Bath Children’s Novel Award 2019 Winner | Prize: £2,500

MATTHEW FOX for The Sky Over Rebecca

10 to 12 years | magic realism | unpublished

When mysterious, inexplicable prints appear in the Stockholm snow, ten-year-old Kara must discover where, or rather who, they’re coming from.

“Atmospheric, beautifully written, a high concept and totally original narrative journey, and a way of sensitively taking on a well-known part of history from a completely fresh perspective. I was gripped from the very first page.”

Award judge, literary agent Lauren Gardner of Bell Lomax Moreton

Head shot of Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox is a writer and filmmaker. He has worked in the non-profit sector for more than a decade, focusing on the Arts, LGBTI+ issues, sustainability and air quality. He co-created and programmed the Outsiders LGBTI+ Film Festival in Liverpool, and his short films have screened at festivals all over the world.

Matthew has a Masters in Screenwriting from the Northern Film School. He was the runner-up for the Pen Parentis Fellowship in 2018 and last year won the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Category of the Emerging Screenwriters Contest.

The Sky Over Rebecca is his first novel for children. Early drafts of the story were written in a hurry while Matthew was on parental leave – mostly at lunchtimes, when his one year-old daughter was sleeping.

The Junior Judges said: “The Sky Over Rebecca is captivating, heartfelt and touching. The story is beautiful- weaving together friendships through time as well as taking a look at the precarious position wartime children of Kara’s age would’ve been in. It really made me think and one part made me so sad but not in a bad way. I absolutely loved it.”

Read the opening of The Sky Over Rebecca and all the shortlisted manuscripts here

Interview: Matt Fox on winning the Bath Children’s Novel Award and accepting representation with  2019 judge Lauren Gardner

Bath Children’s Novel Award 2019 Double Shortlisted:

NOAH WEISZ for Reef  

10 to 12 years | fantasy | unpublished

A sea boy with nothing to lose goes above ground to save his war torn world and finds a girl up for changing people’s views.

The Junior Judges said: “Reef is gripping, down-to-earth and inspiring. I loved all the obvious parallels you could draw to the current political climate, especially the hate and mistrust of immigrants… this teenage immigrant is over the moon right now!”

NOAH WEISZ for Stargap 

10 to 12 years | eco-adventure | unpublished

A Queensland boy and his friends must camp wild and solve wildlife clues in a fierce race to save a rainforest reserve.

The Junior Judges said: “Stargap is thrilling, adventurous and daring. I really enjoyed learning about how to spot and track animals in the rainforest. My favourite part was when one night they went spotlighting with Tom, using their torches to find animals by their eyeshine.”

Noah Weisz headshot

Noah Weisz teaches middle-school language arts at a small school, creative writing at St. Edward’s University, and English language skills through Refugee Services of Texas.  He holds an M.F.A. in Fiction from the New Writers Project at the University of Texas at Austin.  He was also shortlisted in 2016 for a manuscript called Echo of Light and has been published in magazines such as Highlights, Aquila and Hunger Mountain.

Reef was inspired by the plight of refugees, The Little Mermaid and Noah’s time working at Orpheus Island Research Station in the Great Barrier Reef. After watching news from around the world of refugees fleeing war-torn homes he decided to blend his memories of the reef with Andersen’s classic story of longing and belonging the world.

Noah began writing Stargap while working as a research assistant at James Cook University in Queensland, making many Biology field trips to the nearby Wet Tropics Rainforest.

Both books feature young people raising their voices together to  help their communities. Noah says: “I wanted young readers to turn the last page feeling both satisfied that they’d read an exciting story and empowered to take action of their own.”

Read the opening pages of Stargap, Reef and all the shortlisted novels here

Interview: Noah Weisz on becoming our first triple shortlistee

Bath Children’s Novel Award 2019 Shortlisted:

SEAN DOOLEY for 1666 

10 to 12 years | historical | unpublished

A teenage illusionist is trapped in her cellar with a fresh corpse as the Great Fire of London rages outside.

The Junior Judges said: “1666 is exciting, always moving and full of action. I liked the fact that it was set alongside a pretty significant historic event without it really being about that event.”

Head shot of Sean Dooley

Sean Dooley is an English teacher at an international secondary school in Shanghai, where he also teaches unicycle and slackline.

He has a BA Hons in English and PGCE in English / Drama from the University of Exeter and a Cambridge University Masters in Arts, Culture and Education.

1666 was sparked by his son’s Year 2 project on the Great Fire of London. Together they read extracts from Pepys’ original diaries, climbed The Monument near Pudding Lane, paced the fire’s route through modern London’s streets and explored the Museum of London. Sean says: “The Great Fire is such an extraordinary event in London’s history that it makes a perfect setting for mystery and adventure.”

Read the opening of 1666 and all the other shortlisted novels here

Bath Children’s Novel Award 2019 Shortlisted:

RUTH OGILVIE-BROWN for The Ghosts of Regents Terrace 

10 to 12 years | ghost | unpublished

Edinburgh maid and aspiring photographer Lottie must capture evidence of a ghostly fraud to expose the truth and save her friends.

The Junior Judges said: “I loved The Ghosts of Regents Terrace, especially the characters and mix of friends, enemies and frenemies. I don’t anything could have made it better. I was thoroughly entertained through the whole book.”

Headshot of Ruth Ogilvie-Brown

Ruth Ogilvie Brown is a graduate in Scots Law who lives in Dundee. She works at the University of Dundee where she looks after websites and assists staff with learning technologies.

Ruth’s stories have been published by literary magazines Ellipsis Zine and Funny Pearls and in 2019 she was selected for a Curtis Brown course on writing for children and young adults. Ruth wanted to write the type of novel she always looked for in the library when she was a child: a spooky tale with a girl as the main character.

Ruth is fascinated by Victorian ‘spirit’ photography and the discovery of a surprisingly small camera in a museum in Edinburgh sparked the idea of a young girl in the 1870s whose only possession is her camera.

In The Ghosts of Regents Terrace, aspiring photographer Lottie is tricked into faking ghost photographs by a fraudulent medium. But there’s a real ghost boy in the house that only Lottie can see, and when they go snooping together, they discover evidence that points to murder.

Read the opening of The Ghosts of Regents Terrace  and all the shortlisted novels here

The Cornerstones Literary Consultancy Prize for most promising longlisted manuscript is awarded to:

FIONA LONGMUIR for The Museum of Emily

10 to 12 years | adventure | unpublished

Prize: the online course Edit Your Novel the Professional Way

Bath Children’s Novel Award 2019 Longlisted

Astrid Greycloak Versus the OtherworldsChelsey Holness
Everything That Came AfterRosie Hopegood
GhostcloudMichael Mann
Hold Me in the Shadow of Your WingsAuriol B
Jack in TimeBelinda Stephens
Moonshine RiverGita Ralleigh
Penny Bloom and the Truly Horrible ThingsGemma Hargreaves
ReefNoah Weisz
Sea ChangeIain Rowan
Sea of LiarsSarah Stevens
1666Sean Dooley
StargapNoah Weisz
The Badly BornCarlie Lee
The Curiosity LockerMelissa Welliver
The Fourth Age of the Great Space WhaleHannah Durkan
The Ghosts of Regents TerraceRuth Ogilvie-Brown
The Museum of EmilyFiona Longmuir
The Sky Over RebeccaMatthew Fox
The Witch of Needle FallsAllison Mandra

Read the full shortlist announcement here

Read the full longlist announcement here

“Winning gave me a much-needed confidence boost and landed me my dream agent”