Thursday, January 28, 2016

Costa Award: why Frances Hardinge's children's novel really is the best book of the year

It comes as absolutely no surprise to me that Frances Hardinge, winner of the 2015 Costa Children’s Book Award, has gone on to win the overall prize, Costa Book of the Year, for her superb novel, The Lie Tree.

I say novel, and not children’s novel, for a reason. The children’s publisher David Fickling, when asked what a children’s book was, said that there is no such thing; only good books that can be read by all. And that, by the longest of miles, is true for The Lie Tree.

Nevertheless, those who write for children, or publish books for children, or anyone interested in this vast and varied literature, should be rejoicing. This is the first “children’s book” to win the main Costa gong since Philip Pullman in 2001 with The Amber Spyglass. That had cosmic scope, theological grandiosity, and an intrepid, innocent child heroine. 
Pullman, alongside JK Rowling, was at the forefront of a resurgence in the field of children’s literature, proving that it can be serious and entertaining.


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