David Almond’s A Song for Ella Grey (Hodder Children’s Books) was last night announced as the winner of the 2015 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.
Almond beat off competition from three other shortlisted authors, Sally Nicholls, Kate Saunders and Frances Hardinge, to take home the award, which is given annually for books written for children aged eight and older. He was given the prize at a ceremony in London by judge and winner of the 2014 award, author Piers Torday.
A Song for Ella Grey revisits the legend of music-maker Orpheus descending to the underworld to bring his love back to life. Set in contemporary Tyneside, Almond’s version features inseparable best friends and sixth-formers Claire and Ella. Through Claire’s narration we learn how Orpheus entrances Ella and the terrible tragedy that unfolds as a result.
In a guest blog for The Guardian, Almond said: "It (the legend) has pestered me ever since I began to write, especially for young people. It has helped shape many of my images, scenes and stories. My protagonists seem determined to head off into darkness and danger with me at their side with strings of words, wondering if I’ll be able to bring them safely back."
He added: "A tale of youth and yearning, it’s perfect for the young."
The Guardian also announced the winners of the Young Critics competition, which is run alongside the fiction award. Three young people – Megan Foley, Charlotte Walden and Sara El-Khamlichi – won awards for their reviews of one of the longlisted titles.