Monthly Archives: May 2013

Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize Longlist 2013

David Almond's The Boy With Piranhas

The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas, by David Almond, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Walker, £9.99) Age: 9+
After being given a £10 note on his birthday, orphaned Stanley Potts visits a fair and wins thirteen goldfish. When his money-mad uncle cruelly turns them into a new fish product in his fish-canning factory, Stan ups and runs away. An adventure that begins on the Hook a Duck stall leads from fairground to circus as Stan begins to discover what he values. But he is not entirely in charge of his own destiny. Everything is leading him to the legendary Pancho Pirelli, famous for swimming with piranhas, who is determined to train Stan as his apprentice. Does Stan have the courage? A rollicking adventure with a big-hearted hero.

Gillian Cross' After TomorrowAfter Tomorrow, by Gillian Cross (Oxford University Press. £6.99) Age: 10+

Money is worthless, food is scarce, friends can’t be trusted and robbery with violence is commonplace in this near-future dystopia set after the collapse of British banks. Matt’s mum does all she can to keep her family going by storing supplies and growing her own vegetables. But when their home is raided and the family are condemned as hoarders or “scadgers”, they are forced to flee to safety on one of the last trains through the Channel Tunnel. For Matt and his little brother Taco, life in a makeshift French refugee camp throws up unexpected pressures. Who can they trust? What are the rules? What is now right and wrong? Tangible dangers force the boys to make hard choices in this sure-footed adventure, set in a morally and economically bankrupt future.

John Green's The Fault in our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (Penguin. £7.99) 12+
Hazel expects nothing from the Cancer Kid Support Group; she’s only there to please her mom. After all, going to the group won’t change her diagnosis. But then Augustus turns up. Suddenly Hazel’s life takes on a different colour, shape and feel as she becomes close to her fellow cancer sufferer. Though they fall for each other like any ordinary teenagers, Hazel and Augustus’s relationship is made unique by their illness. John Green skilfully balances the despair caused by a tragic situation with bursts of fizzing humour as the pair tell their stories with honesty overlaid with a poignantly lugubrious black humour.

Lydia Syson's A World Between UsA World Between Us, by Lydia Syson (Hot Key Books, £6.99) Age: 14+
Seventeen-year-old Felix is appalled by the actions of the Blackshirts in London and longs to do something meaningful. She is also keen to escape from the limited expectations of home and a complicated romance which leaves her unsure of what to do next. Drawn to the cause of the Spanish Civil war, she heads to Spain to volunteer for the International Brigade. Immediately, everything she has taken for granted is challenged as she finds herself working as a nurse in dangerous situations in which every action counts. Friendship and romance provide the escape and a different reality for Felix and her young companions in an unflinching and thrilling story which captures the chaos, action, moral choices and curious romance of war.

Rebecca Stead's Liar & Spy Liar & Spy, by Rebecca Stead (Andersen, £9.99) 10+

Life gets steadily worse for Georges (the s is silent) after he moves into a new apartment block. Dad has taken a pay cut in a new job, and Mom has to work longer shifts to make up. Luckily distraction is at hand, as Georges gets caught up in a game with another boy living in the block. Home-schooled Safer’s spying game is scary but fun, while his home provides an interesting and supportive alternative refuge for Georges from his family problems. But gradually Georges begins to doubt everything he once took at face value, and glimpse truths that he can no longer avoid. His journey of self-discovery is tenderly and sensitively told within an exciting adventure.

Katherine Randell's Roof ToppersRooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell (Faber, £6.99) 10+

Sophie, a baby found floating in a cello case after the sinking of the Queen Mary, is rescued by a charmingly eccentric academic who takes her in and brings her up. Together they eat unusual meals, study haphazardly, wash infrequently and dress unusually. When the authorities threaten to put Sophie in a home for orphans, she decides to go in search of her mother. Together, she and Charles set off for Paris, where they are soon stopped in their tracks by petty rules. But Sophie isn’t one to give up easily. Escaping on to a roof, she finds Matteo, living off pigeon, washing in rainwater and travelling unseen across the great roofscape of Paris. With Matteo’s help Sophie learns the tricks of roof-top living, how to break into buildings and bamboozle officials. A nimble adventure with a warm-hearted ending.

Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon

Maggot Moon, by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books, £10.99) 12+

Zone Seven in the Motherland is a horrible place to be growing up. Fun is forbidden, colour is absent, hunger is the norm and danger is everywhere. Worst of all, people just disappear. Fifteen-year-old Standish’s parents have disappeared, so he and his grandfather struggle on alone. But Standish grows increasingly restless. His outsider’s view of the world makes him a prime target for small-minded teachers and classroom bullies. But it also gives him a different perspective on the distorted world the authorities have built around him. When the Motherland’s plan for a moon landing threatens to make life even worse, Standish decides to fight back. In his own curious and powerfully individual language, he describes his stand against oppression. This is a thrilling and inspiring story of individual courage.

William Sutcliffe, The Wall

The Wall, by William Sutcliffe (Bloomsbury, £12.99) Age: 12+
Joshua’s life is perfectly safe as long as he stays on his side of the Wall. As he and every other schoolboy knows, the other side of the Wall is dangerous to everyone except for the soldiers who police it. When Joshua finds a tunnel under the Wall and emerges on the other side he witnesses terrifying violence but also meets a family whose way of life shows him the real impact caused by the divide and makes him question all he has previously been told. From Leila and her family Joshua learns the enormity of living under repression as well as what kindness, despite its attendant dangers, really means. Joshua’s journey of discovery unfolds as a haunting fable which lyrically celebrates the healing power of nature.