Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2011 shortlist

The shortlist was made public on October 1st 2011, and Andy confesses to being ‘over the moon’. But is he surprised?

‘I’m utterly surprised, and very delighted, and rather anxious too. I’m never sure if people “get” the Ribblestrop humour, or the Ribblestrop soul and spirit. They’re very strange books, and I was amazed when Simon and Schuster accepted them. The first one was published on condition that I worked with an editor and accepted guidance. That editor has become a very good friend, and I see her quiet wisdom in every chapter: she restrained some of the wilder impulses, but encouraged the dangerous element too. ‘Return to Ribblestrop’ is funny, I hope – and full of life. The children face yet more threats to their existence, and get involved with defrocked priests, circus animals, an ancient legend that takes them deep underground…so many things happen – it’s a rollercoaster, of course. There are gags I’m really proud of, too, and a lot of things I didn’t think I’d get away with. Why didn’t that Blue Peter producer try to ban it, I wonder? – if ‘Trash’ was too much, then he must have fainted when he met the Miles character. He’s based on a sweet-faced psycho I taught ten years ago – the only student I’ve ever been headbutted by – and his journey is the real spine of the novel.’

And the short-list itself? Are you in with a chance? “Well, I haven’t read ‘Twilight Robbery’ – I’m off to the Manila bookstore to get my copy. David Almond is something of a hero. Apart from being a versatile and powerful writer, his books are a teacher’s dream. As for ‘Moon Pie’ – it’s a jewel of a book. A gem. So to see ‘Return to Ribblestrop’ squeezed in among them is quite enough for me. I’m very excited. I am so pleased that people do get the book, and my worries were unfounded. It sounds like people are making traveling with the characters.”


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