Haringey Children’s Book Award 2018

A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to attend the Haringey Children’s Book Awards at Heartlands School. We got to meet lovely readers and run workshops, and I worked with my group on maps that would form the basis for stories. We also gave short presentations on our books.

Awards ceremonies are always fun, because you get to meet your readers as well as other authors. Here I am talking with SF Said, author of the amazing Phoenix, and Varjak’s Paw:

The Island at the End of Everything was on an brilliant shortlist with Maz Evans’ Who Let The Gods Out? , Christopher Edge’s The Many Worlds of Albie Bright, and Sita Bramachari’s Tender Earth, so you can imagine my shock when Island… was announced the winner!

This is the first school award I’ve won and I’m overjoyed that kids liked the book enough to vote for it. It was a really wonderfully organised event and I had a lovely time catching up with author friends new and old.

With Maz and Sita

This is an award I will treasure forever, and I’m so grateful to all the kids that voted.

The Jhalak Prize and the Children’s Book Prize

I have had some more wonderful shortlisting news recently – The Island at the End of Everything has been shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize, and for the Children’s Book Award! Both are special in their different ways.

The Jhalak Prize seeks to provide a platform for writers of colour, and also is open to all genres. Island is proudly repping kids lit on an incredible shortlist that includes some of my favourite books from the past year: Meera Kandasamy’s When I Hit You, and Kayo Chingonyi’s Kumukanda, which was on the Costa Poetry Prize shortlist I helped judge last year. More here.

The Children’s Book Award is voted for entirely by children, from start to end. Children’s books are usually reviewed, lauded, or judged by adults, and so to know that kids are connecting with Ami and her story to this extent is so special. More here.

The Blue Peter Awards 2017

Thrilled to announce that The Island at the End of Everything has been shortlisted for Best Story by the Blue Peter Book Awards 2017! It’s already been an amazing week, and this is just extraordinary.

It’s an honour to see my book alongside Cressida Crowell’s Wizards of Once and Lissa Evans’ Wed Wabbit (again!) Thank you to the judges – now it’s over to the kids. More info here.

A month (& a bit) of madness

Well. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll know it’s been quite a few weeks for The Girl of Ink & Stars, all those involved with her journey, and me. The month after it won the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year Award was full of joy, including window displays, interviews, and even re-entry into the bestseller charts.

It was wonderful to revisit the excitement I felt during my debut month. In fact, it was even better, because a year on GOI&S has had the sort of success I never even dared to dream about. The Island at the End of Everything came out early too, and there was a rather special week when my debut and second book were two of the top three bestselling middle grade books at Waterstones. Here they are, making a Robin Stevens sandwich.

But this wasn’t even the most exciting part of April, because at the end of the month, I got married to my long-time love and best friend, Tom de Freston. We had a whole weekend of happiness, with a low-key official ceremony at the local registry office with family on one day, and a huge celebration with family and friends the next. This of course meant I had to have two outfits.

They were the happiest two days of my life, and we’re still caught up in the giddiness of it all.

A short week later, the Branford Boase Award shortlist was announced, and I am delighted to say GOI&S is on there alongside some of my favourite authors and friends.

A long time ago now – three years in fact – when I’d just signed with Chicken House, I remember that year’s shortlist being announced, and saying to Tom that this was the award that I’d dearly love to win. It rewards and recognises the work of the editor, as well as the author, and GOI&S was an especial team effort owing to the eight drafts I completed with my wonderful editor, Rachel Leyshon. It was a different book when she found it, and without her and Barry’s guidance, it could not have become what it has. I found my voice thanks to her hard work. I feel very emotional and blessed to be considered for this unique award, though looking at the shortlist a win may be too much to hope for.

The evening after the Branford Boase was announced, we found ourselves at the British Book Awards, where GOI&S was shortlisted for Children’s Book of the Year. Chicken House were kind enough to host Tom as well, and we had a brilliant night.

Tom, me, Barry Cunningham on the red carpet!

When I found out it was shortlisted, I was also told it was the Oscars of the book world – and it totally was! Held in the same venue as the BAFTAs, compered by the Strictly Come Dancing voiceover guy, and replete with red carpet and photographers, it was a truly amazing evening even before this happened…

Yep. WE ONLY BLOODY WON. Which, considering the shortlist looked like this:

…is pretty remarkable, and a testament to the incredible job Chicken House did of editing, designing, and marketing the book. I had no idea we would win, and my speech was not the most eloquent, but at least we were told to keep it brief. Then we ate, drank, danced (Barry C has MOVES) and drank some more. It was one of the best nights of my life. Here’s an article Sian Cain at The Guardian wrote about it all.

If all that wasn’t enough, The Island at the End of Everything launched the next day at Waterstones Piccadilly.

It’s had some gorgeous reviews, including this in the Telegraph last week.

I’m overjoyed it’s having such a good reception. I loved writing it, and in some ways prefer it to GOI&Shere is a Q&A I did about it with The Bookseller.

So, that’s us all caught up. Now TIATEOE is out officially, school events and festivals are starting, and I have a busy time ahead. More than anything, I am looking forward to finishing my next book, and taking the next steps in a career that has been given such an amazing start.

Book Two’s First Trade Review!

Flicking through The Bookseller’s Spring Children’s buying guide, I was astonished to find The Island at the End of Everything on the 10 Titles Not to Miss page.

Here’s what it says:

The Girl of Ink & Stars is one of 2016’s top-selling debuts, and Hargrave’s second book establishes her as a major new talent in children’s fiction. Set on a remote island for people with leprosy, this is mesmerising storytelling.’

– Fiona Noble, The Bookseller‘s 10 Titles Not to Miss

Not ashamed to say I full-on forgot I was holding my tea, did a little dance, and dropped it all over my copy. So if anyone has a spare…