Lupo (Chicken House)
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me by Malcolm Duffy, edited by Fiona Kennedy (Head of Zeus)
Twister by Juliette Forrest edited by Lauren Fortune (Scholastic)
Flight by Vanessa Harbour, edited by Janet Thomas (Firefly)
Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy, edited by Linas Alsenas (Scholastic)
The Goose Road by Rowena House, edited by Mara Bergman (Walker Books)
Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James, edited by Rachel Denwood and Sarah Hughes (HarperCollins)
The Mystery of the Colour Thief by Ewa Jozefkowicz, edited by Fiona Kennedy (Head of Zeus)
I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan, edited by Lucy Pearse (Macmillan)
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen, edited by Sarah Stewart (Usborne)
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf, edited by Lena McCauley (Orion Children’s Books)
On a Scale of One to Ten by Ceylan Scott edited by Rachel Leyshon (Chicken House)
Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw, edited by Bella Pearson and Anthony Hinton (David Fickling Books)
Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton, edited Emma Matthewson (Hot Key)
Run Riot by Nikesh Shukla, edited by Emma Goldhawk (Hodder Children’s Books)
The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson, edited by Jennie Skinner and Sally Polson (Floris Books)
This year’s award judges are
- Sanchita Basu De Sarkar of the Children’s Bookshop, Muswell Hill
- Ellen Krajewski, librarian at Hemel Hempstead School, Hertfordshire
- Louise Johns-Shepherd, chief executive of CLPE
- Mitch Johnson, author of Kick, winner of the 2018 Branford Boase Award
As usual, the panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival
The Branford Boase Award is sponsored by Walker Books who have pledged new funding to ensure its future. Jane Winterbotham, publishing director said: “Walker Books is delighted to continue its support for the Branford Boase Award. We hugely value the contribution the award has made in encouraging and highlighting new writing talent, as well as in recognising the role played by the editor in supporting writers at the start of their career. The award is an inspiring memorial to the work of gifted novelist Henrietta Branford and Walker’s founding editor, Wendy Boase, in whose names the award was established 20 years ago.”
The shortlist for the Award will be announced on 1st May 2019. The winner will be announced on 3rd July at a ceremony in London.
Walker Books have published a new edition of Henrietta Branford’s multi-award-winning book Fire, Bed and Bone. The story of the Peasants’ Revolt seen through the eyes of an old hunting dog, it gives a long-ago past an immediacy and freshness as it tells of working people’s struggle for survival in the face of cruelty by landlords and the church. Branford’s last book, it won the Guardian prize, a Smarties Award and was highly commended for the Carnegie Medal.
Young adult books reviewed by Fiona Noble:
- The Monsters We Deserve by Marcus Sedgwick
“an ambitious and original take on the gothic”
- No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen
“This may be a story about poverty and depression, but there’s hope and humour at its heart”
- Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon
“Passionate and inclusive”
- For Everyone by Jason Reynolds
“Defiant and inspirational”
- Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) by Scarlett Curtis
- The Light Between The Worlds by Laura Weymouth
When the book you thought should have been shortlisted for an award isn’t even longlisted you at least hope the eventual winning title will be one you have actually read.
I had read 5 of the seven shortlisted Branford Boase Award books and having reviewed a number of them, I was hoping that either Clare Furniss or Rupert Wallis would be the judges’ selection.
As it happens (that three-lettered law) they have chosen one of the two novels I haven’t read, Leopold Blue by Rosie Rowell, which naturally now goes to the top of my to-be-read pile to see how strongly I agree with the judgment. (Publisher, are there any review copies still available?)
Julia Eccleshare, chair of the judging panel, said of the winning book: “This year’s Branford Boase shortlist was very strong indeed and a number of books on the list have already appeared on shortlists for other prestigious awards. However, in Leopold Blue the judges have found a work of originality, power and intelligence that seems surprisingly to have escaped the notice it deserves. The characters and setting are brilliantly observed and described, and all readers will recognise something of themselves in Meg. The background gives it particular depth and it transcends the coming-of-age genre.” Rowell herself said that the book was something of a lovesong to the townships of her youth.
The tube strike depleted the assembly only very slightly (though I did note the absence of at least one shortlisted author). The presence of Jacqueline Wilson, a generous sponsor of the award, throughout the ceremony is especially good for the Young Writer prizewinners, inevitably mainly female. (The Young Writer Award was judged this year by Prue Goodwin.)
I always forget how tied up with book signing the shortlisted authors become after the announcement, so regret not talking to Clare Furniss earlier, to emphasise how much I enjoyed The Year of the Rat. It was good though to speak again with last year’s winner, C. J. Flood, and to hear how her next book is coming along, and with Rupert Wallis, who told me his second novel is due out next month and that he is already at work on a third.
Hats have been notable by their absence this week. First it was Shirley Hughes who turned up for the Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday _not_ wearing a hat and confounding Michael Morpurgo’s expectations, and now this evening at the Branford Boase Award ceremony it was the absence of David Lloyd (Walker’s man-in-the-hat and madhatter speech-maker extraordinaire) who was away fishing.
Another notable absence that was emphatically remarked upon was that of a previous award winner, the recently departed Mal Peet, who I never saw wearing a hat. It’s a source of some satisfaction to me (I know, I’ve mentioned it before, so excuse the repetition here) that I was on the judging panel (along with Kevin Brooks) the year Mal was chosen as the winner. Of course Mal would have gone on to win other awards even if he hadn’t been that year’s BBA winner – as any of this year’s unsuccessful shortlisted or longlisted authors may do as well, and as I’m sure the mysteriously overlooked Jon Walter will also (probably with his marvellous second novel) – but it is still a good feeling to have been amongst those who recognised the exceptional quality of Peet’s first book, Keeper. Books like that set the bar high. Which is as it should be.
As always the event was exceptionally well-managed and choreographed by both Anne Marley and the regular photographer for the evening, Paul Carter.
Vivian of the Newham Bookshop was running the book stand single-handed this year, her assistant John having been impeded by the underground strike.The award is unique for honouring the editor of a book as well as the author. The relationship of author and editor is a special one (the winning author spoke eloquently about how much she had learnt as a writer by working with her first editor, Emily Thomas) and authors I speak to regularly tell me how unsettling it is when they have to get used to working with a different editor mid-book, as happens all too frequently.
Indeed, such is the instability of the author-editor relationship that you sometimes wonder if the author-agent relationship is actually just as or (in some instances) more significant, especially in the case of first novels. After all, it is the agent who has had to spot the talent in the first place and, in all likelihood, has undertaken a good deal of editing before the finished book is ever submitted to a publisher’s editorial department.
In which case, although actual ones have been a bit absent this week, metaphorical hats off to Rosie Rowell’s agent, Claire Wilson.