Children's book A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll has been named as the Blackwell’s Book of the Year for 2020.
Published by independent press Knights Of, the book tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial to the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown.
McNicoll is a Scottish and neurodivergent author who wrote the book, her debut, after growing tired of the lack of inclusivity in the industry. The novel features two autistic young women as lead characters. McNicoll has recently signed a second deal with Knights Of, for a middle-grade novel coming in March.
The winner was up against fellow shortlistees Boy Parts by Eliza Clark (Influx Press), Humankind by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury) and Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (W&N) for the accolade.
The shortlist was voted for by Blackwell’s booksellers across the UK, and the winner was selected by a panel of five Blackwell’s booksellers from its online team and shops around the country: Rachel Henderson, David Coates, Mirjam Coenraads, Ewan Wilkinson and Eleonora Cavalli.
Coenraads said: "I got so much out of A Kind of Spark—perspective, empathy, joy. It is a book that will live with me for a very long time. I feel passionately that I would love to put a copy into the hands of every customer that passes through our doors."
Eishar Brar, Knights Of editorial director, commented: "We’re over the moon for Elle; to have her debut recognised by Blackwell’s is a hugely exciting moment. Thank you to all the booksellers, and the judges, who continue to champion A Kind of Spark."
McNicoll added: “I am staggered by the support and generosity from Blackwell’s and its booksellers. To see a children’s book win Book of the Year is an overwhelming and wonderful thing. Thank you so much.”
Previous winners of the Blackwell’s Book of the Year include The Establishment by Owen Jones, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak and Everything Under by Daisy Johnson.