We’re feeling extremely chipper this grey February morning, now that the news is out that G R Gemin’s Cowgirl has been shortlisted in the books for 5-12 year-olds category of the 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.
We are so pleased for author Giancarlo, and we are very happy that new and emerging writers is the area on which Waterstones continues to focus its award attention: to have a retailer with Waterstones’ scale and clout behind an author or illustrator can really transform their UK sales, and a Waterstones Prize shortlisting or win has value in terms of selling translation rights too, helping to validate a publisher’s decision to publish new talent in the eyes of overseas publishers.
Nosy Crow is hugely keen to champion new writing and illustration talent too: G R Gemin, Nicola O’Byrne (Open Very Carefully won the 2014 Waterstones Children’s Illustrated Book Prize), Helen Peters (The Secret Hen House Theatre was shortlisted for the 2013 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize), Elys Dolan (Weasels was shortlisted for the 2014 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize), S C Ransom, Paula Harrison, Catherine Wilkins, Steven Lenton, Pamela Butchart and Olivia Tuffin all launched their children’s book writing and/or illustration career with books published by Nosy Crow over the last four years, and we’ve been involved in the early days of other authors and illustrators too.
So we are delighted that Cowgirl has been shortlisted in this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. It’s tough to take the leap and launch new writing talent, particularly in a world in which so much of the market is taken up by either long-established names or authors from David Walliams to Zoe Sugg who are primarily known for things other than their children’s book writing. But from the moment we read the Cowgirl manuscript, we loved Gemma’s voice (it’s a first-person narrative) and were drawn into her world (a run-down housing estate on the outskirts of a Welsh town within striking distance of glorious Welsh countryside, and, specifically, the farm on which schoolmate Kate, scathingly known as “Cowgirl”, lives). It’s a book about the redemptive powers of friendship and nature. And it’s funnier than I’ve made it sound, thanks to Giancarlo’s fine ear for dialogue. It’s been longlisted for the UKLA Book Award and the Branford Boase Award. It’s a Carnegie Medal nominated book too.