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Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot wins the Branford Boase Award 2016!

We’re celebrating at Firefly after the news that author Horatio Clare and editor Penny Thomas have won the 2016 Branford Boase Award with the wonderful Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot!


The 2016 winners of the Award, given to the author and editor of an outstanding debut novel for children, were announced at a ceremony at Walker Books in London, with the prize presented by children’s laureate Chris Riddell.

The book, for 8-12 year olds, beat off strong competition from other shortlisted titles and publishers including Penguin Random House and Harper Collins.


The judges said Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot was ‘something very special … it stood out from the first and the author’s voice is very exciting.’  


And they added: ‘Horatio Clare writes about animals as well as T.H. White. This is a very fine book with real quality in the descriptions – it comes from the heart of someone who loves landscape and wildlife. A book that is both pensive and sparkling with originality and life. It is a testament to the healing power of the imagination.’


Horatio Clare has won several awards for his books for adults. Of writing for children he said: ‘I am absolutely lit up about writing for children. I feel there are no limits, their imaginations are so powerful, and I love being in dialogue with an imagined child reader. It is the most exciting writing I have yet discovered. It’s an honour to win such a prestigious prize and I am particularly delighted to win an award which recognises the role of editors in children’s fiction. We would be nowhere without them!’


Penny Thomas said: ‘Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot is a wonderful book, a future children’s classic: funny, magical and profound, and we are delighted for Horatio who is a superb writer. This award is particularly exciting for Firefly too, as we’ve only been publishing for three years and we were up against some terrific shortlisted titles. 


‘It shows that great books can come out of Wales as well as great football!


‘I’d like to thank the Branford Boase judges, and the Welsh Books Council for their support in helping us commission this title, as well as the whole Firefly team, particularly my fellow editor and director, Janet Thomas – publishing this book has been very much a team effort.’


Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot tells the story of rambunctious child Aubrey and his determination, with the help of the animals of Rushing Wood, to save his father, Jim, when he falls under the spell of the spirit of despair itself, the Terrible Yoot!


Beautifully illustrated by Jane Matthews, it has been praised as ‘a sheer joy’ by former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo, and ‘A jewel not to be missed’ by the Sunday Times, which, along with the New Statesman, put Aubrey in its round-up of the best children’s books of 2015. 


Founded in 2000 the Branford Boase Award was set up to encourage new writers and to highlight the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. It has an impressive record in picking out future stars. Frances Hardinge, winner of this year’s Costa Book of the Year won the Branford Boase in 2006 while Meg Rosoff, recent recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, is also a previous winner, as are Marcus Sedgwick, Mal Peet, Siobhan Dowd and Kevin Brooks.

This year’s judges were Russell Allen, Simon Key, Marion Lloyd, chaired by Julia Eccleshare of the Guardian and Hay Festival. 

To buy Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, go to

Monkey business and motorcycle mayhem - new reads for summer



When Thimble turns up on Jams' doorstep he can’t believe his luck. But for some reason Dad is not so keen. In fact he does everything he can to lose the new monkey on the block – at a police station, a school or even the zoo. But Thimble is always a step ahead, and when his new family is in real trouble, he shows just why he is a Monkey Superstar. With wonderful illustrations from Martin Chatterton, Thimble Monkey Superstar is a marvellous new Dragonfly story for primary school readers. 

Thimble Monkey Superstar is available to buy on the Firefly website and is up for a giveaway on Toppsta until 19 June. 


We had a wonderful launch event at Radnor Primary School in Cardiff with a donation from book sales going to Bobath Childrens Therapy Centre Wales.  

Jennifer Carroll, Centre Director and Consultant Physiotherapist at Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre Wales said: ‘I really enjoyed reading this book, it was so refreshing to have a main character with a disability without that being a major theme of the story. Jams is just a boy in a slightly atypical family living an adventurous life. I read it to my son and we both laughed raucously. A great book for all children!’ 

Bobath is selling Thimble on their website and in their Therapy Centre along with other Firefly titles. 


Davidde has always been a model pupil, (even if his parents had trouble spelling). But now, bothered by the barmy new headmaster and picked on by Lyndon’s gang, he’s kind of had enough. Then he discovers motorcycle scrambling and everything changes. But when the TV talent people come to town will Davidde reach for the stars, or is heading for a fall? A hilarious tale of boys, bikes, art classes, and some not-so-hard bullies from Huw Davies.

Originally from Nantyffyllon near Masteg in South Wales, as an English teacher Huw came to feel there was a lack of what he calls 'daft books for boys', and started work on Scrambled, set in the fictional valleys town of Maesunig.

'Despite most students enjoying reading books as a class, there can be resistance to independent personal reading from some students,' he said. 'I’d say it’s not that you don’t like reading, you’re just trying to read the wrong books – if you’re a boy or girl who likes playing football or going up the mountain on your dirt-bike, you’re unlikely to enjoy reading a book about horses and kissing. I decided that I’d try to engage reluctant readers. I thought that there didn’t seem to be enough daft books for daft boys.'

Scrambled is available to buy on the Firefly website and and at all good bookshops.

Huw Davies reading from Scrambled at his launch at Waterstones Carmarthen

New signing – Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink by Jennifer Killick



Alex Sparrow wants to be a super-agent, but the superpower he mysteriously acquires has some very undesirable side-effects. Undeterred he teams up with Jess, who has a few unusual powers of her own, to tackle the wave of weirdly polite behaviour which is sweeping their school. But can they win, and what part does Bob the OCD goldfish have to play in all this…

Firefly is delighted to sign this first book for 8-12s by Jennifer Killick of Brunel University and the Golden Egg Academy to be published next year.  

Firefly Editor, Janet Thomas, says ‘I love the non-stop mix of comedy and adventure Jennifer has managed to create in this brilliant story, a book that is laugh-out-loud funny and page-turning, daft and thrilling, with loveable heroes, memorable villains and a truly unforgettable goldfish. It’s wonderful and I can’t wait to see it in readers’ hands.’


Autumn titles

Watch out for three new YA titles from Firefly this autumn. First up in September are Purge, a virtual reality teen thriller from Kat Ellis (author of Blackfin Sky), and The Martian Girl, the second in the Mars trilogy from Paul Magrs, launched last year with the much-loved Lost on Mars, and taking us ever deeper into the heart of Lora’s wild and wonderful adventures in the red Marian prairies…


And in October we’ll be bringing you The Territory, Escape by Sarah Govett, second in the thrilling Territory trilogy described as 'a powerful and compelling novel' by Book Trust. Sarah will be at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 26 August. 

Watch out also for wonderful new Halloween fun with Grace Ella, Spells for Beginners by Sharon Marie-Jones.


Catch award-shortlisted first novel Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot at a festival near you!



After a great day out at the Hay Festival  - and thank you to all those who came along - we’re looking forward to a summer of events with Branford Boase Awardshortlisted Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare. Catch Horatio at the Bath, Cheltenham, Cork or Edinburgh festivals this year – full details are on our website.


Dan and Dahl Catch Dreams with Dan Anthony


Dan Anthony, author of the Steve's Dreams books, has teamed up with Literature Wales to offer a special Dahl-inspired creative writing workshop for schools, libraries, festivals, venues and cultural organisations in Wales.

We all love reading and writing stories, but where do they come from? Using Roald Dahl’s The BFG and other favourites, and his own Steve’s Dreams stories, Dan shows how Roald Dahl can help us all write, and read, better. Being influenced isn’t the same as copying.

“There’s magic in Dahl’s stories,' says Dan, 'these workshops are about unlocking it.'

Full details on how to book Dan's workshop are on the Literature Wales website.

Good luck to Rhian Ivory who will find out if her YA novel The Boy Who Drew the Future has won the Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year on 17 June.

Malachy Doyle, author of Pete and the Five-a-Side Vampires, is The Reading Agency's Author of the Month for June. Watch his fun video here.


Busy week for Firefly


We have an exciting few days of launches and events for Firefly this week. On Tuesday we launched the wonderful Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake, illustrated by Martin Chatterton, with the support of Radnor Primary School in Cardiff and charity Bobath Cymru. Thinble is a laugh-out-loud story about 10-year-old Jams and his best friend Thimble - life is never boring now that Jams and his family have Thimble to look after, but Dad is determined to get rid of him - to a zoo, a school, even a demolition site. But when Jams and his dad are in mortal danger, Thimble proves once and for all why he is a Monkey Superstar!

The main character, Jams, is based on the author’s own son, 9-year-old Jordi who attends Radnor Primary School. Like Jordi, Jams has Cerebral Palsy and uses a walker. Jennifer Carroll, Centre Director and Consultant Physiotherapist at Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre Wales, which provides therapy for children with CP, said: ‘I really enjoyed reading this book, it was so refreshing to have a main character with a disability without that being a major theme of the story. Jams is just a boy in a slightly atypical family living an adventurous life. I read it to my son and we both laughed raucously.  A great book for all children!’ 


And on May 27th at 6pm we're celebrating the launch of Scrambled at Waterstones Carmarthen with debut author, English teacher Huw Davies.

Scrambled is a 'daft book for boys' with motorcycling, art classes, some not-so-hard bullies and some particularly daft jokes. Set in the fictional Maesunig Comprehensive in the South Wales valleys it features Davidde, a model pupil who's had enough of being the butt of the joke for Lyndon's gang and the barmy new headmaster. Then he discovers scrambling, and everything changes...

Then on Saturday May 28th we are heading to the Hay Festival to see Branford Boase shortlisted author Horatio Claire talk about Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot with festival director Peter Florence on the Starlight Stage at 2.30pm. Find out more here

And finally don't miss the chance to win a copy of our new books with the great children's reading site Toppsta -



Branford Boase shortlisting for Aubrey

Horatio Clare's first novel for children, Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, published by Firefly, has made the shortlist of the prestigious Branford Boase award 2016. The award celebrates outstanding debut novels by children's authors and their editors and has been the first to identify major new talents in children's writing such as Francis Hardinge, Meg Rosoff, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Patrick Ness.

Aubrey, a novel about talking to owls and depression, for 8-12-year-olds, is up against five other debut novels for the 2016 award, which will be decided at a London awards ceremony on July 7th.

Beautifully illustrated by Jane Matthews, the book has already been praised as ‘a sheer joy’ by former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo, and ‘A jewel not to be missed’ by the Sunday Times, which, along with the New Statesman, put Aubrey in its round-up of the best children’s books of 2015. 

This year the Branford Boase judges are Russell Allen team leader for children’s services across the West Sussex Library Service, recently awarded Public Librarian of the Year; Simon Key, bookseller from the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green; Marion Lloyd, former children’s editor; and Rosie Rowell, author of Leopold Blue, winner of the 2015 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s books editor of the Guardian.

Julia Eccleshare said: “UK children’s publishers are more eager than ever to find and nurture talented new authors and this is an extremely exciting shortlist. All areas of the children’s book market are flourishing so this list includes books for young readers and for teenagers. It reflects current trends and features some wildly inventive books that play with language and ideas; a time travel story; a book that explores a transgender teenager’s struggle with identity; a book about a parent’s depression. They are all distinguished by the quality of the writing, the author’s ability to control plot and create character, and by an originality of approach.”

‘We’re thrilled that Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot has been longlisted for this award,’ said Firefly publisher and Aubrey editor Penny Thomas. ‘It’s a wonderful book by a talented writer and illustrator, and it’s great as a new independent Welsh publisher to have our books recognised like this.’



New in for spring




Our wonderful first spring title has just arrived on our shelves – Alien Rain by Ruth Morgan is the story of Bree – an ordinary teenage girl living in a Martian city. She’s never seen a bird fly or the sea or the rain. When she is selected to go on a mission back to Earth she is delighted but amazed – why her? But there are terrible shocks ahead – who can Bree trust, and whose side is she really on?

Alien Rain is available to buy on the Firefly website here.

For the chance to win a copy you can enter our Goodreads giveaway here

You can meet Ruth Morgan as she launches her new book at the Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival on Sunday 24 April - for full details click here

An if you missed the chance to meet Firefly authors Shoo Rayner and Horatio Clare at Cardiff Children's Literature Festival last weekend, don't worry, there's still time to book for events with Laura Sheldon and Dan Anthony too.

Singing Pirate Walk with Dan Anthony            
Saturday 23 April, 3pm    
Meet at Cardiff Central Library

Ruth Morgan: Aliens at the Museum
Sunday 24 April, 12pm                              
National Museum Cardiff

Creative Writing with Laura Sheldon author of Mr Mahli's Shed and a ghost named Dylan
Sunday 24 April, 3-4.30pm                               
Old Library, Learning Suite                      


Highly Commended



This month we’re delighted to congratulate two of our authors on receiving Highly Commended status in this year's Welsh children’s book prize, the Tir na n-Og Award

White Petals by Maria Grace, a heartwarming Young Adult story of teenage friendships set in the South Wales valleys, and Elen’s Island by Eloise Williams – fun adventure on a wonderful Pembrokeshire island, part of our Dragonfly series for younger readers were both selected for special praise by the judges of the 2016 award.

Eloise also starts a residence at Oriel y Parc in St David's, Pembrokeshire this week. Fore more information visit Eloise's website here


April Ebook Bargain



Don’t miss the chance to buy two YA Firefly titles going cheap in the Kindle April sale. Kindle versions of The Boy who Drew the Future by Rhian Ivory and Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis are available at the bargain price of just £1.09 – this month only!!


New Books


Two fantastic new 2017 signings for 8-12 year old Firefly readers were announced this month: Aubrey and the Terrible Spiders by Horatio Claire follows his much-acclaimed debut title Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot. While Gaslight, by Eloise Williams sees her young heroine Nansi delve into the murky world of the Victorian Music Hall.
Next month you can also catch Horatio talking about Aubrey at the annual Hay Festival on Saturday 28 May - for more information click here

And look out for two more Firefly titles, Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake, illustrated by Martin Chatterton and Scrambled by Huw Davies, next month.