Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Pilot's Monsters fly high on list

Covers of Waterstone's Children's Book Prize shortlist
Organisers say they are "excited" by the shortlist's "quality and range"

The finalists for the Waterstone's Children's book prize have been revealed - including an airline pilot who writes between flights.

Rob Stevens' fantasy book The Mapmakers' Monsters will do battle against one other male writer and six female authors.

The prize, now in its fifth year, was set up to champion new and emerging writers of children's literature.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on 18 February.

The other shortlisted books are How Kirsty Jenkins Sold The Elephant by Elen Caldecott, Zelah Green Queen of Clean by Vanessa Curtis, Changeling by Steve Feasey and Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison.

They are joined by Gnomes Are Forever by Ceci Jenkinson, Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen and Numbers by Rachel Ward.

'Risky situations'

Among the writers' former jobs are a pianist, home tutor and museum security guard.

Debut novelist Stevens, whose adventure is set in the 15th Century, said he was "incredibly excited and flattered" to be nominated.

"I find writing to be the perfect contrast to my job as a pilot.

"While commercial aviation is all about safety - following rules and avoiding risk - there are no hard and fast rules about writing and the more risky situations I can conjure up the better," he added.

I find writing to be the perfect contrast to my job as a pilot
Shortlisted author Rob Stevens

According to Waterstone's, the winner, who will receive their prize at the store's flagship branch in London's Piccadilly, will receive a boost to sales of their book.

Waterstone's children's manager Sarah Clarke said: "We're incredibly excited by the quality and range of this year's shortlist.

"It includes everything from adventure and mystery to a page-turning horror story featuring vampires and werewolves."

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