Here is Wales Arts Review’s top ten list of books from Wales for young people, including our Young People’s Book of the Year 2017.
The Bus Stop at the End of the World (Gomer) by Dan Anthony
Singing cowboys, green creatures from the hedge and the fastest girl on two wheels might not be enough to save 12-year old Ritchie from the most dangerous enemy known to man. Myth and reality get mixed up in this funny and quirky story by the ever-popular author of The Rugby Zombies.
The Four Branches of the Mabinogi (Rily) by Siân Lewis
Excellent English-language retelling of four of the oldest and most famous legends in Wales, including the stories of Pwyll, Branwen, Manawydan and Blodeuwedd. These stories will appeal to those familiar and unfamiliar with the strange world of the Mabinogi. Beautifully illustrated by Valériane Leblond.
The Pond (Graffeg) by Nicola Davies
A touching picture book about a young boy overcoming the loss of his father. This colourful, emotional book is filled with natural imagery, drawn by Cathy Fisher, and will teach children not only about death and loss, but the importance of the natural world.
Efa ( Y Lolfa) by Bethan Gwanas
The first in a new Welsh-language trilogy by the award-winning author Bethan Gwanas. Efa is the queen-elect of Melania, but does not wish to follow ancient customs, which include murdering her own mother. Already touted by many as one of the best books of 2017.
Battle Cards – Legends of Wales (Atebol) by Huw Aaron
Not technically a book, but these top trump-style cards deserve to be included as they are so brilliantly written and illustrated by the talented Welsh cartoonist Huw Aaron. The two sets of original card games – Monsters and Magic and The Mabinogion – will introduce players of all ages to the bizzare world of Welsh legends.
The Lost Words (Penguin Books) by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
Bestselling author Robert Macfarlane and acclaimed Welsh artist Jackie Morris have teamed up to produce one of the most enchanting books of 2017. With acrostic spell-poems and hand-painted illustrations, their mission is to bring back the lost words of the natural world to children of all ages.
Gaslight (Firefly) by Eloise Williams
In a strong list of books for children and young people, the winner this year is a book that has everybody talking about it. Eloise Williams’s dark and Dickensian thriller brings to life the backstreets of Victorian Cardiff with the unforgettable heroine, Nansi. The atmospheric storytelling will have you gripped from the first page.
Straeon Nos Da I Bob Rebel o Ferch (Gomer) translated by Angharad Elen
This Welsh-language adaption of the hit feminist children’s book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls tells the stories of 100 real women in the style of fairy-tales. As with the original English version it includes names such as Astrid Lindgren, Michelle Obama, Coco Chanel and Marie Curie. However, this version has swapped Margaret Thatcher for the Welsh marathon runner, Lowri Morgan.
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume 1 (Penguin Random House Children’s UK) by Philip Pullman
The long-awaited first volume of the new trilogy by the author of the hugely popular His Dark Materials trilogy. Described by the author as an “equel” rather than a “prequel”, the story begins ten years before Northern Lights. Philip Pullman has often spoke fondly of his Welsh schooldays, and some of the Mabinogion stories have been sprinkled here.
Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds (Firefly) by Horatio Clare
In this sequel to the award-winning Audrey and the Terrible Yoot, the author tackles difficult issues with humour, wit and magic. Exciting and thrilling to read, the book explores themes of tolerance, the environment and the importance of family. It has already been nominated for a number of prestigious awards including the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018.
And the winner of the Wales Arts Review Young People’s Book of the Year 2017 is…