Young Quills Awards 2014

Published: 7th July 2014

Read all the reviews of this year's books via the links at the bottom of this page.

‘Young Quills' Award for Historical Fiction recognises the powerful role that fiction can have for introducing, informing and exciting young people about historical events, characters and places. The competition has two categories - Primary and Secondary. However, the competition was so close this year that the judges could not decide upon two books alone. Therefore, for this year only we have divided the awards into three categories covering the age groups: under 10s, 9-13s and over 12s. It is the only book award as far as we know where children help produce the shortlist. The Historical Association introduced the Young Quills in 2010. Previous winners have included Jacqueline Wilson and Paul Dowswell, who this year was the chairman of the judges panel.

Criteria for inclusion in the 2013/14 award were:

  • Books must be first published in 2013
  • They must fall firmly into historical fiction
  • A good read is important
  • A sense of history is more important than precise factual information 

Winner of the over 12s section: Sawbones by Catherine Johnson, Walker (3 Oct 2013)

Catherine Johnson's ‘Sawbones' was the stand-out book in the Secondary section for me. It was readable and exciting from the opening pages - an intriguing tale of a mixed race surgeon/detective boy in Georgian England, fiendish Ottomans, the magnificently ghoulish subjects of dissection and grave robbery, and a very adept writing style.

Winner of the 9-13s section is: The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean, Usborne Publishing Ltd (1 Oct 2013)

Geraldine McCaughrean's The Middle of Nowhere was a real breath of fresh air - beautifully written and drawing you in to the time and environment with great skill. I loved the characters, too. Geraldine's very good at dialogue - the different voices of the aboriginal boy, the Punjabi camel driver, the young girl, the upright, uptight dad, the horrible army veteran, the snooty relatives in Adelaide - they all ring true. It's also a story with a very contemporary resonance. 

Winner of the under 10s section: Song Hunter by Sally Prue, OUP Oxford (3 Jan 2013)

Sally Prue's Song Hunter is well written and a great read despite its deeply complex subject matter, this is a novel about the emergence of human consciousness and the dawn of civilisations. That a writer can cover such topics in a primary school novel takes great skill and Sally carries it off. I found myself very wrapped up in the story. It was very moving and I finished it with a lump in my throat.

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