Friday, 30 May 2014

Em and the Big Hoom - Jerry Pinto

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
Review by M (adult fiction)

Em and the Big Hoom features the most scintillating dialogue and moves at a pace that had me happily clambering.

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
Em and the Big Hoom is a novel (which makes it fiction?), though it reads very much like an entertaining yet deeply heartfelt memoir. This is a novel about mental illness. I’m not sure I’ve read many of these for fear of them being drearily and saddeningly depressing. Em and the Big Hoom is not like that. It truly is a….riot!  

Written from the young adult son’s perspective, he presents a story which is both a celebration of his mother, Imelda’s infuriating mad life and an attempt to understand both her and her relationship with his father. Among other names, his parents are known as Em and the Big Hoom – I love that!

Variably diagnosed with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, Em just accepts herself as mad, and everyone around her just goes up and down with her. It’s a vibrant but rough ride for everyone, but particularly full of laughs for the reader.

The novel is set in 1960s Bombay, India and the family are anglophile Catholics. These add a colourful and engaging context to the story.

Highly recommended.

Publication details: Viking (Penguin), May 2014, London, hardback
This edition: digital review copy from the publisher

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Book of Unknown Americans - Cristina Henriquez

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
Review by M (adult fiction)

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
The Book of Unknown Americans is a immigration story. I will never tire of these. This one is especially tender and it's also a little different to some of the others that I have read.
The novel puts ‘parents doing their best for their children’ at its heart. The main plot follows the Rivera family who leave a life that they love in Mexico in order for their teen daughter, Maribel, to attend a special needs school in the USA. They arrive in Delaware to find that their new home is in a bare grey apartment building in the middle of nowhere.

From here on, the novel really is The Book of Unknown Americans and it follows this premise in both its narrative structure and in its plot. While the plot of the Rivera family (how they came to be here and how they get on) brings flow to the novel, it’s the apartment building residents and a tragically bittersweet coming-of-age tale that really bring the novel to life.

The chapters are narrated by different characters, and all of them are people who are South American immigrants residing in the same block as the Riveras. Some of these chapters add to the development of the main plot but a few of them are an aside, where the character simply tells us how they came to live here – and their stories are all so different yet so similar too. In this way, a varied and moving picture of immigration is created. Mixed in with all the poverty and sorrows, there is a lot of joy, and hope, and life.

The UK cover (pictured here) fittingly combines the tone, hue and themes of the novel: a variety of South American people with their hopes, dreams, stories and labours holding up America. This is the statue of liberty as we don’t usually see it, with its added textured colours giving life to what is often just a grey structure.

Publication details: 5 June 2014, Canongate, Edinburgh, trade paperback
This copy: for review from the publisher




Friday, 23 May 2014

Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie - Cover Reveal & Exclusive Extract

Jeff Norton read an early extract from his Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie to us at a Faber brunch earlier this year. The audience response, including ours, was loud and frequent laughter. We delighted to host an exclusive extract and the cover from his forthcoming novel.

“My name is Adam Meltzer and the last thing I remember was being stung by a bee while swinging at a robot-shaped piƱata on my twelfth birthday. I was dead before the candy hit the ground.”

Here's Faber publicity introducing the novel:

Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie is narrated by the hilarious Adam Meltzer - pre-teen, worrywart, and now zombie. Adam's family gets the fright of their lives when he turns up at their door desperate for a shower . . . three months after his funeral. When most people think zombies, they think of eating people, and unintelligent monsters.

But Adam doesn’t like germs. Or dirt. Or things being disorganised. So waking up as a zombie was definitely not in his plans, and the idea of eating people is disgusting. Getting stung by a bee doesn’t normally lead to becoming a zombie, and it seems incredibly unfair that it’s happened to Adam.

Soon Adam's back at school trying to fit in and not draw extra attention to himself, but when he sees his neighbour Ernesto transform into a chupacubra, and the beautiful Corina (Adam's number one mega-crush) turns out to be a (vegan) vampire, undead life is never going to be the same again.

A hilarious adventure caper - if Ferris Bueller met Shaun of the Dead - all about friendship and being yourself . . . even if you're undead.

And, now, here’s a never-seen-before extract from the novel:

The object of Adam’s undead affections turns out to be a vampire.

“Corina hovered in the night sky, silhouetted by the full moon. And then she flew straight towards us.

She actually flew.

It was incredible to watch. Sure I was relieved that she wasn’t going to smash into the ground and that I wouldn’t have to make a police statement, but I was also gripped with envy.

She could fly!

‘That’s not fair,’ I uttered.

Ernesto grunted, ‘Huh?’

Flight was the one superpower I’d always wanted; and Corina Parker had it. I mean, not event NinjaMan could fly. And he was the best. But somehow my weirdo, Goth European neighbour could defy gravity.

‘She’s flying this way.’ I said. ‘Stand up straight.’

‘Just great,’ Ernesto sighed. ‘I finally get to talk to her and I’m covered in scales.’

He had a point. He was not about to make a good first impression. And the scales were the least of his problems. But then again, I wasn’t exactly ready for the yearbook photos.

What if I totally grossed her out?

But when Corina touched down and looked at me, she didn’t even bat an elongated eyelash at my decomposing skin. It may not have been eye contact, but it was the closest I’d ever got to acknowledgement of my existence in an entire year.”
Extract ends







Thursday, 22 May 2014

Leeds Book Awards 2014

The winners of the Leeds Book Awards for secondary school children were announced today at a ceremony attended by about 200 Leeds students at Leeds Civic Hall. Geek Girl by Holly Smale and Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher won the 11-14 and 14-16 year categories respectively.

Holly Smale
The winners were voted for by Leeds’ school readers from a shortlist selected by the Leeds Book Awards organisers. Master of ceremonies for the day was poet Andy Craven-Griffiths who is always entertaining, and does a brilliant job of improvising when necessary. Only he could prove that 14-16 year old teens can’t roarrrrr!!!

Smale and Pitcher answered questions from the school audience alongside other shortlisted authors: Gillian Cross (After Tomorrow), Paula Rawsthorne (Blood Tracks), Alison Rattle (The Quietness), CJ Flood (Infinite Sky), Sarah Mussi (Siege), Lucy Christopher (The Killing Woods). Other shortlisted authors couldn’t make it (and that’s why there were no male authors there!).

Questions from the floor followed a pattern and there were many about influences and inspirations, and sequels!

I was delighted to hear that Lucy Christopher (The Killing Woods), a previous Printz Honor award winner, loves visiting South Africa. Interestingly, if you buy a US and a UK copy of her novel you will find that they are slightly different (now, how about that for narrative and textual analyses!).  If she could choose a mentor it would have been Shakespeare whereas Holly Smale’s mentor of choice would have been the late Sue Townsend. Smale is also very tall!

Both Paula Rawsthorne (Blood Tracks) and Alison Rattle’s (The Quietness) novels were inspired by court proceedings and trials! Rawsthorne wants to be excited by her own story whilst she is writing whereas Rattle really doesn’t enjoy the writing process – but loves editing her work.

CJ Flood’s first name is Chelsea and the character Iris, in Infinite Sky, is an idealised version of herself as a child. Sarah Mussi (Siege) had lived in Ghana for a number of years and I was very pleased to hear that she can’t remember all the books she’s read (ditto!). Gillian Cross (After Tomorrow) has always been a writer and says she's never had a 'proper job'. She thinks awards like these are precious to writers like her as they boost their self belief.

I was very interested to hear that Annabel Pitcher’s Ketchup Clouds was first written as a straight narrative and not through letters. She’s also a self-confessed perfectionist. Also, she had a very young guest with her – a babe in arms (and what would have happened without good old Nina D being there to step in when he refused to sleep).

I left all the smiling authors to sign away with queues of chattering school children and their teachers. How many of them noticed all the Leeds’ owls, do you think?

You can read our reviews of:

-        Ketchup Clouds here (M & Little M joint review) and here (teen book club)

-        GeekGirl

-        The Quietness

-        HostageThree (by Nick Lake who couldn’t make it)


You can read our interview with:

- Annabel Pitcher



Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Let's Bake - Cathryn Dresser

Let’s Bake by Cathryn Dresser

Review by Little M (+ thoughts from M)

Let's Bake by Cathryn Dresser
Baking is a fantastic thing to do. There are those down times and those joyful, ecstatic moments – especially when you finally bring the fresh smelling bread out of the oven, the scent drifting through the house.

Cathryn Dresser’s Let’s Bake recipe book has wonderful looking sweet and savoury bakes. Of course, when deciding to review this recipe book, we’d agreed to make some, though that might seem quite obvious. Let’s Bake is a colourful, well-presented and easy to read book. The recipes are straight forward and, if in doubt of a technique, there is a helpful guide on how to do it.

Each individual recipe is spread out over four pages. On the first two pages there are the ingredients lists, the equipment needed, the prep and bake times, and a little anecdote from the author. There is also a finished product picture too. For the other two pages there is normally a ‘how to do it’ page in text and pictures to illustrate.

Whilst flicking through the book, we came across three recipes which we decided to make. We made this amazing butter from double cream, a delicious chocolate cake loaf and also some easy white bread. All these recipes were a success.

I truly recommend this recipe book by Cathryn Dresser. It is brilliant for your first time baking or for those who just love to do it. It is suited to young children as it talks about sharp knives and ovens. However, it would be brilliant for the whole family.

Making bread

And some further thoughts from M:

Making butter! My teacher did this at school when I was about seven and it fascinated me. One of those rare moments where I still remember some fine detail about the ‘lesson’. I’ve always wanted to do it myself but…haven’t. And then, there it was! How to do it in a baking book. We did this one together and it was huge, huge fun (and a wee bit messy too).

I also made the dippy baked eggs for breakfast and although it tasted delicious, the yoke went hard (eggs!). Of course, the book points out that practice (and changes) make perfect so we tried a little alternative and it worked. I like the way the book encourages experimentation – and that it’s notion of ‘baking’ is broad (there’re recipes for accompaniments to baked goods, like easy jam, houmous and, of course, butter).

Little M is the baker in our house. But I was also hugely impressed with this as a baking book, whether for an older child, an adult or a family. Thick and chunky, some unusual and nostalgic recipes, uncoated paper (great for ‘showing’ that you used the recipe), and not patronising in any way. Big thumbs up.

Homemade Bread & Butter
PS. No pictures of the chocolate cake loaf - we were too busy oohing & aahing, sniffing and eating.

Publication details: Orion Children’s, May 2014, London, hardback
This copy: for review from the publisher

Monday, 19 May 2014

Jamaica Inn - Daphne du Maurier

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
Review by M
This novel counts towards the Classics Club Challenge

I read Rebecca when I was a young teenager and loved it. It’s down as a reread for me and number five on our original Classics Club list of fifty. But, I’d never owned a copy so I bought it. It came as part of a Virago Modern Classics’ du Maurier bundle that included Jamaica Inn.

So, instead of a Rebecca reread, I started Jamaica Inn, not sure if it would be my sort of read (whatever that is!). I flitted between it and a number of other books (mostly review copies that I felt obliged to prioritise). Then, I saw a television trailer for a forthcoming BBC adaptation of it. This also prompted a renewed media interest in the ‘literary’ legacy of du Maurier with some sides hailing her as a popular and iconic storyteller while others question her literary merits. Remembering that my working definition of ‘classics’ is written stories that carry across generations (for any reason), my Easter reading plans were altered.

Jamaica Inn is a gothic romance which isn’t typically my sort of thing for all sorts of reasons (but mostly because of unhealthy gender relationships), so I haven’t read many. You realise from the first few pages of Jamaica Inn what you’re in for: an ever darkening story in an ominous setting with some nasty characters – but surprisingly some lovely ones too.
Twenty-three year old Mary Yellan’s mother has died and she has moved to live with her aunt Patience who lives at Jamaica Inn with her violent husband, Joss Merlyn. Nobody stops at or visits Jamaica Inn and something sinister, criminal and maybe even evil is going on. As a murderous story about smuggling cartels unfolds, Mary struggles with her own inner conflicts about trust, loyalty, gender and romantic feelings for an awful man.

As a gothic romance, Du Maurier’s writing  gets the balance right. Jamaica Inn is chilling and dire without being horrificly graphic, and there's a not-too-sweet dose of a properly infuriating romance too. While Jamaica Inn’s story is generally predictable (but other reviewers say differently!), the final pages surprised and ultimately disappointed me (more thoughts on this below because of spoilers).

From a gender perspective, Jamaica Inn is interesting. The roles of men and women, while mostly taken for granted (the setting is the 1820s), are also speculated about particularly by Mary Yellan and possibly by Jem Merlyn (the writing/publication is 1930s). This is also enhanced by contrasting parallels between the behaviour and gendered demeanours of Joss and Patience with those of Jem and Mary. Patience is acutely passive and scared witless in contrast to Mary Yellan who is headstrong and determined, but blames much that is wrong with her life on being a woman (of course, there is some truth in this). Because of this, she connects personal independence with being a man (some things still haven’t changed) and she anguishes about gendered identities, emotions and bodies.

Compared to Wuthering Heights, I do think Heathcliff comes off better than Jamaica Inn’s Joss Merlyn, Cathy comes off worse than Mary, and the plot and ending for Jamaica Inn (for me) is preferable to Wuthering Heights.

Classics Verdict: Gothic romance still isn’t doing it for me but  it's growing on me. Du Maurier’s novel is convincingly atmospheric and much better done than the BBC’s television adaptation. Would I unhesitatingly recommend it to the next generation? For me, it’s not a must read but for readers who enjoy this sort of thing, perhaps yes. Also, it reminded me that at heart, I am a bit of a romantic.


Publication details: 2003, Virago Press, London, paperback (orginal publication 1936, Victor Gollancz)
This copy: own

Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert


Further thoughts (contains SPOILERS!!)

The ending confused me and either I’ve missed something or the characterisation was a bit off. For much of the novel, Jem seems besotted with Mary and makes some big decisions and sacrifices for her sake. Why then does he stubbornly thwart her? Does he think that putting her off is actually better for her because he is not able to give her what he thinks she will want? And then, when she gives up her wish to return home in order to accompany him, why does he not change his direction and concede that to her? Is this about gender power relations and maintaining the masculine status quo for Jem? Is this about Mary giving in to her body’s ‘weakness’ or about choosing what she wants for herself? Is it about a dark cycle of bad relationships taking Mary down a similar path to her Aunt Patience (or is Jem much more wholesome than Joss – and will he remain like that)? I'd have gone with Jem.
End of spoiler!

I finished reading Jamaica Inn minutes before I watched the recent BBC adaptation. I don't think I've ever been so freshly close to as text as this when viewing a screen adaptation. That may have influenced my response to the BBC's version, but many important plot and characterisation elements were changed to the extent that much of du Maurier's Jamaica Inn was lost. The novel is far more subtle and explores Mary's conflicts in much greater depth. I much preferred du Maurier's novel.




Thursday, 15 May 2014

We Were Liars - E Lockhart

We Were Liars by E Lockhart
Review by M

There’s been a lot of pre-publication hype around this novel and it deserves it. We Were Liars is a small book (just over 200 pages) and it’s a quick and thoroughly entertaining read.

We Were Liars is narrated by Cadence, the eldest teen granddaughter of the Sinclair family. An old New England family, they spend their summers on their private island. And then Cadence has an accident.

From the get go, we know that this is unreliable narration. The writing is stylised and interweaves all sorts of clues and red herrings to create a tragic modern day fairytale.

I highly recommend it and think there’s every chance of awards, commercial and cult success. Book groups will love it too.

Liar, liar, liar, liar.

PS. There’s a strong language content warning on the book. The f expletive appears a few times.

Hot Key Books is hosting a We Were Liars live read on Saturday, 17 May 2014 on Twitter. Starts 1pm UK time. #liarsliveread

Publication details: Hot Key Books, May 2014, London, paperback
This copy: received from the publisher for the live read

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Kindred - Octavia E Butler

Kindred by Octavia E Butler
Adult Fiction Review by M
Counted towards Classics Club challenge
I don’t read much science fiction but am definitely one who likes the ideas more than the details or adventure that fill the plots (that probably applies to any book from any genre that I read, if I’m being honest). So, Kindred’s mix of science fiction and African American literature as a premise was irresistible for me. I’d never read Butler before, but I was definitely aware of her, most recently through Aarti’s Diversiverse blog tours which explore speculative fiction by writers ‘of color’.
Kindred delighted, surprised, informed, moved and disappointed me, all in one. In 1976, Dana, a black American New Yorker, finds herself back in the southern heartland of nineteenth century slavery, a dangerous place for any black person. The novel takes Dana back and forth over the course of these years. While these travel episodes seem connected to Rufus, a slave owner’s son, Dana finds that her ‘quest’ is a very long-sighted survival that will last for generations.
For all its enormous subject matter (north American slavery in the 1800s and time travel) – and particularly given the context of 1970s USA when it was written and published – Kindred is quietly unassuming in its exploration of love, mixed race, gender relationships and enslaved bondage. Yes, there’s the time travel aspect to the novel but this is much more a device, which presents both the writer/narrator, the characters and the reader opportunities to grapple with these psycho-social themes.
What the time travel element also enables is the idea of the ‘one woman’ that Rufus creates in his mind for Dana and Alice. Also interesting, to me, is how the characters of Kevin, Rufus and Tom Waylin contrast white men. I would have liked to have seen further developments in Kevin’s story but that at least shows that there is substance to the individual characters independent of the novel’s story.
I also liked the way Butler highlights that the pain and suffering during slavery were (and are) experienced by everyone in some form or another, and across different times and space. Of course, she highlights too how there are different levels to this experience and how some are more affecting, unequal, unacceptable and abhorrent than others. But, again, she peruses whether or not this too alters in perception across time and space. She presents no easy answers or solutions to either racial identities or historical guilt.
For shelving Kindred, I’d definitely put it in among the Toni Morrisons and Alice Walkers. But, for a completely different yet parallel reading experience, it would sit equally comfortably, for me, alongside Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. Love and time travel provide the similarities, but Kindred offers less of sweet romance and much more grounded depth. I’d recommend them both for quite different yet similar reasons.
Classics club verdict: It definitely makes me want to go back and read Toni Morrison's Beloved again.
Some notes for my future lack of memory (small SPOILER ALERT):
The characters: Alice is a black slave whom Rufus loves. Kevin is Dana’s husband, Rufus is the boy she connects with, and Tom is his father. Where Dana and Alice might be seen by Rufus to embody the one woman (who is also black), the three white men might be analysed in a similar way too (Perhaps? I have not explored this)?
Publication details: Headline, March 2014, London, paperback (originally published 1979)
This copy: review copy from the publisher

Friday, 9 May 2014

Alyssa Brugman chat

We sat down for a chat...with Alyssa Brugman

Alex As Well is a contemporary coming of age novel with a difference, exploring intersex and gender assignation. Its Australian author, Alyssa Brugman, tells us a bit more about it and herself. And bonus, equine pics too!

WSD: Forgive the obvious question, but what inspired you to write Alex As Well?

Alyssa Brugman: I was listening to the radio in the car. Jane McCredie was talking about her book Making Boys and Girls. She was saying that gender is a spectrum, not a dichotomy. I thought to myself, ‘Golly, as if adolescence isn’t difficult enough without…’ and then *bing* Alex just popped into my head.I was also doing a PhD in Narratology at the time and the manuscript was submitted for examination with my thesis.

WSD: In your novel, there are 'two' Alexes. Which Alex is your favourite?

Alyssa Brugman: There is a section of the book where Alex’s mother is giving her testosterone without Alex being aware of it, and Alex’s male side reasserts himself more at that point in the novel. He flirts with a class mate. I enjoyed writing that part of the manuscript because the two sides of Alex debate what to do and discuss what is appropriate conduct. The male part of Alex contributes power and vibrancy to the character too.

WSD: Learning and evolving as a writer is a topic you explore on your blog. What did you learn from writing Alex As Well?

Alyssa Brugman: I wrote a PhD thesis on unreliable narration, and the original manuscript of Alex was submitted as the companion piece, showing examples of the narrative strategies that I talked about in the thesis. I learned a lot of technical names for things I had done before in other books, and now I can see them when I read other people’s books. It’s kind of like opening the bonnet of a novel seeing all the different parts of its engine.

WSD: Are you a vegetarian?

Alyssa Brugman: No, but I do try to eat meat products that have been sustainably farmed. We eat camel meat. Camels are in plague proportions in parts of Australia, and we eat kangaroo meat because they are less destructive to the land than cattle and sheep are.

WSD: What is one of your favourite 'things' in or about Australia?

Alyssa Brugman: Just today I came back from a trip to Outback Queensland (top right hand corner) where we mustered some brumbies (feral horses) and broke them in over two weeks. That was exhilarating, and really sharpened my horsemanship.

WSD: You run an equine rehabilitation business. We're a bit gaga about horses, so please tell us more.

Alyssa Brugman: Our business offers hoof care and advises on nutrition. It’s a terrific job. I drive around and talk to people about their ponies all day. Doing horse feet keeps me quite fit. I’m fortunate to have two jobs that I would do for fun. I also have eleven horses. I know, it’s a completely ridiculous number of horses to have when I only have the one bum.


You can read M's review of Alex As Well here.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Year of the Rat - Clare Furniss

The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss
Review by M

The Year of the Rat is a tragic tearjerker with a little light breathing space for smiles inbetween.

Just before her A-levels, Pearl’s mother dies from pregnancy and childbirth complications. Pearl and her stepfather are left to deal with their grief alongside the care of the premature ‘rat’, Rose. Pearl doesn’t cope very well with this at all and the only person she finds she can turn to is…her mother.

Despite its heavy and real world subject matter (including pre-eclampsia and post-natal depression), The Year of the Rat is a light read with a heartwarming tone. In a relatively familiar plot, an endearing mother-daughter relationship made this a compulsive read that flows easily. Be prepared for tears.

The Year of the Rat reminded me of a novel by Jane Green that I read shortly after having had a baby. It also reminded me of Roddy Doyle’s A Greyhound of a Girl.  I think The Year of The Rat will hit a soft spot for many readers, both teens and adults alike. I think that's me recommending it!


Publication details: Simon and Schuster, 24 April 2014, London, hardback
This copy: uncorrected proof for review

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Branford Boase Award 2014 shortlist

Branford Boase Award 2014 shortlist

Jacqueline Wilson at the 2013 Branford Boase & Henrietta Branford Award ceremony
Seven debut novels appear on this year’s 15th Branford Boase Award shortlist. The award is given to both author and editor for outstanding debut children’s novels aimed at readers aged seven and up.
Julia Eccleshare, chair of the judging panel, said: ‘This year’s shortlist is exceptionally diverse, here are seven very different books. But, not only are they all very well written, they all feel exceptionally fresh and original: these are stories we haven’t read before, and that is very exciting.’

The shortlist is colourfully diverse both in content and in ‘genre’, and includes novels for young and old from seven different publishers. Expect to find surprise and invention for younger readers as well as teen romance, dystopian quests, humour and adventure.

The seven shortlisted books are:

Winter Damage by Natasha Carthew, edited by Rebecca McNally (Bloomsbury)

Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood, edited by Venetia Gosling (Simon and Schuster)

Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones edited by Mara Bergman (Walker)

Red Ink by Julie Mayhew, edited by Emily Thomas (Hot Key)

Alex the Dog and the Unopenable Door by Montgomery Ross, edited by Rebecca Lee & Susila Baybars (Faber)

The Poison Boy by Fletcher Moss, edited by Imogen Cooper and Barry Cunningham (Chicken House)

Geek Girl by Holly Smale, edited by Lizzie Clifford (HarperCollins)

As last year, I can’t make any early predictions as I’ve shamefacedly read few from this list (links in the list above take you to reviews of the books we’ve read). From opening pages and chapters, Natasha Carthew's writing is sublime. Accolades and popular support already abound for Geek Girl and Infinite Sky, and I've heard many shaking pompoms for Wild Boy. For comprehensive and refreshing review coverage of the Branford Boase longlist 2014, take a look at And Then I Read a Book.
This year’s judges are Wendy Cooling (children’s books consultant and Bookstart founder), Tamara Macfarlane (author and owner of Tales on Moon Lane bookshop), Alec Williams (former librarian now storyteller and consultant), Dave Shelton, author of A Boy and A Bear in a Boat and winner of last year’s Branford Boase Award, and chaired by Julia Eccleshare (children’s books editor of The Guardian). This year’s judges selected the shortlist from a longlist drawn from over 60 novels.

Previous shortlisted and winning writers include Marcus Sedgwick, Meg Rosoff, Philip Reeve, Cathy Cassidy, Kevin Brooks, William Nicholson, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Mal Peet, Bali Rai, Annabel Pitcher and Dave Shelton.
The winner of the 2014 Branford Boase Award will be announced on Thursday 10th July at a ceremony in London.  The ceremony is also attended by the six winners of the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition, open to writers under 19.

Links to authors in this post take you to We Sat Down reviews and interviews.