Mitch Johnson and his editors Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker have won this year’s Branford Boase Award with Kick, about a young boy who dreams of football superstardom.
The award is Usborne’s third major prize this year, after Will Hill was given The Bookseller’s YA Book Prize for After the Fire in May and Geraldine McCaughrean won the CILIP Carnegie Medal in June for Where the World Ends.
The Branford Boase is given annually to a debut author and its editors and judge M G Leonard said Kick was a “fantastically original debut that champions hope, dogged optimism in the face of adversity, and friendship”.
“This book needs to be on the bookshelf of every school library, not just because it will encourage empathy, but because it’s a great book. Mitch Johnston is definitely one to watch,” she said.
The judges chose Kick from a shortlist of seven titles but also highly commended Sharon Cohen and her editor Sarah Lambert for The Starman and Me (Quercus), a story about a boy who makes friends with a tiny, prehistoric human and tries to help him.
In the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition, which is open to anyone under the age of 19 and runs alongside the Branford Boase Award, seven young people were given prizes, including two young Syrian refugees, Yosuf Ali and Salam Rajab.
The ceremony took place yesterday (4th July) at Walker Books, which has supported the Branford Boase Award since it was set up in 2000.