Set in the last city of a drowned world, the book opens with a dead whale washing in with the tide, only for a living boy to climb out. The City’s religious authorities believe his body to house The Enemy, the god they hold responsible for putting the world in its watery grave but Ellie, a young inventor, is convinced he’s innocent. The award is shared with Murray’s editor, Ben Horslen, of Puffin.
The announcement was made by Liz Hyder on Thursday 15 July as part of a public event presented by the LoveReading LitFest. The event featured contributions from all the shortlisted authors plus previous winners and culminated in a discussion with Struan Murray and his editor Ben Horslen. Struan Murray received a cheque for £1,000 and both author and editor were given engraved trophies.
The 2021 shortlist was particularly strong. Described as ‘a showcase for all that children’s literature can be’ it featured powerful contemporary stories, a wildly energetic comedy adventure, an ‘own voices’ novel starring a young girl with autism, a dark story of witches and witchcraft in the 17th century, and the first verse novel to feature in the award’s history. Orphans of the Tide was the only fantasy adventure on the list and impressed all the judges with its originality and the beauty of its writing.
The full shortlist consisted of:
- When Life Gives You Mangoes
by Kereen Getten, edited by Sarah Odedina (Pushkin Children’s Books)
by Finbar Hawkins, edited by Fiona Kennedy (Zephyr)
- And the Stars Were Burning Brightly
by Danielle Jawando, edited by Jane Griffiths (Simon and Schuster)
- A Kind of Spark
by Elle McNicoll, edited by Eishar Brar (Knights Of)
- Run, Rebel
by Manjeet Mann, edited by Carmen McCullough (Penguin)
- Orphans of the Tide
by Struan Murray, edited by Ben Horslen, illustrated by Manuel Sumberac (Puffin)
- The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates
by Jenny Pearson, edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker, illustrated by Rob Biddulph (Usborne)
Judge Liz Hyder, author of Bearmouth and winner of the 2020 Branford Boase Award winner said of Orphans of the Tide, ‘This book utterly stole my heart. Exquisitely written, it’s a phenomenal page-turner with characters that leap off the page and straight into your imagination. Orphans of the Tideexplores lots of big themes – environmental issues, friendship and xenophobia to name but a few – all wrapped up in an utterly compelling tale told by a master storyteller. Struan is an exceptional talent and I can’t wait to read everything else he ever writes.’
Struan Murray said, ‘I am so honoured and thrilled to have won the Branford Boase Award. This award is extremely special as it celebrates not only the author but the editor too, and understands and recognises that writing is a collaborative process that wouldn’t be possible without the commitment, imagination and skill of the editor. Working with Ben has stretched me as a writer and his insight contributed so much to the world of Orphans of the Tide that I couldn’t imagine it without him.’
Ben Horslen commented: ‘The author-editor relationship lies at the very heart of our industry, and to have an award that celebrates and showcases that relationship is a very special thing indeed. To be nominated is a career highlight that every editor hopes for. To win is simply a dream come true.’
This year’s judges were:
- Zoey Dixon, YLG Librarian of the Year 2020
- Scott Evans, teacher, consultant and founder of TheReaderTeacher.com
- Natasha Radford of Chicken and Frog bookshop, Brentwood
- Liz Hyder, author of Bearmouth, winner of the 2020 Branford Boase Award.
The panel was chaired, as usual, by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival.
The Branford Boase Award is supported by Walker Books.
Founded in 2000, the Branford Boase Award was set up in memory of award-winning author Henrietta Branford and her editor Wendy Boase of Walker Books, who both died in 1999, and is unique in honouring editor as well as author. It is regarded as one of the most important awards in children’s books and has an impressive record in picking out star authors at the start of their careers. Previous winners include Meg Rosoff, Mal Peet, Siobhan Dowd, Marcus Sedgwick, M.G. Leonard and Frances Hardinge. Winning editors shape contemporary children’s literature and include J K Rowling’s editor Barry Cunningham, Philip Pullman’s editor David Fickling and Fiona Kennedy, publisher of Michelle Paver, Marcus Sedgwick and Sally Gardner.