Young Quills Award for Historical Fiction

Young Quills Award for Historical Fiction

The Young Quills for Historical Fiction are book awards for authors writing historical fiction for young readers between the ages of 5 years though to young adult.

Publishers apply to have the books considered for the awards, allowing the HA to create a longlist. The books are then sent into schools across the UK.  For more information about how to take part contact  The shortlist for the Young Quills is then created based on the reviews of children and their thoughts, and the final decision is made a by a judging panel of experts that include an historian, an author and a literacy expert.

Why Young Quills?

One of the strengths of writing historical fiction is that historical knowledge can be learnt at any age and in many different ways, from real life testimony to fictional accounts. One of its weaknesses is that myths and untruths about historical events or people can become just as accepted as real facts. That is why authors who write historical fiction and do it well should be acknowledged and promoted. If those authors also help capture the imagination of young audiences, making the past real and accessible they and their work should be celebrated.

That is the purpose behind the Young Quills, an award that is all about historical fiction that is enjoyed by young people. New publications of historical fiction written specifically for a younger audience are selected each year to be reviewed by young people themselves. From their reading and discussion two shortlists are made, the best of primary historical fiction and the best of secondary historical fiction.

Competition criteria:

Is it a ‘good read’?

Does it have good historical content and factual information?

Is history a proper component of the story, not just a convenient backdrop or setting?

Does it inspire readers to find out more about that historical period or people?

Young readers category

Winner: Tony Bradman for Bruno and Frida. Illustrated by Tania Rex (Barrington Stoke) ISBN: ‎ 978-1800900509

An unusual WWII story set in 1945 as Germany is collapsing and the Russians are advancing, about the friendship which forms between a young German boy trying to escape and a terrified Russian dog. A poignant and gripping historical adventure.

Highly Commended: Judith Eagle for The Accidental Stowaway. Illustrated by Kim Geyer (Faber) ISBN: 978-0571363124

An exciting, brilliantly plotted nautical adventure set in 1910, full of intrigue, hidden identities and adventure. Running up the gangplank to hide from a pursuing constable Patch finds adventure on every deck of the ‘floating palace’ she accidentally stows away on.



Intermediate category

Winner: Tom Palmer for Resist (Barrington Stoke) ISBN: 978-1800901063

Another informative and gripping slice of WW2 history. Life for ordinary Dutch people in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands is fraught with peril and hardship. There is very little to eat and the population lives under the constant threat of arrest and enslavement. After the murder of her beloved uncle and the capture of her brother by the Germans, Edda is determined to do anything she can to help the resistance fight back against their oppressors. Based upon the life of Audrey Hepburn.

Highly Commended: Lesley Parr for When the War Came Home (Bloomsbury) ISBN: 978-1526621009

A mesmerising historical mystery set in the aftermath of World War One. When Natty moves to a new village, she meets two young soldiers who are still battling the effects of war. Huw can’t forget the terrible things he’s seen, but Johnny doesn’t even remember who he is.As Natty tries to keep a secret and unravel a mystery, she finds her own way to fight for what she believes in – and learns that some things should never be forgotten.

Highly Commended: Dan Smith for Nisha’s War (Chicken House)

ISBN: 978-1912626755

A thrilling historical ghost story; full of adventure, grief, guilt, forgiveness and belonging. Malaya, 1942. Nisha’s home is destroyed by war and she and her mother, Amma, flee to her father’s ancestral house in England, perched on a cliff top on the cold Northern coast. A fresh angle on a wartime story: the prejudice Nisha faces as a refugee feels particularly relevant today


14 years+ (young adult) category

Winner: Bill Konigsberg for Destination Unknown (Scholastic) ISBN: 978-0702319198

Bill Konigsberg brings to life a period of time in America’s history – 1987 /1988 – that had a profound and lasting impact on people both inside and outside the LGBTQ+ community. A remarkable, funny, heartbreaking story of two teen boys finding each other in New York City at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Highly Commended: Zoulfa Katouh for As Long As The Lemon Trees Grow (Bloomsbury) ISBN:  978-1526648549

An epic, emotional, breathtaking story of love and loss set amid the Syrian revolution. Salama is an 18 year old student pharmacist  thrown into the role of a surgeon due to lack of doctors who were deliberately targeted by the military. Having lost her whole family, Salama and her best friend and sister-in-law are trying to survive. Like many others, she is torn between loyalty to Syria and fleeing to a safer country.




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