Young Quills 2021 – the winners

The Young Quills Awards for best historical fiction

Published: 8th December 2021

The winners for the 2021 Young Quills Awards for Historical Fiction

A little later than usual (thank you Covid) but just as excitedly we would like to announce the winners of the Young Quills Awards for Historical Fiction for Children for 2021.

It has been another exceptionally high quality year with the judges holding deep discussions right up until the end and they would like to congratulate everyone who entered, especially all those who managed to reach the shortlist. The shortlist for the Young Quills is created based on the reviews of children and their thoughts continue to assist the judges in their final deliberations. All the books listed here present a voice (or voices) from history whose story isn’t usually told and they did so with strong, engaging, often exciting, frequently emotional and historically accurate narratives. 

We are delighted to say that the following books and authors are this year’s winners:

Ages 5 to 9 years category

The Siege of Caerlaverock 
By Barbara Henderson, Pokey Hat 

Highly commended: Daisy and the Unknown Warrior
By Tony Bradman, Barrington Stoke 

Ages 10 to 13 years category

After the War: From Auschwitz to Ambleside
By Tom Palmer, Barrington Stoke

Highly commended: Mohinder’s War
By Bali Rai, Bloomsbury Education

Ages 14 years+/young adult category

Cane Warriors
By Alex Wheatle, Anderson Press

Highly commended: I, Ada
By Julia Gray, Anderson Press 

In addition to these winners the judges are keen to recommend Children of the Benin Kingdom by Dinah Orji (Dinosaur books) and The White Phoenix by Catherine Randall (Book Guild Publishing Ltd) as strong books that would enhance learning in school.

The judging panel includes education consultants, a historian and a children’s author. The children’s author this year is previous Young Quills winner Ally Sherrick, who won in 2017 for Black Powder. 

The winners’ comments:

Ages 5 to 9 years category:

The Siege of Caerlaverock by Barbara Henderson, Pokey Hat

“I am utterly humbled and delighted to win a Young Quills Award – I didn't expect it and still can't quite believe it! I first visited Caerlaverock Castle with my family on a rainy day in April several years ago, and the story of the real-life siege in the year 1300 ambushed me and wouldn't let me go. My warmest thanks go to Anne Glennie of Cranachan Publishing – the wonderful small press behind The Siege of Caerlaverock. Anne's enthusiasm, advice and support have been more crucial than she'll ever know!”

Highly commended: Daisy and the Unknown Warrior by Tony Bradman, Barrington Stoke

“I’m delighted that Daisy and The Unknown Warrior has achieved Highly Commended status in this year’s Young Quills awards. It was a story I really wanted to tell, and it’s wonderful to know that children have enjoyed it. The Young Quills awards are terrific – a great way of focusing attention on the wonderful historical fiction that continues to be written for young readers!”

Ages 10 to 13 years category:

After the War: From Auschwitz to Ambleside by Tom Palmer, Barrington Stoke

“I am so happy and moved to have won the Young Quills award for After the War. Writing the book, I drew directly from the testimonies of the Holocaust survivors who have become known as the Windermere Children. I am very grateful to those survivors – and the Lake District Holocaust Project – for sharing their stories with us. Because After the War is very much their history, winning an award from the Historical Association means the world to me. Thank you.”

Highly commended: Mohinder’s War By Bali Rai, Bloomsbury Education

Ages 14 years+/young adult category:

Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle, Anderson Press

“This award means so much to me because I felt I was writing about my ancestors. Tears were in my eyes through many scenes.

I’m just so proud.

I dedicate it to the indomitable and resilient spirit of Jamaicans.”

Highly commended: I, Ada by Julia Gray, Anderson Press

“I am overjoyed and honoured to be Highly Commended in this category, and am hugely grateful to the Historical Association for its recognition of my book, and for all the valuable work that you do in promoting the teaching of history.” 

We would like to give a big thank you to all young people who helped with judging the books for this competition and to all the authors and publishers who help to bring history, stories and ideas to life for us all.

The books entered into the 2022 Young Quills will be sent to schools in January 2022.