The Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition: Judging Panel and Lunch
The drawing room at the Savile Club: gilded and wood-panelled, faded-grand, the carpet soft as whispers. It's time for the judging panel. (more…)
TOP 5 FRIDAY (ish): Awesome Archers
I know it's not actually Friday, but we were so excited about the announcement of this year's Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition winner that there just wasn't any room to fit in a top 5 last week!
1. Robin Hood
Not strictly in a children's book, but Disney's classic animated film put him firmly on the metaphorical bow-wielding map. He's the original archer - the inspiration behind countless others, and is cool even as an anthropomorphic fox. Not bad going.
2. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy
The girl on fire herself! Katniss is the YA heroine of the 21st century (Hermione excluded), and it's her power with a bow that makes her so awesome. She's the one out there providing for her family, shooting down deers and pheasants - just using her archery skills and her penchant for breaking rules. And let's not forget [SPOILER ALERT] ending the Hunger Games and initiating a revolution. Awesome.
3. Legolas from The Lord of the Rings trilogy
It's well-known that Legolas is a master archer and I'd like to say that it's his archery skills that earn him a place on this list ... but really it's the hair. Anyone that manages to have hair that long and glossy and not get it tangled in their arrows deserves a mention.
4. Susan Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia series
Susan has a bit of an unfair advantage by having a bow that never misses - but she's not one for slacking off, practicing as much as she can to make sure she's the best. And she becomes Queen of Narnia at the age of 12.
5. Merry Owen from Longbow Girl
Ah, I won't reveal too much here. Merry is a heroine for the past and present and very much deserves a place on the list - but you'll have to wait until September to find out why!
Are there any we've missed? Let us know by tweeting us at @chickenhsebooks!
CHILDREN'S FICTION COMPETITION WINNER ANNOUNCED ... AND 2016 COMPETITION OPENS!
We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2015 Times/ Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition:
THE SECRET COOKING CLUB FOR GIRLS by Laurel Remington
Laurel's warm and witty tale of baking, friendship and finding your calling impressed all of our judges. Scarlett's mum - a social media guru - uses her daughter's life as embarrassing blog-fodder. Withdrawn and lacking in confidence, Scarlett stumbles upon the magic of cooking. But she can't possibly let her mum find out...
Many congratulations to Laurel and to all our shortlisted authors for reaching the competition's most outstanding shortlist yet.
THIS YEAR'S COMPETITION IS NOW OPEN!
Enter the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition 2016 ...
... and win a publishing contract worth £10,000!
We are looking for original ideas, a fresh voice and a story children will love. If you have written a novel for children between the ages of 7 and 18, visit our submissions page for details on how to submit your manuscript.
The competition has already launched the careers of many talented children's authors - you could be next!
Competition closes Friday 30th October 2015
Click here for full terms and conditions and for details of the prize.
TOP 5 FRIDAY: Horse stories
We couldn't include a top five cat list without considering our top five horses! Here's Rachel Hickman on the horse friends that have stood the test of time.
1. For determined girls who love ponies, Patricia Leitch's For Love of a Horse is unforgettable. Jinny lives in the Scottish highlands with Shantih the chestnut Arab, who she saves from an accident and who - as she thrillingly learns in the sequel - is A Devil to Ride!
2. We couldn't fail to mention K. M. Peyton's sweepingly romantic modern classic, Flambards. Meet Sweetbriar, the strawberry roan who teaches Christina to ride. In the process, the horse brings her close in different ways to the three boys who become the men in her life.
3. The 1941 novel We Couldn't Leave Dinah by Mary Treadgold was already a classic by the time I discovered it. It's the story of a girl who won't leave her pony, Dinah, when the Nazis invade her fictional Channel island.
4. For contemporary readers is Lauren St John's The One Dollar Horse. City girl Casey Blue rescues a half-starved horse and makes her dream come true of riding at Badminton Horse Trials. Thrilling, moving and filled with the sort of equine detail that real riding girls love.
5. Riders by Jilly Cooper. Coming way up the age-group with bags of content, huge teen appeal and epicly plotted naughtiness, nothing beats Jilly's sense of fun or her love of animals and the countryside. Follow the restless romance and domestic disasters of Fen, Tory, Jake and the appallingly behaved Rupert Campbell Black as well as their devoted horses including the Bull, Sailor, Africa and the magnificent avenging Macaulay.
Rachel Hickman is the Deputy MD of Chicken House Publishing Ltd. Her debut novel for young teens about love, loss and horses comes out next spring. One Silver Summer will be published by Scholastic Inc.
TOP 5 FRIDAY: Cats
Cats are the kings of the literary jungle. As Mark Twain put it, ‘If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.’ Also, as the epitome of cuteness and playfulness, two things we love at Chicken House, cats in children’s fiction seemed the perfect topic for this week’s top 5. Publishing Manager Laura picks the best of the bunch …
5. Mog from Meg & Mog
As one of the first literary cats of my childhood, Mog deserves a mention. Mog is certainly not your average cat: he’s easy-going (he puts up with a lot of Meg’s antics), he’s stripy (so alternative for a witch’s cat) and super adventurous (how many other cats do you know that have gone to space AND met a yeti?).
4. Fiddlesticks from Calling on Dragons
Not only did this book convince me that cats can really talk to their owners – you just have to listen to them … oh, and take a magic potion … – but it also firmed up my opinion that cats are the best animals of all. Disdainful yet adorable, proud but playful, Morwen’s cats cover the whole spectrum of cat characteristics. Although it’s almost impossible to choose between Jasmine, Murgatroyd, Fiddlesticks, Miss Eliza Tudor, Scorn, Trouble, Jasper Darlington Higgins IV, Chaos and Aunt Ophelia, Fiddlesticks wins it by a whisker.
3. Kirjava from His Dark Materials trilogy
Ok, so not technically a cat, but if it looks like a large multi-coloured feline, it’s a cat in my book. As Will’s dæmon, she is literally a part of Will’s soul – and Will’s one of my favourite literary heroes ever. And named by a witch? You can’t get cooler than that.
2. Crookshanks from the Harry Potter series
A cat firmly in the much-maligned category. Gorgeous, despite being a little funny-looking (how can a huge, fluffy ginger cat not be gorgeous?!). Super-intelligent, he’s clued up about Pettigrew from the start. So loyal to Sirius that he literally sits over his heart to prevent his murder. Plus the added bonus of his tendencies to play adorably with Butterbeer corks or chase gnomes. Enough said.
1. Buttercup from The Hunger Games trilogy
Buttercup’s got a bad rep, but he’s effectively the feline version of Katniss: unfriendly, stand-offish, an amazing hunter, the ultimate survivor and protector of Prim. So if you love Katniss, you’ve gotta love Buttercup …
Any more favourite felines to add to the list? Let us know by tweeting us at @chickenhsebooks!