Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing Announces Inaugural Winner

The Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing, in association with The London Book Fair, LBA Books and The Independent, is pleased to announce its inaugural winner – former children’s bookseller Laura Wood – for her novel Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse.

Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse was chosen from a shortlist of five books, which were picked from over 1,000 competition entries.  The book impressed the judges who praised its “endearing heroine, rollicking plot and zany humour.”

Laura wins a publishing deal with Scholastic and agent representation by LBA Books.  Poppy Pym will be launched by Scholastic at The London Book Fair 2015, as part of the Fair’s London Book and Screen Week programme of events.

Laura also wins a trip to Italy to visit the historic Montegrappa factory, and a limited edition Montegrappa pen which was presented to her at a ceremony by head judge, Cerrie Burnell and Montegrappa CEO Giuseppe Aquila. The ceremony took place on Tuesday 21st October at Armorial, bespoke stationer at Thomas Goode, Mayfair.  The four runners-up will each receive an editorial session with Samantha Smith of Scholastic and Louise Lamont of LBA Books, in addition to being presented with Montegrappa pens.

Winner Laura Wood:  “It has been the most wonderful surprise and I am completely over the moon. The competition has opened so many doors for me and the other brilliant shortlisted writers, and I hope that this marks the beginning of an exciting adventure for all of us.”

Head judge, children’s author, Cbeebies presenter and Booktrust patron Cerrie Burnell: “The story of Poppy Pym dances off the page with a quiet grace and heartwarming sense of wonder. Each chapter is sprinkled with just the right mixture of charm and suspense, to keep you hooked and make you smile, whilst an enthralling cast of characters bring the story to life in vivid and quirky detail. Written in accomplished and subtly dazzling prose, Poppy Pym will inspire dreams of horseback acrobatics and masterful circus trickery whilst showing you just how wonderful friendship can be and raising the question do magical curses really exist?”

Judge and Fiction Publisher at Scholastic Samantha Smith:

“We were incredibly impressed with the imaginative scope and narrative ingenuity of all our shortlisted authors. But we couldn’t resist Poppy Pym’s pluck, cleverness or her crazy circus family. We are delighted to be bringing Laura’s fantastic writing to a wider audience and we’re absolutely sure that readers are going to be just as charmed as we were.”

Judge and children’s agent at LBA Books Louise Lamont:

“In Poppy Pym we have found a truly marvellous winner: a madcap young heroine with a circus troupe for a family and a nose for mystery. This competition has enabled us to catch a star in the making – Laura has a witty and magical way with a story, and I simply cannot wait for everyone to roll up, roll up and enter the spectacular world of Poppy Pym!”

Giuseppe Aquila, CEO Montegrappa:

“We are proud to have had some part in bringing Poppy Pym and the other colourful characters created by this remarkable group of new authors to life. This competition has really brought out some treasures and it has also been a great experience to collaborate with Scholastic, London Book Fair, Luigi Bonomi Associates and the Independent in making this all happen with such wonderful results. We believe that the spark that inspires the creative process has to be something outside our day to day lives and we hope that this competition has provided that little something extra to these already talented authors.”

Jacks Thomas, Director, The London Book Fair:

“Authors and their work are obviously pivotal to The London Book Fair and our encouragement of new talent is very important to us. I look forward immensely to the opportunity of launching Laura on a global stage at LBF15.  Additionally, during London Book & Screen Week we will be showcasing to consumers the differing – and similar – skills required for writing for book and screen in the children’s sector as we present our book and screenwriting competition winners. Huge and well-deserved congratulations to Laura – April 2015 should be an exciting month!” 

The Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing judging panel this year comprised Cerrie Burnell, children’s author, Cbeebies presenter and patron of Booktrust; Samantha Smith, Fiction Publisher at Scholastic; Louise Lamont, Children’s Agent at LBA; and Arifa Akbar, Books Editor at The Independent.

The competition was launched at the 2014 London Book Fair and was open to unpublished authors in the UK and Ireland over the age of 18.

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