The winner of the Branford Boase Award chooses Brendon Chase.
The book I most wish I had written, which I love so much and have reread so often that part of me believes I actually did write it, is Brendon Chase by ‘B.B’, whose real name was Denys Watkins-Pitchford. Three brothers decide they will not go back to school at the end of the Easter holidays. (Their parents are abroad and they are living with their maiden aunt ‘who knew nothing of children and never understood boys.’) Instead they take the gardener’s .22 rifle, a hundred rounds of ammunition and some matches, and run away to live in Brendon Chase, a forest in Kent. The book was published in 1944 and set in an earlier time, when vicars were absent-minded and policemen rode bicycles. It contains some of the most transcendent descriptions of nature I have ever read. There are honey buzzards, purple emperors and a night heron. BB was a serious artist, who illustrated his books with scraper board. Each begins with the same epigraph: ‘The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.’ This was BB’s creed, and it is mine also.
Brendon Chase (978-0-1413-6207-6) by B.B is published by Puffin, £6.99
Horatio Clare won the 2016 Branford Boase Award for his book Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot (978-1-9100-8028-3), published by Firefly Press, £6.99.