Wales Arts Review is delighted to be sponsoring and hosting the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award once again – where you, the public, get to have your say and vote for your favourite. To help you decide, we’re taking a closer look at the titles in each of the four categories. First up, books for Children and Young People.
When the War Came Home – By Lesley Parr
The First World War has ended, but it hasn’t gone away. When Natty has to move to a new village, she meets two young soldiers who are still battling the effects of war. Huw can’t forget the terrible things he’s seen, but Johnny doesn’t even remember who he is.
As Natty tries to keep a secret and unravel a mystery, she finds her own way to fight for what she believes in – and learns that some things should never be forgotten…
Lesley Parr grew up in South Wales and now lives in England with her husband. She shares her time between writing stories, teaching at a primary school and tutoring adults. Apart from books, rugby union is her favourite thing in the world, especially if Wales are winning. Lesley graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing for Young People.
The Mab – Edited by Matt Brown and Eloise Williams
If you think you’ve heard all the fairy tales out there, think again. Inside this book you will find eleven epic Welsh tales from long ago, but not so far away, that are bound to enchant you. The Mab is a collection full to the brim with brand new versions of really, really old stories from the Mabinogi – maybe the oldest written-down stories in the history of Britain.
But as well as being really, really old, the stories in The Mab are strange and funny and thrilling. Alive with mystery and magic, they speak of a time when the gates between the Real World and the Otherworld were occasionally left open. And sometimes, just sometimes, it was possible to step through.
The stories in this illustrated edition have been reimagined by an extraordinary team of writers, and each appears alongside a Welsh-language translation.
Matt Brown is a broadcaster who has presented some of the UK’s most popular TV programmes, as well as radio shows on Capital, Heart and Magic. He is also the award-winning author of two children’s book series: Compton Valance and Dreary Inkling School.
Eloise Williams was the inaugural Children’s Laureate Wales 2019–2021. She has published four books for young people: Elen’s Island, Gaslight, Seaglass and Wilde. In 2019, Seaglass was shortlisted for the prestigious Tir na n-Og awards.
The Last Firefox – By Lee Newbery
Between bullies at school and changes at home, Charlie Challinor finds life a bit scary. And when he’s made guardian of a furry fox cub called Cadno, things get a whole lot scarier. Because Cadno isn’t just any fox: he’s a firefox – the only one of his kind – and a sinister hunter from another world is on his trail. Swept up into an unexpected adventure to protect his flammable friend, Charlie’s going to need to find the bravery he never thought he had, if he’s going to save the last firefox.
Lee Newbery lives with his husband, son and two dogs in a seaside town in West Wales. By day, he helps vulnerable people look for jobs and gain new skills, and by night, he sits down at his laptop to write. Lee enjoys adventuring, drinking ridiculous amounts of tea and giving his dogs a good cuddle – or a cwtch, as we say in Wales.
You can view the full shortlist for this year’s prize, and cast your vote for this year’s People’s Choice Award, here.
You can find out more about this year’s Wales Book of the Year Awards, here.