Both the sales and publication of YA books are in decline at the moment and many YA books are being cancelled or withdrawn by publishers. (“Torn apart: the vicious war over young adult books” The Guardian, 15th June 2019) However, there was some good news for YA enthusiasts last night, when the winner of the Branford Boase Award was announced. The awards ceremony for the Sussex Coast Amazing Book Awards, which focuses on YA books, also took place last week. Let’s take a look at the shortlists and the winners for both of these awards.
Sussex Coast Amazing Book Awards (ABAs)
Last Friday, the winner of the Sussex Coast Schools Amazing Book Awards was announced at a special awards night attended by students, teachers and librarians in Sussex. Established in 2011 by a groups of school librarians from West Sussex, students from participating schools decide what titles make the longlist, the shortlist and finally what wins.
Moonrise by Sarah Crossan, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James, Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen and The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson all made the shortlist this year.
The Bronze Award went to The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James and the Silver Award went to Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen. While S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett topped the votes, winning the Gold Award.
Winner of the Gold Award
S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett
“It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. To her surprise Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ – an invitation to spend the half-term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S. Greer joins the other chosen students at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, and soon realises that they are at the mercy of their capricious host. Over the next three days, as the three blood sports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…”
Branford Boase Award
Last night, the winner of the Branford Boase Award, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary, was announced. The shortlist for this award included three YA books, one of which won the prize – I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan. Rosie loves Jack by Mel Darbon and Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen were the other YA novels that were shortlisted.
Winner of Branford Boase Award 2019
I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan
“Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem is used to being invisible. So no one is more surprised than her when Arif Malik, the hottest boy in school, takes a sudden interest. But Arif is hiding a terrible secret and, as they begin to follow a dark path, Muzna faces an impossible choice: keep quiet and betray her beliefs, or speak out and betray her heart.”
In 2015, 3 schoolgirls from Bethnal Green fled to Syria to join the Islamic State group. This prompted Muhammad Khan to write this uplifting, empowering, coming-of-age story featuring a female Muslim protagonist living in London. Khan was working as a teacher when he wrote the story and he said that many of the characters, including the protagonist Muzna are based on his young students.