Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults 2023 Results

Announcing the final results of the Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults Competition 2023. Congratulations again to the incredible writers on our longlist. Your stories won our readers’ hearts with their original concepts, distinct voices and captivating openings.  

Guest judge Silvia Molteni of PFD had the difficult task of deciding the top 10 entries, including an overall winner. With so many stand-out stories to choose from it was far from an easy decision. All our longlistees and shortlistees have amazing writing careers ahead of them, so watch this space!

Here are the results


Ava and Luscious Gardens by Julie-Anne Graham

Shortlisted Entries

Elita Moon and the Keeper of Curiosities by Sara Spence

Ellie Anderson is Dead by Sophie Clarke

Every Color of My Blood by Rachel Craft

Fight the Stars by Sophia Alapati and Bethany Wheeler

Goon by Glenn Miller

The Box of Life by Emily Grice

The Mystics of Little Edmunswick by Sarah Bond

The Peregrine’s Apprentice by Jenny Glover

The Shadow Six by Kelly Smith

Special Mention

Lightbulb by Ele Nash

Luna and the Sky Gods by Fran Benson

Well done to our final 10. We love these stories and can’t wait to include them in Searchlight’s coveted agent/publisher pitch book.

Silvia Molteni said this about Julie-Anne Graham’s winning entry: “It’s an immediately strong opening, with a clear usp and a distinct voice, as well as a very interesting and unique set up. I love the idea of a world that has banned all colours and the image of the gardens being burnt at the beginning is incredibly powerful and atmospheric. I also appreciated the idea of insects as the main character’s interest, as it’s such an original one, and the way that the author uses them as a vehicle to introduce colours. The writing is powerful and there are some lovely passages that show a great storytelling talent and a good amount of emotional impact, such as the description of the beetle having tiny golden boots, and more generally the way that the author conveys Ava’s emotions and her curiosity towards the unknown.”

Congratulations as well to all our entrants. Thank you for being brave and allowing us to read your writing. It has been a pleasure and a privilege. Keep going!

Published in
26 January 2024
Last Updated
26 January 2024