I Am Looking For

2018 Book Award Shortlist Revealed

  • BCFA pupils with books and Matt Killeen
  • BCFA Matt Killeen speaking
  • BCFA Matt Killeen
  • BCFA Matt Killeen reads

The six books and authors shortlisted for the 2018 Bolton Children’s Fiction Award have been revealed at a ceremony which took place at Bolton School. The event was attended by Girls’ and Boys’ Division pupils in Year 7. It was a pleasure to welcome first-time author Matt Killeen, whose book Orphan Monster Spy will be released in March 2018, for this exciting occasion and to kick-start the award for 2018.

The shortlist features some challenging reads. However, the popularity of the 2017 winner, Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss, showed the librarians on the selection panel that young people are not afraid to confront serious issues in their reading.

Mrs Maria Howarth, the Head Librarian at Bolton School, said, “Some of the themes covered in this year’s list are racism and violence, anxiety and OCD, homelessness, cyber issues and bereavement, but these are balanced with hope, determination and resilience. With the shortlist, we hope to demonstrate that there is a place for popular fiction, but also a place for fiction which will stretch and challenge young readers. We hope that the titles will encourage discussion in schools and book groups and offer opportunities for cross curricular working.”

Matt talked about the inspirations behind his book, Orphan Monster Spy, before going on to speak about the Award. He described some of the activities that took place last year to tie in with the 2017 shortlist: these included a cockroach-handling session, imaginary map-making and discussion of time-travel! He then went on to reveal the books that are shortlisted for the Award this year.

The shortlisted books for 2018 are:

  • The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt
    America in 1963. In the South, where racism and prejudice is rife, Pip, a black boy, is taken from an orphanage to work on a farm. There he meets a Native American girl and an eccentric Irish hypnotist. Weaving in history, violence, poetry, magic, a road trip and a bit of Great Expectations, Anholt’s first novel for older readers is a gripping read, destined to become a classic.
    Note: Contains issues which may offend some readers. Some children may need to read this at the end of Year 7.
  • Caged by Theresa Breslin
     Seven homeless teenagers have been plucked from the streets.  Living in an abandoned underground station they are being trained to fight as cage fighters in an internet streamed contest.  Each fight brings money and a chance for the fighters to start new lives away from the streets. But is that the real motive? This is a gripping adventure thriller from Carnegie winning author Theresa Breslin.
  • Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll
    After an air raid in which their sister disappears, Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated from London to a quiet seaside town on the Devon coast. It’s all very different to noisy metropolitan life in London but with secret messages, lights at sea and a possible spy, life is anything but quiet!

  • The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge
    A story about families, space and the Universe. Jamie’s Dad is an astronaut, transmitting to Earth from the NASA International Space Station. When visiting his local Observatory, Jamie picks up a strange signal on his phone – could it be evidence of alien life? When his Dad’s mission goes catastrophically wrong, Jamie holds a secret which just might get him back to Earth. This is a perfect blend of story-telling, science and mankind’s quest to ‘boldly go where no one has gone before.’
  • Instructions for a Second-hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray
    This book has a very deceptive cover in that this is not a love story. It is a book told from the two perspectives. Jonny is facing death, desperately in need of a heart transplant. Then one day he gets the call to say that a heart has been found – but of course, there are two sides to this story. Whilst Jonny’s life may be saved, another family is facing a terrible loss. Curiosity drives Jonny to find out more. This is Tamsyn Murray’s second book to be nominated for the Award: the last was My So Called Haunting in 2011.

  • Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
    Matthew watches people. Imprisoned in his bedroom by a debilitating condition, he observes the coming and goings of the residents of the quiet road where he lives. So when a young child goes missing, Matthew has vital clues – but no-one will believe him. A great mystery story with lots of twists and surprises right to the end, it is perfect for fans of The London Eye Mystery and Smart.

Mrs Howarth added, “This has been the most hotly debated shortlist amongst the selection panel, both for which books to include and also for those which we had to omit. We’ve had to leave out some really great books this year but this means that we have a shortlist of fantastic books!”

There was lots of excitement at Bolon School, with boys and girls clamouring to buy or borrow copies of the books even at the end of the launch ceremony!

Pupils will now start to read and review the shortlist. They will be encouraged to follow the School’s Twitter feed @BoltonSchoolLib and the hashtag #BCFA2018 for updates throughout the year.

In May, young people across Bolton will vote for their favourite books and the winner will be announced at an Award Ceremony on 4 July. Pupils who attend will have the opportunity to meet the shortlisted authors, talk about their favourite books and enjoy workshops.

Around 20 secondary schools in and around Bolton annually take part in the Award. Last year, Beaumont Primary School participated for the first time, shadowing the Award and attending the Award Ceremony at the end of the year. Interested primary schools are encouraged to take part using a shorter list of books: please contact Mrs Howarth for more information (mhowarth@boltonschool.org).

The launch of the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2018 shortlist was a fitting end to a busy week of celebrating words, following European Day of Languages on Tuesday and National Poetry Day on Thursday.

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