A children’s book published by Firefly Press, the Welsh independent publisher launched in 2013, has won this year’s Branford Boase Award.
Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare, edited by Penny Thomas, was today (7th July) presented with the prize, which is given every year to the author and editor of an outstanding debut novel for children.
The book is about Aubrey, a ‘rambunctious’ boy who tries to help his father beat depression, with help from the wild animals in the woods around his home.
Clare said: “Winning this wonderful award means the world to me for three reasons. This is the book I am most proud of: it was written with heart and soul about something painful and important, but meant to read as a joy and an adventure. It was not even given a chance at London publishers because it was not thought 'commercial', but the brilliant Firefly grabbed it and made it happen.”
Thomas, who received funding from Welsh Books Council to acquire the novel, said she was “absolutely thrilled” to win the prize. “I first saw the manuscript some time ago when Horatio asked me what I thought. I didn’t realise he wasn’t necessarily offering it to us but I was very pleased when he accepted our offer.
“I didn’t need to do a great deal to the manuscript. It already had a narrative arc and one of the best endings I’d come across.”
Clare and Thomas were given their awards, and Clare a cheque for £1,000, at a ceremony in London today (7th July) by children’s laureate Chris Riddell.
Julia Eccleshare, chair of the judges and children’s books editor of the Guardian, said: “Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot is beautifully written and highly original, proof indeed that children’s books is a very exciting place in which to write. Clare describes both the natural world and the misery of depression with extraordinary accuracy, and acknowledges a child’s power to imagine a better world."
The Branford Boase Award was founded in 2000 in memory of author Henrietta Branford and Wendy Boase, one of the founders of Walker Books.
This year’s shortlist was comprised of six novels, with two from Penguin Random House Children’s: Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr, edited by Ben Horslen and Tig Wallace, and The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt, also edited by Horslen (illustrations by Ross Collins).
(Left-right) Penny Thomas, 2015 winner Rosie Rowell, Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell and Horatio Clare.