Sunday, 3 May 2009
The long, the short and the confusing
Here they are: Henrietta Branford in colour and Wendy Boase in Black and white. Their names are commemorated in the Branford Boase Award whose shortlist has just been published. It is a prize for a first book for children or teenagers and not only the author but the editor of it.
Before we get on to the shortlisted authors and editors, a word or two more about the women in whose memory they are being honoured. Henrietta was a writer, who produced two dozen book, from picturebooks to novels in the round about thirteen years she had from her "late start" at the age of forty till she was lost to breast cancer.
Wendy Boase was a charismatic editor at Walker Books, one of the founder members with Sebastian Walker and Art Editor Amelia Edwards, who had edited Henrietta Branford's work. They died within weeks of each other in 1999, Boase also a cancer victim, and the award was set up in their joint names. This is the tenth year.
The first winner was Katherine Roberts, who later wrote the magnificent I am the Great Horse, and others over the years have been Marcus Sedwick, Meg Rosoff and Frances Hardinge.
This year's shortlist is a bit confusing. Here it is:
The Traitor Game by B.R.Collins edited by Emma Matthewson, Bloomsbury
The Toymaker by Jeremy de Quidt, edited by Bella Pearson, David Fickling Books
Flood Child by Emily Diamand (formerly Reavers' Ransom) edited by Imogen Cooper of Chicken House
Between Two Seas by Marie-Louise Jensen, edited by Liz Cross of OUP
Bloodline by Katy Moran, edited by Denise Johnstone-Burt of Walker Books
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, edited by Denise Johnstone-Burt of Walker Books
Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls, edited by Marion Lloyd of Marion Lloyd Books
Last year's winning writer was Jenny Downham, whose Before I Die was reviewed in many places alongside Sally Nicholls' book because they were both about main characters with fatal illnesses. Sally's book won the Waterstone's award.
But Before I Die was shortlisted for the Guardian Award, which Patrick Ness won with The Knife of Never Letting Go. Marie-Louise Jensen's Between Two Seas was on the shortlist for the Waterstone's award that Sally Nicholls' book won but Marie-Louise's second book, The Lady in the Tower, has also already been also on the shortlist for this year's Waterstone's prize.
Which is all another way of saying that all children's book prizes have different eligibility dates. It would be wonderful if they all, regardless of when the prizes were decioded and presented, covered the same time period!
Anyway, this is a list full of stonking good books, well worthy of the women whose work it commemorates and I don't envy the judges their task.