Karen Foxlee wins the 2017 Readings Children's Book Prize

The winner of this year’s Readings Children’s Book Prize is A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee!

The Readings Children’s Book Prize recognises and celebrates Australian books that children love to read and raises the profile of debut and on-the-rise Australian children’s book authors. Foxlee’s first book for children, Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy, was shortlisted for the Prize in 2015. As this year’s winner, she will receive prize money of $3000.

This book was chosen – and unanimously loved by – a panel of four experienced children’s book specialists from Readings along with guest judge, author and illustrator Elizabeth Honey. This year’s staff judges included Athina Clarke (Malvern), Alexa Dretzke (Hawthorn), Holly Harper (Kids) and Dani Solomon (Kids).

Chair of Judges Athina Clarke says:

‘We were enchanted by A Most Magical Girl, a mostly traditional fantasy quest story full of fantastic characters, including Annabel, who goes beyond her comfort zone to be bold and brave, and beloved (by us) Hafwen, a troll who dreams of stars while stuck in a dank underworld. Nostalgic and refreshingly original, this absolute joy of a book is a charming reinvention of our favourite fantasy tropes.

In a quintessential battle of good and evil, ageing witches and wizards entrust our reluctant heroine Annabel with saving the world – pitting her against a malevolent villain who’s delved so long in darkness, he’s reduced to a wafer-thin shadow of a man.

The storyline is deliciously tense, especially our heroes’ remarkable journey through a scary, labyrinthine underworld that resembles a computer game. And Foxlee’s deft injection of wry humour into the fractious relationship between gutsy good girl Annabel and her quest companion, gritty wild girl Kitty, provides a welcome release valve.

What an amazing book this is! The writing is rich and accomplished, overflowing with vigour and vitality. And this quest story is a magical blend of fairies, witches and wizards, all brought to life in a wonderfully fresh and beguiling way – and embedded with a rich exploration of identity, family and friendship. Perfect for readers aged 9–12, this imaginative adventure will also reward families who read and enjoy it together.’

Guest judge Elizabeth Honey says:

‘This is a great swirling sensual story. You can hear and smell the London of Dickens, the clanking, creaking, murky fog, within which is found the dusty old, slow covens of fading magic. There are unforgettable characters – Miss Henrietta Vine and Miss Estella, Kitty, the faeries, Hafwen, and the Finsbury Wizards – familiar old magic written with originality, and powerful scenes befitting an action movie. Nothing is easy. The instructions are not clear. Annabel must discover her powers, while the shadowlings, like a Dickensian Alien, await their chance. This is fine reading for young humanlings.’

Winning author Karen Foxlee says:

‘I was so happy to find myself on the shortlist for the Readings Children’s Book Prize alongside such wonderful stories and in the company of such amazing writers, so I can’t even begin to explain what a beautiful surprise it is to find out A Most Magical Girl is the winner of this prize! I’m very proud of this story and all its magic and it is just so lovely to have it acknowledged in this way. Thank you so much, Readings.’

Alongside A Most Magical Girl, the shortlist for this year’s Prize included Escape to Moon Islands by Mardi McConnochie, Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters by Ailsa Wild, The Secrets We Keep by Nova Weetman, Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller and Grover finds a Home by Claire Garth.

We’re pleased to offer the entire shortlist in a specially priced bundle for $79.95 ().

Find out more about the Prize here.

Cover image for A Most Magical Girl

A Most Magical Girl

Karen Foxlee

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