It’s been another exciting year for books for young people in Wales, and our writers have had a difficult time picking highlights, but here is our top 10 of 2018, with our very favourite to be announced on December 21st.
The Last Big One (Gomer)
by Dan Anthony
Dan Anthony is a popular and prolific author for children of all ages and his books cleverly combine humour with difficult subjects. Aimed at young adults, The Last Big One is about an essentially decent but unlucky kid called Clint who gets expelled as a result of a simple mistake. Dealing with death, grief and difficult parenting, he finds himself on the run.
Llestri’r Dylluan (Atebol)
an adaptation by Bethan Gwanas
A thrilling fantasy for teenagers, this is a Welsh adaptation of The Owl Serviceby Alan Garner. People of a certain age will remember the original book and the iconic television series. By adapting this book into Welsh, award-winning author Bethan Gwanas has taken the story of the Mabinogion tale of Blodeuwedd, the woman made of flowers, back to its origins.
Molly and the Stormy Sea (Graffeg)
by Malachy Doyle and illustrated by Andrew Whitson
Molly wakes one morning to find her house empty. Her father has been out fishing in stormy seas and hasn’t returned from his trip. She takes her most precious possessions down to the harbour and offers them to the sea in return for her father’s safety. But will the stormy sea return her father and all the other fathers from the fishing trip? A stunningly illustrated and written picture book, available in both Welsh and English, which will appeal to readers from a very young age onwards.
Three Tales (Gomer)
by Cynan Jones and Illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason.
We were extremely excited when we heard that Cynan Jones, one of our best contemporary writers, had turned his talents towards a younger readership. The three original fables in this book are quirky and subtly funny. Written in Cynan Jones’ direct and fuss-free style of prose, this small but beautifully formed book will appeal to anyone who is also a fan of Philip Pullman’s fantasy novels.
The Eel Question (Graffeg)
by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Beth Holland.
Nicola Davies has written more than 50 books for children and her work has been published in more than 10 different languages and has won major awards internationally.The Eel Question is the last in a series of illustrated folk tales for children which explore the supernatural world. Bound to serve a cruel master, Nant’s curiosity never fails to get her into trouble. Her dreams of a life beyond her marshland home intensify each autumn when the silver eels return, along with her questions: where do they come from and where do they go.
The Clockwork Crow (Firefly)
by Catherine Fisher
A new book by Catherine Fisher is always much-anticipated and this one does not disappoint. Shortlisted for the prestigious Blue Peter Book Awards 2019, this is a magical story by a master storyteller. When Seren Rhys is given a newspaper parcel by a stranger late at night in an empty train station, she has no idea what trouble it contains. The Clockwork Crow is a gripping Christmas tale of enchantment and belonging, set in a frost-bound mansion in snowy Victorian mid-Wales. With one of the most beautiful covers we’ve ever seen, this would make a perfect gift for young readers (and those young at heart).
Wales on the Map/ Cymru ar y Map (Rily Publications)
by Elin Meek (Author) and Valériane Leblond (Illustrator)
A stunning full colour, large format, hardback picture atlas of Wales. Available in both Welsh and English, this book is bound to take pride of place in classrooms and bedrooms across the country. Each county of Wales is featured with colourful image icons highlighting famous people, places, animals, and a host of interesting facts about that area. As usual, the artwork by Valériane Leblond adds colour and beauty to the carefully crafted words by author Elin Meek.
Seaglass (Firefly Press)
by Eloise Williams
The queen of children’s writing in Wales goes from strength to strength, and her third novel does not disappoint. A continuation of her unique brand of scary and page-turning story-telling skills, her latest book has already gone down a storm in classrooms around Wales. Strange figures in a fog, ruined houses in the woods, weird drawings of little girls, wild storms approaching… This is a chilling contemporary ghost story from the award-winning author of Gaslight,inspired by the sweeping Welsh shoreline.
Three Strikes (Firefly Press)
by Lucy Christopher, Kat Ellis and Rhian Ivory.
This was a good year for scary stories for children, and we hope this trend continues. This is a chilling collection of three novellas from YA authors Lucy Christopher, Kat Ellis and Rhian Ivory. A red eye blinks in the darkness; a hidden door opens to a lost crypt; a life is held in the light of a flickering flame. Step into the unknown world of The Tribe; be entranced by the ghostly voices of The Twins of Backfin; or lose yourself in a haunting retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Match Girl’. Will appeal to (brave) older young readers.
Llyfr Glas Nebo (Y Lolfa)
by Manon Steffan Ros
Winner of the Prose Medal at the 2018 National Eisteddfod, this short novel became an immediate hit and its first print run was sold out within weeks. Although not technically a YA book, one astute reader on twitter described it perfectly as a “post-apocalyptic coming-of-age novel” – and it has the potential to appeal to older young readers as well as adults. Set in rural Wales in the aftermath of an undefined global disaster, its young protagonist Siôn grabs our attention from the beginning and is destined to be one of the most memorable teenage characters in Welsh literature.
Join us on December 21st when we will announce our no.1 Welsh book for Young People of 2018 from this list.