The Branford Boase Award for new children's authors and their editors shows that publishers are more prepared to leap into the unknown than when the award was launched six years ago. This year 48 novels by authors who had not published children's fiction before were entered, and my fellow judges and I have picked out a shortlist of seven, announced today. For younger (key stage 2) readers, there's Cat Weatherill's great read-aloud story Barkbelly (Puffin) and Joshua Doder's A Dog Called Grk (Andersen Press).
For teenagers, Anthony McGowan's Hellbent (Doubleday) is Dante for beginners with a serious moral message. In between there's Home, a science fiction story of environmental apocalypse by zoologist Nicola Davies; Century by Sarah Singleton (Simon and Schuster) which won the Booktrust Teenage Prize last year; the absorbing fantasy adventure Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan) and The Burying Beetle by Ann Kelley (Luath Press).
Meanwhile writers aged up to 19 have until May 26 to enter the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition, which runs alongside the BBA. Full details at www.branfordboaseaward.org.uk.