Page last updated at 20:11 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Hamster tale wins 5,000 children's book prize

Katie Davies. The Great Hamster Massacre
Katie Davies was one of nine shortlisted authors

Debut author Katie Davies has won the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize for her tale The Great Hamster Massacre.

Davies, 31, based the book, about a girl's relentless quest for a pet hamster, on her own childhood.

Children's Laureate Anthony Browne described the book as "a funny and touching story told very convincingly and honestly".

Davies, who lives in London with her husband, the comedian Alan Davies, won £5,000 at a ceremony in London.

She beat eight other authors to take the prestigious prize.

SHORTLISTED BOOKS
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

Davies, who previously worked as an assistant to a literary agent, told the BBC: "I'm really thrilled. I think it will make a massive difference. It's a big deal to me.

"I was very surprised to even be on the shortlist, so I was thrilled to find out that I'd actually won."

Davies based the idea for the book on her own childhood, when her pet hamsters killed their two litters.

"Apparently it's quite common. It was traumatising for the girl in my book, but I think, in reality, my brother and I were a bit harder.

"We thought it was disappointing partly because we were going to sell them on to the local petshop. We were going to convert them into sweets!"

Davies started writing full time after being encouraged by her husband, who starred in Jonathan Creek and appears in BBC One quiz show QI.

Rave reviews

"I had always written bits and bobs, but I didn't think I would be able to make a living out of writing. My husband encouraged me to give up work, give it a year, and bought me a desk.

"He's been very helpful and great at coming up with ideas for my next books. He's thrilled for me winning this prize."

The Great Hamster Massacre was published earlier this year, and has already received rave reviews within the industry.

Caroline Horn, children's news editor of The Bookseller, said: "Katie Davies is an authentic new voice in the children's world. The Great Hamster Massacre is funny, moving and real - I look forward to reading her next book."

The Great Hamster Massacre is the first of four pet-related books by Davies. The second, The Great Rabbit Rescue, will be published later this year.



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