Get your hands on the 2021 Branford Boase Award shortlist

The Branford Boase Award is recognised as 'the one to watch' with an impressive record of identifying exceptional authors at the start of their careers. We're excited to share the shortlist for 2021 - and to give you the chance to win the whole set.

The shortlist for the 2021 Branford Boase Award has been announced today - and we're excited to share the incredible authors who have made the list!

Since 2000, the Award has been given annually to the author and the editor of an outstanding debut novel for children. Last year's winner, Liz Hyder, won the award for her amazing novel Bearmouth. She introduces the books on this year's shortlist...

"Here’s our fantastic shortlist – incredible reads one and all by confident, brilliant, incredibly talented writers and storytellers. From verse novels to fantasy, from laugh-out loud humour to page-turning thrillers, it’s hard to believe any of these magnificent books are debuts, but they really are. Hearty congratulations to all the writers and editors!

When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getteen, edited by Sarah Odedina

Clara lives in a small village on a Caribbean island where the days seem much alike – until, that is, a new girl, Ruby, comes to town. Can Ruby help Clara solve the mystery of what happened last summer and fill in the strange gaps in her memory? This gripping, beautiful and cleverly written book is a delight from start to finish with a twist that utterly floored me. Clara is glorious, a grumpy, clever, funny and independent character that you can’t help but fall in love with. A superb read dealing with themes of guilt, friendship and grief.

Witch by Finbar Hawkins, edited by Fiona Kennedy

Set in 17th century England when witches are both feared and persecuted, Witch is a deliciously spell-binding page-turner that tells the story of Evey and her younger sister Dill after their mother is murdered by witch-hunters. Setting out for revenge on the men who killed her mother, Evey must first learn to harness her own powers and come to terms with who she really is. Utterly absorbing in every way, this incredibly atmospheric thriller is a rollicking good read and pulls you in right from the very first sentence of Evey’s distinctive first-person narrative – I couldn’t put it down!

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando, edited by Jane Griffiths

When Al, Nate’s seemingly confident and happy older brother, commits suicide, Nate’s way of dealing with his own grief is to embark on a mission to understand what drove his brother to take his life. This is a heartbreaking, yet hopeful story, written with raw empathy, full of life and love, dealing with bullying, toxic masculinity and so much more. It will rip your heart out and then gently put it back together. Have tissues handy when you read it – you’ll need them!

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll edited by Eishar Brar

Addie, like her older sister Keedie, is autistic and finds school can be a difficult place, particularly with a teacher who seems determined to wilfully misunderstand her. When Addie’s school class begins to find out about a group of local ‘witches’ who were persecuted hundreds of years ago, Addie sets out to reclaim their story and make sure the women are publicly recognised. A phenomenal read that explores ideas of difference in a hugely entertaining and open-hearted way. You’ll be rooting for Addie every single step of the way. Utterly magnificent.

Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann edited by Carmen McCullough

Amber loves running more than anything else but when her aggressive and abusive father bans her from continuing to train, Amber realises it’s time to take matters into her own hands. A powerful and hugely empowering verse novel about standing up for yourself and others, this moving, clever and multi-layered story explores ideas around rebellion, family, toxic relationships and the power of education. An emotional rollercoaster that will have you cheering and sobbing, sometimes at the same time – Run Rebel is written with such heart. I gulped it up!

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray edited by Ben Horslen, with illustrations by Manuel Sumberac

A drowned world with a city that towers above the water is the setting for this extraordinarily vivid and distinctive book. When a dead whale washes in with the tide and a strange boy climbs out, alive and well, the city’s authorities believe him to be The Enemy, a powerful and dangerous creature responsible for flooding the world. Ellie, a quick-thinking young inventor, is certain he’s innocent but she must prove it before time runs out. Written in a stunningly beautiful, lyrical style, it sent shivers down my spine and reminded me of when I first read His Dark Materials.

The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker, with illustrations by Rob Biddulph

When Freddie’s nan dies and he sets off on a secret journey – along with his two best friends – to find his biological father, the scene is set for one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. The trio get into all sorts of extraordinary scrapes, becoming accidental heroes in the process. Magnificently entertaining from start to finish, with great visual gags and a big heart, this will make you hoot with laughter throughout. Utterly, deliciously hilarious. Reader, I loved it."

For the chance to get your hand on every book in the shortlist, simply answer the question below and leave your details by the closing date of 11pm on Thursday 27 May.

Win the 2021 Branford Boase Award shortlist

Who is the author of A Kind of Spark?

Terms and conditions

1. Participants must be at least 18 years old to enter.

2. To enter the competition, you must be a resident of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. 

3. The competition is not open to employees (or members of their immediate families) of BookTrust.

4. Only one entry per person.

5. Entries must be submitted by 11pm on Thursday 27 May 2021.

6. There will be one winner selected at random (from all eligible entries).

7. If a chosen winner does not respond to correspondence within one week, a new winner will be selected.

8. Our decision will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

9. The prize will not be transferable to another person.

10. No part of the prize is exchangeable for cash or any other prize.

11. The prize is run by BookTrust of G8 Battersea Studios, 80 Silverthorne Road, Battersea, London SW8 3HE. However, the prize will be sent out by a third party and by entering you acknowledge that your details will be passed on to them, solely for the purposes of administering this competition.

12. Prizes will be sent out to winners by post. However, BookTrust cannot be held responsible for any prizes lost, damaged or stolen after they have been sent.

13. Where a third party is supplying a prize, BookTrust accepts no responsibility for inaccuracy of any prize description, and the third party is responsible for prize fulfilment.

14. By entering you are agreeing to the terms and conditions in our privacy statement.

15. BookTrust reserves the right to amend the competition end date at any time.

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BookTrust Represents is a four-year project created to promote children’s authors and illustrators of colour.

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