Katie Davies wins Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize
10.02.10 | Caroline Horn
Début author Katie Davies has been announced as the winner of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize for her book, The Great Hamster Massacre (Simon & Schuster). The book won over nine other titles, with Waterstone’s describing it as the “closest competition” in the prize’s six-year history.
The title was revealed as the winner of the prize by Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne in an evening ceremony at Waterstone’s Piccadilly. Browne described the book as “a funny and touching story told very convincingly and honestly from the point of view of a young girl”.
The prize was created to champion new and emerging talent in children’s writing. As well as a £5,000 cash prize, the winning author is promised an ongoing commitment to their writing career from Waterstone’s 315 branches nationwide.
Waterstone’s children’s buying manager, Sarah Clarke, praised the novel for its sweetness, humour and acute observations about adults: “The Great Hamster Massacre is a wonderful book and an exciting winner, particularly as this is the first time in the history of the prize that a book written for a younger audience has won. This was the
closest competition we’ve ever had, but in the end Katie Davies’ brilliant execution in telling her sweet and funny story won the judges over.”
The book, which is aimed at children aged eight years plus, follows three children who are trying to find out who or what murdered their pet hamsters. The story is told through the diary of one of the children, Anna. As it unfolds, the children also have to come to terms with the death of their nana.
Davies, who is 31, based the story on her childhood memories of her own pet hamsters coming to a bloody end, and the death of her grandfather. She said: “I remember being morbidly fascinated by death when I was seven or eight years old, and I wanted to explore how children deal with death in this story through the death of the nana.”
She added: “Although these are big issues, when you are writing through the perspective of a young child, they don’t always understand what is really happening and it’s that which gives you opportunities for comedy.”
Davies has completed a second novel for Simon & Schuster, The Great Rabbit Rescue, which will be published in September, with two more titles in the series to follow.