Emma Cox, a headteacher from Devon, has won this year’s New Children’s Author Prize, organised by the National Literacy Trust and Bloomsbury.
Malkin Moonlight, chosen from a shortlist of six books, is about a cat who is looking for his friend Roux. He comes across a group of cats at a recycling centre and is soon involved in their fight with a gang of villainous cats who live in the nearby wasteland.
Rebecca McNally, publishing director at Bloomsbury Children’s and one of the judges, said Cox’s book has “real warmth, humour and a strong sense of jeopardy”.
She said: “The judges felt that Emma Cox had created a fully formed feline world and characters we really cared about – as well as a story that delivers excitement and adventure for 8-12 year olds. There were strong contenders on the shortlist, but Emma’s story stood out for its flair, imagination and ability to engage readers’ hearts and minds.”
Bloomsbury Children’s will publish Malkin Moonlight in 2016.
Bloomsbury and the National Literacy Trust launched the New Children’s Author Prize last year to find unpublished authors of middle-grade stories.
The competition costs £30 to enter and this year’s prize received over 400 entries, raising more than £20,000 for the National Literacy Trust.
The judges this year were McNally, author Katherine Rundell, journalist Nicolette Jones, and NLT director Jonathan Douglas.
Five other writers were shortlisted: Geoff Bagwell, Camilla Chester, Julia Davenport, Treasa Reilly and Jamie Smith.