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Norfolk author wins national book of the year prize

16:15 17 December 2015

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith (pictured) has been announced as Book of the Year 2015 by Waterstones. Photo: supplied.

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith (pictured) has been announced as Book of the Year 2015 by Waterstones. Photo: supplied.

supplied

A Norfolk writer is celebrating her debut book being crowned Book of the Year 2015 by Waterstones.

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith has been announced as Book of the Year 2015 by Waterstones. Photo: supplied.The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith has been announced as Book of the Year 2015 by Waterstones. Photo: supplied.

Coralie Bickford-Smith’s beautiful picture book The Fox and the Star beat off impressive competition from the likes of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train to win the top prize.

“I am absolutely honoured. It is just amazing, especially being up against such high calibre of authors,” said Miss Bickford-Smith, who was born in Norwich and grew up in Holt.

The Fox and the Star is inspired by William Blake’s poem Eternity and Miss Bickford-Smith’s own experiences, including the loss of her mother Diana, and her father Derek, who was the founder of Norfolk and Norwich World Family and also wrote a book about communities that shared the names of Norwich and Norfolk.

Her book explores the themes of companionship, fun, adventure and grief through the story of Fox who loses, and pines for, his friend, Star.

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith has been announced as Book of the Year 2015 by Waterstones. Photo: supplied.The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith has been announced as Book of the Year 2015 by Waterstones. Photo: supplied.

Miss Bickford-Smith, a senior cover designer at Penguin Random House and who took a six-month sabbatical to illustrate her book, said: “It is a story about love, loss and learning to accept change. Everyone has experienced tough times in life and I wanted a story that says, yes things can be really tough but in life you go through it and you come out the other side. It is for adults as well as children. Children resonate with the idea of friendship, and with adults I have been getting lovely emails about how they have given the book to somebody who has experienced loss or a broken relationship. I think people take what they want from the book.”

James Daunt, Waterstones managing director, described it as “a book of great physical beauty and timeless quality, one that will surely join that very special group of classic tales that appeal equally to children and adults.”

For Miss Bickford-Smith it is also very special because of the link to her parents.

“It is lovely because I look at the book and it reminds me of them [her parents]. My dad was so funny. He made me laugh and had such an amazing attitude to life,” she said.

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith has been announced as Book of the Year 2015 by Waterstones. Photo: supplied.The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith has been announced as Book of the Year 2015 by Waterstones. Photo: supplied.

“When the Waterstones prize was announced [on December 1] it was my mother’s birthday and that felt really special, it felt like she was part of it.”

Miss Bickford-Smith, who lives in London and is to marry her fiancé Tom Lehman next summer, went to Holt County Primary School, Wymondham College, City of Norwich School and City College Norwich before studying at Reading University.

The Fox and the Star has been published by Penguin’s Particular Books.

Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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