David Almond wins Guardian children's fiction prize

David Almond’s A Song for Ella Grey wins the Guardian children’s fiction prize and we also announce our Young Critics winners!

David Almond has won the Guardian children’s fiction prize with a retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice set in the north east of England, A Song for Ella Grey.

Told in lyrical, dream-like prose, Almond revisits a story that he said “has pestered me ever since I began to write” - the legend of music-maker Orpheus descending to the underworld to bring his love back to life. Set in contemporary Tyneside, Almond’s version features inseparable best friends and sixth-formers Claire and Ella. Through Claire’s narration we learn how Orpheus entrances Ella and the terrible tragedy that unfolds as a result.

The book beat novels by Kate Saunders, Frances Hardinge and Sally Nicholls to win the only children’s book award judged by authors - find out more about the brilliant books on the shortlist and the longlist!

A Song for Ella Grey

Back to A Song for Ella Grey, and you don’t need to just take the judges’ word for it - here’s what three of our award-winning Young Critics think:

Megan Foley:

Almond’s writing really is something to envy. It is truly magical; his descriptions alone transport you from your warm room to the blustery beaches of the North. The words seem to leap off the page and spark to life within you. As I read, I got so completely absorbed in the writing that I forgot where I was and what I was doing. I only thought of the story and what was going to happen.

Charlotte Walden:

The beautiful poetic language in this book is unmistakably written by David Almond. The power in the short, often repeated sentences sends a chill down your spine and wakens your imagination so that you are drawn in by every convincing word.

Sara El-Khamlichi:

I think that this book is not just a “book”, but a literary masterpiece.

Megan, Charlotte and Sara are three of the winners of our Young Critics competition which shadows the Guardian children’s fiction award and is run by the Guardian children’s books site team. 18s and under were asked to write a review of one of the longlisted books in under 500 words. The award was judged by Michelle Pauli and Emily Drabble (Guardian children’s books site co-editors), Julia Eccleshare (Guardian children’s books editor) and Caroline Horn from Reading Zone.

The 10 winners all win a complete set of the longlisted books, book tokens and an invitation to the Guardian children’s fiction award party on 19 November

There is also a book group category where school and library books groups are invited to enter as a group with a minimum of four reviews. The winner is Holt Primary school in Norfolk.

Julia Eccleshare said, “We were overwhelmed by the number of wonderful entries for the Young Critics competition. Eloquently expressing what they like about the books and why, these entries show how passionate the Young Critics are about reading in general and these books in particular and how well they understand what it takes to make a book great.”

Read all the winning reviews here!

Wilkie Dickinson-Sparkes, 16, Five Children on the Western Front - read his review

Charlotte Walden, 12, A Song for Ella Grey - read her review

Olivia Sample, 11, The Lie Tree - read her review

Hannah Mulcahy, 15, All the Bright Places - read her review

Sam Davis, 10, An Island of Our Own - read his review

Elizabeth Knappett, 14, Apple and Rain - read her review

Cara Exall, 14, My Name’s Not Friday - read her review

Sara El-Khamlichi, 12, A Song for Ella Grey - read her review

Rhys Ponsford, 9, El Deafo - read his review

Megan Foley, 15, A Song for Ella Grey - read her review

Holt school group winners - read their reviews

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