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Branford Boase shortlist highlights rising stars

30th Apr 20

The shortlist for the 2020 Branford Boase Award has been announced, highlighting talented debut novelists for children aged 7+, and their editors.

The shortlist for the 2020 award is as follows:

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)

This year's judges include Sue Bastone, vice-chair SLA; Victoria Dilly, creator of the Book Activist blog; Layla Hudson of Round Table Books, Brixton; 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.

Chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare said, "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."

The winner of the Branford Boase Award would normally be announced at a ceremony in London in early July. This year, the announcement of the winner has been delayed until 24th September. The winning author receives a cheque for 1,000 and both author and editor receive an inscribed crystal plaque.

The shortlisted authors may have published other books in another genre - for example, poetry or a picture book - but this will be their first children's novel. Previous winners and shortlisted authors include Siobhan Dowd, Meg Rosoff, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Frances Hardinge, Patrick Ness and Marcus Sedgwick.

As well as encouraging publishers to find and promote new writers, the Award sets out to alert readers of all ages to the work of interesting newcomers.

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

The Branford Boase Award is sponsored by Walker Books. Last year's winners were Muhammad Khan and his editor Lucy Pearse with I Am Thunder (Macmillan Children's Books).

For more information about the award, including a full list of past winners, and information about the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition, visit:

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