The shortlist for the 2009 Costa Children’s Award contained four fine novels by the most highly regarded writers for young adults. On the 5th of January 2010, Patrick Ness’s The Ask and the Answer was announced the winner, chosen above Siobhan Dowd’s Solace of the Road, Mary Hoffman’s Troubadour, and Anna Perera’s Guantanamo Boy. The Ask and the Answer is Book 2 in "The Chaos Walking" trilogy. Book 1, The Knife of Never Letting Go, won the 2008 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the BookTrust Teenage Prize. Both books explore the themes of war crime, terrorism, and genocide. Ness’s novel was described by this year’s Costa judges as "a strikingly original and compelling work".
The Costa Book Awards are unique in many ways, being the only prize awards which place children's books alongside adult books in the same competition. Since 1998, the Children’s Book Award has been judged against the other category winners for the main Book of the Year by the final judging panel. A winner is selected in five different categories and one of these five books is selected as the overall winner of the Book of the Year. Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn is hotly tipped to become this year’s overall winner which will be announced near the end of January.