Sunday, June 29, 2014

Guardian children's fiction prize longlist: 'Exciting, beautiful, bonkers'

No space for 'teenage misery lit' on a selection of novels for children that 'make make-believe seem real'

Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo, the author of Flora and Ulysses, about a flying squirrel that writes poetry. Photograph: Catherine Smith

As the Carnegie medal draws fire over its disturbingly dark choice of winner, the Guardian children's fiction prize has announced a longlist that moves "beyond the confines of the current fad for teenage misery lit".
Ranging from Flora and Ulysses, the story of a squirrel narrowly saved from a vacuum cleaner, which won Kate DiCamillo the Newbery medal in the US earlier this year, to Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon's vision of the gods returning to earth to seek fame as celebrities, The Lost Gods, the longlisted titles are "challenging, funny, exciting, beautiful, thoughtful, bonkers", said judge and author Gillian Cross.

Unveiling the Guardian's longlist, which was selected from 169 books submitted for the award, the chair of judges and children's books editor Julia Eccleshare said that judges had sidestepped the darkness of contemporary life, and "looked beyond childhood anxiety for stories that made make-believe seem real".

The unveiling of the longlist follows attacks on Kevin Brooks' The Bunker Diary, the story of a boy held hostage in a bunker which won the Carnegie earlier this week. Literary critics in the Telegraph and the Independent called it a "uniquely sickening read" which "seems to have won on shock value rather than merit", and "depressing both in its nature and its lack of redemption".
The Guardian judge and author Frank Cottrell Boyce, a former winner of the prize, said that while many of the books on this year's longlist "tackle dark themes, they do so in bold,  unexpected ways that take us way beyond the confines of the current fad for teenage misery lit".

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