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The Branford Boase Award

The Branford Boase Award

The shortlist for the 2020 Branford Boase Award has been announced. Congratulations to all the authors on the list. The Branford Boase Award, now in its 21st year, is awarded annually for an outstanding first novel to a first-time writer of a book for young people, from ages 7 upwards. At the same time, it marks the important contribution of the editor in identifying and nurturing new talent.

The Shortlist

The Longlist

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.

Uniquely, it also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent.

The 2020 shortlist:

Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad and Henry White, edited by Holly Harris and Sharan Matharu, illus Aleksei Bitskoff (Puffin)

The Space We’re In by Katya Balen, edited by Lucy Mackay-Sim, illus Laura Carlin (Bloomsbury)

A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby, edited by Liz Bankes and Sarah Levison (Egmont)

Bearmouth by Liz Hyder, edited by Sarah Odedina (Pushkin Press)

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, edited by Lindsey Heaven (Electric Monkey)

Frostheart by Jamie Littler, edited by Naomi Colthurst (Puffin)

The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton, edited by Naomi Colthurst (Penguin)

Last years winner was Muhammad Khan: ‘I am stunned, humbled and thrilled to learn that I am Thunder has won the Branford Boase Award. To do so in its glorious 20th year is completely mindboggling! Just to be shortlisted among such a talented bunch of authors with incredible debut novels was exciting enough.' Here Muhammad shares his award with his editor Lucy Pearse of Macmillan Children’s Books. This photograph shows, left to right, Muhammad Khan, 2018 winner Mitch Johnson and Lucy Pearse.

Julia Eccleshare says: “In highlighting the most exciting new authors and the most talented editors, the Branford Boase Award also identifies the preoccupations and strengths of current children’s literature and we are pleased to say that this year’s shortlist is particularly rich and diverse. Here are extremely powerful, challenging stories tackling complex issues alongside funny, exciting, original fiction; the range of voices represented is unparalleled in the award’s history. We are excited not only about the books on the shortlist, but about what their authors will write next too.”

This year the judges are Layla Abby of Round Table Books, Brixton; Sue Bastone, vice-chair SLA; Victoria Dilly, creator of the Book Activist blog; and Muhammad Khan, author of I Am Thunder, winner of the 2019 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival.

The Branford Boase Award was 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. They worked together on a number of Henrietta’s novels, a partnership they greatly enjoyed.

Henrietta Branford was a gifted novelist for young people. During her short career she won the Smarties Prize in 1994 for Dimanche Diller (Harper Collins) and the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1998 for Fire, Bed and Bone (Walker Books); she was twice shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize, in 1994 and 1997. Her progress and development as a writer was watched with interest by publishers, critics and fellow writers alike.

Wendy Boase, Editorial Director of Walker Books, and one of its founders, was a passionate children's book editor wholly committed to developing new writers and nursing them through their early writing careers. She is credited with bringing on many new talents. She and Henrietta worked together on a number of her books, a partnership that was warmly appreciated by Henrietta.

Both Henrietta and Wendy died of cancer in early 1999. The Branford Boase Award wishes to celebrate and encourage, in their names and in their memories, the crucial early development of new writing talent.

Running alongside the Branford Boase Award, the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition encourages writing talent in under 18s. 

The winner will be announced on 24th September, COVID-19 allowing, at a ceremony in London receiving a cheque for £1,000; and both author and editor receive a unique, hand-crafted silver-inlaid box.

For more information on the Branford Boase Award visit www.branfordboaseaward.org.uk.

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