2018 HBWC winners with judge Prue Goodwin
The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition is an annual competition for young people which runs in conjunction with the prestigious Branford Boase Award (BBA). The BBA was set up in memory of the outstanding children’s writer Henrietta Branford and the gifted editor, Wendy Boase, Editorial Director of Walker Books. They worked together on a number of books, a partnership they greatly enjoyed. They both died of cancer in 1999. Shortly before she died, Henrietta Branford supported a proposal to create a children’s writing competition as a way to find and encourage the writers of the future.
The competition is open to anyone aged 19 or under. Each year there are hundreds of entries from all over the country, often thanks to the encouragement of teachers and school librarians, who can download a poster to display to encourage children to take part.
Entrants have to complete a story begun by the winning author of the previous year's Branford Boase Award. Each summer the winners of the best six stories are invited with their families to attend the Branford Boase Award celebration party in London. There they meet some of their favourite long established authors, the authors shortlisted for the BBA award as well as editors, publishers, agents, and other professionals from the world of children's books. Each young winner receives a copy of all of the books shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and are able to have their books signed.
Notes on the 2018 competition:
Among the six winning stories for the 2018 award are two by young Syrians, recently arrived in the UK.
Fourteen-year old Yosuf Ali of Hatch End High School, Harrow impressed judge Prue Goodwin, lecturer in literacy and children’s books, very much with his entry From Refugee to King: “As I started to read Yosuf’s story, it was obvious that it had been written by an English Language Learner (ELL) yet the narrative flowed dramatically and the thoughts of the narrator revealed understanding and ideas that indicated that there was a very creative mind at work. This young writer has created a metaphor for the chaotic, precarious and terrifyingly incoherent events that people go through to feel safe.”
Eleven-year old Salam Rajab, also a refugee, wrote her winning story Mr Swat’s Revenge in partnership with her school friend Sara Mazilu. Both girls are students at Sandringham School, Hertfordshire. Anne Marley, founder of the Branford Boase Award and Henrietta Branford Writing Competition said: “The girls’ story is sparky, inventive and ends on a wonderful cliffhanger. We were impressed too by the way they created their narrative together, proof of the power story and imagination have to bring people from different backgrounds together.”
Prue Goodwin says of the competition, “Being given a paragraph starter to a story is not as straightforward as it seems, especially when the judge is looking for something original. This year, the six winners developed the same opening lines into totally different narratives; a romance, a possible disaster movie script, a visit to a witch, a dystopian future, an amusing school tale and reflections on being a refugee. There was, however, something in common in all these different tales – they did not read like a set of classroom exercises. Each writer showed an extra flair for making their ideas into an original piece of work which made me want to know what was going to happen next. In fact, so successful were some of the entries this year that I might request a sequel just to find out what happened.”