Page last updated at 08:19 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Children's authors vie for prize

Laura Summers
Laura Summers is one of nine shortlisted authors

The finalists for this year's Waterstone's Children's book prize have been revealed.

Real-life issues feature heavily on the nine-strong shortlist, with several authors tackling tough subjects for children.

Writer Laura Summers drew on her own experiences of raising a disabled child for her debut novel Desperate Measures.

The winner of the £5,000 prize will be revealed on 10 February at a central London reception.

Summers, a BAFTA-nominated writer of children's television including The Story of Tracy Beaker and The New Worst Witch, wrote her novel after realising that very few children's books have protagonists with learning disabilities.

Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
Seven Sorcerers by Caro King
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur
The Toymaker by Jeremy de Quidt
Desperate Measures by Laura Summers
Superhuman: Meteorite Strike by A.G Taylor
The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

It tells the tale of twins Rhianna, who was brain-damaged at birth, and Vicky, and their brother Jamie, who are trying to stay together after their foster parents break-up.

Waterstone's described the offering as "affecting, honest, and totally gripping".

Lucy Christopher's novel Flyaway tells the story of a young girl who does not want to face up to the fact her father may be dying, whilst in Suzanne LaFleur's Love, Aubrey, the title character struggles to cope by herself when something terrible happens and she is left to fend for herself.

The shortlist also has stories about dead hamsters, medieval monks, sorcerers and a girl who can fly.

Sarah Clarke, children's buying manager at Waterstone's, said: "Last year was a bumper year for children's books and 2010 is off to an equally strong start with such a spectacular shortlist.

"Horror and the supernatural often dominate children's fiction but this year we're seeing that balanced with serious, believable stories proving that sometimes real-life drama hits closest to home".

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