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>> MG Leonard wins Branford Boase Award

MG Leonard wins Branford Boase Award

MG Leonard wins Branford Boase Award

MG Leonard, together with her editors Barry Cunningham and Rachel Leyshon (Chicken House Books), have won the Branford Boase Award for Beetle Boy. The award recognises outstanding debut writers and their editors.

The judges said that MG Leonard's adventure about a boy and his beetle, and the array of wonderfully villainous adults lined up against them, 'stood out for its humour, characters and plotting and because of Leonard's special understanding of her young audience'.

Beetle Boy fuses science and sleuthing. When Darkus's dad goes missing a giant beetle called Baxter comes to his rescue, but can Baxter help Darkus solve the mystery of his dad's disappearance, especially when links emerge to cruel Lucretia Cutter and her penchant for beetle jewellery?

Leonard said she was thrilled by the award - which is the first thing she has ever won in her life. She added, "If I've been waiting all my life to win something and it turns out it's this prize, I am quite happy with that."

The Branford Boase Award is a special award to her, she says. "Every year for the last eight years I have gone out and bought the winning Branford Boase book because even if something is a good idea, if the writing isn't good you will put the book down. The Branford Boase Award is a hallmark of good writing so I'm delighted to have won it."

The publication of Beetle Boy was the culmination of ten years of work in researching beetles and learning how to write, said Leonard. "This is the first book I've written and it was an education, I learned so much.

"When I met my editors I had a lot to learn about the structure of a story, what is important and what isn't, what is the narrative point of view and so on. Everyone's first book is an education and the Branford Boase Award is a celebration of that relationship between the editor and the author.

"Considering that the first book took me ten years to write and the second just six months, it was a very different experience because I had all the information about insects but also I had learned so much from Rachel and Barry, my editors, that I knew what to discard and what to keep so I wrote the first draft in just six weeks."

Leonard is currently editing the third and final book in the Beetle Boy series. She describes her next book, a stand-alone, as a 'contemporary fairy story about climate change'. "I am very interested in eco issues and children's relationship with the natural world," she explains, "and as children grow up it will be more and more of a pressing concern to them". The book will be illustrated.

Since earlier this year Leonard has worked full time as a writer to enable her to do more events and to visit her publishers overseas; Beetle Boy is now an international bestseller and has been licensed to 39 territories.


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