Elizabeth Laird

2018 Quality Fiction Shortlist

So here it is...

the NSTBA 2018 Quality Fiction shortlist.


A Story Like the Wind      Gill Lewis, illustrated by Jo Weaver

OUP     ISBN: 978-0192758958

You can read the long list review here.


Song of the Dolphin Boy  Elizabeth Laird

Macmillan Children's   ISBN: 978-1509828234

You can read the long list review here.


Mark of the Cyclops: An Ancient Greek Mystery     Saviour Pirotta

Bloomsbury     ISBN: 978-1472934147

You can read the long list review here.



Just Jack    Kate Scott 

Piccadilly    ISBN: 978-1848126244

You can read the long list review here.

Congratulations to all! The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on the 10th November. 


All 80 titles for the six categories of our long list have now been reviewed! Each and every one a fantastic book, highly recommended by JAB and the NSTAB team.

The short list will be announced on the 8th September. Votes from the panel are already coming in so here's a little reminder of the twelve fabulous books on the Quality Fiction Category Long List.


Just Jack- Kate Scott (Piccadilly)

Hippo 2.JPG

 The Hippo at the End of the Hall- Helen Cooper (David Fickling)


To the Edge of the World- Julia Green (OUP)


Sky Chasers- Emma Carroll (Chicken House)


Sky Song - Abi Elphinstone (Simon and Schuster)


 Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki - Kevin Crossley-Holland & Jeffrey Allan Love (Walker)


Revolt against the Romans - Tony Bradman (A&C Black)

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The House with Chicken Legs- Sophie Anderson (Usborne)


Mark of the Cyclops- Saviour Pirotta (A&C Black)


Song of the Dolphin Boy- Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan) 


A Story Like the Wind- Gill Lewis & Jo Weaver (OUP)


The Jewelled Jaguar- Sharon Tregenza (Firefly)

Which of these twelve amazing titles will be among the final four of the shortlist?

LONG LIST REVIEW: Song Of The Dolphin Boy

Dolphin Boy.jpg

There are only eleven children living in the remote Scottish village of Stromhead and one of  them, Finn, just doesn’t belong.

Finn is different and he knows it.

Finn is lonely and alone. He is left out of parties, whispered about by villagers and has a difficult relationship with his widowed father.

Finn’s dad has a seemingly irrational hatred of the sea that surrounds their life in Stromhead and has forbidden him to go anywhere near it,  but an accidental tumble off the harbour wall plunges Finn into more than water; it is the start of an adventure that will change Finn, and Finn’s life, forever.

Swimming is more natural to Finn than walking and amongst the waves, he discovers that the friendships he struggled to make onshore come easily with the local dolphins.

At last it seems Finn has the acceptance and belonging that has eluded him; however, his new friends are in danger. Plastic pollution of the sea is threatening the dolphins  and Finn cannot save them on his own so, in desperation, he turns to those on land who have always left him out.

‘Song of the Dolphin Boy’ melts fantasy with fact to convey to young readers that we are not dealing with our plastic waste responsibly. Elizabeth Laird’s gift to these readers is to relay this message in beautiful, effective ‘brush strokes’ of language.

Laird has an ability to say so much in so few words which produces some ‘standout’ moments in Finn’s story. One of my favourite examples of this technique comes in Finn’s first encounter with the dolphins. The lonely boy plays with the his new friends, hearing their clicks and ‘song’ in his head and comments, ‘It’s what a kiss must feel like’. So simple, but so powerful- quality fiction indeed!

‘Song of the Dolphin Boy’ is a timely adventure which has beauty and an importance that will inspire the desire for change in those that will inherit our damaged planet- it is a must for every classroom.

Song of the Dolphin Boy  Elizabeth Laird

Macmillan Children's   ISBN: 978-1509828234