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Bolton Children's Fiction Award 2017 Shortlist Revealed

Friday, 21 October 2016

After much anticipation, the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2017 Shortlist has finally been announced! The six books were revealed to students from Bolton School Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions, in a launch ceremony. This annual award – which puts the voting entirely in the hands of the children under the age of fifteen – has been run by Bolton School for the past four years. Previous winners Gillian Cross, Tom Hoyle and Narinder Dhami as well as other shortlisted authors have gone on to be nominated for other national awards.

The shortlisted books have been chosen by school librarians at Bolton School. However, the voting and therefore ultimate choice of winner is entirely in the hands of children taking part.

As Boys' and Girls' Division students congregated in the Great Hall for the launch event, there was an air of great anticipation. Mrs Maria Howarth, the Senior Librarian at Bolton School, opened the event, introducing the prefects and monitors. She described how difficult it has been for the excited librarians and delighted authors to keep the shortlist secret, as they have known for several weeks which books are included!

She then passed the proceedings to three Girls’ Division Prefects and three Boys’ Division Monitors, who each read a passage from a shortlisted books to give a feel of the style and writing.

The 2017 shortlisted books are:

A Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This beautifully illustrated fantasy novel is set on the fictional island of Gomera. Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella, the cartographer’s daughter dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.

When her best friend disappears, she’s determined to be part of the search party. Guided by an ancient map and her knowledge of the stars, Isabella navigates the island’s forgotten territories. But beneath the dry rivers and dead forests a fiery myth is stirring from its sleep.

Beetle Boy by M G Leonard

Described as “a darkly funny Dahl-esque adventure”, this book mixes science, mystery and humour. When scientist and entomologist Dr Bartholomew Cuttle mysteriously disappears from a locked room, his son Darkus is convinced he has been kidnapped. He sets out to find him accompanied by a giant rhinoceros beetle which seems to have taken on some human characteristics. But to add to the mystery, who are the villainous bickering cousins Gamble and Risk who live next door and could they be involved in the kidnapping?

The Last Immortal by Alex Marlowe

13 year old Luke Frankenstein dreams of joining the immortals – a supernatural crime- fighting squad but when he secretly follows them on a mission, he is killed. Waking up the present day, his body given superhuman powers, he finds the world a very different place. The dark pharaoh has returned, and Luke will need all of his powers plus the support of the other Immortals to defeat him.

Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norris

A ghost story with a difference. Francis has never had a friend like Jessica who makes him feel able to be himself. Jessica has never had a friend like Francis – not only because he makes her laugh but because he is the only person who can see her! With themes of being different and fitting in Jessica’s Ghost is a funny and moving story which ties in beautifully with the ‘Reading Well’ initiative in Bolton’s libraries.

My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons

A comic novel, about a boy who after a freak accident develops super powers narrated by his brother who is disappointed that he missed out on the special abilities. When the whole world is threatened by oblivion from a huge asteroid, only Superboy can save the day!

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

Al Chaudhury gets a letter from his deceased Dad on his thirteenth birthday. He discovers his father’s invention, a time travelling machine. Could the laptop and the tin tub really offer him the chance to travel back to 1984 to alter events and save his Dad’s life?

This astonishing and original novel will make you laugh, cry and wonder – and wish you could turn back time to start reading it all over again!

In the coming months, children will read each of the books and participate in a number of activities in their English lesson and School Library Book Clubs. In May they will vote for their top three favourites. They will be encouraged to write reviews and follow the School’s Twitter feed @BoltonSchoolLib with #BCFA2017.

The votes will be counted up, and the winner will finally be announced at the Award Ceremony on 6 July 2017, when children will have the opportunity to meet the shortlisted authors.

Pupils from around 20 secondary school pupils in Bolton and surrounding areas will be taking part. A number of local primary schools involved in Bolton School’s Primary Liaison programme have also expressed an interest in shadowing the Award and the School hopes to have a special event to celebrate their participation

Mrs Howarth, the Senior Librarian at Bolton School, said, “I am really pleased with this diverse list which includes a number of new and emerging authors. This supports the aim of the Award, which is to broaden children’s reading choices and raise the profile of new authors. I am also hoping that teachers and Librarians will be able to use the books to support cross-curricular learning in subjects such as Art, Science, Geography and PSHE.”

Year 9 pupil Lawson Bates, who was lucky enough to have lunch with Kim Slater, his favourite author from last year’s shortlist, said, “I really like the award because it opens your eyes to lots of different genres. I usually read mostly crime and mystery books, but the award makes you try lots of different types of books.”

The Bolton Children’s Fiction Award is promoted by Bolton School, and supported by independent bookseller Ebb & Flo and Bolton School Library Service.

This is a great way for school librarians to introduce Year 7 pupils to the library and to engage pupils in reading. Any schools interested in taking part should contact Mrs Maria Howarth (mhowarth@boltonschool.org), the Senior Librarian at Bolton School.

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Bolton School Year 7 and Sixth Form pupils with the 2017 shortlist

Bolton School Year 7 and Sixth Form pupils with the 2017 shortlist

An extract from

An extract from 'The Last Immortal' was read by Jarlath Skelly

Khadijah Ismail reads an extract from

Khadijah Ismail reads an extract from 'Jessica's Ghost'