The 2019 finalists for the Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize, named for the late sff author, were revealed July 29. Publisher A.M. Heath and Lizza Aiken, Aiken’s daughter, launched the competition in 2017 to find a standout new voice in middle grade children’s fiction. This is the second time the award will be given.
- Fiona Longmuir – The Museum of Emily
- Pippa Lewis – The Glass Butterfly
- Andrea Fautley – Frost Spell
- Lucy Steeds – The Map of Lost Lands
- Louisa Cowell – The Second Snowfall
The judges for the prize are Julia Churchill, children’s book agent at A.M. Heath, and Lizza Aiken, daughter of Joan Aiken and curator of her Estate. They considered over 400 submissions.
Julia Churchill said, “The response was brilliant. As ever, it was such a fun process, there’s so much talent out there. This year’s shortlist is packed with great concepts and heart, voice and freshness. Lizza and I will spend the next week or so working out our winner. It will not be easy.”
Lizza Aiken commented “It is fascinating to see how new writers have been influenced by Joan Aiken’s books – either in their use of locations, or imaginary worlds, or in descriptions of the special relationships formed by friends in difficult situations. Our shortlist shows some real talent – it’s just tantalising not to have seen how all the stories end!”
Apart from Aiken’s general comment, whether any of these are genre books is unknown, as no description of the stories was included in the announcement.
The goal of the award is to find “a standout junior novel. It could be contemporary or fantastical, it could have the makings of a series, or be one crystalline stand-alone. We know we’re setting the bar high. We hope to find a book that will be in print in fifty years, as Joan achieved with the Wolves series – and many more of her books.”