WM Novel and PB Awards 2022 – the Openings

WM Novel and PB Awards 2022 – the Openings

Openings of our Shortlisted Writers

Simply click on the title in the table to be transported into that story world!

NameTitle of MS/TextAge categoryGenre
Fiona Spence-ArnoldEdie Edison and the Impossible InventionCBFunny, friendships, family
Laura WarmingerHope Floats Like a FeatherMGContemporary
Jack SimpsonGeorge Ivy and the Emperor of Absolutely EverythingMGAdventure
Natalia GodsmarkThe Story SeekersMGContemporary / Mystery / Adventure
Aoife DoyleThe Music Weaver’s CallMGFantasy
Nicola DahlinIf We Tell YouTeenThriller
Maureen TaiThe Magic in Ming’s HandsPBLyrical, diverse 
Joanna BrooksThe Seashell SwitchPBSTEM Rhyming 
Nicola ThackreyGo to Bed, Ted!PBFunny. Bedtime. 
Darren SextonDragon SoupPBHumour
Anne WeedonJemima and the PiratesPBHumorous rhyming


The Music Weaver’s Call by Aoife Doyle

1 | Guardian of the Lake

There was something wrong with the kelpie. Hunger blazed in its purple eyes, but it didn’t want food. It wanted Finta. Its hoof clacked against the cobblestones, water flowing from its seaweed mane. Its tail flicked as saliva dripped from its open jaws, stinking of the depths of the lake it’d climbed from. Fangs framed its wicked grin as it took another step towards her. Finta stood her ground. She wasn’t afraid of wolf-mouthed lake horses. No matter how many children they’d stolen.

The faintest click of claws on stone told her Skyo stalked the shadows, keeping a perimeter. Ready, Finta knew, to leap to her defence if needed.

It wouldn’t be needed.

Kelpies were easy. Dangerous, sure – all the behi’alta were – that’s why there were deep, ancient laws in the land of Erri; to keep those magical creatures in check, as well as the people. It was also why the villagers had paid her to send this magical water horse back to its lake and get their children back. Because Finta wasn’t a normal twelve-year-old. That was one of the only things she could remember about herself. Banishing an out-of-control lake guardian wouldn’t take her long – she’d guaranteed it. It’s why she got to charge so much.

Even so, she and Skyo should’ve left this village days ago. It wasn’t their home – not that Finta knew where home was – and it held no answers for them. Her grip tightened on the tools she’d need held at her sides, the familiar textures soothing against her fingertips. She took a breath heavy with the tang of lake water and blew it out slowly. She shouldn’t complain. They were almost out of money. Really, it was lucky the kelpie’d arrived a few days after they had. Lucky the villagers’ attempts to coax and drive it back to its lake had failed.

Lucky she had her fiddle.

If We Tell You by Nicola Dahlin


“A truth relies on what came before it.”  Mum


Cameron would accuse me of over-reacting, but panicking was the logical thing to do. We’d almost died today. If we didn’t work out why, it could happen again. 

I’d been perched on the edge of my seat since Glasgow, rucksack on my knee, red emergency brake above my head. Beyond my window reflection, fields and lonely villages whizzed by. And sheep. Lots of sheep. Five hours of fields and villages and sheep.

But now towns were running into each other, hemming in the railway track, blocking out the darkening sky. We were almost in London. We were out of time, and I needed to calm down and work through solutions to the most obvious worst-case scenarios. 

This day was like a maths problem, I told myself. A random collection of constants and variables that were somehow connected. And I was good at maths. Although, I preferred theoretical problems that required calculators, and where you didn’t die if you took too long to solve them. 

Our train slowed then rocked into London, shunting from one track to another as it navigated its way into Kings Cross station. The woman opposite gave up pretending to knit and shoved needles and wool into a bag at her feet. Across the aisle, the tweed-capped man closed his book. It had been open at the same page since Leeds. Six rows in front, Cameron turned to check I was ready. Stick together but stay apart, Dad had said, identical twins are memorable.

Edie Edison and the Impossible Invention by Fiona Spence-Arnold

Chapter One: An Idea in an Apple Tree

[Illustration of Edie’s drawing board with a poster – Summer Inventions Fair 2pm August 25th]

The hedge wiggled. Strange… Hedges don’t usually do that sort of thing. I peered down from my seat in the apple tree and saw something odd pointing in my direction. It looked like a pair of binoculars and blonde hair. Could it be my next-door-neighbour-nemesis, Daisy Armitage?

“Is that you, Daisy?” I said.

The hedge was still and silent.  

Usually, Daisy doesn’t stop talking. Stuff like, “My house is so much bigger than yours,” or “I’ve got a pony.  Have you got a pony, Edie Edison?”

What was she up to? It was putting me off thinking of an idea for the Inventions Fair.  Usually, ideas pop into my head like popcorn in a microwave, but not that day.

My best friend, Navid was coming over later and I wanted his help. Navid is super clever, and nuts (and bolts!) about long words, not inventions, but he’s a handy assistant. Every inventor should have one.

Just then, Mum came into the garden and pegged up clothes on the washing line. It was taking her ages because she kept on stopping and rubbing her back. She’s going to have a baby soon and her tummy is about the size of a small mountain.

As I watched her, something amazing happened in my brain; electricity sparked, a neuron fired… 


SUPER-SIZED SPANNERS! I had an invention idea.

Hope Floats Like a Feather by Laura Warminger

Chapter One – Gran

The social worker knocks on the door of flat thirteen, and I cross my fingers. Maybe Gran isn’t expecting us after all. Or maybe she is wishing that we will just go away. Gran hasn’t wanted to see me, or Mum, for the last twelve years. I don’t know why.

There is a rattling noise and slowly the door creaks open just a crack. But I can’t see who is standing behind it.

 “Hello, it’s Angela Dawson. We spoke on the phone. I’ve brought your granddaughter, Ada.” I notice that she shoves her foot into the gap in the doorway as she says this, so that it won’t close again.

“Hang, on. I wasn’t expecting you till three o’clock. We agreed you would be here at three.” The door opens and I am looking at my Gran for the first time, but she doesn’t look at me. Her hair is grey and short, and she is wearing navy trousers and a pale blue blouse with a name badge that says Sandra Taylor. I look at her face, searching for a bit of Mum. 

“I’m sorry Mrs Taylor, I’ve had to bring her early. I thought someone would have phoned to let you know.” Angela Dawson steps past Gran and into the flat before she can change her mind about letting us in. Gran follows her down the hallway and I am left standing all alone with my suitcase.

I don’t know what I expected. I have never had a Gran before. Thirty seconds ago, I didn’t even know her name was Sandra. 

“Come on, Ada. In you come.” Angela pokes her head into the hallway and then disappears again. 

The hallway is covered in flowery wallpaper. Red flowers that might be roses with swirly green stems. There are three little frames in a row on the wall, pictures of cats curled up in various places. No photographs of Mum or anyone. A small table against the wall with a telephone on it and a set of keys. Two doors on the left, one of which is a bathroom – the door is slightly open, and I can see tiles on the wall. One door on my right with what looks like a heart sticker on it, that has been painted over with white paint. I guess that this was Mum’s room. I shove my suitcase into the hallway and shut the door behind me.

George Ivy and the Emperor of Absolutely Everything by Jack Simpson

Chapter 1

Like all good stories it started with a wibbly thing. 

It ended with a ridiculous battle on a planet six billion light years from Earth. And somewhere between that and the wibbly thing there were alien invasions and space pirates and evil computers and eviller people and brain-sucking monsters and wildly insulting vending machines. 

Oh and a chicken. That was the weirdest part.

Anyway, look, we’ll get to all that later.

For now let’s talk about the wibbly thing. 

I was lying in a tent in my garden with my head poking out the door, staring up at the July night sky with a telescope Mum had got me for my birthday. 

She was right next to me. Mum, I mean.  

‘You didn’t have to stay in the tent,’ I said. 

‘You won’t even know I’m here,’ she said, eyes on her book. 

‘But clearly that’s not true because I’m talking to you aren’t I.’

‘Just concentrate on your satellites, George.’

‘Space stations, Mum. Space stations. Totally different thing.’

‘Sure, darling.’

I said something inside my head that would have made Mum throw the book at me (I mean literally she would have thrown her book at me). I moved my telescope across the sky. So far I’d seen a whole lot of stars and only one UFO. And on closer inspection the UFO had been a flappy bit on top of the tent. 

‘I’m not a kid anymore,’ I said. ‘You are eleven years old though,’ Mum said.

The Story Seekers by Natalia Godsmark

Chapter One

If this was one of Dad’s books, it’d start with a bang. Not an explosion, obviously, but something big to reel you in. He always did that in his Starlight Seekers novels. Action first, no backstory – and definitely no long-winded introductions. But since this isn’t one of Dad’s books, there’s no bang to start with. Just Edie and me on the day we turn twelve, sitting in the kitchen and doing our best to smile as Great Aunt Lil warbles an off-key version of Happy Birthday. She starts too high, so when she gets to the third line I have to clutch my seat to stop my hands clamping over my ears.

She’s all right, is Lil. Always trying to make Edie and me happy. I guess she thinks that if she’s nice enough to us, we’ll forget we shouldn’t really be here; that if the world was a fair place, we’d be living a normal life with Mum and Dad.  

She’s made a real effort for our birthday; she’s taken her curlers out of her wispy hair and ‘dolled herself up.’ (Hard to know what to say to that, since she’s about one hundred and thirty years old and ‘dolled up’ to her means an even more flowery blouse than usual.) 

Balloons and streamers are tied all over the kitchen, and she’s made a pass the parcel and given us pink tinsel wigs to wear that clash horribly with my ginger hair. Of course, twelve is far too old for all that, but Lil never had kids of her own; she doesn’t know what we like. Anyway, she’s completely ancient. It’s actually a bit of a shock that she remembered our birthday at all. We don’t want to be rude, so we blow our party whistles and play the babyish games, and after a while, even Edie’s grey-blue eyes shine as she munches on chocolate cake for breakfast. Though we’ll never forget that we ‘shouldn’t really be here’, we do start to have a goodish sort of time.

Picture Books

The Magic in Ming’s Hands by Maureen Tai

  1. Everyone in Ming’s family has magical hands.  

Everyone but Ming.

  1. Pa’s hands are as strong as stalks of bamboo. 

His hands bake the bounciest buttery buns and the most tantalizing tastebud-tickling tarts in all of the town. Pa’s hands are so magical, they’re famous!

But when Ming tries to help, he spills the powdery flour and drops the pillowy dough.
“Your hands will bake magic when they’re bigger,” laughs Pa. 

  1. Ma’s hands are as graceful as a fantail goldfish. 

Her hands sew dreamy dresses that dance and smart shirts that strut. Ma’s clothes are always the talk of the town! 

But when Ming tries to help, he tangles the threads and pricks his thumb.
“Your hands will weave magic when they’ve had more practice,” soothes Ma.

  1. Por Por’s hands are as skilful as those of a master potter. 

Her hands shape savoury sticky dumplings and stir silky soup desserts. Por Por’s hands make the best magic, especially when Ming is hungry (and he is always hungry!).
But when Ming tries to help, he topples over the bamboo steamer and tips the mung beans into the sink.
“Your hands will cook magic when you’re older,” comforts Por Por.

Dragon Soup by Darren Sexton

[Spread 1]

“Gather round you lot. It’s time for a quest,” said Arthur. “We’re going to make Dragon Soup!” 

The knights danced and cheered. 

“Errr, are you sure this is a good idea?” asked Thomas.

The knights groaned. 

“You’re always complaining,” said Arthur. “This will be easy-peasy.”

[Spread 2]

The knights set off at once to the land of dragons.  Across lush fields, over raging rivers, around swamps and through forests until…

[Spread 3]

“How will we find a dragon here?” asked Thomas, looking across the barren land.

“Coooey! Over here!” came a loud voice.

“See, told you it would be easy,” said Arthur, pointing at the waving dragon. “Prepare for battle!”

[Spread 4]

Thomas gulped. “We’ll never defeat that. She’s enormous.”

Arthur rolled his eyes and drew his sword with a SWOOSH.

“My. That is a sharp looking sword. You’ve got me beat, fair and square,” said Dragon, holding up her hands.

THE HELPFUL ELF by Claire Lewis

Spread 1

[Illustration: toy production line in Santa’s workshop; elves match correct sounds to toys]

Santa’s keenest worker was an eager elf called Belle – 

She wanted to be helpful, but things never turned out well…

For Belle could never concentrate, despite her good intentions – 

Instead, her head was buzzing with all sorts of cool inventions!

Her thoughts would drift away, and all the parts got in a muddle – 

Her Fearsome Fighting T-rex toys…

Spread 2 

…kept asking for a CUDDLE! 

Meanwhile, her Dainty Daisy Dolls let out a mighty RRROOOAAAAR! 

‘Don’t worry!’ Santa boomed. ‘We’ll find a job that suits you more!

I’m wondering if possibly your talents lie elsewhere – 

Perhaps there’s something else for which you have a hidden flair?’

Spread 3 

[Illustration: in Belle’s inventing shed; Clip-O-Matic machine trims Santa’s beard] 

‘Inventions!’ answered Belle. ‘Like this machine I’ve engineered,  

With automatic scissors that can prune a bushy beard!’ 

Belle’s ‘Clip-O-Matic’ snipped and clipped, then clipped and snipped some more…

Spread 4 

‘OH NO!’ cried Belle. ‘It’s trimmed too much! YOUR BEARD IS ON THE FLOOR!

I’m not a REAL inventor – all I do is make mistakes!’

‘But that means,’ Santa said, ‘you’ve got precisely what it takes!

Now, think about what didn’t work, and try to find out why,

But don’t give up if things go wrong— just have another try!’

The Seashell Switch by Joanna Brooks

Spread 1:

[Illustration note: Harry lives near the shoreline with Bea, an Anemone who lives on his shell]

In swirling seas near Coco Bay

Where warming sunshine glows all day

Lives Harry in his sea-snail shell.

Bobbing.gently on the swell,

He shares his days with best friend Bea, 

A brave and bold Anemone.

With tentacles that swipe and swish

She keeps him safe from fearsome fish.

Spread 2:

[Illustration note: Bea tells Harry he needs to find a bigger shell]

But Harry’s shell is getting tight.

It really is a sorry sight!

“I’ve had this shell since I could crawl.

And now it barely fits at all!”

“When moonlight shines on Coco Bay

The Seashell switch gets underway.

There you’ll find the perfect shell

And maybe make a friend as well.”

“But I don’t want to go ashore.

I’ve never left the sea before.

I’ll have to go out in the air!

I’ll have to be completely……

Spread 3:

[Illustrator note: Bea tries to reassure Harry]


“Oh, Harry please don’t look so sad.

Perhaps it will not be that bad.

There will be others there like you.

They’ll all be scared and anxious too.”

“I’m sorry but I don’t agree.

They will not be as scared as me.

I’ll find a shell another way,”

And with a splash he swims away.

Spread 4:

With best friend Bea right by his side

He trawls the sea floor far and wide,

And there before his very eyes,

Are shells of every shape and size.

He clacks his claws in sheer delight

“I’ll pick the shell that looks just right.”

He chooses one and peers inside.

It is a perfect place to hide.


Jemima and the Pirates by Anne Weedon


[Illustration: Mum stays on the beach. Jemima drifts out too far on her inflatable toy boat.]

Jemima loved to look and learn, to test things out and try.

Curious and clever, she was always asking ‘Why?’

A seaside trip meant thrilling things to seek out and explore:

Fish to follow, crabs to catch, a ship to sail to shore.

“Don’t go out too far Jemima! Stay close to the beach!”

Despite her frantic paddling, soon she’d drifted…


[Illustration: the four pirates tie her up and put her upright in a barrel.]

…out of reach.

She shivered as a shadow fell; she turned and saw a boat.

Suddenly, a hand appeared and plucked her from her float.

 “A chidling!” 

“Oh my barnacles!”

“It’s smelly! Chuck it back!”

“No, don’t be daft, let’s keep it – and play Sunday Shark Attack!”

The pirates laughed and jeered at her, their faces flushed and red.

Jemima glanced around her with a rising sense of dread.


Escaping seemed impossible. ‘They’re much too big and strong!

I think today is Thursday, so that doesn’t give me long.

I cannot hide, I cannot fight, I won’t get far by running.

I’ll have to bide my time and hope to beat them with…


[Illustration: Pirate Tanglebeard approaches Jemima.]

…my cunning!’

Later that same evening, oozing fumes of gruesome grog,

A pirate bellowed, “What’s yer name? It’s for the captain’s log.”

“Jemima” she said quickly, “And perhaps I shouldn’t pry,

But pirates all have parrots – could you kindly tell me why?”

“See? Easy-peasy,” said Arthur. “Tie her up.”

GO TO BED, TED! by Nicola Thackrey

(Endpapers : Mummy and Daddy are slumped at the breakfast table drinking coffee, Henry is wide awake and happy eating toast)

Spread 1

Henry was a little boy who wouldn’t go to bed, 

He tried to stay up late at night by wasting time instead.

He’d ask for seven stories and a lullaby or two,

Some buttered toast, a milky drink…then linger on the loo. 

He’d race the halls. He’d surf the stairs. He wouldn’t take a break, 

And didn’t seem to care that he kept EVERYONE awake!

Spread 2

His parents begged and pleaded, but no matter what they said, 

Henry just refused, “But I don’t WANT to go to bed!”

Then one eventful evening, Henry’s Mummy sat him down,

And handed him a teddy with a stripy cap and gown. 

“This bear was mine when I was small, and now he’s yours to keep, 

I’ve got a funny feeling that he’ll help you fall asleep!”

Spread 3

So Henry popped his PJ’s on, and blew a kiss goodnight,

When Mummy left, he bolted up and hit the bedside light.

He tossed the fluffy bear aside, and rummaged through his toys,

But ducked beneath the covers when he heard a growling noise! 

The sounds were getting closer now, then something tapped his head…

Spread 4

(Illustration note : Ted peeping over the duvet)

“Hello! My name is Theodore, but YOU can call me Ted.

I’ve lounged around the loft for years, so if it’s fine with you…

I’d rather play than sleep. There’s LOTS of things I’d like to do!”

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