The 2013 Branford Boase Award was awarded Thursday to Dave Shelton and his editor David Fickling for A Boy and a Bear in a Boat (David Fickling Books), in a ceremony at Walker Books in London. The award recognizes both the author of a first novel and his or her editor.

This year, in addition to the winners, Lydia Syson and her editor Sarah Odedina were given high commendation for A World Between Us (Hot Key Books). It is the first time that a title has been highlighted in this way since 2004, a move seen as proof of the strength and depth of the 2013 shortlist. And it’s the third win for Fickling, who has now has won three times, more than any other editor.

On winning the prize, Shelton said, “Having rather drifted into writing, after starting out purely as an illustrator, I had genuine doubts as to whether I would fall flat on my face when faced with the opportunity of writing my first children’s novel. David Fickling’s gentle editorial hand ensured I never quite lost my balance. It felt like a team effort to make the book so I’m thrilled that this award reflects that.”

Fickling added, “I am so proud that Dave Shelton has won and that his amazing storytelling and drawing skills are being shouted out to the world. A Boy and a Bear in a Boat is an astonishing piece of work that takes you by surprise and which will lodge in the memory of every reader. In the sea of publishing there is no one that I’d rather spend time in the book-making boat with than Dave. I am not saying who was the bear and who was the boy, but confess that as an editor I sometimes did not know where we were going—but pretended I did.’