Young poet wins Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017 with “hugely imaginative” debut novel
Poet and playwright Kiran Millwood Hargrave has been named overall winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017 for her debut novel The Girl of Ink and Stars, as announced by Waterstones Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell at a ceremony at the bookseller’s flagship shop in London Piccadilly. She takes home £5000 as the overall winner, making the prize one of the most valuable, as well as most prestigious, children’s book awards in the UK.
Twenty-seven year old Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in London, studied at both Cambridge and Oxford Universities and currently lives in Oxford. Her debut novel’s setting and mythology were inspired by her childhood travels to the volcanic La Gomera and the traditional stories of the Canary Islands. Another key influence on her writing is reflected in the novel’s original title, The Cartographer’s Daughter, which is in homage to Philip Pullman’s book, The Firework-maker’s Daughter.
The Girl of Ink and Stars tells the story of Isabella Riosse, who lives on the Island of Joya which is reigned over by a strict Governor. Isabella has always yearned to explore the faraway places her father, a cartographer, used to document. When her best friend vanishes into the forbidden forest, she finds a way to join the rescue mission.
The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize has been championing new and emerging talent in children’s writing for thirteen years and is unique in that it is voted for solely by booksellers. Already pronounced winner of the Younger Fiction category, The Girl of Ink and Stars secured the accolade of overall winner of the prize, during which Lizzy Stewart’s There’s a Tiger in the Garden won the Illustrated Books category and Orangeboyby Patrice Lawrence took the Older Fiction category.
Florentyna Martin, Waterstones Children’s Buyer, said: “The Girl of Ink and Stars is an absolute joy to read. It is always exciting when we see this level of outstanding talent in a new writer and Kiran has crafted a mesmerising world full of myths, magic and adventure that evokes an atmosphere akin to Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Our booksellers have assuredly chosen a writer who delivers the whole package: a beautifully written and hugely imaginative story with a strong and loveable protagonist and a page-turning plot.”
James Daunt, Waterstones Managing Director, said: “We have a sensationally good winner, a work of imagination and drive that will command a special place on the bookshelves of many generations of readers to come. The overall strength of our shortlist and the category winners reflects the vibrant health of children’s publishing which we are delighted to celebrate.”
The winner of the Illustrated Books category, There’s a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart tells the story of a bored little girl who thinks she is too old for “silly games”, so when her Grandma tells her that she has seen a tiger in the garden, Nora is convinced that this cannot possibly be true…
Florentyna Martin commented: “Lizzy Stewart’s There’s a Tiger in the Garden is bold, bright and beautiful. Lizzy’s immediately assured artistic style conveys a classic tone, allowing her charmingly told story of imagination to leap off the page. This is a timeless picture book which will be much loved by children and adults alike, and is a promising start to what will be an inspiring career.”
The winner of the Older Fiction category is Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence, a novel based in contemporary East-London, which tells the story of sixteen year old Marlon who has promised his mother to never follow his brother down the wrong path. A promise Marlon finds easy to keep, until he meets the daring and mesmerising Sonya. Suddenly everything spirals out of control and he must make an impossible decision to save the lives of the ones he loves.
Florentyna Martin said: “Orangeboy is a truthful and gripping novel from a fantastic new talent in YA. We were particularly struck by the energy and flair of the writing, and Lawrence’s gift for creating rounded, believable teen characters, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.”
The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017 shortlists in full (alphabetically by author surname):
The Bear Who Stared by Duncan Beedie (Templar – Bonnier)
Life is Magic by Meg McLaren (Andersen Press)
Super Stan by Matt Robertson (Orchard Books – Hachette)
The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye)
Tiger in a Tutu by Fabi Santiago (Orchard Books – Hachette)
There’s a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart (Frances Lincoln)
Cogheart by Peter Bunzl (Usborne)
Captain Pug by Laura James (Bloomsbury)
Beetle Boy by M.G Leonard (Chicken House)
The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Chicken House)
Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford (HarperCollins)
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (Corgi – Penguin Random House)
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager (Walker)
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield (Egmont)
Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence (Hodder – Hachette)
The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy (Pushkin)
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (Bodley Head)
The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon (Corgi – Penguin Random House)
Previous Winners of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize:
2016 My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons
2015 Blown Away by Rob Biddulph
2014 Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
2013 Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
2012 The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle
2011 Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari
2010 The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies
2009 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison
2008 Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls
2007 Darkside by Tom Becker
2006 The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding
2005 The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill
Details of each category winner
Best Illustrated Book: There’s a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart, Frances Lincoln Publishers
When Grandma says she’s seen a tiger in the garden, Nora doesn’t believe her. She’s too old to play Grandma’s silly games! Everyone knows that tigers live in jungles, not gardens. So even when Nora sees butterflies with wings as big as her arm, and plants that try and eat her toy giraffe, and a polar bear that likes fishing, she knows there’s absolutely, DEFINITELY no way there could be a tiger in the garden… Could there?
Lizzy Stewart is an illustrator and artist currently based in London. Lizzy graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2009, and received an MA in Communication Design from Central St Martins in 2013. She is also one half of independent publishers Sing Statistics and an associate lecturer at Goldsmiths College.
Best Book for Younger Readers: The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Chicken House
Isabella Riosse is the daughter of a cartographer who lives on the island of Joya; an isle both steeped in mythology and shrouded in mystery. For the last thirty years, a strict Governor has forbidden the island inhabitants from venturing beyond their small township. Isabella is fascinated with the ancient myths of Joya, which is said to have once floated freely over the seas. Preoccupied with ideas of exploration and inspired by the far-flung places her father once documented, she yearns for adventure. When her best friend Lupe runs away, disappearing into the forbidden forest, Isabella volunteers to bring her back. With only her knowledge of ancient myths and one of her father’s maps to guide her, Isabella ventures into the perilous world beyond, where monsters lurk and magical rivers run.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in London in 1990. She completed her undergraduate studies in English and Drama with Education at Cambridge University, also performing in Footlights smokers and plays. She graduated with distinction from the Creative Writing MSt at Oxford University, and was President of the Poetry Society there. She is an award-winning poet and was a Barbican Young Poet, and has performed her work internationally, from Banff to Tokyo. She lives in Oxford with her artist fiancé and writer friends.
Best Book for Older Readers: Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence, Hachette Children’s Group
Sixteen-year-old Marlon has made his mum a promise – he’ll never follow his big brother, Andre, down the wrong path. So far, it’s been easy, but when a date ends in tragedy, Marlon finds himself hunted. They’re after the mysterious Mr Orange, and they’re going to use Marlon to get to him. Marlon’s out of choices – can he become the person he never wanted to be, to protect everyone he loves? A young man has an impossible choice to make, in this powerful urban story that will challenge preconceptions and melt the hardest heart. Orangeboy is the stunning debut from London-based author Patrice Lawrence who finds that music often seeps into her writing and shares her writing space with a cat called Stormageddon.
Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in mid Sussex. She found her way to east London in the ’90s and lives there with a partner, a teenager and a cat called Stormageddon. She has been writing for as long as she has been reading. She loves crime fiction, sci-fi and trying to grow things. Her ideal mixtape includes drum ‘n’ bass, Bruce Springsteen and Studio Ghibli soundtracks. Music can’t help creeping into her books.
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