Entertainment & Arts

Depression tale wins Branford Boase Award for children's fiction

Horatio Clare Image copyright Caroline Flinders

A novel about a young boy who seeks help from wild animals in the woods to break his father's depression has won an award for children's fiction.

Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Welsh writer Horatio Clare was announced as the winner of the 2016 Branford Boase Award on Thursday evening.

Clare and his editor, Penny Thomas, will each receive a £1,000 prize.

The author said winning the award, which is given annually to a debut novel, "means the world to me".

"This is the book I am most proud of. It was written with heart and soul about something painful and important, but meant to read as a joy and an adventure," he added.

Clare said the book was initially turned down by many publishers, who felt the subject matter did not have commercial appeal, before it was published by Firefly Press - the company run by Thomas.

'No limits'

Chair of the judges, Julia Eccleshare, said the novel was "beautifully written and highly original, proof indeed that children's books is a very exciting place in which to write".

Previous winners of the prize, which was founded in 2000, include Frances Hardinge, Meg Rosoff and Marcus Sedgewick.

Clare, a lecturer at Liverpool's John Moores University, said he felt writing for children had given him a freedom not afforded to other genres.

"There are no limits, children's imaginations are so powerful, and I love being in dialogue with an imagined child reader," he said.

Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot was funded by the Welsh Books Council.

"State support for writers in Wales is exemplary. I and many other Welsh writers are working to repay the support and faith placed in us by the executive and the people of Wales, with books which will travel and last," Clare said.

The author's previous books include Running for the Hills - Clare's autobiographical account of childhood in Wales - which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and earned him a nomination for Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.

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