Domestic dramas are crowding out adventures stories, warn children’s book prize judges

Entries for this year’s Branford Boase prize show a preponderance of inward-looking family stories at the expense of more outward-bound storytelling, say judges

The fictional children of the past frolicked on the heather-clad slopes of Kirrin Island or battled the armies of evil at Hogwarts, free from the restrictions of their parents. Today, according to the judge of a children’s books prize, novelists are eschewing adventure stories for “claustrophobic” domestic dramas and creating “a depressing children’s literary landscape” in the process.

Author Philip Womack and his fellow judges read 60 books to come up with the shortlist for the Branford Boase award, which rewards children’s authors at the start of their careers and has honoured names from Meg Rosoff to Mal Peet in the past. According to Womack, at least a third of the submissions this year had a “very similar narrative: there’s an ill child at home, who notices ...