The longlist for the 2022 Branford Boase Award was announced today. The award was set up in memory of award-winning author Henrietta Branford and her editor Wendy Boase, one of the founders of Walker Books, and is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. It has an impressive record in picking out the most talented authors at the start of their career. Past winners and shortlisted authors have included Siobhan Dowd, Meg Rosoff, Mal Peet, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Patrick Ness as well as Frances Hardinge, M G Leonard and Philip Reeve.
Uniquely, the Branford Boase Award also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent.
Chair of the judges, Julia Eccleshare says, ‘We are thrilled to announce record numbers of entries for the 2022 Branford Boase Award and excited that our longlist reflects the current dynamic state of publishing for children in the UK.’ It is also encouraging to note that several independent publishers are included in the longlist.
Personally, I am delighted to see some of my own favourites from the last few months included. The Book of Stolen Dreams by David Farr, edited by Rebecca Hill (Usborne) is an epic fantasy adventure that is exhilarating, exciting and compelling but also, ultimately, moving. A book with cinematic appeal. Coincidentally I am at the moment reading the sequel to Circus Maximus Race to the Death by Annalise Gray, edited by Fiona Kennedy (Zephyr) so am particularly interested to see this historical novel included. Hugely enjoyable, full of breathtaking action the story hurtles the reader into a different historical world featuring, in Dido, a character who today’s young readers will relate to and root for. The sequel is excellent too! The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant, edited by Natalie Doherty (Puffin) is set in an alternative Georgian London is an imaginative, magical adventure with underlying themes of co-operation, reconciliation and trust. It has a fresh writing style too, I think. And lastly a book that moved me when I first read it last January, The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr, edited by Zöe Griffiths (Bloomsbury). A beautifully told, tender story of two young brothers, a mystery, and a community that holds secrets of its own this book captivated me from the opening scenes to its satisfying conclusion.
There are many more among the longlist, selected from the 69 titles nominated, that I am now tempted to try and my wish list gets ever longer. Here is the list in full:
The 2022 Branford Boase Award longlist in full:
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-ÍyÍmídé, edited by Becky Walker (Usborne)
Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen, edited by Carmen McCullough and Tricia Lin (Penguin)
Rapids by Anna Bowles, edited by Elaine Bousfield (Zuntold)
Love is for Losers by Wibke Bruegemann, edited by Rachel Petty (Macmillan)
Freddy vs School by Neill Cameron, edited by Anthony Hinton (David Fickling Books)
Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths by Maisie Chan, edited by Georgia Murray (Piccadilly Press)
The Girl Who … by Andreina Cordani, edited by Olivia Hutchings (Atom)
Me, My Dad, and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean, edited by Lucy Rogers (Simon and Schuster)
The Upper World by Femi Fadugba, edited by Emma Jones, Stephanie Stein & Asmaa Isse (Penguin)
The Book of Stolen Dreams by David Farr, edited by Rebecca Hill (Usborne)
29 Locks by Nicola Garrard, edited by Joan Deitch (Hope Road)
Maggie Blue and the Dark World by Anna Goodall, edited by Bella Pearson (Guppy Books)
Circus Maximus Race to the Death by Annalise Gray, edited by Fiona Kennedy (Zephyr)
Emmy Levels Up by Helen Harvey edited by Clare Whitson (OUP)
The Amazing Edie Eckhart by Rosie Jones, edited by Polly Lyall Grant (Hodder Children’s Books), illus by Natalie Smillie
The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant, edited by Natalie Doherty (Puffin)
Grow by Luke Palmer, edited by Penny Thomas (Firefly Press)
The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr, edited by Zöe Griffiths (Bloomsbury)
The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy by Richard Pickard, edited by Kesia Lupo (Chicken House)
Digger and Me by Ros Roberts, edited by Ella Whiddett (Little Tiger)
The Boy who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter, edited by Lauren Fortune (Scholastic)
Grimwood by Nadia Shireen, edited by Ali Dougal (Simon and Schuster)
Something I Said by Ben Bailey Smith, edited by Ellen Holgate (Bloomsbury)
The Ice Whisperers by Helenka Stachera, edited by Emma Jones (Puffin)
The Lightning Catcher by Clare Weze, edited by Lucy Mackay-Sim (Bloomsbury)
This year the judges are Struan Murray, author and winner of the 2021 Branford Boase Award; critic Imogen Russell Williams; Farrah Serroukh, Research and Development Director CLPE; and Sonia Thompson, Head Teacher at St Matthew’s C.E. Primary School, Birmingham. The judging panel will be chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival.
The Branford Boase Award is sponsored by Walker Books. The shortlist for the Award will be announced on Thursday 28 April 2022. The winner will be announced on 14 July 2022 at an award ceremony in London. For more information about the award, its history and the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition, the annual competition for young people which runs in conjunction with the award please visit the official website.