Shortlists for Branford Boase Award/Little Rebels Award

There was some exciting news relating to book awards this week, as the shortlist for both the Branford Boase Award and the Little Rebels Award were revealed.

It proved to be a very good week for Elys Dolan, an author/illustrator based in Cambridge, who has a book shortlisted for both awards!

The Branford Boase Award recognises new authors at the start of their careers. The judges noticed that a large portion of the stories were based on domestic dramas, written in the first person and in the present tense. There seemed to be very few adventure stories – a worrying trend according to one of the judges. Is this reflecting our modern society where children are constantly monitored and don’t have any time alone for adventures?

The Little Rebels Award recognises children’s fiction which promotes social justice or social equality, challenges stereotypes or is informed by anti-discriminatory concerns. I’m delighted to see that Sky Dancer, one of my favourite books from last year, has made this shortlist.

Here are the shortlists for both awards:


Branford Base Shortlist

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe

“A powerful, haunting, contemporary debut that steps seamlessly from the horrors of people-trafficking to the magic of African folklore, by an award-winning Ghanaian-British filmmaker.


The Starman and Me by Sharon Cohen

Twelve-year old Kofi thinks he’s seeing things when he spots a tiny human being on a roundabout near his home. But Rorty Thrutch is real, and he needs Kofi’s help to get home.”


Fish Boy by Chloe Daykin

Billy loves the sea and uses swimming as a way of escape. But his love of the sea also makes him the butt of his class mates’ bullying and he increasingly creates an alternative world for himself inspired in part by lessons learnt from David Attenborough’s programmes. When Patrick arrives in his class Billy at last finds someone who understands him.”


Knighthood for Beginners by Elys Dolan

“A fairy tale comedy with a very unusual central character. Dave the little dragon won’t eat villages, and finds all dragony things difficult, but he loves reading and when he picks up a second-hand copy of How to be a Knight, he knows he’s found his calling.”


Kick by Mitch Johnson

“Budi lives for football, training with his friends whenever he can, following his team with a passion and dreaming about playing at the top level. But Budi lives in Jakarta and also works ten hours a day making the football boots his sporting heroes wear, and earning just pennies for doing it.”


Potter’s Boy by Tony Mitton

In a small village, in long-ago Japan, teenager Ryo is expected to follow his father into the family ceramics business. But when an unassuming young man passes through and beats in single combat the troupe of bandits who have been plaguing the villagers, Ryo determines to become a fighter. 


The City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein

Hyacinth Hayward, newly arrived in the UK from the US, is already struggling with culture shock when her mum is kidnapped by the strangest postmen ever and she herself is plunged (literally) into extraordinary adventure in London’s secret underground river.”


Little Rebels Shortlist

Tender Earth by Sita Brahmachar

Laila Levenson has always been the baby of the family, but now with her older siblings, Mira and Krish, leaving home just as she starts secondary school, everything feels like it’s changing… can the reappearance of Nana Josie’s Protest Book and the spirit it releases in Laila, her friends and her local community, help her find her own voice and discover what she truly believes in? “


Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory by Elys Dolan

Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory is where your Easter Eggs are made. But when  the hard-working chickens at the factory have had enough of making Mr Bunny rich, they decide to go on strike – and it’s time for Mr Bunny to find out what it’s really like on the factory floor.


Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird

Twelve-year-old Omar and his brothers and sisters were born and raised in the beautiful and bustling city of Bosra, Syria. Omar doesn’t care about politics all he wants is to grow up to become a successful businessman who will take the world by storm. But when his clever older brother, Musa, gets mixed up with some young political activists, everything changes . .”


Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis

Joe has always loved the moorlands above his home: the wildness, the freedom, the peace. But since his father died, everything has changed, and the moors are no longer a place of refuge.
Now the whole community is divided over the fate of the hen harriers that nest up there in the heather – and Joe is stuck right in the middle, with a choice to make, and a huge secret to keep.
Joe can’t do what’s right for everyone. But can he find the strength to fight for what he really believes in?


The Muslims by Zanib Mian

Omar is a kid with a huge imagination. He knows a thing or two about getting through life as a nine year old Muslim in Britain. When Omar’s life is turned upside down as he moves to a new school and becomes the school bully’s new victim, his imagination goes into overactive mode. He attempts to apply the Islamic teachings his family have equipped him with, to his now very challenging life, with entertaining results!”


928 Miles from Home by Kim Slater

“Fourteen year old Calum Brooks has big dreams. One day, he’ll escape this boring life and write movies, proper ones, with massive budgets and A-list stars. For now though, he’s stuck coping alone while his dad works away, writing scripts in his head and trying to stay ‘in’ with his gang of mates at school, who don’t like new kids, especially foreign ones. But when his father invites his new Polish girlfriend and her son, Sergei, to move in, Calum’s life is turned upside down. He’s actually sharing a room with ‘the enemy’! How’s he going to explain that to his mates?”


Clive is a Nurse by Jessica Spanyol

“What will Clive be today? Follow Clive and his friends as they explore the many things a nurse does in a day.


Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

“As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.



The winner of the Branford Boase Award will be announced on the 4th July at a ceremony in London. And the winner of the Little Rebels Award will be announced on the 2nd June at the London Radical Bookfair. Good luck to all the shortlisted authors!





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