Some year I will learn that the longlist for the Guardian children’s fiction prize tends to emerge just as I go away for half term in May. I may even write it down in my newly acquired blog diary. Or would that take planning a step too far?
Better late than never, here is the 2010 longlist, accompanied by a worthiness problem further down.
Prisoner of the Inquisition, by Theresa Breslin
Now, by Morris Gleitzman
Unhooking the Moon, by Gregory Hughes
The Ogre of Oglefort, by Eva Ibbotson
Sparks, by Ally Kennen
Lob, by Linda Newbery
Ghost Hunter, by Michelle Paver
White Crow, by Marcus Sedgwick
For me it’s more of an unknown list than I’m used to. Three I’ve read, with another lying in waiting. At least another couple that I like the sound of. That makes the predicting rather harder. Although, predicting is mainly an inner ‘feel’ and not something based on fact or my own tastes. So the shortlist will comprise Theresa Breslin, Morris Gleitzman, Eva Ibbotson and Ally Kennen.
There is one aspect to the list that has always puzzled me, and that is why they pick books not yet published. I have a copy of Marcus’ s book, but it’s not out yet. And if the young critics are to stand a chance, they need to be able to buy the books.
The worthiness referred to at the beginning of this post has to do with a letter in Saturday’s Guardian, where the correspondent was unhappy with the selection. The books are far too worthy and will not attract young readers.
Is he right? I’m not sure who does the picking for the Guardian longlist, but it’s true that awards where children vote, tend to pick more child oriented choices. Who are the awards for? Maybe he’s wrong? Not all children will like the above books, but many will.
As for me, I’m old and will pick like an old person. I can stand aside and say that some other books may suit some readers better. But if you leave it all to children, there are books they will never try, which is why adults are there to push and suggest.