Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2020 nominees includes Kent teacher Lucy Strange and novel Our Castle By The Sea

A secondary school teacher from Kent has been shortlisted for a prestigious children's book prize.

Lucy Strange, and her novel Our Castle By The Sea, is nominated in the Books For Younger Readers category of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2020.

Lucy Strange, who is still teaching in Canterbury
Lucy Strange, who is still teaching in Canterbury

Set in 1939, Our Castle By The Sea is described as a 'wartime mystery entwined with magic and myth'.

It follows youngster Pet who is growing up in a lighthouse during the Second World War and whose world has become a terrifying battleground as enemy planes rip through the skies overhead and her family is torn apart. Pet is small, afraid and unnoticed, says Lucy, and yet somehow she is a girl who is destined to become part of the strange, ancient legend of the Daughters of Stone.

Lucy, who lives in Canterbury with partner James and her young son, worked as an actor, singer and storyteller before becoming a secondary school teacher.

She is currently teaching English at Kent College in Canterbury.

Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange
Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange

Every year Waterstones’ expert booksellers are called upon to vote for the books they believe are the very best in new children’s writing and illustration.

Now in its 16th year, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize has become a formidable platform for emerging talent by bringing the best new books to readers’ attention every year and launching the careers of many children’s book authors and illustrators.

Last year’s winner The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf, Waterstones’ most successful winner yet, shot to the top of the bestseller charts following the Prize announcement and the novel saw an increase in sales of over 500%.

Lucy said: "I am honoured, delighted and grateful that Our Castle by the Sea has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.”

Eighteen children's books are shortlisted across three categories
Eighteen children's books are shortlisted across three categories

Eighteen books have been shortlisted across three categories - Illustrated Books, Books for Younger Readers and Books for Older Readers.

Lucy is up against five other novels in her young fiction category, one of which will be crowned category winner and be awarded a £2,000 prize.

The three category winners will then be vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2020 - with the final winner receiving an extra £3,000. Winners will be announced in London on March 26.

The mother-of-one will also be talking about Our Castle by the Sea at a special family day at Chiddingstone Literary Festival on VE Day, Friday, May 8.

Lucy will be joining War Horse author Michael Morpurgo at the event especially for families which has a wartime theme this year to coincide with 75th anniversary commemorations.

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