The longlist for the 2020 Branford Boase award has been revealed, featuring literary agent Sam Copeland’s Charlie Changes into a Chicken (Puffin), YA writer Holly Jackson’s bestselling début, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, (Electric Monkey) and Bearmouth (Pushkin Press) by Liz Hyder.
Set up in memory of award-winning author Henrietta Branford and her editor Wendy Boase, one of the founders of Walker Books, the Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding début novel for children. Uniquely the Branford Boase Award also honours the editor of the winning title.
Puffin has the most contenders on the list with four titles: The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton and Humza Arshad and Henry White’s Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties, edited by Holly Harris and Sharan Matharu, are also on the 20-strong longlist for the prize which honours both début children’s authors and editors. Fellow Puffin title Frostheart by Jamie Littler, edited by Naomi Colthurst, is nominated alongside Charlie Changes into a Chicken, by RCW agent and middle-grade author Copeland.
The top-selling title on the list is Jackson's A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (Electric Monkey) edited by Lindsey Heaven (Electric Monkey) - it was the biggest-selling 2019-released Children’s debut, with 59,427 copies sold, according to Nielsen BookScan.
Usborne is represented throughThe Garden of Lost Secrets by A M Howell, edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker.
Many titles from independent presses are featured as well as Hyder's Bearmouth (Pushkin Press), edited by edited by Sarah Odedina, including High-Rise Mystery (Knights Of) by Sharna Jackson, edited by Robin Stevens, as is Bearmouth (Pushkin Press) by Liz Hyder, edited by Sarah Odedina, The Girl who Lost her Shadow (Floris Books) by Emily Ilett, edited by Eleanor Collins and Jennie Skinner. Chicken House has two nods with The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder, edited by Rachel Leyshon, and Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan, edited by Kesia Lupo. Other indie nominations include The Middler (Nosy Crow), by Kirsty Applebaum, edited by Kirsty Stansfield, Lori and Max (Firefly Press) by Catherine O’Flynn edited by Rebecca Lloyd and The Space We’re In (Bloomsbury) by Katya Balen, edited by Lucy Mackay-Sim. Small children’s indie Everything with Words, which only formed in 2017, is nominated for The Tzar’s Curious Runaways by Robin Scott-Elliot, edited by Mikka Haugaard. Walker Books’ Nevertell by Katharine Orton, edited by Annalie Grainger is also honoured with a nomination.
HarperCollins Children’s Books has two longlisted titles with Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day by Dominique Valente, edited by Harriet Wilson and Bloom by Nicola Skinner, edited by Nick Lake. Finally, Potkin and Stubbs (Bonnier Books) by Sophie Green, edited by Emma Matthewson, is also longlisted.
“In another outstanding year for débuts, 59 books were submitted and by more than two dozen different publishers; 20 books have made it onto the longlist,” organisers said.
This year the judges are Sue Bastone, vice-chair SLA; Victoria Dilly, creator of the Book Activistblog; Layla Hudson of Round Table Books in Brixton; and author Muhammad Khan, winner of the 2019 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival. The Branford Boase Award is sponsored by Walker Books.
Eccleshare said: "As the Branford Boase Award enters its 21st year, we are delighted to have another exciting and particularly diverse set of books to consider. Here are comedies, murder mysteries, adventures set in imaginary worlds, in faraway countries and in landscapes familiar to us all. The wealth of talent on display continues to inspire us and we are very much looking forward to discussing the longlist with our judges."
The shortlist will be announced on 30th April 2020. The winner will be announced on 1st July at a ceremony in London.