Book Award 2023 Shortlist Announced
Whole School Announcement

Bolton School is delighted to announce the Bolton Children’s Fiction Awards 2023 Shortlist. This is a selection of six recently published books Bolton School’s Library staff recommend for younger readers from Years 6 to 9. The list has something for every taste: horror, magical creatures, time travel, animals and the environment, gothic historical and zombie apocalypse!

However, there are common themes throughout the books. One of these is developing a sense of self-identity and confidence.  Another thread running through the books is the importance of friendship and acceptance of others’ differences.

This year’s shortlist is:

  • ‘The Ship of Doom’ by M A Bennett

    This is a book that has a fantastic blend of fiction and true facts. A time-travelling tale, packed with interesting people – both from real life (H G Wells and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and a diverse cast of fictional characters.

    At the heart of the book is the theory of the ‘Butterfly Effect.’ Three children are tasked to time travel from 1894 onto a famous early twentieth century ship to steal an invention. They face a dilemma; should they change the future to save lives? And if they do, will it affect their present?
  • ‘The Last Bear’ by Hannah Gold

    This book has already won several prizes including the Blue Peter Award. It’s a story about wildlife, nature and friendship. The descriptions of the extreme cold and life on a barren but striking landscape made the sense of place feel like an extra character.

    April is sent to Bear Island with her father, a scientist, who is working on a project about global warming. His long days mean that April is left to explore the harsh environment alone. Despite its name, Bear Island no longer has any bears living there. One day, April catches a glimpse of a magnificent creature and her adventure begins.
  • ‘How I saved the World in a Week’ by Polly Ho-Yen

    Survival is the theme of this book, which includes creepy zombies and a mysterious virus.

    Billy’s Mum is a ‘prepper’ which others dismiss as a hysterical overreaction. After she is taken ill and has to go to hospital, Billy lives with his Dad, who dismisses his ex-wife’s behaviour as ‘nonsense.’  When a mysterious virus breaks out, escaping into the wild is the only option. Billy and his Dad begin a frantic dash to safety and his father has to accept that prepping might not be such a foolish idea after all!
  • ‘Dread Wood’ by Jennifer Killick

    This is an age appropriate horror story in the style of the ever-popular Goosebumps series.

    When a group of students are made to attend a Saturday morning detention the last thing they are expecting is their teacher to disappear in front of their very eyes! They are left to investigate the horror whilst trying to stay safe from adults who are not what they seem.

    A desperate few hours ensue as they try to evade capture from terrifying underground creatures and learn more about themselves and each other.
  • ‘Carnival of the Lost’ by Kieran Larwood

    This is a mystery story, set in Victorian London with a cast of quirky characters who are part of a travelling show.

    Sheba and her friends travel to London, a dirty, smelly and dangerous place where children have been disappearing from the banks of the Thames. They must work together to unravel the mystery and find these forgotten urchins.

    Staff felt that the footnotes throughout the book both set the scene and added historical depth to the story.
  • ‘The Last Firefox’ by Lee Newbery

    This is a funny family story about fitting in and standing up for yourself.

    One day Charlie comes across a strangely dressed boy who is nervous, as if he’s being chased. The boy is holding a puppy which he asks Charlie to look after for a few days, before vanishing. With its pointy snout, sticky up ears and bright orange fur, Charlie comes to realise it’s not a puppy but a fox. Not only a fox but a magical fox that gives off flames and smoke when its excited or scared!

    Enlisting the help of his friends, Charlie has to hide the fox, with some hilarious consequences complicated further by his Firefighter father!

Over the course of this year, students will be invited to read the Shortlisted books and vote for their favourite. Book club members will also be able to speak to the Authors during lunchtime video conferences and will also be taking part in joint discussions of the books.

On July 4 2023, there will be a special Awards Day, where participating students will have the chance to meet the winning author, and possibly other authors too.

Local external primary and secondary schools also participate in the Award. Teachers and Librarians make this Shortlist a focus for their Schools’ book clubs. They cascade the recorded author sessions to their pupils. Students then vote for their favourite books and attend the Awards Day to discover the Winner.

Schools interested in joining the Bolton Children’s Fiction Awards should contact [email protected] to find out more.

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