Annal: 2012 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

Results of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in the year 2012.

Book:The Unforgotten Coat

The Unforgotten Coat

Frank Cottrell Boyce

From the best-selling author of Cosmic and Millions comes an evocative immigration tale about two brothers trying to survive—a daring story that miraculously defies belief.

When two Mongolian brothers inexplicably appear one morning in Julie’s sixth grade class, no one, least of all Julie, knows what to do with them. But when Chingis, the older of the two brothers, proclaims Julie as their “Good Guide”—a nomadic tradition of welcoming strangers to a new land—Julie must somehow navigate them through soccer, school uniforms, and British slang, all while trying to win Shocky’s attention and perhaps also an invitation to her friend Mimi’s house.

At times funny, this moving and simply told novella tugs at the heart—a unique story of immigration both fierce in its telling and magical in its characters.

Book:The Abominables

The Abominables

Eva Ibbotson

A hundred years ago, in the Himalayan peaks of Nanvi Dar, the daughter of an English earl is kidnapped by a huge hairy monster. In a secret valley Agatha Farlingham is introduced to a family of motherless yetis and devotes her life to their upbringing. She teaches them to speak, tells them stories and insists on polite manners.

Book:Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt

Jack Gantos

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels…and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air. 

Book:A Greyhound of a Girl

A Greyhound of a Girl

Roddy Doyle

Mary O’Hara is a sharp and cheeky 12-year-old Dublin schoolgirl who is bravely facing the fact that her beloved Granny is dying. But Granny can’t let go of life, and when a mysterious young woman turns up in Mary’s street with a message for her Granny, Mary gets pulled into an unlikely adventure. The woman is the ghost of Granny’s own mother, who has come to help her daughter say good-bye to her loved ones and guide her safely out of this world. She needs the help of Mary and her mother, Scarlett, who embark on a road trip to the past. Four generations of women travel on a midnight car journey. One of them is dead, one of them is dying, one of them is driving, and one of them is just starting out.

Book:A Boy and a Bear in a Boat

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat

Dave Shelton

A boy and a bear go to sea, equipped with a suitcase, a comic book, and a ukulele. The bear assures the boy that they are traveling a short distance and it really shouldn’t take very long. But then they encounter “unforeseeable anomalies”: turbulent stormy seas! a terrifying sea monster! and the rank remains of The Very Last Sandwich. The odds are pitted against the boy and the bear and their boat.

Will the Harriet, their trusted vessel, withstand the violent lashings of the salty waves? And will anyone ever answer their message in a bottle?

Book:Bullet Boys

Bullet Boys

Ally Kennen

This is an electrifyingly dark teen thriller from the author of Beast and Quarry. Alex, Levi and Max follow the young soldiers from the local army camp on the moor. But harmless rivalry develops into something far more incendiary. When the boys discover a cache of buried weapons near the training grounds, deadly forces are brought into play.

Book:Dying to Know You

Dying to Know You

Aidan Chambers

From the master storyteller, Aidan Chambers, comes this new thought-provoking novel for teenagers.

Karl, aged seventeen, is hopelessly in love. But the object of his affections, Firella, demands proof, and poses him a series of questions regarding his attitude to the many sides of love. But Karl is dyslexic, and convinced that if Firella finds out, she will think he is stupid, and unworthy of her, and leave him.

So Karl asks a local writer to help him construct his replies—and an unlikely, but extremely touching, friendship develops between the two men. They both come to learn a great deal about about life from a very different perspective, and when an act of violence shatters their calm, they find their respective appraisal of life shifting in profound ways.

Book:Soonchild

Soonchild

Russell Hoban, Alexis Deacon

Two internationally acclaimed artists create a groundbreaking, genre-defying adventure to transcend time, place, and identity.

In the cold north where the white wind blows lives Sixteen-Face John, a shaman. His wife is expecting their first child—a “soonchild.” But Soonchild won’t come out! So John sets out to find the World Songs that inspire all soonchildren to leave the womb. Along the way, he must shift shape and size, converse with animals and ancestors, and face demons and death. But he also pursues an elusive golden-eyed presence that hints at a connection with his past. This breathtaking novel, as exciting as it is spooky, is a lyrical tribute to the forces of nature, magic, and family.

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