The Hans Christian Andersen Award

2010 - David Almond

Born: 15 May 1951, Felling and Newcastle upon Tyne, Great Britain

Author's quote: "The sounds and rhythms of words are really important to me."

Field: Csshildren's Literature

Prize share: 1/1

Books Written By David Almond

About David Almond

David Almond was born 15 May 1951. He is a British author who has written several novels for children or young adults since 1998, each one to critical acclaim. He is one of thirty children's writers, and one of three from the U.K., to win the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, "the world's most prestigious prize in children's literature".

For the 70th anniversary of the British Carnegie Medal in 2007, his debut novel Skellig (1998) was named one of the top ten Medal-winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite. It ranked third in the public vote from that shortlist.

Those stories led directly to his first children's novel, Skellig (1998), set in Newcastle. It won the 1998 Whitbread Award, Children's Book and the Carnegie Medal. It has been published in over thirty languages. And it has become a radio play scripted by Almond; a stage play scripted by Almond, first production at the Young Vic, directed by Trevor Nunn; an opera with libretto by Almond, composed by Tod Machover, first directed by Braham Murray at The Sage in Gateshead; and a film directed by Annabel Jankel, with Tim Roth as Skellig.

In the next seven years, four more novels by Almond made the Carnegie Medal shortlist of five to eight books. Since Skellig his novels, stories, and plays have also brought international success and widespread critical acclaim. They are Kit's Wilderness (1999), Heaven Eyes (2000), Secret Heart (2001), The Fire Eaters (2003), Clay (2005), Jackdaw Summer (2009), and My Name is Mina (2010), a prequel to Skellig.

He collaborates with leading artists and illustrators, including Polly Dunbar (My Dad's a Birdman and The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon); Stephen Lambert (Kate, the Cat and the Moon; and Dave McKean (The Savage, Slog's Dad and the forthcoming Mouse Bird Snake Wolf). His plays include Wild Girl, Wild Boy, My Dad's a Birdman, Noah & the Fludd and the stage adaptations of Skellig and Heaven Eyes.

Almond's novel The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean (2011) was published in two editions: Adult (Penguin Viking); and Young Adult (Puffin). 2012 publications include The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas (illustrated by Oliver Jeffers).

In 2013, Mouse Bird Snake Wolf (illustrated by Dave McKean) was published. His works are highly philosophical and thus appeal to children and adults alike. Recurring themes throughout include the complex relationships between apparent opposites (such as life and death, reality and fiction, past and future); forms of education; growing up and adapting to change; the nature of the "self". He has been greatly influenced by the works of the English Romantic poet William Blake.


The Tightrope Walkers - David Almond

By Elaine G.

This is one of the most beautifully written books I have read in a long while. Set in the 1960s on the Tyne, it is the story of Dominic and Holly. Brought up on a brand new housing estate they have been best friends since the age of five. They come from different backgrounds, Dominic being the son of a born and bred working class shipyard worker, as was his grandfather. Holly is the daughter of a draughtsman at the shipyard. Despite this, they are soul mates. However, Dominic is constantly tempted away from Holly by his friendship with local bad boy Vincent Macalinden. If he stays loyal to Holly the world could be his oyster with grammar school and university in the offing. If he sticks with the charismatic Vincent, then it is a life of crime, violence and probably jail. As he journeys through his adolescence, Dominic constantly feels as if he is walking a symbolic tightrope in real life, as well as the tightrope strung up across the garden which he and Holly spent so long learning how to walk.

The writing is at time witty, but also very poetic and vivid. As I was reading I could almost see the story unfolding before me, as if I was watching a film. I loved most of the characters, even Vincent, as they were so well drawn, they felt real and natural. I say "most" of the characters – because there was one particular teacher who I really, really would have liked to take the cane to myself! I loved the way the estate aged over the story, from being brand new and spanking at the start of the story to the pebbledash walls beginning to crumble at the end; it was little details like that, that just made me gasp a little, especially when I thought of the brand new tower blocks being built at the end of the book. It is a story that has something of everything in it, at times quirky and charming, sad and poignant but at others quite savage.

There are so many books in the world to be read, but this is definitely one of the few that I will keep and re-read. Highly recommended. I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway Competition – thanks for a real treat of a read.

The Tightrope Walkers - David Almond

By Mrs. K.A. Wheatley

David Almond continues to delight me with his work, as he has done since I first picked up Skellig and then immediately set out to find everything by him I could get my hands on. The Tight Rope Walkers is no exception. It is beautifully crafted, powerful and clever. It's phrases linger in your mind and you find your mind full of the images he creates.

This reminded me a little of The Fire Eaters, but takes the same kind of story further and deeper. Dominic Hall narrates the story of his growth from a condemned slum by the Tyne through his school days and into young adulthood. The story pivots on the ambiguous relationship he has within himself, and externally with his friendships with the clever and beautiful Holly and the terrifying bully Vincent McAlinden.

The story is definitely for teens, as it has scenes that are violent and sexual in nature. Having said that they are not gratuitous and they are handled with great sensitivity and in a context which makes them acceptable within the confines of the novel.

This is my favourite book of Almond's in a long time, and I love all his work.