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The Branford Boase award

The Branford Boase award for a first-time children's author and their editor is in its fifth year. Set up to commemorate the late author Henrietta Branford (pictured) and her editor at Walker Books, Wendy Boase, the award has now attracted sponsorship from Terry Pratchett as well as Walker, Peters Library Service and the Chartered Institution of Library and Information Professionals.

The six books competing for next month's prize, all published in 2003, are: The Various by Steve Augarde (David Fickling Books), "an immensely readable fantasy with a healthy 'green' message", say the judges; Inventing Elliot by Graham Gardner (Orion Children's Books), a "chilling, powerfully written story" about a boy who joins the bullies to survive bullying; Follow me Down by Julie Hearn (Oxford University Press), a "powerful time-shift novel (that) creates a tangible past and weaves it into an equally compelling contemporary story"; Fish by LS Matthews (Hodder Children's Books), "a journey for survival told in the clear, unsentimental voice of Tiger, the young son of aid workersI a striking narrative with well-drawn characters"; Keeper by Mal Peet (Walker Books), "a remarkable and absorbing story with football at its heart, but superb storytelling in its soul"; Montmorency by Eleanor Updale (Scholastic Children's Books), "an exciting historical adventure steeped in the detail of 19th-century London".

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