The winner of the 2019 Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize, named for the late sff author, was announced August 5:
- The Map of Lost Lands by Lucy Steeds
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. Serving as judges for the 2019 prize were Julia Churchill, children’s book agent at A.M. Heath, and Lizza Aiken. This is the second time the award has been given.
Julia Churchill said, “Our shortlist gave us clever concepts, adventure, brave children and wonderful other worlds. Lucy’s The Map of Lost Lands is whimsical, funny, warm and surprising, about a girl finding her disappeared homeland. It’s got pace, originality and confidence. I love it.”
Lizza Aiken added, “Once you have immersed yourself in the world of a book it stays with you – as Joan Aiken said, ‘once a story is written it goes on happening.’ All of our shortlisted writers created their own powerful worlds, and having spent time in them, it was very difficult to choose just one. So thank you to all of you for sharing them, and to everyone else who took part – keep on writing!”
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.”