SCBWI Celebrates TWO Branford Boase Shortlisters, Double Deals and Exhibitions Large and Small.

The Branford Boase Award is a unique prize dedicated to rewarding excellence for first time novelists AND their editors. So I’m doubly delighted that SCBWI members Wendy Meddour and Lydia Syson have been shortlisted alongside their editors - both of whom have also given their time and talent to the SCBWI British Isles Annual Conference. There’s another double celebration for John Shelley and if you’re in Somerset, Mike Brownlow has good news!

London member Lydia Syson and her editor, Sarah Odedina of Hot Key Books, have been shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2013  with A World Between Us.  I wondered how they felt about their nomination and about working with each other:
Lydia Syson

 Lydia: 'When Sarah took me on I felt as if I'd been blessed with the fairy godmother of editors - I still can't believe my luck! Her passionate support for her authors carries through to everybody in the Hot Key team, so you feel as though you've joined a family rather than a publishing house. What I value most is the way she identifies and nurtures what makes each author unique. She helps you discover who you are as a writer, and then have the confidence to be that writer.'

 Sarah : ‘ It is an honour to work with talented authors. Authors whose stories transport readers, introduce them to other lives and other places and allow the reader to reflect on their own. Editors really are only as good as the authors they work with and working with Lydia has reinforced that belief for me. In A World Between Us the reader is held in Lydia's very safe hands as we enjoy a passionate and wonderful story about friendship, love and political passions set against the drama of the Spanish civil war. It is a sophisticated novel with immediate appeal, and Lydia makes that sophistication look easy. To be short-listed for this years Brandford Boase Award beside Lydia is something to be really proud of.’

 Lydia has also been shortlisted for the WeRead Book Award - I think 2013 is going to be a great year for her!

Wendy Meddour
 I only posted about Wendy Meddour’s new book two minutes ago and here she is again celebrating A Hen in the Wardrobe reaching the Branford Boase shortlist - top work Wendy! Wendy worked with Janetta Otter-Barry of Francis Lincoln and it seems like an award winning match.

 Wendy said, ‘Janetta was the perfect editor for my 'cross-cultural' debut: A Hen in the Wardrobe. She loved the story and gave me the freedom to write what I wanted, but also, the comforting knowledge that I knew she wouldn't let me go wrong. In other words, I trusted her completely. Only skilled editors can make you feel like that and I've been very lucky to work with her.’

Janetta is also thrilled to be on the Branford Boase shortlist, ‘ It’s the first time I’ve ever been on it – I believe this award plays a vital role in encouraging the development of talented new authors like Wendy at a critical time in their writing careers. I loved A Hen in the Wardrobe on the first reading (it made me laugh and cry!) - and I hope that my editing has helped to bring out the wonderful humour and characterisation that make the novel so special. Wendy has been a joy to work with – responsive to editing suggestions, but with a clear vision for her book.

 I wish all four of them the very best when the award is given, I’m  glad I don’t have to make the decision!

 There’s good news for John Shelley too. John, who illustrated The Stone Giant - Michelangelo's David
John Shelley
and How He Came To Be
  sold the Japanese rights to Komine Shoten for this US picture book due to be published by Charlesbridge in the US next February 2014.

 ‘ This is tremendous news for me,’ John said, ‘as it will be the first time I'll have a book out in both English and Japanese editions - until now I've had books in Japanese (but no English edition) or books in English (but no Japanese edition), so I'm dead chuffed that finally, after over 40 books, I'll have an illustration 'presence' in both languages at the same time.'
   In addition, from this September-November there will be the first major exhibition of Michelangelo's work in Japan.  In an unprecedented agreement , the Japanese co-edition will actually be published in August or September this year, months ahead of the 'official' First US edition.Clearly timed to co-inside with the Michelangelo exhibition,  John's book it to be vigorously promoted as "the" children's book on the artist. At an exhibition on such an enormous scale, that is great news indeed !

Mike Brownlow

And talking of exhibitions, Mike Brownlow is showing his work in picture books at the Bruton Museum in Somerset – it runs until the end of May and there will definitely be Robots.  What a week for our amazing SCBWI'ers - HUGE congratulations to you all.

 Now I need a cup of tea and a sit down while I daydream about awards – one day…one day….

Kathy Evans is Celebrations Editor for Words & Pictures. She is South East Network Coordinator with Mariam Vossough and is represented by Sophie Hicks at Ed Victor.


  1. What fantastic news! Well done you guys!

  2. From Michelangelo to robots, great news!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank You Wendy, for letting us share in yours and Janetta's wonderful news.

  4. Thanks for posting my news, it's all very exciting!

    1. Really good news, John, so pleased for you

  5. Wow! The good news on this celebrations page keeps getting bigger and better. Well done everyone.

  6. Brilliant Lydia, Mike, John and Wendy!


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