Three début authors are up against children’s book heavyweights Malorie Blackman and Francesca Simon on the 10-strong YA Book Prize 2017 shortlist.
Former children’s laureate Blackman is shortlisted for her retelling of “Othello” set in space, Chasing the Stars (Doubleday), while Simon, who is best known for her Horrid Henry series, has made the shortlist for her first book for teenagers The Monstrous Child (Faber Children’s), a dark comedy narrated by an ordinary teenager who is also the goddess of the Norse underworld, which was also shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award.
They are joined by three début authors: Martin Stewart, Sara Barnard and Patrice Lawrence. Stewart is shortlisted for his fantasy novel about a boy who is pulled into an epic journey into the unknown, Riverkeep (Penguin), while Barnard is shortlisted for Beautiful Broken Things (Macmillan Children’s Books), a story about the intensity of teenage friendships. Lawrence’s Orangeboy (Hodder Children’s Books), also shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017, is a contemporary urban thriller with a family drama at its heart. Stewart and Lawrence are both currently longlisted for the 2017 Branford Boase Award too.
Simon’s Faber Children’s stablemate Laure Eve has also made the shortlist for her dark thriller about a mysterious family who are rumoured to be witches, The Graces. This is the first time that Faber Children’s has been shortlisted for the YA Book Prize. Two other publishers appear on the shortlist for the first time this year: Egmont and Simon & Schuster Children’s. Egmont is shortlisted for Lisa Heathfield’s Paper Butterflies, the story of June who feels she is trapped in her unhappy home life until she makes a secret friend who gives her hope, which is also on the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017 shortlist and is published under its Electric Monkey imprint. S&S Children’s has Clare Furniss’ Carnegie-longlisted novel How Not to Disappear on the shortlist, which is about a teenage girl who starts developing a relationship with a long-lost relative at the same time that she discovers she is pregnant.
Rounding out the YA 10 are Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle (Atom) and The Call by Peadar O’Guilin (David Fickling Books). Crongton Knights tells the story of McKay, who lives on an inner city London council estate and gets drawn into a night of adventure and danger with his friends. It is the second book in a planned trilogy set on the South Crongton estate and it won the 2016 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. The Call is a fast-paced thriller that mixes fantasy, horror and Irish folklore.
The 10 books will be judged by: Chelsey Pippin, commissioning editor for features at BuzzFeed UK; Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival; Amelia Douglas, account director at book printer Clays; book blogger Jim Dean; Farah Taylor, manager at Alef Bookstores; Scottish Book Trust schools tour programme manager Beth Goodyear; Children’s Books Ireland communications manager Jenny Murray; academic Darren Chetty; and YA author Melvin Burgess, who was last year honoured with a YA Book Prize special achievement award. The judges will be joined by teenagers in choosing the winning book.
Taylor said: “We are incredibly lucky to have such a high standard of YA fiction in the industry today, written by a diverse range of authors. As a retailer seeing increasingly more young adult readers and adults connecting with YA is wonderful. I am thoroughly looking forward to judging this year’s shortlist.”
The winner will be announced on 1st June at a ceremony at the Hay Festival, which is partnering with the prize for a second year. The shortlisted YA 10 books will be championed on social media from 20th March onwards and the shortlisted authors will take part in a number of events at Hay in the run-up to the announcement of the winner.