Mal Peet

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Mal Peet
Born June 1947
North Walsham, Norfolk, England, UK
Occupation Writer, illustrator
Nationality British
Period 2003–present
Genre Young-adult sports novels, historical fiction; children's picture books
Notable works
Notable awards Carnegie Medal
Guardian Prize

Mal Peet (born 1947) is an English author and illustrator best known for young-adult fiction. He has won several honours including the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize, British children's literature awards that recognise "year's best" books. Three of his novels feature football and the fictional South American sports journalist Paul Faustino. The Murdstone Trilogy (2014) is his first work aimed at adult readers.


Peet grew up in a council estate in North Walsham, Norfolk, England, in a family that he describes as "emotionally impaired".[1] He attended the Paston School[2] and studied English and American Studies[clarification needed] at the University of Warwick.[3] He worked at a variety of jobs, including writer for educational publishers, before deciding to start a novel at age 52.[4] He lives in Devon with his wife, Elspeth Graham, and has three children.[5]

Cloud Tea Monkeys (1999), a children's picture book written by Peet and his wife, illustrated by Alan Marks, is set in the Himalayas and based on a Chinese folktale. Kirkus Reviews observed, in review of the 2010 edition illustrated by Juan Wijngaard, "The deftly spun, emotionally resonant fairy-tale story ... begs to be read aloud. ... Unlike cloud tea, an accessible treasure."[6]


Walker Books published the first five of Peet's novels, with his latest work, The Murdstone Trilogy, being published by David Fickling Books.

For his first novel, Keeper (2003), Peet won the Branford Boase Award recognising the year's best debut novel for children.[clarification needed] For his second, Tamar (2005), he won the annual Carnegie Medal from the British librarians, recognising the year's best children's book published in the U.K.[7][8] The Penalty (2007) was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize and Peet won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for Exposure (2008), a modern re-telling of Shakespeare's Othello.[9] The once-in-a-lifetime award by The Guardian newspaper is judged by a panel of British children's writers.[10] Keeper, The Penalty, and Exposure are the Faustino books. Tamar is a World War II novel and family mystery set jointly in 1945 Nazi-occupied Holland and 1995 England.

Life: An Exploded Diagram (2011) is his most recent novel for young people.[11]

Susan Tranter writes that "Mal Peet's work is notable for its refusal to submit to categories – the constraints which label what a book should be about, and who it should appeal to. His books to date prove that successful literature for young readers doesn't have to be didactic, or have overtly youthful themes, or even centre on young characters. It is the quality of the writing which is, ultimately, the most important thing." Peet says he is skeptical of books written specifically for teenagers, saying they are prone to condescension.[3]

Three of Peet's books feature the fictional South American sports journalist Paul Faustino (and football). Peet's debut novel Keeper, which is primarily a world-champion goalkeeper's life story in the course of an interview. Keeper, The Penalty, and Exposure all feature Faustino and South American football players. When he won the 2009 Guardian Award for the Othello-based Exposure, he told the sponsoring newspaper he had felt that 'football books for children were "pretty much hey"'. Also, "I used to play all the time. I would play football when it was light and read when it was dark. Now I get to play football vicariously."[4]

Peet described his creative occupation thus: "I come up here in the morning to a pleasant room in the roof of my house and imagine I'm a black South American football superstar, then I have to imagine I'm a female pop celebrity who's pregnant. It's a completely mad way to spend your time. If I did it in public I would be sectioned. Writing is a form of licensed madness."[4]

The Murdstone Trilogy (2014) represents a departure for Peet, being aimed at adult readers.

Selected works[edit]

  • Cloud Tea Monkeys (Ragged Bears, 1999), written by Elspeth Graham and Peet, illustrated by Alan Marks —"based on a Chinese folktale"[6]
  • Keeper (Walker, 2003)
  • Tamar (Walker, 2005)
  • The Penalty (Walker, 2006)
  • Exposure (Walker, 2008)
  • Cloud Tea Monkeys (Walker, 2010; New edition) —by Graham and Peet, illus. Juan Wijngaard
  • Life: An Exploded Diagram (Walker, 2011)
  • The Murdstone Trilogy (David Fickling Books, 2014)


Beside the Branford Boase Award, Keeper was bronze runner up for the Smarties Prize in ages category 9–11 years and made the Hampshire Book Award shortlist.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mal Peet. Walker Books. Retrieved 5 July 2011. Archived 5 July 2011.
  2. ^ Goodnow, Cecilia. "A powerful late start for young-adult book author Mal Peet". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 2 March 2007. Retrieved 5 July 2011. Archived 5 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b Mal Peet at British Council: Literature. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Mal Peet wins Guardian children's fiction prize: A version of Othello which casts the Moor of Venice as a South American football star wins Mal Peet the 2009 Guardian children's fiction prize". Alison Flood., 8 October 2009. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  5. ^ Bradbury, Lorna. "A writer's life: Mal Peet". The Daily Telegraph. 16 July 2006. Retrieved 5 July 2011. Archived 5 July 2011.
  6. ^ a b "CLOUD TEA MONKEYS by Mal Peet ...". Kirkus Reviews 15 February 2010. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
  7. ^ a b (Carnegie Winner 2005). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Press releases for the 2005 Awards, presented in 2006". Press Desk. CILIP. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  9. ^ a b Guardian children's fiction prize 2009 (top page). theguardian. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners". 12 March 2001. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  11. ^ For reviews, see:

External links[edit]