The Bath Children’s Novel Award is an international prize for emerging novelists writing for children or young adults. Previous recipients include Lucy Van Smit for The Hurting (Chicken House Sept 2018) and Struan Murray for Orphans of the Tide (Puffin 2020). Details for the Bath Children’s Novel Award 2020 will be announced here on 15 June with entries invited from 15 June until 29 November.
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10 to 12 years | magic realism | unpublished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
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
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10 to 12 years | fantasy | unpublished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 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 Echoes 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
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.”
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.”
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 Otherworlds||Chelsey Holness
|Everything That Came After||Rosie Hopegood
|Hold Me in the Shadow of Your Wings||Auriol B
|Jack in Time||Belinda Stephens
|Moonshine River||Gita Ralleigh
|Penny Bloom and the Truly Horrible Things||Gemma Hargreaves
|Sea Change||Iain Rowan|
|Sea of Liars||Sarah Stevens
|The Badly Born||Carlie Lee|
|The Curiosity Locker||Melissa Welliver|
|The Fourth Age of the Great Space Whale||Hannah Durkan
|The Ghosts of Regents Terrace||Ruth Ogilvie-Brown|
|The Museum of Emily||Fiona Longmuir|
|The Sky Over Rebecca||Matthew Fox|
|The Witch of Needle Falls||Allison Mandra
Read the full shortlist announcement here
Read the full longlist announcement here