The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst cover

Shortlist year: 2021

Shortlist category: Children's literature

Published by: Allen & Unwin

Long ago, the little Prince of Cloudburst was stolen from the seashore by a Water Sprite. Now, ten years later, the prince has found his way home. The King and Queen are planning the biggest party in their Kingdom's history to welcome him. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Kingdoms and Empires, Esther Mettlestone-Staranise is looking forward to another year at Katherine Valley Boarding School. But she arrives to find a number of strange and unsettling changes. For one, her new teacher is rumoured to be an Ogre. Two mysterious students have joined the school, and one of Esther's classmates is an undercover Spellbinder. Most disturbingly, the mountains surrounding the school—usually a delight of glaciers, teashops, lakes and Faeries—are now crowded with wicked Shadow Mages.

As secrets and dangers escalate, Esther must find the answers to several puzzles. Why is her teacher behaving so oddly? Which of Esther's classmates is the Spellbinder, and can they really protect the school from gathering hordes of Shadow Mages? Could the Stolen Prince of Cloudburst be connected?

How can Esther—who is not talented like her sisters, nor an adventurer like her cousin, but just Esther—save her family, her school and possibly her entire world?

About the author

Jaclyn Moriarty

Jaclyn Moriarty

Jaclyn Moriarty is the author of novels for children, young adults and adults, including the internationally bestselling 'Feeling Sorry for Celia' and 'Finding Cassie Crazy', and the multi-award-winning 'Colours of Madeleine' trilogy. The Kingdoms and Empires books, a series of standalone books for 10 to 14-year-olds, include 'The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone', 'The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars' and 'The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst'. A former media and entertainment lawyer, Jaclyn grew up in Sydney, lived in the US, the UK and Canada, and now lives in Sydney again.

About the illustrator

Kelly Canby

Kelly Canby

Kelly Canby is an internationally published illustrator and author of over two dozen books for children. Kelly was born in London, England, but has lived in Australia since the age of three, which is probably around the same age she started playing with pencils and crayons. Kelly applies her quirky style to the pages of everything from picture books, to chapter books, to early reader books, to colouring books and beyond! Kelly's books are published widely throughout the US, UK and Australia.

Judges’ comments

The delightfully named and utterly principled Esther Mettlestone-Staranise takes us on an unpredictable adventure in this sumptuous and often remarkable novel. At Katherine Valley Boarding School, the new-year has brought multiple changes, including two new and mysterious students and the presence of funny, idiosyncratic Mrs Pollock as a teacher. Esther, so often cast by family and friends as 'just Esther', must rise above this unflattering reputation and use her wits and courage to uncover the reasons behind these changes. In so doing, she'll hopefully save her family and school but she may also save a world under threat from odious Ogres and foul Fiends.

Although The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst is part of Moriarty's 'Kingdoms and Empires' series, the novel comfortably stands alone. It is further distinguished by the conviction inherent in the development of the author's superbly imagined world, illustrated in striking fashion by Kelly Canby. Esther is a sparkly and self-deprecating heroine, and Moriarty moves her complex tale adroitly through multiple scenarios and an enormous cast of distinctive, cleverly drawn characters. Her writing is whimsical but never self-consciously so, making it easy to believe in the truths and deceptions of her magical creation.