The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize longlist for 2016 has just been announced, and Wild Things staff have reviewed their favourites from the list.
Jennifer reviews The Marvels by Brian Selznick
I read The Marvels some time ago but the beauty of the illustrations, their detail and the way they wordlessly convey so much of this dark and entrancing story, has stayed very much with me. This story seeps in to you, much as great poetry does, as an experience of ongoing revelation. This creation by Brian Selznick, who also gave us The Invention of Hugo Cabret, is two thirds wordless graphic novel and one third prose, and tells a tale of generations of one family, of madness, of the theatre and of love. I recommend it to creative readers from 14 to 104.
Jodie reviews The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
This wonderful book tells the story of four teens in Alaska in 1970, living in different family circumstances but with lives that end up entwined. Ruth is the one who loves the smell of other people’s houses, breathing in the aromas of love and acceptance that she doesn’t find growing up an orphan in her grandmother’s house. Dora is hard and mean; Alyce wants to pursue a career in ballet but sacrifices her chance at this to appease her separated parents; and Hank, like Dora, is trying to escape a bad family situation, but while Dora escapes to her friend’s home, Hank takes his brothers on a perilous stowaway adventure. Love and some slightly mystical forces bring these four young lives together in this beautiful and evocative story.
Jodie also reviews Riverkeep by Martin Stewart
The proof copy of this debut novel arrived with a cover listing comparisons of Riverkeep to, among others, Moby Dick, Wizard of Oz, Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin and Charles Dickens. And it’s true there is a feel of all of these influences in this story, set in a world where all is slightly familiar but creepily different. To save his father, who has been possessed by a strange creature, Wulliam must travel away from his duties as Riverkeep and his simple home on the river to join the hunt for the mormorach, a giant Moby-Dick-like creature terrorising the coast. Along the way, he gathers a band of interesting characters, including Tillinghast, the man made of straw. The language is rich, the writing is gently captivating, and the story ends with the possibility of more to come.
The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon
The story of Subhi, a refugee born in an Australian detention centre, was featured on our last blog.
Other longlisted titles are: Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman; Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle; Sweet Pizza by G R Gemin (will be released in Australia in October); and Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman.
You can read some of the judges’ comments on these books on the Guardian website.
(And just BTW, has anyone else noticed the prevalence of blue covers on this longlist?!)