Ghost Hunter, the final volume in her Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, unanimously chosen as a ‘towering achievement’
The writer Michelle Paver has won the 2010 Guardian children’s fiction prize for the concluding volume of her bestselling Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, Ghost Hunter. Set in an imagined prehistory, the series follows a young boy called Torak, who finds he can communicate with a wolf cub, and becomes his companion.
Michelle Paver said she had prepared her “loser’s face” after being warned that series books never won prizes, adding that she was particularly pleased to win for the final book in the series, which launched with Wolf Brother in 2004 (still available to hear in full on the site, read by Ian McKellen). “My aim was to write six really good books and not have the thing tailing off,” she said.
Renowned for the authentic detail she brings to the series, Paver had learned to “speak wolf” at a wolf conservation centre as part of her research for the latest novel. Her researches for Ghost Hunter also took her to Finnish Lapland, where she snowshoed on the trail of elk and reindeer.
Chair of judges Julia Eccleshare said: “It’s relatively rare for a book late in a series to win a major prize, but the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is such a towering achievement, as a whole as well as in terms of the individual books, that it was our unanimous choice.”
Paver saw off competition for the £1,500 award from Maurice Gleitzman’s Now, Gregory Hughes’s Unhooking the Moon and Eva Ibbotson’s The Ogre of Oglefort to take the award. She now joins a distinguished line of past winners, which includes Ted Hughes, Jacqueline Wilson, Anne Fine and Philip Pullman.
The Guardian children’s fiction prize was founded in 1967 and is unique in that it is judged by children’s authors themselves, and can only be won once by any single author. This year’s judging panellists were Linda Buckley-Archer, Jenny Downham, and last year’s prizewinner Mal Peet.
The judging process was shadowed by young critics, who described Ghost Hunter as “a thrilling story of love, friendship and terrifying evil” and “the perfect book for anyone who likes adventure, prehistory and survival”.
Extracts from some of the winning entries to the Guardian Young Critics competition, reviewing all 8 books longlisted for the prize, will be published in Education Guardian on Tuesday October 12.