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The Branford Boase Award

The Branford Boase Award, now it its 20th 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.

All Shortlisted Titles

The shortlist for The Branford Boase Award 2019 has been announced. Congratulations to the authors and editors.

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker (Usborne) (also shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal)

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 Goose Road by Rowena House, edited by Mara Bergman (Walker Books)

I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan, edited by Lucy Pearse (Macmillan) (shortlisted for the YA Book Prize)

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen, edited by Sarah Stewart and Kendra Levin (Usborne) (shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award)

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf, edited by Lena McCauley (Orion Children’s Books) (winner of the Blue Peter Book Award)
 

Julia Eccleshare says: “In its twenty-year history, the Branford Boase Award has given a crucial early career boost to the most exciting and important young authors, and prompted publishers to seek out new talent. What’s more, it continues to reflect the shape and preoccupations of contemporary children’s literature: this year’s shortlist demonstrates the strength and depth of writing for children and young people. There are powerful stories for young adults tackling complex issues alongside delightfully original fiction for readers aged 8 – 11, and recurring themes include resilience, identity and a sense of self. We are proud of every one of the award’s twenty shortlists and happy that so many years after their deaths, Wendy Boase and Henrietta Branford are celebrated in such a positive way.”

Last year winning book was Kick by Mitch Johnson who said; “For some readers, Kick may be a book of firsts: the first time they encounter a novel set in Indonesia; or mingle with a cast of characters whose daily wage is almost impossible to believe; or are offered a glimpse into the murky world of how things are made. But there will also be a lot that is recognizable, and by focusing on our inherent similarities, rather than the circumstantial differences that separate us, I hope we can start to dismantle the barriers that have been built between those who produce and those who consume. Now more than ever, I believe children need characters like Budi who are filled with goodness and dreams and the desire for a better world. Characters who are incorruptible despite the precedents – despite everything – and who will keep kicking no matter what.”

This year to mark the 20th anniversary of the Branford Boase Award, Walker Books have reissued Henrietta Branford’s novel Fire, Bed and Bone. Marcus Sedgwick, who won the Branford Boase Award in 2001, says: “Fire, Bed and Bone is one of those very short books that is nevertheless powerful and moving; one of those books which oozes confidence from the first line to the last. With it, Henrietta won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and twenty-two years later I think it would still win. It's far from being the first novel narrated by an animal, in this case a hunting hound witnessing the events of the Peasant's Revolt of 1381, but remains a masterclass in how to pull off that feat successfully. Its prose is robust and rhythmic; flawless in its execution, showing just what complex themes and stories one can address in a 'book for children’.”

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.

This year the 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 ; and Mitch Johnson, author of Kick, winner of the 2018 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival and Lovereading4Kids expert reviewer.

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 Thursday 27th June 2019 at a ceremony in London, winning a cheque for £1,000 and both author and editor receive a unique, hand-crafted silver-inlaid box.

For a full list of the Longlisted titles click here.

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

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