Press Release: YoungMinds announces book award shortlist

This summer young people up and down the country have been reviewing books for this year’s YoungMinds book award – and following their feedback, YoungMinds, the leading children’s mental health charity, is delighted to announce the six shortlisted books for 2008:

Singing it, by Anne Cottringer (Andersen Press Ltd) – the tale of Flower, a defiant loner because of incessant travel, who learns the confidence to sing in public and trust in friends. “This was an amazing book,” commented one young reviewer. “As evidence I can tell you that I stayed up until 10:02 pm reading it.”

The way I see it, by Nicole Dryburgh (Hodder Children’s Books) – a teenager’s own story of her fight to rebuild her life after cancer. Aged 11, Nicole was diagnosed with a malignant tumour on her spine and after a brain haemorrhage at 13 which left her blind she was expected to live for only weeks. Now 19, Nicole – still blind, unable to walk and losing her hearing – is always busy, whether writing, fund-raising, travelling, or socialising with friends. “An inspiring story of a positive young lady and her fight against cancer,” was one reviewer’s verdict.
Accidents of nature, by Harriet McBryde Johnson (Andersen Press Ltd) – about a teenager with cerebral palsy who is experiencing her first time away from her parents. Comments included: “This book was amazing! It helped my perspective on disabled people greatly change. I now realise they can be independent and they are their own person. Five stars – way to go Harriet McBryde Johnson.”

The knife that killed me, by Anthony McGowan (Definitions) – a thought-provoking story that highlights the terrible consequences of peer pressure, and casts a spotlight on the rise in knife crime among teenagers. One young reviewer said: “I would recommend it as an easy read book that highlights some of the problems faced by youth today. It gave the reader a real insight into the thoughts of the main character.”
Accidental friends, by Helena Pielichaty (OUP Oxford) – when four young people are thrust together on their first day at college they form an uneasy alliance that turns to friendship – until a life threatening accident tests that friendship to the limit. “The style in which the book was written kept it exciting and made it very different. I felt really connected with the characters and I also found the book quite easy to read.”
From where I stand, by Tabitha Suzuma (Definitions) – the story of Raven, a boy who has been placed in foster care after witnessing the death of his mum. He and his friend Lotte set out to track down his mum’s killer – but their careful plan goes dangerously wrong. “I think that this is one of the best books I have ever read. The characters are very believable and plot is really good, especially the twist at the end.”
Relaunched this year, the YoungMinds Book Award 2008 will be given to a book for readers of 12 + which helps young people to cope with the challenges of growing up.

Sarah Brennan, YoungMinds Chief Executive, said: “Books can play a vital role in promoting the mental and emotional well being of young people. They can help break the isolation experienced by young people and demonstrate that their feelings and problems are not unique.”

The panel of judges will now choose the winner of the £2000 prize, to be presented at a gala ceremony at the Unicorn Theatre, London, on Monday November 17, following the YoungMinds Annual Lecture.

This year’s judges are:

Imran Ahmad, author of Unimagined: a Muslim boy meets the west – shortlisted for last year’s YoungMinds book award;
Steve Barrett, editor of Media Week and a YoungMinds trustee;
Grace Dent,  author of Trainers vs Tiaras- Diary of a Chav;
Jon East, BBC Children’s Head of Drama;
Honor Fletcher Wilson, project director, National Year of Reading;
Sue Mongredien, author of Royal Ballet School Diaries;
Mike Shooter, chair, YoungMinds;
Becky Stradwick, senior buyer for children’s books, Borders.

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