Annal: 2003 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

Results of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in the year 2003.

Book:The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: A Novel

Mark Haddon

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.

Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn…[more]

Book:The Fire-Eaters

The Fire-Eaters

David Almond

Bobby Burns knows he’s a lucky lad. Growing up in sleepy Keely Bay, Bobby is exposed to all manner of wondrous things: stars reflecting off the icy sea, a friend that can heal injured fawns with her dreams, a man who can eat fire. But darkness seems to be approaching Bobby’s life from all sides. Bobby’s new school is a cold, cruel place. His father is suffering from a mysterious illness that threatens to tear his family apart. And the USA and USSR are testing nuclear missiles and creeping closer and closer to a world-engulfing war.

Together with his wonder-working friend, Ailsa Spink, and the fire-eating illusionist McNulty, Bobby will learn to believe in miracles that will save the people and place he loves.

Book:Lucas

Lucas

Kevin Brooks

Caitlin is spending the summer on the windswept island that is her home. She is caught between girlhood and maturity, and feels utterly isolated from the rest of the world. Then she meets Lucas, who is the embodiment of freedom and honesty. She is instantly drawn to him. But Caitlin must also grapple with the darker forces that seem to be confronting her family. Lucas himself further complicates matters when he is hunted for an awful crime that Caitlin herself becomes involved in.

Book:The Speed of the Dark

The Speed of the Dark

Alex Shearer

A breath-takingly clever novel about power and loss from the author of The Great Blue Yonder. Ernst Eckmann is an artist. He specialises in the art of the impossible - objects so tiny, so perfect, that they cannot be real. A tiny camel passes through the eye of a real needle; a pyramid is carved into a grain of sugar; a tiny polar bear, barely visible to the naked eye, sits on an iceberg of salt. Eckmann works in silence, carving between heartbeats. Christopher Malian loves Eckmann's sculptures. He visits the gallery often on his way home from school to marvel at the perfect miniatures beneath their glass domes. Until one day, the impossible happens - and Christopher sees a sculpture so real that it moves, dances, even seems to breathe...

Book:Bad Alice

Bad Alice

Jean Ure

13-year-old Duffy is staying with his nan for the summer while his mum and seriously ill little sister are in America for a life-saving operation. Duffy suffers mildy from Tourette's Syndrome - he only knows his gran and one of her neighbour's kids, a loud, insensitive kid called Stephen - what's he going to do for six whole weeks! Then Duffy meets Alice, a girl his age who lives next door, a girl who Nan disapproves of and everyone in the town thinks is mad; a girl who makes Duffy feel accepted and liked. Alice is volatile, and direct and Duffy tells her all about his little sister, his Tourette's and his absent father who left his mum because of him. Alice is more cryptic about her own home life. Everyone knows her adoptive father, Big Norm; he's the most popular man around; a devout Evangelist who runs a care home - Duffy's nan adores him. Yet Alice and her adopted sister are half in awe, half frightened of their dad; desperate for his approval, yet somehow resentful of him, too. It isn't until Alice shows Duffy…[more]

Book:The Book of Dead Days

The Book of Dead Days

Marcus Sedgwick

The days between 27 December and New Year’s Eve are dead days—days when spirits roam and magic shifts restlessly just beneath the surface of our everyday lives. There is a man, Valerian, whose time is running out, who must pay the price for the pact he made with evil so many years ago. His servant is Boy, a child with no name and no past; a child he treats with contempt, but who serves his master well and finds solace in the company of his only friend, Willow.

Unknown to any of them it is Boy who holds the key to their destiny. Set in dark threatening cities and the frozen countryside in a distant time and place of the author’s making, The Book of Dead Days conjures a spell-binding story of sorcery and desperate magic as Valerian, Boy and Willow battle to stop time and cling to life.

Beautifully evoked, dramatic and emotionally powerful, this is a real page turner.

Book:Malarkey

Malarkey

Keith Gray

Brook High is a great grey concrete ants' nest of a school. John Malarkey is the new kid, thrown in at the deep end of Year 11. He's the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time. Through what at first appears to be a random meeting, he helps a girl called Mary Chase out of tricky situation, but is subsequently accused of stealing report cards to sell to students so they can write their own bogus reports. He quickly realises it was all a set-up, and that he's been used to take the fall. The teacher who accuses him of the crime gives him one day to prove his innocence.

Malarkey tries to track down Mary Chase, but it's difficult in such a huge school. He does, however, discover strange goings-on beneath the surface of the school. There's the fixed football matches, with threats of violence to the team's star player. There's the homework club where money changes hands. There are teachers willing to take bribes. The more questions he asks, the…[more]

Book:Where in the World

Where in the World

Simon French

With beautifully drawn characters and relationships, this is a gentle and moving book. It tells the story of Ari, a musically gifted child who emigrates from Germany to Australia, and has to cope with new relationships, at the loss of old relationships. Ari grows to realise that life is composed of many kinds of journey. This book is for children aged 10 and above.

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