Annal: 2008 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

Results of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in the year 2008.

Book:The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go: Book 1 of Chaos Walking

Patrick Ness

A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard—and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him—something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

Book:Bad Blood

Bad Blood

Rhiannon Lassiter

In an abandoned house in the Lake District, a cupboard door opens into a playroom. Buried in dust is a collection of children’s books in which the names of characters have been savagely crossed out. Here three children played a make believe game, sacrificing their dreams and wishes to make what they believed come true. But the game was never finished and in the woods behind the house something waits, hungry for the only food it knows. Now a new family has come to the house. Soon they will discover themselves in the game. But they do not know the rules. And they are the pawns, not the players…A story with the terror and suspense of The Blair Witch Project.

Book:Before I Die

Before I Die: A Novel

Jenny Downham

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

Book:Bog Child

Bog Child

Siobhan Dowd

Digging for peat in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks like she’s been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him—his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into acting as courier to God knows what—a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls.

Bog Child is an astonishing novel exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit.

Book:Cosmic

Cosmic

Frank Cottrell Boyce

Liam is too big for his boots. And his football strip. And his school blazer. But being super-sized height-wise has its advantages: he’s the only eleven-year-old to ever ride the G-force defying Cosmic rollercoaster—or be offered the chance to drive a Porsche. Long-legged Liam makes a giant leap for boy-kind by competing with a group of adults for the chance to go into space. Is Liam the best boy for the job? Sometimes being big isn’t all about being a grown-up.

Book:The Goldsmith's Daughter

The Goldsmith's Daughter

Tanya Landman

A young girl’s struggle to change her destiny set against the destruction of the Aztec empire.

In the golden city of Tenochtitlan, Emperor Montezuma rules with an iron rod and people live in fear of the gods. Itacate, a girl born under an ill-fated sky, is destined for a life of submission and domestic drudgery. But when her father, a goldsmith, discovers her talent for his craft, she starts to work as his apprentice, a secret she must keep in order to protect the lives of herself and her family. But danger awaits as Spanish strangers invade the city. And when Itacate’s work comes to the emperor’s attention and she falls in love with a stranger, her life takes an even more perilous turn. Can Itacate change her destiny and survive in this harsh new world?

Book:The Knife that Killed Me

The Knife that Killed Me

Anthony McGowan

He is coming to kill me. Now would be a good time to run. I cannot run. I am too afraid to run.

Paul Varderman could be at any normal school—bullies, girls and annoying teachers are just a part of life. Unfortunately ‘normal’ doesn’t apply when it comes to the school’s most evil bully, Roth, a twisted and threatening thug with an agenda quite unlike anyone else. When Paul ends up delivering a message from Roth to the leader of a gang at a nearby school, it fuels a rivalry with immediate consequences. Paul attempts to distance himself from the feud, but when Roth hands him a knife it both empowers him and scares him at the same time…

This thought-provoking and original novel highlights the terrible consequences of peer pressure and violence, and casts a spotlight on the worrying rise in knife crime among teenagers.

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