Held for the first time in 1981 the competition was for the best full-length published novel written for teenagers. The judges were Lionel Davidson, Frank Delaney, Emma Tennant, Leon Garfield and Janet Crumbie, editor of Young Observer.
The winner who received a cheque for £500 is Ian Strachan for Moses Beech (OUP, 0 19 271451 1, £5.95). Published last May Moses Beech is the story of a relationship between an old man and a young boy running from a no-hope home where his failed layabout father has forced him to leave school. Holed up with Moses in his isolated cottage, his amusement at such a simple way of life turns to admiration.
This is Ian Strachan’s first published book, but not the first he has written. He first tried his hand at a novel for young adults in 1977. It was rejected by OUP but created enough interest for them to look carefully at his second book, Moses Beech, and accept it.
Ian Strachan, who is 43, is a producer at BBC Radio Stoke-on-Trent and lives with his wife and small son in a valley in Staffordshire very like the one in which his story is set.
Six other books were shortlisted for the prize:
Sweet Frannie, Susan Sallis, Heinemann, 0 434 96165 5, £4.95
Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian. Kestrel, 0 7226 5701 3, £5.50
Poona Company, Farrukh Dhondy, Gollancz, 0 575 02901 3, £4.95
The Islanders, John Rowe Townsend, OUP, 0 19 271449 X, £5.25
Horse of Air, Lucy Rees. Faber, 0 571 11559 4, £5.25
Mother of the Free, Colin McLaren, Rex Collings, 0 86036 149 7, £5.00
The Kathleen Fidler Award – New Rules
Announced last year as a memorial to Kathleen Fidler who died in 1980, the award is `to encourage both new authors and established authors, new to writing for the 8-12 age group’. Originally limited to writers born or living in Scotland, the competition is now open to writers of any nationality and age.
A panel of young readers will be involved in the selection process. The winner receives £500 plus a rosewood and silver trophy. Entries by 31st March 1982 to The Kathleen Fidler Award, c/o NBL Scotland, 15a Lynedoch Street, Glasgow G3 6EF.
Beaver and Hamish Hamilton in search of an Adventure
Adventure stories, as confirmed by the recent research report Extending Beginning Reading, are certainly top of the pops with upper junior readers. Looking for an exciting, readable story in this genre are Beaver and Hamish Hamilton who announce a competition open to new and established writers. First prize is £500 with the possibility of publication. Closing date – 30th June 1982.
Details from: Hamish Hamilton/Beaver Junior Fiction Prize, Hamish Hamilton Ltd., Garden House, 57-59 Long Acre, London WC2E 9JZ.