The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize was founded in 1967. It is awarded annually to fiction written for children aged eight and above, and is the only children's fiction award selected by fellow writers. The judging panel is chaired by our very own expert reviewer, Julia Eccleshare who is also the Children's Books Editor of the Guardian. You can find the winner and all 7 other titles on the 2016 short and longlist below.
Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 | In a Nutshell: Refugees | Resilience | Friendship A heartfelt, harrowing insight into life as a Rohingya refugee in an Australian detention centre, told through the unforgettable voice of an unforgettable boy. Subhi is one of the Limbo kids in a permanent Australian detention centre, the first to be born in the camp after his Maá and big sister Queeny fled violent persecution in Burma. While he’s only experienced life within the cruel confines of the camp, Subhi’s rich imagination has conjured a magical, solace-giving world in which the Night Sea from his Maá’s tales brings him treasures from his dad. Stories are Subhi’s lifeline. He needs them “to make my memories” and imagines a blanket of stories, a “gigantic blanket big enough to warm everyone”. A new story treasure transforms Subhi’s world in the form of Jimmie, a local girl who finds her way into the camp. She too knows heartache. She’s lost her mum, who used to tell her special tales and gave her a bone sparrow necklace that “carried the souls of all her family”. When Jimmie enters Subhi’s life, he wonders if she’s his guardian angel, though he hadn't expected an angel to have more holes in her clothes than him. And, on meeting Subhi, Jimmie realises that she’s “never had a friend she wanted to share everything with before”, and so she shares her mum’s stories with him, stories he reads to her since she’s unable to read them herself. Subhi's unique voice will weave its way into your heart and under your skin. His descriptions of life in the centre are hauntingly evocative. You feel, for example, the heat of days that get his “skin creeping” and make everything “jangly and loud and scratchy”. Through Subhi, readers experience how it might feel to have no home or voice, and how friendship can lighten the darkest of circumstances. One hopes, as Subhi’s Maá says, that “someday they see we belong.” Both elegant and raw, this is an important and timely novel that bears witness to the risks people take to make their voice heard, and to the resilience of the human spirit. ~ Joanne Owen Zana Fraillon felt compelled to write her novel The Bone Sparrow because she could not ignore the millions of people who were being forcibly displaced and the millions of children missing out on a childhood. Zana comments, “The Bone Sparrow was written so we remember the people behind the statistics. Those 65 million stories waiting to be told, those 33 million children wondering if their futures will ever be realised. It was written so we can find the courage to stand for humanity, and the wisdom to imagine a different world. It was written so we may all live in hope.” Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Judge SF Said: “Moving and memorable, The Bone Sparrow deserves to be read by all who care about our common humanity.”
Joe loves his Italian heritage: the language, the opera, the lasagne! But it's hard to celebrate his Italian roots in Bryn Mawr, South Wales, where his mam is sick of running the family's tatty cafe. Just like his great-grandfather who opened the cafe in 1929, Joe is an entrepreneur. He vows to save the family business, and to spice up the tired High Street with a little Italian flavour! From the author of Cowgirl, shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize.
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 The astonishing story of a young man's quest to find justice for his father, from the Carnegie Medal-winning author of Buffalo Soldier. Holding the reader in suspense throughout it charts the growth of a frightened boy into a brave young man with the inspiration drawn from the shocking true story of Thomas Benson, an eighteenth-century Devonshire smuggler. Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Judge David Almond: “Landman is a brilliant writer and the book is beautifully written and wonderfully paced. She handles a complex wide-ranging plot with vivacity, verve and skill.”
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2017 | Shortlisted for YA Book Prize 2017 | Longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 When Fifteen-year-old Wulliam's father is possessed by a dark spirit, Wull hears that a cure for Pappa's illness lurks in the belly of a great sea-dwelling beast known as the mormorach, and so he embarks on an epic journey down the river that his family has so long protected - but never explored. The Branford Boase Award Judges' Comments - ‘a gripping original, brave and ambitious’; ‘a wonderful use of vocabulary, neologism and dialect, and the sense of a realised world’; ‘there’s so much going on but many really touching moments’. Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Judge SF Said: “an ambitious, characterful tale from a strong new voice in children’s literature.”
Shortlisted for YA Book Prize 2017 | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 | May 2016 Book of the Month An innovative, ambitious page-turner in which the inimitable Malorie Blackman has entwined two of her great passions - Shakespeare's Othello and science fiction - to create a thrilling outer-space-set epic that tingles with romance, danger, distrust and jealousy. Olivia (Vee) and her brother Aidan are alone in space and heading home to earth, the only survivors of a virus that annihilated the rest of the crew, including their family. Then brave, headstrong Vee risks her life to rescue the survivors of a Mazon attack, among them Nathan, with whom she falls in love, deeply, madly and with tempestuous consequences. This energetic riff on one of the bard's best works will also be relished by readers who don’t think they’re into Shakespeare, and Blackman also has a gift for making science fiction appeal to those who “don’t do” the genre. It takes an exceptional writer to pull off these kinds of feats, and Blackman has done so with wit, style and a slick sense of drama. ~ Joanne Owen Please note due to the content of this book we are recommending it for YA readers only. Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Judge Kate Saunders said: “The story drags you along like a mighty engine and had to force myself not to turn the pages too fast. The suspense is brilliant”.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's extraordinary, stunning debut is both moving, and deeply authentic. These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America's Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare and wonderful talent. Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Judge SF Said : “A book of enormous heart and human tenderness, all the more powerful for its under-statement. The final pages had me in floods.”
Shortlisted for YA Book Prize 2017 | Winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 Crongton Knights is a very funny, very moving story that shows that although life is testing, the lessons learned the hard way are the ones you'll never forget. It is from the acclaimed author of Liccle Bit. Alex Wheatle said: “It's just an honour and a privilege to join such a distinguished list of writers and even more overwhelming/mind boggling to learn I am the very first black writer to receive the award in its 50 year history. Chuffed to the max!” Chair of the judging panel, Julia Eccleshare said: “The judges are delighted to be awarding Alex Wheatle this year’s Guardian Children’s Book Prize. Crongton Knights is a wonderfully life-affirming story despite the all-too credible challenges its characters face. Alex Wheatle really likes and believes in teenagers. He captures their energy, positivity and exuberance and, with them, celebrates the value of family, community and above all friendship as the sustaining forces in life.” *** Win a visit to your school from Alex Wheatle! The award winning author of the Crongton series is donating himself as a prize to join your school day, with tips on writing and being an award winning author...plus he will bring along copies of his books to give away. Find out more here - but be quick! The competition closes on 30 April.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 | Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award Filled with mystery, vibrant characters, surprise twists, and heart-rending beauty, and featuring Selznick's most arresting art to date, The Marvels is a moving tribute to the power of story. In The Marvels, Selznick crafts another remarkable artistic and bookmaking achievement that weaves together two seemingly unrelated stories-one in words, the other in pictures-with spellbinding synergy. Guardian children’s fiction prize 2016 judge David Almond: “Selznick is an original, a creator of books that are engrossing, mind-bending, and are also beautiful objects. The Marvels shows what is happening and what is possible in the extraordinarily inventive world of children’s literature today.”
photo credit: James Drew Turner for the Guardian
David Almond, winner of last year's prize says of the Longlist: “This is a wonderful long list, evidence of the vigorous health of children’s literature today. Children’s books live at the heart of our culture. This list deserves to be read not only by young people, but by anyone who values good writing and powerful stories. Here are eight wonderful writers at the top of their form, creating books that entertain, provoke, inform, disturb, delight. Huge congratulations to every one of them.”
This year’s prize will be judged by author and winner of the 2015 prize, David Almond, and authors Kate Saunders (author of Five Children on the Western Front, which was shortlisted for the prize in 2015) and SF Said (author of Varjak Paw, The Outlaw Varjak Paw and Phoenix, which was shortlisted for the Guardian children’s fiction prize in 2014) and chaired by Guardian children’s books editor and Lovereading4kids editorial expert, Julia Eccleshare.
The Guardian children's fiction prize is shadowed by a Young Critics scheme in which children have their say on the longlisted books.
If you are aged 17 or under and love reading, there is a The Young Critics competition where you can submit your own review of one of the books in the longlist. The deadline has now passed but you can find more information here.
The Winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2015 was A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond. On winning the prize David said, “It’s a real honour to win it at last,” said Almond after hearing of his victory. “It’s made very special by the fact that it’s judged by my fellow authors.”
Previous winners of the prize include Mark Haddon for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson, Frank Cottrell Boyce with The Unforgotten Coat and Piers Torday with The Dark Wild.
The winner will be announced on 17 November.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.