The Fire-Eaters

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The Fire-Eaters
The Fire-Eaters cover.jpg
AuthorDavid Almond
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherHodder Children's Books
Publication date
14 August 2003
Pages224 pp

The Fire-Eaters is an award winning children's novel by David Almond, published in 2003.

Plot introduction[edit]

The novel is set in 1962, before and during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Bobby Burns, who lives in the quiet coal-mining village of Keely Bay in Northumberland, has had a wonderful summer. But in autumn his father falls mysteriously ill, and he loathes his new school which is pervaded by bullying and . Perhaps worst of all, Bobby is worried there will be a nuclear war.

Bobby's wonder-working friend Ailsa Spink and McNulty the crazy fire-eater open Bobby's eyes to the possibility of miracles.

Main characters[edit]

  • Robert 'Bobby' Burns
  • Mum
  • Dad
  • Joseph Connor
  • Ailsa Spink
  • McNulty, a fire-eater
  • Daniel Gower, a school friend of Bobby's
  • Mr Todd
  • Miss Bute


Kirkus Reviews wrote "Like the choicest of Almond, this is moody and layered." and "Breathtakingly and memorably up to Almond’s best."[1] while Publishers Weekly concluded that "Sensitive readers will marvel at Almond's ability to show, not tell, with his highly introspective—at times enigmatic—writing style."[2]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The Fire-Eaters won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize Gold Award and the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award,[3][4] as well as being shortlisted for both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal.[5][6]


  1. ^ "The Fire-Eaters". Kirkus Media LLC. 1 April 2004. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  2. ^ "The Fire-Eaters". PWxyz LLC. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  3. ^ Nestlé Children's Book Prize Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Costa Book Awards
  5. ^ Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2003
  6. ^ The CILIP Carnegie Medal & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards