1 December 2023
Bolton School is delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2024 Bolton Children’s Fiction Award.
Following consultation with local participating schools, the award will have a different format from previous years, with a celebration of the books and reading at Bolton School in March and then the winning book to be announced at the end of the summer term in an online event.
This year’s list is shorter than previous years with just three books included. They have been selected by the School Library staff in order to stretch pupils’ reading experiences and to introduce them to new authors and genres.
The three books are When I See Blue by Lily Bailey, While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle and Tyger by SF Said. While all quite distinct titles, they do have common themes running through them – developing a sense of identity, of friendship and overcoming adversity
When I See Blue tells the story of how, as a young person, Lily Bailey suffered from severe OCD. She now campaigns for better awareness and understanding of the condition. Lily draws upon her experiences in When I See Blue through her characterisation of Ben, the main protagonist. Ben has what he calls ‘a bully in his brain’ forcing him to count, to go through routines and this makes life very difficult. The library staff felt that this is an important and very relevant book for both those with OCD and for understanding that mental health is as important as physical health.
While the Storm Rages follows other recent books by Phil Earle that have had a Second World War setting and concentrates upon the relationship between people and animals. Based upon a little-known fact that at the outbreak of war, the government encouraged people to euthanise their pets and, as a result, over 750,000 animals lost their lives. Noah – who has just seen his father go off to war, is determined that the same fate will not fall on his beloved dog so with a couple of friends and a menagerie of animals, he sets off on his dad’s rickety barge to find a safe haven for them. There is danger, comedy and a great deal of heartbreak in this adventure story.
SF Said is an award-winning author with a host of prizes for children’s books. His latest book Tyger is set in an alternative London where the fall of the Great British empire hasn’t happened and people live in abject poverty or as slaves next to a wealthy class living in excessive privilege. In this world, we meet Adam, a young boy living in the city who discovers a magical talking Tyger that has the power to change everything. Of course, not everyone wants a fairer world. Library staff loved the illustrations by Dave McKean and the way that the Tyger brings hope to a difficult world.
The 2023 Winner of the Bolton Children’s Fiction Awards, Dread Wood, was described by one Bolton School student, Saif, as: ‘Even better than J K Rowling!’ Another student, James, from Canon Slade said, ‘Today I went to the Bolton Children’s Fiction Awards and had the best time of my life. I loved that we were able to get our books signed by the author that won. I loved that they included interactive things that we were able to do such as creating our own mythological creature, writing our own metaphors and much more.’
Mrs Caller, one of Bolton School’s Librarians, said: ‘We are confident that this year’s shortlist will be as popular as last year’s; there is already a small group of girls coming to the library before school to read and discuss the books! During the boys’ library lessons there have been big queues of students wanting to borrow books on the shortlist. I’m delighted by their enthusiasm.’
The winner will be announced in late June after pupils have voted for their favourite book. At the same time, the long-list for the 2025 award will be revealed so children can begin their reading over the summer.
Books can be bought from local independent bookseller Ebb & Flo, with whom the school has a long standing relationship and discussions are underway of linking with Bolton Library service to provide access to books.