Friday, 21 February 2020

A. M. Howell - The House of One Hundred Clocks - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

The first book published in 2019 by A. M. Howell was Garden of Lost Secrets. It is a deliciously enchanting tale that has been loved by many readers and longlisted for the Branford Boase award.  The next book, published this month (6 February 20020) by Usbourne Publishing, is The House of One Hundred Clocks. The fantastic book cover illustration is by Finish illustrator Saara Katariina Söderlund. Saara's work is inspired by nature which enables her to create some amazing artwork. This book cover is another inspired piece which really does give the book the best start towards its journey onto many bookshelves for readers to enjoy.

The House of One Hundred Clocks is set in the Edwardian period of June 1905. The book was inspired by a trip to Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds. The tick-tock of many clocks planted a story idea that grows into a chiming fantasy. I'm sure that it will strike a chord with many readers. The fantastic plot takes the reader down the fantasy hole of intrigue and adventure where you will be hooked, claws first, into a spirited narrative that starts the brain ticking.

Helena and her father have moved to Cambridge with her loveable pet parrot - a blue-fronted Amazon parrot called Orbit. Her father has been appointed clock-winder to a rather amazing collection of timepieces belonging to one of the richest men in England. Her father agrees to a bizarre contract which raises the stakes of the plot and adds a nervous tension: THE CLOCKS SHOULD NEVER STOP.  

This story hurtles the reader into a mysterious household with many secrets and a hidden past. It's a very descriptive story that creates a spooky atmosphere. The author explores the Edwardian time period by weaving historical factual elements into the story. For example, Women's rights, inventions like the TELEPHONE and other social changes that were starting to take place. One of my personal favourites includes the development of flight which makes the story come alive and adds a sense of wonderment to the plotline.

This story is a joy to read. It captures the heart with many poignant moments of friendship, family, hope, and moving on. Both sets of characters have lived through tragic life experiences that propel the story with action, fear, ghostly encounters, strange noises, and a bird reciting nursery rhymes. It has the traits of a classic story with a brilliant ending to satisfy the reader. It will leave you with a sense of loss and happiness which will make you reflect on life and time. It's definitely time to pop it on your to-read pile.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books - Children Book Picks Feb 2020 - UK POST TWO

Sara Pennypacker - Here in the Real World - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (6 Feb. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-0008371692 - Paperback

From the author of the highly acclaimed, bestselling novel Paxcomes a gorgeous and moving novel that is an ode to introverts, dreamers, and misfits everywhere, ideal for readers aged 9–12.
Ware can’t wait to spend summer ‘off in his own world’ and generally being left alone. But then his parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities so-called ‘normal’ kids do.
On his first day, Ware meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl planting a garden in the rubble of an abandoned church next to the camp. Soon Ware starts skipping Rec, creating a castle-like space of his own in the church lot.
Jolene scoffs, calling him a dreamer – he doesn’t live in the ‘real world’ like she does. As different as Ware and Jolene are, though, they have one thing in common: for them, the lot is a refuge. And when their sanctuary is threatened, Ware vows to save the lot.
But what does a hero look like in real life? And what can two misfit kids do?

Holly Rivers - Demelza and the Spectre Detectors - Published by Chicken House  (6 Feb. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1912626038 - Paperback

Read Full Extract HERE 

Demelza loves science - she loves it so much that she's been known to stay up late to work on her peculiar inventions! But Demelza discovers she has inherited a distinctly un-scientific set of skills: Spectre Detecting. Like her grandmother, she can summon the ghosts of the dead. But when Grandma is kidnapped by a mysterious villain, she knows Spectre Detecting has something to do with it. Only Demelza and her pasty best friend, Percy, can solve the deadly mystery ...

Dashe Roberts - Sticky Pines: The Bigwoof Conspiracy - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (6 Feb. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1788006866 - Paperback

When twelve-year-old, UFO-obsessed, Lucy Sladan sneaks out in the middle of a thunderstorm to investigate the unexplained disappearances in her hometown of Sticky Pines, she finds more than she bargained for: a huge hairy creature, a thirteen-year-old stranger named Milo Fisher and a deep-rooted secret. Together, Lucy and Milo become entwined in a mystery that threatens to engulf the whole town of Sticky Pines and its weird and wonderful residents. Sticky Pines: The Bigwoof Conspiracy is the debut novel for children by the talented Dashe Roberts.

Simon Leic - Deadfall: Book 3 (The Haven) - Published by Hodder Children's Books (6 Feb. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1444947649 - Paperback
You don't know it exists, but when you have nowhere else to turn, the Haven will find you ... An adrenaline-fuelled adventure, third in the Haven series, by top thriller writer Simon Lelic. 
Our city. Our secret. Our rules.
The Haven is a secret organisation - run by kids, for kids. But the police are on to them, and Ollie's friend Lily is locked up in an off-grid, high-security prison. 
Ollie and the Haven's investigations team are forced to choose: do they hide away and protect what they have? Or do they stay true to the Haven's mission, helping kids in trouble wherever - and whoever - they may be? 
It's a decision that will threaten the Haven's very existence ... 

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Shortlist 2020

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Shortlists 2020 - A Voyage of Discovery

February: A beautifully illustrated celebration of hidden species, a vivid adventure story about a brave girl crossing the Himalayas and a thought-provoking collection of essays by gal-dem writers are amongst the eighteen shortlisted titles competing to win the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020.

Every year Waterstones’ expert booksellers are called upon to vote for the books they believe are the very best in new children’s writing and illustration. Now in its sixteenth year, the Prize has evolved into one of the most prestigious accolades for children’s books in the UK.  It has become a formidable platform for emerging talent, demonstrating its enduring relevance by bringing the best new books to readers’ attention every year and launching the careers of many children’s book authors and illustrators.

Last year’s winner The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf, Waterstones’ most successful winner yet, shot to the top of the bestseller charts following the Prize announcement and the novel saw an increase in sales of over 500%.

Florentyna Martin, Waterstones Children’s Buyer says‘One of the greatest pleasures in reading is the opportunity to explore, and this year’s authors and illustrators invite readers to join them on a voyage of discovery. In a shortlist of immersive fact and fiction, our booksellers have chosen to share narratives that offer readers of all ages the chance to explore a wide range of topics, from nature and identity to inner strength and the fabric of society. Whether meeting intriguing characters, navigating vibrant settings or uncovering thrilling plots, these books investigate what it means to understand yourself and the world around you.’

The shortlists consist of eighteen books across three categories. Six books will compete within each category to be crowned Category Winner, with the three category winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2020. 

Kate Skipper, Waterstones COO says: ‘The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize is a highlight of my year. Every year, our booksellers consistently select stories that invariably jump off the page and into the reader’s imagination. No screen can compete with the power of a child’s imagination, it really is a wondrous thing. The shortlists this year are brilliant; I don’t envy the difficult choices ahead for our booksellers as they try to pick this year’s winners.’

The Illustrated Books shortlist explores nature with passion and joy. Ben Rothery’s beautifully illustrated Hidden Planet opens a door to a lesser-known animal world, whilst in Look Up!, an energetic and joyful story about science and space by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, budding astronaut and science fan Rocket want to share her excitement about an impending meteor shower. Graham Carter’s eponymous Otto Blotter, Bird Spotter sets out to explore the world and discovers something extraordinary, and in the magical and fun-filled Once Upon a Unicorn Horn by Beatrice Blue, June unexpectedly finds tiny flying horses in her garden. The shortlist concludes with One Fox by Kate Read, a counting farmyard adventure with a surprising twist, and Me and My Sister by Rose Robbins, a touching story about two siblings whose bond is stronger because of their differences.

Exploring mysteries and discovering hidden truths dominates the shortlist for Younger Readers. Jasbinder Bilan’s Asha & the Spirit Bird vividly tells the story of Asha’s journey across the Himalayas to find her father, and the gripping historical novel Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange tells a story of hidden truths and revelations set on the Kent Coast in 1939. In Sharna Jackson’s suspense whodunit High–Rise Mystery a marvellous young detective duo investigate a murder case, whilst in The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum, an unexpected meeting with an outsider causes Maggie to question what really lies behind the strict rules of her town. Exploring thoughts and feelings is at the heart of the final two novels on the shortlist. Sam Copeland’s hero in the delightful Charlie Changes Into a Chicken develops an inconvenient superpower and realises that what he really needs is the help of his best friends, whereas The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan is a powerful yet tender verse-novel about Stevie who is confused about her feelings for another girl but, with the help of a librarian, builds up her courage to share the truth with her mum.

The Older Readers’ shortlist explores topics of inner strength and identity. Liz Hyder’s original and darkly atmospheric novel Bearmouth tells the story of Newt who has worked in the mines from a young age, simply accepting things as they are, until a new worker arrives and causes Newt to question everything. In Samira Ahmed’s chilling near-future dystopia Internment, Layla refuses to accept injustice and discovers her courage and the power of friendship, whilst I Will Not Be Erased is a thought-provoking and illuminating collection of essays by gal-dem writers about growing up as people of colour.  Jemima Small Versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter tells the young heroine’s journey of self-discovery and how she learns to be happy with who she is, whereas Emma Smith-Barton’s The Million Pieces of Neena Gill is a powerful and relatable story about a girl’s struggle with mental health. Concluding the shortlist is A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, a page-turning mystery novel in which one girl does not believe what everyone else takes for the truth.

The winners will be announced at an evening reception at Waterstones Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookshop, on Thursday 26th March 2020. The winner of each category will receive £2000, with the Overall Winner receiving an extra £3000. In the event that the Prize is awarded to a partnership, then the Prize money will be split equally between the joint winners.

The winning authors and illustrators will also see a significant boost in sales, and the promise of an ongoing commitment to their writing career from all Waterstones shops nationwide.

The full list of shortlisted titles (in alphabetical order by author) for the 2020 Prize are:

Illustrated Books:
Once Upon a Unicorn Horn by Beatrice Blue (Frances Lincoln)
Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola (illus) (Puffin)
Otto Blotter, Bird Spotter by Graham Carter (Andersen Press)
One Fox by Kate Read (Two Hoots)
Me and My Sister by Rose Robbins (Scallywag Press)
Hidden Planet: An Illustrator's Love Letter to Planet Earth by Ben Rothery (Ladybird)

Books for Younger Readers:
The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum (Nosy Crow)
Asha & the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan (Chicken House)
Charlie Changes Into a Chicken by Sam Copeland (Puffin)
The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan (Little Island)
High-Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson (Knights Of)
Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange (Chicken House)

Books for Older Readers:
Internment by Samira Ahmed (Atom)
I Will Not Be Erased by gal-dem (Walker Books)
Bearmouth by Liz Hyder (Pushkin Children's Books)
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (Electric Monkey)
The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton (Puffin)
Jemima Small Versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter (Usborne Publishing)

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Struan Murray (Author), Manuel Šumberac (Illustrator) - Orphans of the Tide - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books (#OrphansoftheTide)

Walking into a book shop this February, you'll find yourself both delighted and entertained by some of the best children's books that have been published this month. One of my personal favourite reads is this debut book by Struan Murray. Published by Puffin Books on the 20th February, it has a fantastic cover and brilliant illustrations that have been produced by Manuel Šumberac. You only need to look at the brilliant front cover to know that you are in for a real treat. And believe you me, you really are! 

This book is a fantastic slice of dark, magical fiction. You'll find the pages turning by themselves whilst your head spins into a wondrous world. The destination is The City which has been built precariously on a mountain, in fact, it's half-submerged into the sea. This is a brilliant place for the imagination to thrive on. It's a great rooftop escape full of drama, fireworks and some rather bizarrely odd moments. 

This great fantasy is gripped with fear. A malevolent enemy takes over the human mind, hoping to cause mischief and total destruction. The Enemy can take possession of any human body, however, the ruthless Inquisition are determined to destroy it forever. All except for one character, Ellie Lancaster, has another idea. She is a fantastic well-rounded and loveable character who is both heroically courageous and strong-minded. As a tinker and inventor, she lives in a workshop crammed with curiosities. 

This brilliant story is packed full of emotion and friendship. All the characters suffer from some kind of personal grief that most of us can relate to. A mysterious boy washes in with the tide, the citizens believe he's the Enemy that has come to cause untold chaos. This dark side of the story introduces some scary moments which dispense a little chill in the air and tug on the heartstrings. 

I loved the split narrative. As you read the layered diary entries from Claude Hestermeyer, the story connects together brilliantly and makes the reader stick (with fantasy superglue) to the ongoing events. This book is a creative and brilliantly imaginative story. 

This story is thoroughly enjoyable as there is so much in the plot to keep all readers entertained. The cauldron has been mixed with myths, chaos, and secrets that are all bubbling with intrigue, mystery and magic cinematic moments. This is a truly great book to escape into. You'll soon have the power to see and believe in the magic of reading when the story is this good - try it for yourself. 

Monday, 3 February 2020

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books - Children Book Picks Feb 2020 - UK POST ONE

Michelle Harrison - A Pinch of Magic - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (6 Feb. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1471183867 - Paperback - Reading Age: 8+ 
From the bestselling author of A PINCH OF MAGIC comes another spellbinding adventure that will take your breath away and make you believe in magic. 

A missing sister, a secret island and ... a sprinkle of sorcery.

The family curse has been lifted and the Widdershins sisters: Betty, Fliss and Charlie are free to leave the misty prison isle of Crowstone. But when a mysterious girl arrives at the Poacher’s Pocket with a pocketful of hagstones and accompanied by a will-o’-the-wisp, it seems another adventure has landed on their doorstep. And when Charlie goes missing, it’s up to Betty and Fliss to journey through misty marches, past wisp catchers and on to a secret island that doesn’t exist on any map…

Ross Mackenzie - Evernight - Published by Andersen Press (6 Feb. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1783448319 - Paperback - Reading Age: 10+
Thousands of years ago, the Evernight came to the Silver Kingdom and turned everything to darkness and chaos. It was only defeated thanks to the skill and bravery of the Witches. But now the Evernight is about to return, released by the evil Mrs Hester, and the only spell that might stop it is lost, deep below the great city of King s Haven. 

Then orphan Larabelle Fox stumbles across a mysterious wooden box while treasure-hunting in the city s sewers. Little does she realise she is about to be catapulted into an adventure, facing wild magic and mortal danger and a man who casts no shadow . . .

Anne Miller (Author), Becka Moor (Illustrator) - Mickey and the Animal Spies - Published by OUP Oxford (6 Feb. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-0192773630 - Paperback - Reading Age: 8+
Mickey is the type of kid who's always on the lookout for a code to crack. So it's her lucky day when she spots a strange poster on the bus home from school written completely in code. Within the strange jumble of letters is a curious message, one that leads to exciting adventure-with diamond thieves, dognappers, and an extraordinary group of animal spies! 

This book contains real coded messages, can you crack the codes before Mickey does?

Shane Hegarty  (Author), Ben Mantle (Illustrator) - BOOT: The Rusty Rescue - Published by Hodder Children's Books (20 Feb. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1444949391 - Reading Age: 6+
For fans of Toy Story and Charlie Changes into a Chicken, this is the second hilarious, warm-hearted story about a small robot on a big adventure. With illustrations by Ben Mantle bringing Boot's world to life, this is a thrill-ride of an adventure, stuffed with fun, friendship and a warehouse full of bouncy castles.
Toy robot Boot has come a long way since it woke up in a scrapyard with only two and a half glitchy memories. It has a home with its robot pals in an abandoned amusement arcade, and has discovered what true happiness is - although it's still not sure why humans are so leaky and weird ... But when Boot and the gang stumble upon Rusty, an old, broken robot, forgotten in the back of a testing lab, it's time to spring into action. Boot knows there's something special about Rusty - but can they free the old robot and help it find its purpose?
Illustrated throughout in glorious black and white by the award-winning Ben Mantle, this is an unforgettable tale of resilience and hope. 

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Yaba Badoe - Wolf Light - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

Yaba Badoe is an award-winning Ghanaian-British documentary filmmaker and writer. Her first acclaimed children's novel was A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2019. Wolf Light is her second children's book and will be released in paperback this Jan 2020 by Zephyr. It has an absolutely fantastic book cover which has been illustrated by Leo Nickolls. I think it is amazing and just love it. 

After a brief flicker and a flutter of the pages, you are instantly transported into a place of pure fantasy and magical realism. There are three sacred places of sanctuary in this book, each with its own narrative that goes straight to the human heart. It starts with three spiritual sisters: Zula, Adoma, and Linet who are connected by their destiny from the day they were born. Even though they all live in a different part of the world, they share a special spiritual connection. As a result, they have to harness the magic of the elements and protect their sacred spaces by watching over the respective lands where they live. 

This journey enables us to dance through the tropical forests of Ghana as well as sing with the harsh stormy moors of Cornwall. It is a very powerful story that considers the relationships we have with the world around us and the consequences of the damage we cause to this planet every day. A voice is calling on the elemental spirits and, thus, planting the seed of a plot before showering us with a beautiful and extraordinary tale. 

You will embark upon a brilliant story of both light and darkness which pulses with loss, love and the eternal destruction of the planet. The tale takes us on a whirlwind of an adventure as the leopard dances and leaps under the moon and a wolf howls in the distance. This poetic vision of colour rustles through the trees and shimmers on the lakeshore. This is a great topical read that is very thought-provoking. It covers some important themes such as feminism, family, relationships, and environmental damage. All of which are told as a brilliant narrative, they are certainly as good as any you will read for some time. This is a book to savour and contemplate as the earth lives and breathes around us. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: Young Adult/Teens Book Picks US - January 2020

Scott Reintgen - Ashlords - Published by Crown Books for Young Readers (January 21, 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-0593119174 - Hardback - Age: 11+

Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders--skilled at alchemy--who must compete at The Races--the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.

Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they've raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.

Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That's all legal and encouraged. 

In this year's Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest--a champion's daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary's son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?

Matt Killeen - Devil Darling Spy - Published by Viking Books for Young Readers (January 21, 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-0451479259 - Hardback - Age: 11+

In this utterly gripping thriller, Sarah, the fearless heroine of indie bestseller Orphan Monster Spy, hunts a rogue German doctor in Central Africa who might be a serial murderer.

It's 1940, and Sarah Goldstein is hiding in plain sight as Ursula Haller, the Shirley Temple of Nazi high society. She helps the resistance by spying on Nazi generals at cocktail parties in Berlin, but she yearns to do more. Then the spy she works for, the Captain, gets word of a German doctor who's gone rogue in Central Africa. Rumors say the doctor is experimenting with a weapon of germ warfare so deadly it could wipe out entire cities. It's up to the Captain and Sarah to reach the doctor and seize this weapon--known as "the Bleeding"--before the Nazis can use it to murder thousands. Joining them on their journey, in of the guise of a servant, is Clementine, a half-German, half-Senegalese girl, whose wit and ferocity are a perfect match for Sarah's. As they travel through the areas now known as the Republic of the Congo and Gabon, Clementine's astute observations force Sarah to face a hard truth: that mass extermination didn't start with the Nazis. 

This unbearably high-stakes thriller pushes Sarah to face the worst that humanity is capable of--and challenges her to find reasons to keep fighting.

Francesca Flores - Diamond City: A Novel - Published by Wednesday Books (January 28, 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1250220448 - Hardback - Age: 11+

Good things don't happen to girls who come from nothing...unless they risk everything.
Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten. 
Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.
DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies. 
To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn't want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy―and risk losing everything. 
Full of action, romance, and dark magic, book one of Francesca Flores' breathtaking fantasy duology will leave readers eager for more!

Kiersten White - Chosen (2) (Slayer) - Published by Simon Pulse (January 7, 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1534404984 - Hardback - Age: 10+


Nina continues to learn how to use her slayer powers against enemies old and new in this second novel in the New York Times bestselling series from Kiersten White, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now that Nina has turned the Watcher’s Castle into a utopia for hurt and lonely demons, she’s still waiting for the utopia part to kick in. With her sister Artemis gone and only a few people remaining at the castle—including her still-distant mother—Nina has her hands full. Plus, though she gained back her Slayer powers from Leo, they’re not feeling quite right after being held by the seriously evil succubus Eve, a.k.a. fake Watcher’s Council member and Leo’s mom.

And while Nina is dealing with the darkness inside, there’s also a new threat on the outside, portended by an odd triangle symbol that seems to be popping up everywhere, in connection with Sean’s demon drug ring as well as someone a bit closer to home. Because one near-apocalypse just isn’t enough, right? 

The darkness always finds you. And once again, it’s coming for the Slayer.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Guest Post by By Emma Read - The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (or – What’s the Deal with Children’s Writing Competitions?)

By Emma Read 

It may seem anathema to some to consider writing a competitive sport, but as someone who was a committed comp-addict (and now handles the FOMO by reading and judging comps), I’m here to share some insights from both sides of that gleaming, shiny trophy.

Why enter?

Why indeed? The 2018 Bath Children’s Novel Award received 791 entries, from all over the globe. It’s not the best odds.

Then again, someone has to win –right?

For me, it was never about coming first. It was the hope of listing – gaining something useful to add to my somewhat thin query letter (smashing that mask-making competition at the library, age five, wasn’t cutting it). If your goal is making the longlist, or even getting a notable mention, the odds are vastly improved, especially if you’ve got a well-polished manuscript.

But still – odds are you will fail ... and that’s also a really good reason to enter.

Wait ... what?

I have failed to list in plenty of competitions and it hurts. Especially when you’ve done the homework, determined that your work is precisely what the judges are looking for, polished your manuscript to a high shine, and still the answer is a resounding NO. It’s the same sort of no you get when your dream agent doesn’t make a full request, or when you don’t sell on submission, or when your book isn’t on the tables in Waterstones, or listed in any of the annual awards. This is the writer’s life and for me, it helped to get used to it right from the start.

Failing in competitions is practice. Practice at moving on, practice at failing again.

Being a competition enthusiast comes with other benefits too (more fun than being rejected, I promise), especially if you have a supportive writing group to share the fun with. 

(Top Tip: find a supportive writing group!)

Entering comps for us was a team sport. We carried each other come victory or defeat and boosted one another on to the next. Success for an individual felt like a success for the team and there were plenty of vicarious celebrations.
Competitions also provide meaningful deadlines, reasons to improve and sometimes even feedback. And perhaps, most importantly for me, it was a push to get my work ‘out there’. To get over my squeamishness at the thought of someone else reading my words. To normalise the fear of being judged. 

On the other hand...

Being hooked on competitions can have its downsides – the most obvious being the cost. Most (but not all) competitions come with a serious entry fee, which pays for the prizes, admin, and the colossal number of hours required to read/judge/provide feedback on the entries (791 is feeling like a REALLY BIG number now!) Multiple fees across the year can quickly add up and even the cheapest entry requirements can prohibit writers from entering. (If this sounds familiar, do look out for sponsored entries for low-income writers, which many of the competitions offer).

It’s also important to remember that a competition listing, or even a win, doesn’t guarantee success. Whilst many on a longlist go on to find agents and subsequent publishing deals, many don’t – even winners. It’s a rollercoaster, just like the rest of publishing.

But forewarned is forearmed (with that mighty pen), so if you’re still keen ...  

Sign me up!

In no particular order, here are some of the competitions available to writers of children’s literature:

Twitter pitch contests: #revpit #Pitmad #DVpit #Pitdark #queryswap #querykombat #tellAMH #PitchCB

So if you do decide to enter, have fun, learn what you can and understand that any judging of creative art is subjective. 

Good Luck! 

Emma is the author of Milton the Mighty (Chicken House) and the upcoming sequel, Milton the Megastar. Under its working title, Milton was shortlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award and Emma has had success in a number of other writing competitions, including flash fiction and Twitter pitching.
She is now a reader and longlist judge for the Bath Novel and Bath Children’s Novel Awards, and for the WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award. She is also a mentor and tutor for WriteMentor