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The Branford Boase Award

The Branford Boase Award

The shortlist for the 2021 Branford Boase Award has been announced; congratulations to all the authors. The Branford Boase Award, now in its 22nd 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 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 Shortlist:

When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten, edited by Sarah Odedina (Pushkin Children’s Books)

Witch 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)

Julia Eccleshare says:  “The range of stories and voices on this year’s shortlist is thrilling. Each year the Branford Boase Award highlights the most exciting new talent and most gifted editors, and it regularly identifies changes in the direction of fiction for children. These seven books showcase all that children’s fiction can be. Here are stories that explain and provoke; reassure and challenge; that present the world through different eyes, or make us recognise what we knew but didn’t understand; and, of course, they entertain, all readers, and on repeated readings.”

This year the judges are Zoey Dixon, YLG Librarian of the Year 2020; Scott Evans, teacher, consultant and founder of; Natasha Radford of Chicken and Frog bookshop, Brentwood; and Liz Hyder, author of Bearmouth, winner of the 2020 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival and one of LoveReading4Kids' editorial experts.

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. This competition closes for entries on the 23 May 2021.

The winner of the Branford Boase Award 2021 will be announced on Thursday 15th July. The winning author will receive a cheque for £1,000 and both author and editor will receive an inscribed plaque. 

For more information on the Branford Boase Award visit