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>> The Skylarks' War wins the Costa children's award

The Skylarks' War wins the Costa children's award

The Skylarks' War wins the Costa children's award

The Skylarks' War by Hilary McKay (Macmillan Children's Books), a novel about growing up, lost love and the impact of war away from the battlefields, has won the Costa Children's Book Award and is now up against four other writers for the overall Costa award.

Hilary McKay previously won the Whitbread Children's Book Award (before it became the Costa award) for her novel Saffy's Angel.

The Skylarks' War will now compete with the other Costa Book Awards winners in the First Novel, Novel, Biography and Poetry categories for the Costa Book of the Year, which will be announced on 29th January.

The other category winners are as follows:

Stuart Turton takes the Costa First Novel Award for his debut, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, a high-concept crime novel

Irish novelist Sally Rooney wins the Costa Novel Award for her second novel Normal People, becoming the youngest-ever recipient of the Award

Oxford Professor Bart van Es wins the Costa Biography Award for his memoir The Cut Out Girl, a deeply moving story of war, families, loss, survival and friendship

Scottish poet J.O. Morgan wins the Costa Poetry Award for Assurances, a book-length war-poem in part inspired by his father who was a former RAF officer.

Last year's winner of the Costa Children's Book Award, The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge, also published by Macmillan Children's Book, went on to win the Costa Book of the Year - only the second time a children's book has won the award following Philip Pullman's win for The Amber Spyglass.

The Skylarks War is an immediate classic, a novel brimful of warmth and rich in historical detail. Hilary McKay talked to ReadingZone about writing The Skylarks' War and setting the novel in the run-up to and during WW1. She said, "The historical background was a great help, it gave me an immediate depth to the story. The fact that I could research the setting from the landmark dates of the time, down to the smallest detail of dress and domestic life, was very empowering. It gave such a secure base for the story that I felt almost as if I was working with a team, rather than the usual solitary writing experience."

She added that the inspiration for writing a novel set at this time came while she was writing an earlier book, Binny in Secret, which had a WW1 sub plot. "I found the sub plot so much more interesting than the main story that I planned The Skylarks' War from that time onwards," she said.

The title itself reflects her own love of skylarks, and comes from a reference she found during her research: "I read an account written a few years after the battle of the Somme. It was written to comfort someone, and it said that now there were skylarks singing, and meadow flowers. They are a symbol of hope, and summer. They sing their same unmistakable-for-any-other-bird song all over Europe and beyond."

You can read a full interview with Hilary McKay on ReadingZone here:


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